I was curious what things to consider, as far as scale, freestall barns, manure handling, you name it.
I am at 50 cows currently and have plenty of land for feed (we cash crop too). I was thinking the 250 mark, plus young stock. I have done research, and recieved the cookie cutter blue prints and was just looking for any input because their is plenty of information to digest, and consider
So many options, we just went through a major expansion. Built a new parlor, freestall barn, upgraded our manure system to a flush system. we are on a larger scale, milking about 700 cows. There are so many decisions and choices, and you need to have most things planned out in advance. I am more than willing to answer any questions that you have.
Have you considered a compost bedded pack barn? Not trying to make your choices more complicated, but these do have some advantages in manure storage and handling. Research in Minnesota has been pretty positive as far as cow comfort, etc.
At 250 adult cows you have plenty of options. The Compost barn that Jill mentions does have it's merits, however at 250 head you will need access to lots of bedding, and part of your management style will need to till the bed pack twice a day. I also have concerns about the dust that can be caused from the bed pack as well. I would recommend going to sand bedding. The Dairyland initiative has even put together a calculator with econimic benefits of sand over mattress and other type of beddings. No question sand bedding is the gold standard for cow comfort. The one thing about cow comfort is that the extra that you might spend up front will pay you back in healthier cows and increase in milk production. It is important to size your freestalls correctly that will fit your cows. I would encourage you to go tour the Rock Prairie Dairy near Janesville, to see what they are doing with the tunnel ventilation. If you go with Sand bedding the question needs to be determined is it worth recyclying the sand (this does make it easier for the waste handling system). For replacements, I really like the barns with positive ventilation and the research as shown they do better in the barns, but a penn state style sytem is a nice approach as well. We do a lot of open lots out here for the older replacements (400 lbs-close-up)but we get a lot less precipitation than you do. I could keep going on on. Be sure to check out our website at http://www.dgaengineering.com/dairy/ and the Dairyland Initiative http://thedairylandinitiative.vetmed.wisc.edu/index.htm
How small scale? I think you have my email address. Send me some general parameters and I can get you information.