September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
The farm is in the southeast corner of Pennsylvania, about 40 miles west of Philadelphia.
Moore is the fourth generation on the century-old farm that was founded by his great-grandfather, William, on 128 acres in 1909. William started with 20 cows, with the next generation, Walt's grandfather, Pusey, growing the herd to 40. Walt's dad, Bill, wanted to expand to 60 cows and did that in two years.
Moore's love of farming was evident early on. At six years old, he decided that he wanted to study agriculture at Penn State, then return to the farm.
"It's always been in my blood. It's something I always had a passion for, and still do," Moore said.
The Moore family restructured the operation to incorporate the cattle, machinery, and inventories as Walmoore Holsteins, Inc. in 1992, then formed Moore Family Farm LLP for land ownership in 2008. Moore's parents, Bill and Sally, are still involved in the operation. Moore's wife, Ellen, manages the farm's finances.
The consolidation of three separate milking herds started in 1995 when part of one freestall barn was built; the second half was put up in 1997. The farm converted to a flush manure system with sand bedding, a solid separator and sand lane in 2007. A new 117-stall three-row barn was added in 2008, the milking center in 2009, a transition barn in 2010 and additional construction to expand the herd to a total of 870 head more recently. The farm has about 700 head of youngstock, with a few extra being sold off.
The double-12 rapid exit parallel parlor is expandable to a double-18. It has rubber mats for the cows and workers and uses sort gates to handle cows through to palpation rails.
"We had a herringbone parlor before. It took all day to get the cows through," Moore said.
The herd is divided into seven groups, with five milked three times a day; the others-in later lactation-twice a day. Current production average is about 90 pounds a day. SCC ran about 130,000 over the winter months-which are not as severe as Minnesota. Moore reported that the coldest temperatures are in the teens-rarely in single digits-with the 20s more normal.
A bulletin board in the hallway outside the milking parlor lists the farm's production goals and is updated daily. Milkers work 12-hour shifts and get bonuses for low SCC and high milk volume. The farm has 12 full-time employees, plus some part-time.
"We emphasize calm cow handling," Moore said. "I tell the employees to treat the cows the way they'd treat their wives."
The parlor runs all day; after each milking there's a 45-minute break for washing, then milking resumes. Treated cows are milked last.
The Moores partner with a neighboring dairy to haul their own milk through Moochoo Milk Transportation. Nine loads are hauled out each week, with about 73,000 pounds produced each day.
Moore and herdsperson Charlene Mowrey said the herd's conception rate increased when they went to 100 percent Ovsync breeding. Conception rate is now 32 percent.
The calf operation is off-site, with calves raised there from one to 16 weeks of age.
"We haven't raised calves here for 12 years," Moore said. "Bull calves go to the sales barn up the road, as well as cull cows."
He added, "We don't own a corn planter or combine. We have it custom done. We do about 90 percent of our manure hauling, however."
The farm, now 1,350 acres, grows corn and alfalfa, along with some wheat and beans. It makes 100 percent of the forage needed, as well as most of the corn grain. At 1,350 acres, the farm is now the second largest dairy farm of the 286 in Chester County.
The barns are flushed twice a day, when the cows are out for milking. The flush system with sand lanes provides ease of cleaning and the ability to recycle sand bedding. The flush goes through a pipe system to the storage area. A block takes some of the sand out, with a payloader used to scrap up the sand at the block every day. The sand is piled, then moved daily through stages. The final stage is returned to the barn for re-use, about a month after the process starts. The liquid goes to the first stage of the lagoon, with solids removed and hauled to fields within a three-mile area.
Moore is passionate about the dairy industry and thinks the future is bright. He feels there will always be jobs in agriculture.
"It's a great occupation and lifestyle for me and my family," he said.
In 2011, Moore was named a Master Farmer in recognition of his farming skill, business success and community involvement. He is one of 55 Philadelphia-area farmers to receive what is akin to the Oscar of agriculture, since the award started in the 1920s. The honor recognizes farmers in the mid-Atlantic region and is co-sponsored by American Agriculturist magazine and the Extension Services in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and West Virginia.
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