There has probably been a dairy at the same location on 2100 Road in Austin for 100 years. Andy and Polly Wick started here in 1972.
They bought the dairy from Polly's parents, Irvan and Miriam Hartig, in 1981. Back then the dairy was much smaller.
"Today we are milking 680 and with all of our 'dries' we have around 730 cows, Andy said. "With all of the young stock there are approximately 1,400 head here on the place. The bull calves are sold within a few days after they are born. We breed all artificially, breeding the first calf heifers to sex semen so they can hopefully have a female calf as female calves are about 10 percent smaller than the bull calves. We try to have the heifers so they have their first calf by two years of age."
Currently the cows going through the barn are giving 97 pounds of milk a day. That's a little more than 11
gallons a day per cow with milking three times a day.
The cows all have a radio frequency identification tag (computer chip) in their left ear. It has a number in it so whenever they walk in to be milked, a reader will read it. All the data collected from the cow goes into the computer, along with freshening dates, sire dam, breeding dates, and all data pertaining to the animal throughout the animal's life.
"We are farming around 700 acres," Andy said. "Our son Jeff, Polly and I formed a corporation, the Upper Valley Holsteins. Jeff does all of the farming. We raise corn for silage and alfalfa hay."
There are seven dairies in western Colorado. In the mid '70s there were around 60. However, there is as much milk produced from the seven as there was produced from the 60. Four of the seven are in Delta County. Two are in Montrose County and one in Mesa County.
"We've had yearly tours by students of the culinary classes at Mesa State University," Polly said. "We enjoy help given by FFA members. They come in the fall and help us cover the silage pit, a huge job for everyone. You run a tractor over to get all of the air out before covering. Tires weight the plastic down to seal air out. Silage needs to ferment rather than rot."
The dairy is feeding a balanced ration. A nutritionist comes every month to help with rations, to evaluate what is needed. When asked about how this was done, Andy, with a grin, said, "The nutritionist goes out and kicks the manure to make sure the manure looks good, thereby evaluating the body condition of the animal. Very high tech!"
Feed includes alfalfa hay, corn silage, soy bean meal, corn gluten feed, dried distillers grains, sodium bicarbonate, a mineral pack . . . whatever is needed to give the cows a good balanced diet. In round figures, in the summertime, a cow will drink about 30 gallons of water a day. The average cow, right now is eating 55 pounds of corn silage, 15 pound of alfalfa, four pounds
of soy bean meal, around 18 pounds of corn byproducts, and about a pound and a half of sodium bicarbonate and other minerals. That is nearly 100 pounds of food a day per cow. The biggest expense in producing milk is providing feed. Second would be labor with 16 employees at the present time.
The Wicks appreciate their employees, a critical element in the business. They each know their jobs, and do them extremely well, noted the Wicks.
A veterinarian comes every two weeks for pregnancy checking, and whatever else is needed at the time. Twice a year, a couple comes from the Wellington area, north of Fort Collins. They stay with the Wicks about nine days. They trim the hooves of 90 to 100 cows a day, giving each cow a "pedicure."
Their milk is marketed through the cooperative Dairy Farmers of America. A load of milk is shipped from the farm each day with an extra load going out every third day. Most of their milk goes to Meadow Gold in Delta, some to Russell Stover Candies in Montrose, and a small amount to Graff's in Grand Junction. Meadow Gold is far and away the largest buyer in western Colorado, with their own Meadow Gold brand and the Viva brand. If you want to buy a high quality local product, look for the number .0804 on the milk carton. It is processed here in Delta.blog comments powered by Disqus