The 2011 Midwest Dairy Challenge was hosted by the University of Wisconsin — River Falls and was held February 9-11 in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Dan and Mary Luckwaldt (at right) and Jay and Kristi Richardson opened up their operations to nearly 70 students from 16 Midwest colleges and universities.
Dan Luckwaldt and Jay Richardson (below right) shared their thoughts with Progressive Dairyman on the experience of serving as host farms.
Q. What suggestion from the students are you most likely to implement on your operation?
LUCKWALDT: While we have a milking protocol, but it isn't available for anyone to see — English or Spanish. Many of the student groups suggested posting the protocol, and it really is just common sense.
We also have to do a better job of holding our employees accountable for following the protocol. We're also looking at changing our ov-synch protocol to more current recommendations and hoping to improve conception rate and pregnancy rate.
RICHARDSON: We had been discussing splitting the post fresh heifers and cows, and after hearing it so many times from the students, we are looking at how to do that.
Q. What suggestion from the students are you least likely to implement on your operation?
LUCKWALDT: For now anyway, building a new parlor. It seems I have a lot of other priorities than a new parlor that don't take nearly as big of an investment. We also aren't likely to implement a milker incentive program because managing and fairness are too big of problems.
RICHARDSON: Moving the fans from the feed alley to over the beds. The fan placement was a HUGE debate when we built the first barn in 2000. The later barns have the fans over the beds, but we are out of electric capacity to move the existing fans. So, for now, we will go with what we have.
Q. What did you enjoy most about participating in this year's Dairy Challenge event?
LUCKWALDT: Seeing the people who are the future of the dairy industry. We are in good hands. All seemed like wonderful young adults.
RICHARDSON: We always want to improve, so it was fun to hear all of the different (and fresh) points of view. Not only from the students, but also the judges. This event was a great catalyst to look at old issues in a different light. PD
Click a link below to see more coverage from the 2010-2011 Dairy Challenge events:
Midwest Dairy Challenge draws more than 65 students to Menomonie, Wisconsin
Thanks to Dairy Challenge, non-ag student now proud part of dairy industry
2010 Southern Dairy Challenge: Producer feedback
Mississippi hosts Southern Regional Dairy Challenge
2010 Northeast Dairy Challenge: Producer feedback
114 attend Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge