Dairy Farm Tour
Dairy Farm Tour is SOLD OUT.
The tour features three dairies – North Florida Holsteins, University of Florida Dairy Unit and Alliance Dairies and includes lunch. To sign up for the dairy farm tour, you must also register for the NMC Annual Meeting.
Read more about our tour stops:
Alliance Dairies Group includes two freestall dairies, Alliance and Alliance Branford, Piedmont Dairy, a pasture-based dairy, Hilltop, a centralized dry cow/maternity facility, and a heifer facility, Grassy Bell. All farms are permitted through Florida Department of Environmental Protection and follow a comprehensive nutrient management plan. Alliance Grazing Group grows over 85 percent of its own forages and triple crops all of its spray field acres. All breeding is done via artificial insemination, using beef, conventional and gender-sorted semen. Alliance operates one of the only two anaerobic manure digesters in the Southeast. Due to labor shortages, Alliance now outsources calf raising, harvest and construction projects. It uses TN Visas for the herd health team and H2A Visas for its crop team. Alliance is also involved in a dairy project in Botswana and has worked with the University of Florida on an 18-month, on-farm training program for future Botswana dairy employees. This has also helped with the dairy’s labor challenges.
North Florida Holsteins is home to 10,000 head of registered Holsteins on 2,400 acres. The dairy’s owners, managers and employees are committed to producing quality milk from comfortable cows. North Florida Holsteins began in 1980 when a feedlot with surrounding cropland in Bell, Florida, was purchased. The original dairy included a double-10 herringbone that milked 125 cows. Today, North Florida Holsteins uses a double-40 milking parlor for the main lactating herd and a double-12 milking parlor for special needs cows. Known around the world for its exceptional genetics, North Florida Holsteins uses embryo transfer extensively. They are on track to put in 7,000 embryos this year. The dairy’s managers say their ideal Holstein cow is one that is low in stature, high in components and excels in health traits, such as daughter pregnancy rate, conception rate and stillbirth.
The University of Florida Dairy Unit includes 850 acres, of which 450 are used for crops for forage production and the remainder occupied by facilities, pastures and wooded areas. The unit is used for research in all phases of dairy production. The herd consists of about 550 Holstein cows (500 lactating and 50 dry) and another 500 heifers, from birth to 24 months of age. In addition, another 30 to 50 cattle are usually retained or purchased for specific research projects. All lactating and dry cows carry pedometers that track cows’ activity and time spent lying or standing. A portion of the cows carry rumination collars that track time spent ruminating for behavior experiments.
The double-12, herringbone parlor uses rapid exit, equipped with air-operated sort gates, automatic identification, milk meters for milk recording and walk-through scales for body weight measurement. The herd uses Afifarm and Dairy Comp 305 as herd management software. All newborn heifers are genotyped using a 62,000-maker bovine gene chip that provides genomic prediction data for genetic studies and for selection of individuals for experiments.