October 27, 2022 at 4:32 p.m.
“Our guiding principle is if you take care of the cows, the cows will take care of you,” Brad Bateman said. “My grandma always said that. She loved the animals, and she taught us a lot.”
Continuing in the footsteps of their predecessors’ passion for cows, Brad and his brothers, Steve, Jason and the late Lance Bateman, are the managing partners of Bateman’s Mosida Farms, which is celebrating 50 years. The progressive operation offered a virtual tour of its dairy Oct. 6 at World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin.
Located an hour south of Salt Lake, Bateman’s Mosida Farms is home to a total of 20,000 animals, which includes a herd of 2,000 beef cattle. All youngstock are raised on-site, with calves being raised in outdoor hutches.
The Bateman family’s involvement in the dairy business dates back to the early 1900s. Wayne Bateman bought the current farm in 1972, starting out with 400 acres and 120 cows. He built a double-10 parallel parlor and grew from there, adding about 50 cows per year to the herd while also increasing acreage.
By the early 1990s, the Batemans were milking about 600 cows and upgraded to a double-20 parabone parlor in 1994. In 1999, they began an expansion to a twin double-40 milking parlor which would set the stage for Hillside Dairy. In 2000, one side of the new dairy opened up to milk 1,800 cows. And two years later, the other side opened, growing the herd to 4,500 cows.
The Batemans milk 7,400 cows at Hillside Dairy and 620 cows at Lakeview Robot & Research Center. The farm’s new robotic dairy was completed in April and also serves as a research facility to evaluate new technologies, products and processes.
“The new robotic barn and research facility was a push from the younger generation,” said Kaleb Bateman, Lance’s son. “We want to take what we have and grow it. The robot barn is a good way to milk cows with minimal labor, and we’re able to grow into it. Cows in the robot barn do extremely well, and their somatic cell count is crazy low.”
The Batemans were looking to grow their herd but were about 15 employees short at Hillside Dairy when they turned to robots as a possible solution.
“Guys were working double shifts, and we were pulling our hair out because labor was such a challenge,” Brad said. “The cows love the robots. They have better body condition, and the pregnancy rate is higher than at the main farm. There’s hardly any stress in that barn.”
Featuring tunnel ventilation and 12 robotic milking units, cows at Lakeview produce 3-4 more pounds of milk than the cows at Hillside Dairy.
“Our robots are the future,” Kaleb said. “I love them; I think they’re amazing.”
Producing more than 750,000 pounds of milk per day, cows at Bateman’s Mosida Farms average over 100 pounds of energy-corrected milk with a 4.2% fat and 3.4% protein. The herd maintains a 39% first-service conception rate and a 31% pregnancy rate.
The robot dairy is bedded with compost, while sand is used at the main dairy. Manure management involves flush and scrape and slope screen separation. In addition, a new facility was added to support secondary separation.
“Our lagoon is very small, so we’re going to put in a couple new lagoons so we can hold more water through the winter,” Brad said.
The farm currently pulls water from three wells located on the farm.
“There’s a serious drought right now in the west, especially in Utah, and we have a lot of acres we haven’t been able to farm,” Brad said. “We lost water from the nearby lake, so that’s a big challenge, which is why we just drilled a new well to provide another source of water. There’s an incredible water aquafer underneath our farm.”
The Batemans farm 3,500 acres. Everything is double cropped with corn and small grain mixes such as wheat, barley and triticale.
“With a crop always in the ground, we have improved soil health, reduced runoff and less wind erosion,” Brad said. “We’re in a lakebed area, so the soil here is not that great. It’s a sandy loam, higher alkaline type soil.”
The farm strives to produce the most milk per farmable acre. Byproduct and concentrates fill the large needs of the ration not supplied in forages, and essential nutrients include minerals and vitamins, amino acids, fatty acids and other micronutrients. The farm also added choline with the elimination of rBST. They have worked to ensure proper rumen and liver function, which has resulted in fewer transition issues and higher milk peaks.
“The Bateman family is very proactive and does a fantastic job of staying ahead of the curve,” said Laun Hall, the dairy’s nutritionist. “Focusing on transition cow management with a proactive program, our goal is to nurture the cows to get high production. It’s an aggressive diet, not a high straw diet. We try to match the specs closer to what we would for a lactating cow.”
The farm does amino acid balance and fatty acid balance in both lactating and dry cows and uses choline in closeup and fresh cows and a bolus and other types of calcium to maximize performance.
Hall said the Batemans’ research facility is one of a kind. The farm uses labs to determine what is happening with ketosis and fresh cows. They also have the ability to do serum or any type of assay in their laboratory.
“Here, we can have a high number of experimental data,” Hall said. “We can get the accuracy of a university study combined with the reality of an on-farm study.”
Bateman’s Mosida Farms has 120 employees across multiple businesses including 80 employees at the dairy. The Batemans have added a trucking company and milkhouse supply company, and in 2020, they expanded into the beef sector. Mosida Market is the name of the family’s beef and butcher shop business.
“We started by dabbling in crossbreeding, breeding our lower-end stock to a beef cross,” Kaleb said.
They created Angus-Jersey, Angus-Holstein and Holstein-Wagyu crosses and now produce 40 to 100 beef calves per week and harvest about 12 animals for retail weekly. The family has three retail locations after purchasing an existing butcher shop in December 2020. In addition to beef, Mosida Market also sells pork, lamb, elk, chicken and turkey. Beef is sold through the retail shop, online or in bulk as quarter, half or whole carcasses.
“Mosida Market was a natural fit for us,” said Mallory Tucker, Brad’s daughter. “It’s been so fun to interact with customers directly. This is an opportunity to be a face for agriculture and put a face with the local farmer.”
The dairy uses genomic testing to determine if a heifer makes the mark to be a dairy replacement or if she will move to the beef side of the operation.
“Our error for genomic testing is 1% or less,” Brad said.
The Batemans take environmental stewardship and sustainability seriously. The use of solar energy, reusing water and feeding byproducts are some of the practices utilized.
“We have incorporated many sustainable practices on our farm and found that sustainability is profitability,” Brad said.
The Batemans added a solar farm in 2017 – one year after winning the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award as an Outstanding Dairy Farm.
“Electricity rates never go down, so this helps us hedge against future rate hikes,” Brad said.
Producing 900 kilowatts of net metering, all electricity produced is used on the farm and is almost enough to run the entire farm every day.
On the cutting-edge of quality and sustainability, the current partners have instilled in the next generation a desire to look toward the future and anticipate the next big thing for their diversified operation. Rather than being content, the partners want their successors to continually look for ways to further the business. Building a new meat processing facility and an indoor feed facility are a couple of the farm’s goals. The Batemans would also like to update their dry cow closeup facility and are thinking about moving those cows indoors.
“We would like to enclose our dry cow pens because we feel there’s more milk in those cows if we can get them out of the sun,” Brad said.
A robot barn expansion is also a possibility for the future as the Batemans look to continue incremental growth on the dairy.
“We’re open to whatever opportunities come our way,” Brad said.