Dairy Farm Tour

The dairy farm tour is full. Please contact Kristy Mach to be placed on the waiting list. 

The tour features three dairies – Hart Agriculture, Hillcrest Farms, Inc. and Harmony Grove. They use a variety of management strategies, with quality milk production a high priority. The tour 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:

Harmony Grove Dairy Farm, LLC
4097 Highway 80 W
Waynesboro, Georgia 30830

Harmony Grove Dairy is a family-owned dairy farm located in Waynesboro, Ga. Edward and Lana Coble started dairying in 1964 in South Carolina. The farm was relocated to a rented farm in Waynesboro, Ga., in 1998 to accommodate the addition of two sons, James and Joel, to the business. The Coble family moved 200 milk cows from South Carolina and purchased part of the herd at the rented farm to double to 400 cows. After outgrowing the outdated dry lot facility, construction began on the current dairy. Cows were moved in September 2005, while adding purchased animals to increase the herd to 1,200 cows. Today, Harmony Grove Dairy has 3,200 mature animals and another 3,500 heifers on site.

Due to extreme heat and humidity in the Georgia summers and wet winters, it was decided to build freestall barns to help deal with environmental concerns. Jake Martin Engineering, Gainesville, Fla., helped design the tunnel-ventilated freestall barns that have helped deal with the six-month-long summers. Sprinklers and air movement have helped control summer-related milk production drops and reproductive failures. We still have lower milk production in the summer than spring, but we have been able to get them down to a 7% swing. In summer, we also see a drop close to 10% in pregnancy rates, but they are still much higher than historically possible before confinement housing. Currently, Harmony Grove has a yearly 21-day pregnancy rate approaching 30%.

Harmony Grove Dairy has used sand bedding since 2005. The sand separation has seen several changes over the years to attempt to do a better job of cleaning and reclaiming the sand. After sand is scooped out of the sand lane, it is piled to drain next to the flush lane. The next day, sand is piled to continue drying. It is then moved again to the staging area to continue drying down. Our goal is to have a one-month stockpile of sand before it’s needed to be used. Some potential opportunities are increasing our length of time before sand is reused and covering sand once it is stockpiled.

Harmony Grove Dairy milks in a double-40 parallel milking parlor. The parlor is mainly DeLaval, but the stall fronts were replaced with Turner stalls. Daily milk weights are monitored from the AfiMilk milk meters to our DairyComp 305 software. We are currently putting milk in tanks, but additions have been made to direct load tanks in the future. Our milking routine is currently four people in the parlor, with groups of 10 cows each. Each person dips then strips his 10 cows, then comes back to front to wipe with a single-cloth towel and apply the machine. A fifth person brings cows to the parlor, cleans beds, washes water troughs and washes and dries towels. A change in the milk company quality program has increased our desire to lower our somatic cell count (SCC). We still have lots of opportunity in this area, as we average about 250,000 SCC.

Harmony Grove Dairy grows all its own silages. Our southern location allows us to double and even triple crop our land. Irrigation is almost required to successfully grow crops in this environment. Even though we receive nearly 50 inches of rain each year, it is not at the correct time and season to grow corn. Our typical cropping year would have a winter grass (ryegrass or wheat), followed by corn in the spring, following the July harvest by either corn or soybeans. After flushing manure from the barns, it is separated in earthen basins. The solids are spread between crops, using tanks and a drag hose system. Then, the final liquid is spread through pivots onto growing crops throughout the season – as needed.