Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
By Jim Salfer, U of M Extension
Minnesota Milk Producers Association and University of Minnesota Extension, along with industry partners are teaming up to host a dairy tour to the Fox Valley area of Wisconsin on June 15-17. This is an excellent opportunity for participants to experience hands-on learning, receive in-depth information on dairy operations, and network with others in the dairy industry.
The tour will feature two farms that utilize robotic milkers. Dugan Valley Dairy has a new 260 free-stall guided-flow robot facility that uses five DeLaval VMS robots. Dugan Valley Dairy's barn has translucent siding, is half slatted and half bedded pack for fresh cows, and is tunnel ventilated/ cross ventilated with automatic curtains. Ron and Ester VanLangen moved from the Netherlands in 2008 and are milking 130 cows with two Lely A3 robots. In 2009 they moved from a tie-stall barn to a new five row natural ventilated free-stall barn. They use an automatic feed pusher and all grain is fed through a feeding station in the barn.
Additional stops on the tour include rotary and swing parlors as well as a specialty cheese plant. Holsum Dairy milks 3,700 cows in an 80-stall external rotary parlor. Holsum has a cross-ventilated calf barn and a manure digester that generates enough electricity for 1,200 homes. They also use the digested solids for bedding. Country Aire milks 2,000 cows with a 40-stall internal rotary parlor and averages over 95 pounds per cow per day. Their barn uses two sand lanes, one every other day. Rosendale Dairy milks 8,000 cows in two side-by-side 80-stall external rotary parlors that have robotic arms for post-dipping. They have two new 16-row cross ventilated free-stall barns that use sand separators and solid separators. Landl Farm recently transitioned from an 80 tie-stall barn to a low cost swing parlor where they milk 315 cows three times a day. Landl Farm has nearly a 40 percent pregnancy rate and also custom raises 1,000 heifers. They use sand bedding in a three row monoslope barn with an outside feed alley. Harmony Specialty Dairy Foods LLC purchased the closed "Cloverbelt" plant in 2007 and now makes handmade vat cheese. The fourth generation dairy producers, Ralph and Sharon Bredl, also operate Harmony-Ho Holsteins, a 450 cow registered dairy.
Participants will also have the opportunity to choose from two evening tour options. The Stone Cellar Brewpub is located in a 146 year old building where participants will be given a tour and enjoy beer or root beer samples. A guided bus will take other participants through the Paper Baron Mansion Neighborhood in Neenah. Participants in this tour will experience how owners of the paper mills made their fortunes and hear interesting stories about the lives of these businessmen.
The cost of the three-day tour is only $325 for members of the Minnesota Milk Producers Association, $425 for non-members, and $225 for additional registrants from the same farm. Two charter buses from Minnesota will pick up and drop off participants at Melrose, St. Cloud, Eyota, and Zumbrota. Information and a printable registration form are available at www.mnmilk.org/bustour. If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact the Minnesota Milk Producers Association at (877) 577-0741 or by e-mail at
This tour is coordinated by Minnesota Milk Producers Association and University of Minnesota Extension and made possible by the support of Minnesota Milk's dairy producer members and other associate members within the industry including: A&L Laboratories Inc., AgStar Financial Services, Davisco Foods/LeSueur Cheese Company, Land O'Lakes, Inc., Minnesota Select Sires, and Nelson Dairy Consultants, Inc.