Yesterday, the Project ABE Steering Committee headed to rural Nicollet County for it’s quarterly meeting. Mitch Davis of Davis Family Dairies hosted the group at their flagship location: New Sweden Dairy. New Sweden isn’t just a flagship facility for the Davis Family, but for the entire Dairy Industry. What makes this dairy different from others? It produces more than just milk, it produces talent.
Davis Family Dairies is halfway through a 10 year partnership with the University of Minnesota. According to their websites, “The University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Davis Family Dairies have joined forces to create a unique partnership between a public university and a private dairy. Through it, the University utilizes the dairy facilities for housing, teaching and demonstration in their program of teaching veterinary students, continuing education of industry professionals and researching emerging products and practices. The result is an academic facility and program of education and research that is merged into a commercial dairy committed to producing high-quality milk, economic success, environmental stewardship and outstanding animal welfare.”
So back to the High-Tech Cows. It really isn’t the cows that are high tech as much as it is the facility. A classroom wired with technology, dormitory style housing, temperature controlled birthing corrals, hospital surgery center, and a 72 stall rotating milking station that you have to see to believe. All of this put in place for the comfort of the animal, because unhappy cows don’t make milk.
The production of the facility is very impressive. One trip around the rotating milking station takes 7 minutes (the cows actually ride their own version of a horizontal Ferris wheel). Half of those 7 minutes they are being milked, the other half they are being prepped to be milked. New Sweden Dairy milks 2,800 cows, three times a day. That makes 60,000 gallons of milk.