2018 has been a rollercoaster of a year for us right from the get-go. We have begun construction on our new state-of-the-art calf barn, but have also been experiencing the pain of low milk prices, so you could say things are pretty up and down around here.
We are two months into construction on our new 13,700 square foot state-of-the-art calf raising facility, and things are going well! Once completed, the barn will be able to house up to 300 baby calves from one day old up to 2 or 3 months. The barn will feature group housing with automated feeders, freeing up our calf technicians, Angelita and Armando, to do what they do best and care for the calves instead of cleaning bottles! here will be engineered negative pressure tube ventilation throughout the whole barn, as it has been scientifically proven that getting calves cleaner air and lowering ammonia levels drastically decreases the risk of pneumonia and scours. In addition to all these improvements for our babies, the barn will house some new offices and a classroom to better accommodate the many school tours we run in the fall and spring! If everything stays on schedule, we are hoping to have calves in the barn by the end of February or early March.
In addition to this project, Moises and the guys are busy at work replacing all the stalls and stations in all seven of our barns. The barns in our dairy were built and outfitted in the early 90’s, and thanks to our lovely wet Oregon weather, rust and rot have taken a toll on the metal and wood from which they are constructed. With close to 4,000 loop stalls to help our cows all have the room to sleep comfortably, they have had quite the project ahead of them. One of the things that sets our dairy apart is how we manage our labor. We do not have seasonal workers. Our guys that run irrigation or tractors in the summer, are employed to weld and make improvements in the winter months. This project was started about a year ago, and is en route to be finished by the end of 2018.
Unfortunately, that is it for the fun ad happy stuff! I wish I could just end the post right here, but that is currently not reality for the dairy business. The truth is, as far as selling our milk goes, we are in a world of hurt. At the beginning of January, milk prices went down to about $13/cwt, a number that doesn’t mean much unless you are familiar with dairy. Let me break it down for you. For every one hundred pounds of milk that leaves the farm, we receive $13. 100 pounds is just over 12 gallons. That means we are getting paid just under 93 cents per gallon. Milk hasn’t been that price in the stores since the 1950’s! When all is said and done, it costs us about $16/cwt just to keep our cows healthy and fed. This means we are losing a substantial amount of cash every month, and the market (which is derived on the global scale), has no sign of turning up this year. The moral of this story: drink your milk people! It’s good for you!
Thank you for being with us this year in 2018 and we look forward to keeping you updated on new and exciting things to come!