Dairy Science 375

PROAN vs. large dairies in Wisconsin

Cassandra Endres compares large farms in two countries

PROAN vs. Large dairies in Wisconsin


While we visited the wide variety of farms throughout Mexico, the majority of the farms had fewer than 20 cows.  This is true for almost all of the farms in Mexico, especially in the area that we visited.  However, about halfway through the trip we visited a farm that looked like a farm similar to a farm in Wisconsin. PROAN is a large family owned company based in San Juan de Los Lagos.  The company has a feed mill, dairy unit, poultry unit, and swine unit.  The dairy unit that we visited during the field study was home to around 2,500 milking cows.  There are obviously farms in Wisconsin that are home to the same number of cows, which is what makes these two systems similar.  However, there are countless differences between the two farms as well.  

One of the strengths of PROAN as well as a few of the larger dairies in Wisconsin is the use of a methane digester.  These digesters are an excellent strength to a farm in regards to environmental sustainability.  Methane digesters contain the manure and then uses the methane produced to power the farm or even sell it to outside sources.  This not only reduces the need for fossil fuels for electricity, but it also reduces the amount of methane that is released into our atmosphere.  Another similarity as well as strength in the concept of sustainability for the two farms is the use of rBST.  


The use of this hormone increases milk production by making the cow’s feed efficiency higher.  This improves the economical sustainability of a farm because the farm can increase milk production on their farm, which will also lead to increased income from greater milk sales.  One of the weaknesses on the PROAN dairy farm was that they have a large problem with mastitis.  When mastitis is a large problem on a farm, milk production can be greatly reduced.  This is also a large problem in Wisconsin, as mastitis is the most costly disease affecting the dairy industry in the United States.  When cows have mastitis, that means that they are not only producing less milk, but that the milk that they do produce is not of high enough quality. The farmer cannot sell this milk which can greatly reduce the amount of money a farmer brings in if a large percent of the cows become infected.  

A strength that Wisconsin dairy farms have that was not present at the PROAN dairy was the use of heat detection systems.  In Wisconsin, larger dairies are implementing heat detection systems in order to more accurately detect heats in their cattle.  These systems are useful in that you can catch more heats than by observation alone, which also helps to decrease the numbers of days open so that the cow can return milking as soon as possible.  At PROAN, the only types of heat detection that they used were visual observation and tail chalk.  The farm did not complain about long calving intervals, but just a small change could greatly reduce the length of lactations for the cows.  PROAN is overall running their dairy operation very well, and in very similar ways that dairy farms in Wisconsin are run.  If the dairy continues to make changes and improvements, the farm could improve to producing as much milk per cow per day as the farms in Wisconsin.

Keywords: dairyDoc ID: 1102
Owner: Taylor N.Group: Dairy Science 375
Created: 2012-11-05 19:36 CSTUpdated: 2012-12-28 00:07 CST
Sites: Dairy Science 375