September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
For Chanlore Farms, it was business as usual.
At 5 a.m., the milker pump kicked in while 280 cows lined up in the holding area, waiting to be milked in the double-nine herringbone parlor. By 6:30 a.m. the hospital barn cows are milked.
For Loring Davis, this was his destiny from the very beginning. His parents, Chandler and Patricia Davis, moved to the dairy farm near Cokato, Minn., in 1957.
"I was born into it," Loring said.
The stanchion barn housed the 17 cows. By 1967, the Davis family was milking nearly 40 cows and decided to put in the first part of their parlor - a single-four.
A freestall barn was built in 1971, as the herd of 60 cows had outgrown the stanchion barn.
"Freestalls were fairly new at the time," Loring said. "They've changed. They were lower back then, and you didn't worry about lunge space. Everyone was learning."
In 1984, the Davis family was milking in a double-four side opening Surge parlor. Six short years later, they were putting in the first part of their herringbone parlor, starting with a double-six.
The Davis family had their eye on the future though, and laid more cement to be able to add more stalls later on. The family was milking around 180 cows at that time, and over the years, added onto the freestall barn.
In 1992, Loring and his brother started to put sand in the freestalls, and by 2000, the double-nine herringbone parlor was complete.
"We used to bed with cornstalks, and we were having trouble getting cows to lie down," Loring said. "Once we put sand in, cows were laying down more and the number of cows with mastitis went down a lot."
Loring's four sons, Brad, Kevin, Darin and Austin had always helped out on the farm while growing up.
"Brad had always milked in a parlor," Loring said. "He was milking cows by the fifth grade."
"I remember having to stand on a box to reach the cows," Brad said. "I was too short to reach them back then."
Being the oldest, Brad was first brother off to college. He attended the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities where he earned his Bachelors degree in animal science with an emphasis in dairy production.
After graduating, Brad returned home and worked on the family's dairy farm for about eight months. In January of 2008, Brad was offered a position with Genex/CRI that took him five hours away to Shawano, Wis. After a year and a half working with Genex, Brad decided to return home to the family farm.
"I always wanted to farm," Brad said. "I knew I needed to try something else to make sure this is what I wanted to do. I like being able to be my own boss."
Kevin also attended the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities to earn the same degree as his brother. Upon graduation, Kevin came back, and immediately started to dairy farm with his brother and dad.
"I was offered a breeding job," Kevin said. "I figured I would just breed my own cattle. I like working with the cattle."
Their brother, Darin, was another Gopher graduate and currently works for Minnesota DHIA in their tech support department and works a lot with robotic milking units. Austin is currently a freshman at the University of Minnesota and is interested in agronomy.
In 2011, Loring's brother decided to get out of dairying, so Loring bought out his brother's half of the farm.
While the employees and Loring are busy milking the cows in the parlor, Brad feeds the cows right away at 5 a.m. and scrapes the barns. After feeding the cows, he mixes heifer feed, feeds the heifers and starts mixing the second batch of cow feed for the day that is to be fed at 10 a.m.
The milking herd ration consists of haylage, corn silage, ground high moisture corn, cottonseed, soybean meal and a mineral mix.
By 6:30 a.m., Kevin comes to help the employees milk the sick cows that are housed in a separate section of the barn. There are 18 stalls that hold treated cows, high SCC cows and recently fresh cows.
"It helps us keep an eye on our fresh cows," Kevin said.
"We put them in there after they freshen until they take off," Brad said.
The milk from the treated cows is taken to the pasteurizer, which was installed in February of 2012. Once the milk runs through the pasteurizer, it is placed in five gallon pails on their gator to be fed to the calves housed in the 70 hutches outside.
"We were having so much waste milk from keeping the milk out of the tank," Loring said. "Milk replacer was getting expensive, and we were going through one bag a day. It made sense."
Once calf chores and milking are done, Loring, Brad and an employee start rounding up cows that need to be dried off and bring them into chute in the old stanchion barn, while Kevin dries up the cows and gives any vaccinations needed.
"I would like to get locking head gates for our milking herd," Loring said. "It would help out with days like today when you have about 11 cows to dry off and even breeding would be easier."
The remainder of the day is spent bedding cows and calves, grinding feed, washing and preparing the milking parlor, mixing feed and breeding cows.
At 3 p.m. they are milking and feeding again. Brad's wife, Jenna, returns from her job with JBS United and helps their employee feed calves.
After milking is over, the family goes their separate ways to have supper at home and prepare for another day.
"It is a good feeling," Loring said of his sons starting to farm. "I know there is always someone coming in that cares."[[In-content Ad]]
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