Now is the time to prepare for the long hot summer:
1. Clean out high organic matter dirt (MUD) in pastures and lots and add new dirt, especially in calving areas.
2. Clean your barn cooling fans now and whenever they look dirty. Dirty fan shields can reduce fan efficiency by 50 percent. If cows are in the barn or holding area, run fans 24 hours a day. This not only moves air to cool cows, it also helps to remove moisture and dry the place out.
3. Make sure your sprinklers, foggers, etc, work. It was a cold winter and many pipes froze and/or broke. Dirty nozzles don’t add much water. Check timers for the proper time for adding water. Constant water is not as efficient as intermittent sprinkling and saves water. Set your sprinkler thermostat at 75 degrees F or lower during the hot season. Sprinklers need to run at night because cows get hotter at night than daytime on those hot nights. You need timers to control sprinklers at night, so they only run when cows are eating and standing at the feed line. Running sprinklers when cows are in the stalls will waste great volumes of water and raise the humidity in the barn.
4. Clean and rebuild your pulsators. Wash out and change the filters on your vacuum controller (unless you have a variable speed drive); make sure all ATOs work. Believe it or not, dealers do sell new pulsators.
5. Replace all milk hoses, wash hoses, pulsator hoses and jetter cup holders. Replace all rubber hoses that may be in the milk house that may add water to the pipeline and /or bulk tank wash. These hoses harbor Pseudomonas and Coliforms and can raise your bacteria count. If rubber hoses are used to wash udders, change them also.
6. Check every cow in the herd for blind quarters. Band the cow’s legs so they are not milked. This will lower your SCC and SPC. Consider drying off or killing these quarters.
7. Replace all of your floor mounted cow wash sprinkler nozzles once a year. Spring is a good time to do this. They not only clean cows, they cool cows also. Several short wash cycles are more efficient and use less water.
8. Check the pipeline and bulk tank chemical concentrations. If you change brands or suppliers, they may need to be checked. With new LPC concerns, this is important.
9. Clean your condenser fins on your milk coolers. Dirty fans cut down cooling and efficiency and you get warmer milk at higher electric costs. If they are by a dusty area, concrete the area to keep the dust off the condensers.
10. Mow and spray careless weeds in all pastures; calves, heifers, dry cows.
11. Cull your chronic mastitis cows now. It will lower your cell count and your help is sick of treating them.
12. Clean out the back third to half of your free stalls at least 10- to 12-inches deep and add new sand. Keep your stalls bedded every four to five days and groomed daily.
13. Clean out cooling ponds. Pump out the water, clean out the sludge and spread it someplace where the cows do not have access to it.
14. Let ponds sit dry for the sun to work on the bacteria. Mycoplasma and other nasty stuff live in ponds. You must clean them out at least once a year if you continuously add water to the pond. If you DO NOT continuously add water, you need to sample the ponds for Mycoplasma and clean out the ponds once or twice during the summer.
15. Keep a stiff upper lip. If you made it through last year, you can make it through this year.
16. Clean out your mind, go visit other dairies. Some of them are doing amazing things and others are not. You can get new ideas or be glad you don’t own some of them.
Source: David R. Bray, University of Florida