September 18, 2014

Adopt-a Farm part IV: Cows adjusting to new parlor

West-end pleased with introduction of animal care legislation

Tim Barnum
(left to right) Mike Morzinski Jr., Jacob Fisk, Janeen Fisk and Dan Fisk – the family behind the West-end Dairy family farm.
Tim Barnum
These calves being housed at West-end Dairy, seen here eating grain, are being raised by Makayla and Madison Shaw and Blake Senske to be shown at the Arenac County Fair.
Tim Barnum
A milking crew at West-end works a milking shift.
Tim Barnum
Cows are milked at West-end Dairy in the new parlor, which requires them to make a 90-degree turn to stand perpendicular to a flipping gate that holds the cows in place.
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By Tim Barnum|Staff writer
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ADAMS TOWNSHIP — Since June 16 the dairy herd at West-end Dairy Farm has been milked in a bigger, brighter and more technologically advanced parlor and West-end owner Dan Fisk says the benefits of the new equipment are coming into sight.

“The milking portion has trimmed down about an hour-and-a-half,” Dan said. “They’re (cows) settling in now. … The first couple days it was a nightmare.”

“The thing that they’re (cows) having the most trouble with is they’re not used to making that turn,” said Dan’s son and West-end employee Jacob Fisk, adding that in the new parlor, the cows enter and make a 90-degree turn, but in the old parlor, which is known as a herring bone style parlor, the cows stood on a different angle in the parlor, rather than perpendicular to the employees milking the cows.

Dan says the new, state of the art equipment in the parlor hasn’t had any major malfunctions since it was put to use and added that the news gates in the holding pen area, built by Mike Franklin of Sterling, have worked exceptionally.

“He (Franklin) did a really nice job on that,” he said, adding employees also seem to be enjoying the new parlor.

Besides the new parlor and holding pen being functional, Dan says the farm, and Michigan farmers in general, have recently received some good news regarding animal welfare legislation.

According to Dan, farmers in Michigan were concerned that strict animal care laws passed in California, which he says resulted from heavy lobbying and promotion from animals’ rights groups, would migrate east to Michigan. He added those laws have put the pinch on dairy farmers on the West coast.

On the other hand, in Michigan, according to a newsletter from the Michigan Milk Producers Association, lawmakers have introduced amendments to the Michigan Animal Industry Act in an effort to put animal care guidelines in place for farmers by 2020.

“The thoughts are that with guidelines in place, that could deter new laws in the future,” Dan said. “It’s (guidelines) driven on scientific data, not emotions.”

But not only government issues and the new equipment are making waves at West-end Dairy. Dan’s grandchildren, Makala and Madison Shaw and great-nephew, Blake Senske have been stopping by to prep calves for the Arenac County Fair.

Jacob says Senske is especially excited for the fair.

“He’s (Blake) over here almost every day in the summer,” he said.

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