Never being on a dairy farm before, I enjoyed traveling to Roberto Lence’s dairy farm. The farm was started in 1991 and currently runs 345 cows. The goal is to have 80% of the cows always milking; so 300 cows are currently milked twice a day. I had the opportunity to step down and watch alongside the milkers as they worked to milk 24 cows at one time. I loved seeing the passion and dedication that each person on the farm consisted of.
Dedication is important on a dairy farm, and the family in charge of milking was defiantly dedicated. They milk at 2 am and 2 pm each day so the milk is ready when the truck comes at 5 am. Each milking takes about 2 ½ hours and the milk is then sold for 38 cents per liter.
It was also great to hear that about once a month the surrounding farmers gather to discuss issues and challenges with their local vets and other people in the industry. I could tell that farming in Argentina was a collaborative effort and everyone worked together.
All the feed that is fed to the cows, calves, replacement heifers, and feeder steers is mixed on the farm. It consists of cottonseed, wheat burrs, and corn silage. Vitamins and minerals are feed but rarely are their antibiotics and steroids given to the cattle.
When breeding the cows, they use Artificial Insemination. Hormones are given to the cows so they know when she is in heat and can be bred. They are bred throughout the year to meet the goal of having 80% of the cows in milking conditions at all time.
Seeing the young dairy calves was one of the highlights on my trip, and I thought it was interesting that they are kept outside with constant access to feed and water. Every two weeks the calves are moved to a different part of the yard to keep the ground clean and limit bacteria growth. They are kept outside because it is a healthy alternative to stay warm in the sun while their mothers are being milked.
Walking around the dairy farm reminded me of a farm in Iowa, complete with passion, hard work, and lots of animals.