Three Md. dairy farms lauded for distinction

Staff Writer

FREDERICK, Md. (March 8, 2016) — Dairy of Distinction Awards were presented to three farms during the Maryland Dairy Convention Feb. 27.
The Fritz Farm, of New Windsor, Md., is operated by the Fritz Family and includes 210 owned and 40 rented acres with 60 milking registered Holsteins.
The herd has a rolling herd average of 24,500 pounds of milk with an average somatic cell count of 120,000.
The herd has a 12-month calving interval and an average first-calf freshening age of 22 months.
They were honored as a Century Farm in 2012.
The Fritzes breed for functional cattle with good udders, feet and legs. A great deal of attention is paid to quality forages and cow comfort, family members said.
MD Cedar Knoll Farm is operated by Jerry and Barbara Watt of Knoxville, Md. The Watts milk 175 Holsteins with a rolling herd average of 24,802 pounds of milk, 883 pounds of fat and 730 pounds of protein.
The family has received Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers milk quality awards and was also named Carroll County Soil Conservation Cooperator of the Year.
Cows are bred for milk production and good feet and legs. They also group cows for feeding according to milk production and size.
The third farm to receive a Dairy of Distinction Award, was Potomac View Farm, LLC, of Knoxville, Md., operated by Millard Wesley Shafer and John Shafer, Jr. The Shafers farm about 700 acres and milk 165 Holsteins with a rolling herd average of 18,500 pounds of milk. They were also recently honored as a 75-year member of the Maryland-Virginia Milk Producers cooperative.
The convention’s keynote speaker was Gordie Jones, DVM, of Central Sands Dairy, LLC, in Nekoosa, Wis. Jones spent 15 years as a dairy practitioner, 10 years as a dairy nutritionist, three years with Monsanto, and now does consulting and has a herd of Jerseys with 3,500 milk cows and 600 dry cows in Wisconsin.
“Cows began as a slow-moving prey species in the ice-age. As a result, they needed more than 50 percent of their food before dawn when the larger predators began to prowl and attack them.”
Those feeding habits have remained through the centuries, Jone said.
“The key is to give the cow most of her feed in the morning so she can eat and ‘go to bed’ and chew her cud,” he said.
She also needs water and air and ventilation. The fresher the air, the more a cow eats, he said. They don’t like it too warm, either. Just above freezing, about 40 degrees is ideal. Consistency, rations, cow comfort and routine are important, he added.
“Bunk management is also important,” Jones said. “Wider stalls, cow comfort, every extra hour in bed, the absence of stress, all means more milk.”