The Dairy Excellence Grant program was designed to improve cow comfort, milk production per cow, and overall efficiency on your dairy. For dairy producers who have received these grants in the past, their improvement projects have included new mattresses, sprinkler systems, tunnel fans, calving barns, and so much more.

Take a look at some past projects, and see how these dairy producers have used the grants to improve efficiency on their operations!

Cow Comfort Enhancements: New Mattresses, Fans, and Cow Brush

Our goals were to increase milk production and longevity. The fans alone paid for themselves in two months’ time last summer. In other years where we had heat waves, we could lose 10-12 pounds per cow. We hardly lost any pounds with the fans. It was amazing.

With the mattresses, our cows don’t get cramped like they did before and they have actually saved me a lot of time and money with bedding. I used to rely on sawdust for comfort before, so we went from bedding about every four days to just once a week with the new mattresses. The price of sawdust keeps going up all the time, and now I’m using less fuel and spending less time in the skid loader. It has been a huge help financially.

Without the grant, I probably wouldn’t have went through with the cow brush because the other improvements cost so much. But now, the cows are using it really hard when they are shedding their winter hair.

I knew these improvements would have an impact, but it blew my mind just how they far they really went. Cow comfort really makes a difference.

Justin Gochnour, JUS-DEN Farm

Upgraded TMR Mixer

The upgraded TMR mixer has made a better and more uniform mix for the cows than what we had in the past. Our components have actually jumped three tenths of a point. We’re an all Jersey herd, so components mean everything here. It’s more income, and it has made a big difference. I’ve also noticed fresh cow health is a lot better because they’re getting a more uniform mix. It’s really making a difference on that end, too.

Dillon Cotter, Glenview Farm

New Barn Lighting

We installed new and efficient lighting in both our freestall barn and our flat parlor. It’s one of those projects that every year we’ve wanted to do, but it kept getting pushed down the priority list. But once we had the grant, it helped us make it happen. Now we realize the benefit. We can see the cows better, they can see each other better. It makes everyone happier. Not to mention that we catch cows in heat as we can see who is active, we can see bedding issues and needs, and overall cow health – especially in the winter. We can make sure there are no small issues in our facility as we can see when something needs attention.

I was amazed at how easy of a process it was [applying and receiving the grant]. I highly recommend it to anyone with a project in mind that it's certainly worth a try! While this can be a challenging industry, it's certainly nice that CDE is there to support us with initiatives like these.

The Royek Family, Royek Dairy Farm

New Gates

We are opening an on-farm creamery, so I’m working on reducing the herd size and bringing our breeding age heifers into the dairy barn. But I needed extra gates and headlocks. Right now, where we have them, I’m wasting a lot of my time trying to get one or two heifers bred. This grant helped pay for the gating and headlocks to bring the breeding age heifers in, condense the herd, and hopefully make everything much more efficient. When I heard about the grant, especially with the way prices for gates, metal, and even wood have increased over the last year, every dollar helps.

Amy Brickner, Stover Farms

Manure Scrape System

We were so happy and thankful that we received the grant for improving the barn. It came at a time when the money was desperately needed, so it was a huge help. Our cows are so much happier now from what we could build because of it.

Lolly Lesher, Way-Har Farms

Mattresses

Replacing our mattresses is something we have wanted to do for some time. As comfort goes up, hopefully milk pounds will also! This grant is a boost that is much appreciated.

Rachel Casner, Casstead Farms

Feed Bunk Upgrade

I must express my gratitude for presenting this motivation to improve comfort and profit in a very needed and practical way. One of our major upgrades has been to our feed bunk and feeding system. lt involves removing an overly limiting portable poly bunk and putting in a distribution system over a bunk my father had constructed in the late 1970s that was under roof to enable more space for the cows to eat. Being a farmer means I am independent minded, but always willing to find a better way. This grant is helping accomplish this project.

William Haughwout, Willows Farm

Crowd Gate

If it's available and you qualify for it, go for it. Times are tough these days, and every little bit helps. The crowd gate was $12,000 but $5,000 helped a lot. It makes a difference.

Adam Derr, Faywest Holsteins

Fans and Curtains

We want to thank you for making the grant money available to us. We are certainly enjoying the better milk production in the summer heat, and the cows with better down time since installing the fans.

Christian Hershberger, Hershberger Dairy