Virtual Farm Tour: Hilltop Dairy LLC
Hilltop Dairy LLC in Waupun, Wisconsin continually strives to reach new goals, whether it’s through the farm’s strong genetics program or milk production. In fact, the 1,200-cow dairy recently achieved a new milestone in producing an average of 100,000 pounds of milk per day.
The dairy is owned and operated by brothers Cal and Rich Greenfield and Rich’s son, Loren. They attribute their success not only to great cows, but also to a great team of employees committed to excellence.
Loren manages the parlor and milking herd, and Rich leads feeding and facility management. Cal heads up calf and heifer care. With plans to build a new calf barn in the near future, Cal explained the calf program is in a transition phase right now. However, that doesn’t mean any aspect of calf raising is neglected.
Calf health starts with a top-notch colostrum program. The dam’s colostrum is tested and, if quality is low, the calf receives Secure colostrum replacer. In addition, calves’ total serum protein levels are tested weekly to evaluate the success of passive transfer. Highlighting quality colostrum as the number one priority in raising health calves, Cal said the farm has been testing blood serums on every calf for a couple of years and has seen good results.
“It just keeps everyone accountable,” he said.
About 70 preweaned calves are raised in a retrofitted barn or hutches at the Greenfield home farm and fed milk replacer. They receive 12 to 13 ounces of powder during the summer and 15 to 16 ounces during the winter. The other 40 preweaned calves are raised in hutches at the main dairy and fed pasteurized milk. Cal said he’s been impressed with pasteurized milk, describing the calves as “much more uniform.”
Calves are introduced to water immediately and starter after about one week. Cal said the calf team really pushes water as it “gets them eating” and boosts the entire nutrition program.
The calves are weaned in groups of eight at about eight weeks of age. They’ll stay in their individual pens or hutches for about one week before moving to a heifer barn.
Regardless of where the calves are raised, Cal and his team work hard to keep the facilities clean to reduce disease pressure. A key
“We don’t overcrowd,” Cal said.
Calves are bedded with wood shavings and straw. Cal explained he really likes using the shavings, especially in the barn, because it helps keep the calves dry and seems to improve air quality.
Fly control is also a top priority. Elim-A-Fly™ is added to the milk and milk replacer, starting in April and going well into the fall. Cal said “that stuff’s unbelievable” and essential to keeping the flies away. He noted that fly control has to be implemented on all areas of the farm for it to be effective.
Cal said it will be nice to raise all of the calves in one spot when the new calf barn is built. The farm owners have been touring many facilities, noting the features they like and don’t like. Removable panels between calves tops Cal’s list of “must haves” for the new barn. He likes the ability to socialize calves in small groups (about four animals) before moving them into larger heifer pens. He also wants to design the barn so pens can be bedded from the back as it will help keep the pails and walkways cleaner.
The farm already uses genomic testing to predict animals’ performance as they enter the milking herd. However, Cal said he still likes to try and raise every calf, even if it seems she might be behind the curve. His success is proven as the farm hasn’t lost a calf in a long time. A commitment to the basics of colostrum quality, a clean environment and good nutrition – plus spending time with the calves to notice any potential challenges before they become major issues – has led to outstanding calf performance at Hilltop Dairy.
Starting Strong - Calf Care