DEEP: Segment 3, 2009 Dairy Photos

Field Workshop at Dairy Farm 

November, 2009

{DEP Franklin}  

The morning classroom training, with about 40 participants, was held at the DEEP-Franklin Swamp Wildlife Management Area. This Segment 3 training focused on agricultural practices as they relate to dairy production.  Attendees learned that the Inland Wetlands and Watercourse Act accommodates many "as of right" agricultural practices but that Municipal Inland Wetlands Agencies have a right to make jurisdictional rulings on specific agricultural activities that may impact wetlands and watercourses. 

  {Chesmer Farm}
In the afternoon, the field portion of the workshop shifted to Graywall Farms, Lebanon, owned by Robin and Lincoln Chesmer.  They run a dairy farm with around 800 head of cattle bedded in several different barns.  Agricultural operations produce food for local consumption and are an important component of Connecticut's economy.  Management and business decisions for producers often operate under a very short-term window. 
  {Cow Trailer}
 The Chesmers and five other farms market their milk and related agricultural products in local grocery stores such as Shaw's and Stop and Shop under the brand called the FARMER'S COW.  Their brand emphasis is on local humanely produced milk.
{Cow Barn}  

The scale of the dairy operation is large. The Chesmers have approximately 800 animals bedded in several barns.  The cows weigh about 1600lb on average and produce over 70 lbs of milk per day.  Because the cows are housed, fed, and milked within the covered barns and don't spend time outside, the delivery of food and water, waste removal, and milk production is complicated and requires considerable management skill by the producers.  
{Milk Ramp}  
 The cows are milked 3 times a day and are brought into the Milking Room using a ramp system from a holding pen.
 Because of the emphasis on humane treatment of the animals, the cows are not "forced" into position to be milked.  Rather they come on their own volition to the milking stations and back themselves into the milking station. The cows need to have the milk removed every day and are kept on a schedule that is most similar to a natural milking pattern.
  {Cow Bedding}

To produce the maximum amount of milk with the highest quality, cows need to rest, relax, socialize, and interact with their fellow cows. 

  {Manure Scraper}
These cows spend their lives inside the barns.  Consequently, material management for manure and feedstock are critical issues for dairy producers.  Here, an automatic manure scraper cleans the barn by periodically pulling waste to a waste separation and processing area. 
  {Scraper System}
The cow manure goes into an automatic system where the liquid and solid components are separated. 
  {Scraper Engine}
This is the electric pulley system that pulls the manure scaper through the cow barn into the waste processing system.  
After processing and separation from the liquid, the solid component of the manure is recycled and then utilized.  Solids are reused as bedding material for the cows and utilized in the adjacent corn field as fertilizer.  
  {Solids Truck}
This photo shows the spreader device used to truck and spread the manure solids into the corn fields.  The recycling of the manure reduces costs, increases feed production, and is an important component in the management of on-site waste.
The liquid processing component of the manure management system takes the nutrient-rich liquid and places it in a holding tank where it can be utilized on the farm.  The tank was partially paid by NRCS in a cost-share program.  Previous disposal methods utilized large holding ponds that could top or fail in large rain events. 
The waste liquid is injected into the ground to fertilize corn so that it does not get caught in surface water runoff. 
Silage, light brown in color, is a surprisingly sophisticated mixture consumed as food by the dairy cows. It is a fermenting combination of grain, grass, and nutrients that is optimized to produce the maximum milk product and nutrition for the animals and has a usable life of around 1-3 years. 
{Feed Mixes}  
 A series of material bins are adjacent to the silage pile for mixing additional nutrients and supplements as prescribed by a nutritionist.
Cottonseed is an additive mixed with the silage to improve the nutritional content. 
 Runoff from the silage pile is difficult to manage and is not environmentally benign. The Chesmers have used a holding pond system but will be upgrading the system in a partnership with NRCS & DEEP.
  {Leachate Holding Pond}

The waste water from the silage pile currently drains to a holding pond but the Chesmers are working with NRCS & DEEP to put in a state of the art management system.

 Strip tillage is an agricultural BMP that runs perpendicular to the hillside to protects the soil from the impact of raindrops and reduce the velocity of runoff and chance for erosion.
Content last updated on March 22, 2012