Peter Gaul is using grass to produce milk on his Scott County, Mo., dairy farm.
Gaul started farming this arid land just five years ago. In order to get the maximum production from his sandy soils, the New Zealand native placed 8 center pivots around is 1,000 acre operation.
"You cannot grow any crop or forage without irrigation down here," he says. "But with irrigation, it is providing quite enough feed for our cattle."
Gaul milks 930-head of Holstein/Jersey cross cattle. His goal is to maximize milk output based on forage production.
Cows spend more than 80% of their time in the fields. Gaul has a strict policy of no more than 20 percent of time on "concrete." Because of the weather extremes in southwest Missouri providing hot summer conditions, Gaul built a shade shed.
Cows will come to this centralized barn twice a day prior to milk and then "as needed" when the weather warrants. Gaul says he has seen an increase in milk production during the summer months since the barn was erected.
In the shade barn, cows graze on haylage, however when they arrive at the parlor they are offered grain. "We feed very little grain," he says. "They get some when they come to the milking parlor."
The parlor is a rotating 54-capacity carousel system. "The cows are quite comfortable during milking," he says. Automatic milking units are placed on the cows udder once they step on the carousel platform. For the 360 degree ride the units track just how much milk each cow producers.
Gaul has other unique aspects of his operation from calf management to manure management. In this exclusive, Missouri Ruralist offers a pictorial tour inside his operation.