Adopt-a Farm part IV: Cows adjusting to new parlor
West-end pleased with introduction of animal care legislation
ADAMS TOWNSHIP â€” Since June 16 the dairy herd at West-end Dairy Farm has been milked in a bigger, brighter and more technologically advanced parlor and West-end owner Dan Fisk says the benefits of the new equipment are coming into sight.
â€śThe milking portion has trimmed down about an hour-and-a-half,â€ť Dan said. â€śTheyâ€™re (cows) settling in now. â€¦ The first couple days it was a nightmare.â€ť
â€śThe thing that theyâ€™re (cows) having the most trouble with is theyâ€™re not used to making that turn,â€ť said Danâ€™s son and West-end employee Jacob Fisk, adding that in the new parlor, the cows enter and make a 90-degree turn, but in the old parlor, which is known as a herring bone style parlor, the cows stood on a different angle in the parlor, rather than perpendicular to the employees milking the cows.
Dan says the new, state of the art equipment in the parlor hasnâ€™t had any major malfunctions since it was put to use and added that the news gates in the holding pen area, built by Mike Franklin of Sterling, have worked exceptionally.
â€śHe (Franklin) did a really nice job on that,â€ť he said, adding employees also seem to be enjoying the new parlor.
Besides the new parlor and holding pen being functional, Dan says the farm, and Michigan farmers in general, have recently received some good news regarding animal welfare legislation.
According to Dan, farmers in Michigan were concerned that strict animal care laws passed in California, which he says resulted from heavy lobbying and promotion from animalsâ€™ rights groups, would migrate east to Michigan. He added those laws have put the pinch on dairy farmers on the West coast.
On the other hand, in Michigan, according to a newsletter from the Michigan Milk Producers Association, lawmakers have introduced amendments to the Michigan Animal Industry Act in an effort to put animal care guidelines in place for farmers by 2020.
â€śThe thoughts are that with guidelines in place, that could deter new laws in the future,â€ť Dan said. â€śItâ€™s (guidelines) driven on scientific data, not emotions.â€ť
But not only government issues and the new equipment are making waves at West-end Dairy. Danâ€™s grandchildren, Makala and Madison Shaw and great-nephew, Blake Senske have been stopping by to prep calves for the Arenac County Fair.
Jacob says Senske is especially excited for the fair.
â€śHeâ€™s (Blake) over here almost every day in the summer,â€ť he said.