The SUNY Cobleskill dairy herd was presented recently with a Special Gold Certificate Award from Dairylea Cooperative, Inc., in recognition of outstanding achievement in the consistent production of high quality milk for 12 consecutive months. The herd, which is milked three times a day, has a rolling herd average of 30,480 pounds of milk per cow, with 1298 pounds of fat and 929 pounds of protein per cow with an average somatic cell count for the herd of 130,000. SUNY Cobleskill does not use rBST in the production process.
“I am very happy with way the cows are presently performing,” said Thomas Poltynski, Farm Coordinator at SUNY Cobleskill, who said the Dairy Farm has made many changes over the past few years to help maximize milk production. “One thing we really concentrated on was cow comfort: we installed rubber flooring throughout the parlor, holding area and the cow barn; we remodeled the free-stalls to give the cows more lunge room; we installed new and more comfortable cow mattresses in the stalls; and we installed fans to help improve ventilation and keep the cows cool in the hot summer and also help in the control of pesty biting flies in the barn during summer.”
Other than making improvements in cow comfort, the staff also concentrated on making improvements in the cattle’s genetics. Randy Meka, Dairy Herd Manager, noted that when choosing bulls he looks at milk production, type, foot and leg composites and udder characteristics. “I also use high Genomic ranked young sires in my mating selections,” Meka added.
Dairy Nutritionist Dan Button from Button Nutrition played a large role in helping the herd reach the 30,000 pound benchmark. SUNY Cobleskill’s mature cows consume more than 120 pounds a day of a well-balanced total mixed ration (TMR) designed by Button made up of hay, haylage, corn silage and a custom designed grain mix. All the forages used are grown on approximately 750 acres of land owned or rented by the College. Kane Seamon, Crops and Equipment Manager, oversaw the efforts to improve the fertility of the land and the quality and yields of the College’s forages over the last few years.
Students play a large role in the operation of the farm. Other than just using the farm for class and labs a number of students are on the farm’s payroll to help with everyday chores. The students milk the cows, clean the barn, participate in research, breed cows by artificial insemination, feed the cows and care for the cows in many different aspects. “Without a joint team effort between administration, farm staff, faculty and students we would not have been able to be as successful and reach this goal of a 30,000 pound rolling herd average,” Poltynski said. “It is definitely a team effort from all involved, and I am extremely proud of and thankful to the entire team.”
Currently, Poltynski stated, the dairy farm team is working together to plan and construct a milk processing area on campus. For updates on the program, please visit the SUNY Cobleskill Dairy Farms Facebook page atwww.facebook.com/SunyCobleskillDairyFarm.