New year sees a new direction in dairy barns
By Darren Turley, TAD executive director
The new year is upon us and it appears it will be an eventful one for the dairy industry.
There’s much discussion about the future of the dairy industry, given the shrinking labor force and the need to produce milk more efficiently. With that, this year we will see the first of what is expected to be a huge wave of new robotic operations to be built across Texas. These operations will mark a change in the industry that will be a dividing line between the “old” and “new” ways to milk cows.
If you are considering building a new barn, either robotic or traditional, you should take some steps before the building starts. Be sure to contact the Texas Department of State Health Services milk inspector to discuss what you will need to do to obtain your permit. Not all new robotic milking equipment has been reviewed and approved yet by the state, which is necessary before it is eligible for a permit. Check with your milk inspectors to discuss whether, based on your equipment, a permit is currently available. These new operations are taking more time for permit evaluation, so allow extra time for review.
Also, with milk supplies very tight, it’s crucial to discuss with your cooperative whether it is entering into new marketing agreements. Plant capacity is at a maximum across the state and shows no sign of slowing.
The site you choose for a new facility also is critical to the success of your operation, not only for the environmental conditions but also the proximity to towns, neighbors and markets. Discuss these conditions with your environmental engineer before you purchase land.
Finally, take time to evaluate your biosecurity of the proposed facility. Do you have multiple access points into your facility? Does the layout allow milk trucks to enter and exit without crossing feed trucks path? Are you planning for perimeter fencing around your facility? How your new facility is accessed will be very important – in the event of an activist or a disease outbreak, proper planning of access will make your facility much more secure.
So, whether you’re considering a new facility or just expanding to add more cows, take time to reach out for information to help make your plans move easily to completion.
The Texas Association of Dairymen is here to help you grow and prosper.