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Marshfield Ag Station Dairy Herd To Be Sold

The Marshfield Agricultural Research Station is liquidating its herd of registered Holsteins prior to the move to its new heifer facilities. The herd, about 50 milking cows and 20 bred heifers, will be sold as two units (cows and heifers; no individual animal sales) via sealed bids to the highest bidder.

The deadline for submitting bids is Friday, Sept. 5. Interested bidders should contact Marshfield station superintendent Tom Drendel at (715) 387-2523 to arrange a herd viewing and get information on submitting bids.

The rolling herd average was 21,519 pounds of milk as of July 18, with 807 pounds milkfat and 650 pounds protein on twice-a-day milking with no BST. The herd has been bred with quality AI sires for at least 28 years, with concentration on improving feet and legs, udder, and milk composition and yield. The herd has remained a closed herd, with animals only from UW herds at Madison, Arlington and Ashland. The cows and bred heifers will be sold only as two separate groups; nobody will cherry-pick the best animals before the sale, according to Drendel. The University of Wisconsin reserves the right to reject all bids if none meet bid expectations.

“We need to sell the herd before October, when the new heifer facilities will be finished. Once we have heifers at the new station, we don”t want to still be milking cows 8 miles down the road at the current site,” Drendel says. “With the current budget situation, we don”t have enough money to staff both facilities and buy equipment for the new station. With the cows gone, we”ll be able to move some of our equipment from the old site to the new station. And with the proceeds from the herd sale, we”ll be able to buy equipment needed to operate the new station.”

The new heifer facility, Phase I of the integrated dairy facility program, is designed to house 350 heifers ages 2 months to 23 months. Drendel expects the new station to start with about 250 year-old and younger animals, with 200 coming from the Madison/Arlington herd and the rest from the Marshfield herd.

Three major heifer research projects are ready to go when the new facility opens, according to Drendel. UW-Madison Extension dairy geneticist Kent Weigel will begin a crossbreeding project, looking for the genes that influence health, fertility, calving ease and milk production in Holstein X Jersey crossbreds. UW-Madison dairy physiologist Milo Wiltbank will look at how delaying puberty with hormones affects mammary development and milk production. Pat Hoffman, Extension dairy nutritionist at the Marshfield station, will look at ways of reducing nitrogen and phosphorus excretion in heifer feeding operations.

When Phase II of the program is completed in 2006, the Marshfield station will house 128 milking 2-year-olds along with a total of 600 heifers. The dairy herds at Arlington/Madison and Marshfield will be managed as a single herd, with all mature milking cows at Arlington/Madison, and heifers and first-lactation cows at Marshfield. Animals will be moved between sites as research and instructional programs require.

The combined facilities will allow dairy scientists to carry out a number of projects that aren”t currently feasible, according to Lou Armentano, chair of the Department of Dairy Science at the UW-Madison. For example, researchers will seek ways to:

– Lower heifer production costs and improve lifetime production.
– Reduce nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur and potassium manure loads without sacrificing production.
– Develop nutritional strategies to improve reproduction.
– Determine value of new crop types (silage corn or biotech alfalfa) to both production and profitability.
– Combine genetic and nutritional strategies to optimize protein and fat ratio for cheese production.