Tucked away just outside of what is known locally as ‘Michigan’s Little Bavaria,’ is a hidden gem where consistency and quality are king of the dairy farm. Three generations of Daenzers, each with their own strengths, seamlessly work together to provide excellent care of their dairy herd in Frankenmuth, Michigan.
Meadow Muth Farm LLC, owned and operated by the Daenzer family since 1909, earned the MMPA Top Quality
Award at the 103rd Annual State Delegate Meeting. Meadow Muth Farm maintained an average somatic cell count (SCC) of 53,667 cells per milliliter, pre-incubation (PI) bacteria count of 1,333 cells per milliliter and raw bacteria count of 1,083 cells per milliliter in the 2018 fiscal year. The farm milks 360 cows and farms 900 acres of corn soybeans, alfalfa, sugar beets and wheat.
“I was very excited to win the MMPA Top Quality Award. We are so proud of what we do here at the farm,” Leslie Daenzer said.
“When Leslie sent me a text about winning the award, I was shocked,” Jacob Daenzer said. “I couldn’t believe it at first!”
Jacob, his sons Doug and Todd, along with Doug’s wife, Leslie, and son, Luke, are the heart of Meadow Muth Farm. Jacob who is semi-retired, spends most of his time handling the manure management and their Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) certification. Much of Doug’s efforts are in the fieldwork side of the farm and working with the animal nutritionist in balancing rations. As the farm herdsman, Todd focuses his time on herd health, the breeding program, and calving. Leslie is responsible for the calves, the parlor maintenance, bookwork, payroll and the employees. Luke works with Doug in the fields, milks cows and helps in the other various areas around the farm as needed.
“Consistency, consistency, consistency is our motto on the farm,” said Leslie.
“I have always been impressed by the consistency and dedication to maintaining high quality milk at Meadow Muth Farm and the Daenzer family’s pride in caring for their animals,” Emily Peacock, MMPA member representative said. “The love for their farm, their cows and their community is truly an honor to be a witness to. As their member representative, I have seen the hard work they have put in to making sure animal care and milk quality is always a priority.”
CONSISTENCY IN THE PARLOR
“High quality milk starts in the parlor. We have a strict milking routine. It is similar to the MMPA recommended procedure taught at Milker Training Schools,” Todd said. “I check up on the milkers regularly to make sure the milking routine is consistent and remind employees of why we use the procedure when necessary. Consistency in the procedure not only gives the cows the same quality care every milking but helps prevent infections from poor udder prep.”
The cows at Meadow Muth are milked three times a day in a double 12 parallel parlor by two people. In groups of three, milkers gently dry wiping any loose debris from the udders as the cows enter the parlor.
On the second visit, milkers pre-dip each teat with a quarter percent iodine dip, massage the dip into the skin to properly clean and fore strip each quarter to inspect the milk. Next, they wipe the teats with a microfiber towel twice to ensure the cow’s udder is clean and dry. On the last visit to the cows, special attention to unit alignment is given as the milking units get put on the cows so the udder will be milked out evenly and efficiently.
After the milking units release from the udders with the help of the automatic take-offs, which are set to sense when the cow is done, the milkers post dip each teat before the cows are being released to go back to the freestall barn.
The equipment dealer performs routine parlor maintenance four times a year to ensure the milking equipment is in good working order. The dealer also checks the equipment automatic cleaning process to ensure the correct chemical solutions are used to remove any bacteria from the milking equipment.
“The routine maintenance and careful observations of our parlor protocols are important to keep everything running smoothly so we can spend more time focused on the cows rather than on equipment repairs or chasing quality problems,” Leslie explained.
CONSISTENCY IN ANIMAL CARE
The curtained side walls of the freestall barn keep the howling wind and brutal winter weather out while in the breezy summer months, are open. This allows the cows to enjoy the nice weather in the comfort of their favorite spots in the barn yet out of the direct heat. As the cows were returning from the milking parlor, many of the Holsteins hustled for the fresh feed which is carefully mixed according to their dietary needs.
Others headed straight to their favorite stall to lay down in the comfortable sand bedding. Todd, who is charged with overseeing the cow care, shared how cow comfort and animal health has always been a priority.
“Over the years, I have noticed that good genetics, being vigilant of any changes with the fresh cows and having a preventative mindset in regard to herd health makes the most impact on milk quality,” Todd said. “We typically aren’t shy about culling cows, even for somatic cell, because a healthy herd is one of the keys to our success.”
Continuing on, Todd explained that he tries to be very hands on with the cows including working closely with the veterinarian to administer vaccines, monitoring production numbers gathered at each milking, walking through the
freestall barns to visually check the animals, and closely monitoring the dry and fresh cows.
The well-maintained barn has non-slip grooved floors in the clean alleyways so the cows won’t fall, groomed freestalls await the cows when they are ready to relax, and fresh air circulates throughout the length of the barn. When walking into the freestall barn where all of the milk cows are housed, the effort by the Daenzers and their employees is apparent.
“We are fortunate to have such a great team of employees who help us meet our quality goals and care for our animals like we do. The teamwork and consistency really makes everything work here at Meadow Muth,” Leslie said.
This article was originally published in the May issue of the Michigan Milk Messenger. Subscribe »