S5:E4 Facts and Forages with Leta Larsen and Allen Pung
Michigan has one of the highest percentages of large dairies in the country. Michigan dairy farms also have the most efficient cows, making the most milk per cow. This advantage is powered by the environment, diet and management of their herds. While we have spent time discussing alfalfa for dairies, today we transition into the other forages that can be a part of a successful diet.
While corn silage is usually first to mind when we consider forages other than alfalfa for dairy nutrition, today we are going to cover some of the lesser known forage options. Triticale is one of the top forages to keep an eye on for additional tons of feed. Triticale is a wheat x rye hybrid.
Triticale can be planted in the fall after chopping corn and can be chopped in the spring before it heads out, in time to follow it with another crop of corn or seeding alfalfa. This rotation allows time for manure, lime and other management tactics.
Forage Sorghum or Sorghum X Sudan are other great options for feed. Soil temps need to be 60 degrees or higher to plant, as these genetics are bred in southern areas. They are not encouraged for baling because they can be hard to dry down but a great alternative for chopping. Forage Sorghums are a single cut forage where Sorghum X Sudans will grow back. They are harvested at 40 days or 40 inches, which ever comes first.
To learn more about these forage options, and how they can fit into a successful feed and cropping rotation, tune into the full podcast episode with Leta. It is important to loop in both feed and agronomy members when creating a well-rounded plan for your herd. Ceres Solutions is proud to be able to close the loop for their customers. Learn more at Ceres.Coop.
TranscriptionMorgan Seger (00:03):
Every day we rely on food, fuel, and fiber. But how much do you know about these industries we depend on? In this podcast, we dive deep into the production and processes of these everyday essentials. This is Field Points, an original podcast production from Ceres Solutions. Welcome to Field Points. I'm your host, Morgan Seger. Thank you so much for joining us for our fourth and final episode of our fifth series that is focused on the agronomics behind dairy nutrition. Throughout this series, I have been joined by my co-host Allen Pung and our guest Leta Larsen with CROPLAN. We have spent a lot of time on alfalfa management. We have covered diseases and traits and different management styles. Today we are going to transition into other forges that play a role in dairy nutrition. We have a wide ranging conversation where we tackle several different topics, including facts about Michigan dairies. So I hope you enjoy this conversation. We're going to dive right in. Talking about baling versus haylage.
Leta Larsen (01:04):
Most of mine would be haylage.
Allen Pung (01:06):
Yeah, I mean it's, yeah, vast majority, I would say...
Leta Larsen (01:10):
Chopped. Most of it would be. I don't think much.
Allen Pung (01:13):
I don't think many - I'm struggling to think of anyone who even bales anymore. You guys do.
Leta Larsen (01:15):
We bale some, and I think I probably everybody is a little bit, but, and what my dad bails is a lot of alfalfa grass mix too, or just straight grass. I don't know of any straight alfalfa that he bailed kind of, unless it's a new seeding,
Allen Pung (01:27):
Opportunistic, baling, I'd call it. The goal is probably to chop it, but if you get a little window and the weather's right and you can get it dry, and then a lot of folks like, Leta's dad. Okay, we got the opportunity. We need to have some dry hay. We're going to bale this.
Leta Larsen (01:42):
And I would say he feeds a high amount of dry hay in the ration compared to what most dairymen would do because it's just hard with the weather. They're like, nah, we used to have a baler, but we sold it and it's the best thing we ever did because as soon as we plan to bale, it will rain. It is hard with our Michigan weather.
Allen Pung (01:59):
A lot of folks, if they're feeding dry hay, it's buying it. It's coming from
Leta Larsen (02:03):
Allen Pung (02:04):
Mid/out west somewhere, or they can control the rain by turning the pivot on or off.
Morgan Seger (02:10):
As Leta mentioned, there are times when fields have alfalfa and grass together. So I asked Leta and Allen their opinion on alfalfa stands versus grass stands.
Leta Larsen (02:20):
We do have some that mixing grasses, but that does change the way things are done. You can't spray Roundup then. So typically if a guy or girl is going to plant Roundup ready, they're not going to mix grass in with it because if they do, they won't be able to utilize that trait. Mixed stands can also dictate what fungicide we use. Quadris would be the only one labeled for mixed stands. I would say. There's still some that do mix grass in there, and a lot of times they'll maybe buy a cheaper conventional because that's the intent is to have it a mix. But if they're wanting to have high quality haylage, typically 100% alfalfa, it's typically a pure stand.
Allen Pung (03:01):
I, I've got a strong opinion on this. If you want alfalfa, grow alfalfa, grow alfalfa. If you want grass to mix grass, grow grass, and then how you feed that, you can control the ration that way because Leta is right. You can't manage both. We're either going to manage for hay alfalfa or we're going to manage for grass,
Leta Larsen (03:18):
Even from a crop rotation standpoint. I've even yelled at my dad on this sometimes because we'll have fields that he's let go. I mean, they're conventional and he has let him go five, six years, and he's like, oh, plenty alfalfa here. I'm like, dad, this is all grass. Oh, it'll be fine. We'll rotate it out. We'll get the nitrogen credits. I'm like, well, half of those nitrogen credits just went to the grass. You're feeding that grass now. So keep that in mind too. Your nitrogen credits are going to go down as grass comes into that field. A big reason to why we keep the grass fields just strictly grass at home is once we cut, it's a place to haul manure too. No, because we won't haul manure on pure alfalfa stands because any wheel traffic can hurt it. We keep running over the stands when we harvest, and then we go and put 10,000, 5,000, whatever it is, gallons of manure out there.
Morgan Seger (04:07):
Next we're going to tackle the other forages that can play a role in creating high quality feed for your herd.
Leta Larsen (04:13):
So other forages, obviously the other big one in the dairy ration is corn silage. But one that we are particularly excited about and that probably like you said, doesn't get enough attention in Michigan, would be like a forged sorghum or a sorghum x sudan. So we have a lot of products at Winfield. The old ones were rocket. Our BMRs sorghum x sudans are really, really good feed. I think a lot of it goes back to the nutritionist too. Like Al said, you have to be on the same page with your nutritionist. You can't put up a big pile of feed and be like, all right, here's a bunch of sorghum that we harvested. Feed it to my cows, do something with it. And the nutritionist are like, well, what do I do with this? So have that plan, obviously with your nutritionist before you plan it.
But they are a great option if you need a lot of need, a lot of feed. If you get into a situation where maybe you do pull your alfalfa outer, you take a first cutting off and maybe it's too late to plant corn. A sorghum x sudan is a good option. We do need to have soil temps that 60 degrees are higher, though even 65 is best. And so in Michigan it is hard to get guys minds wrapped around that piece because they do, they're right, they're bred down south, they're breaded in Texas, they're bred in Kansas. They need to wait. We do. We need warm soils for our sorghum x sudans. But yeah, lot of biomass great option. If you do need feed they can sometimes be hard to get completely dry. So we don't recommend baling them in Michigan and probably be a type of situation where you chop 'em. They can be tough to merge, that type of thing. Maybe sometimes you have to merge at an angle you know, have to obviously make it work for your operation. But there's a lot of guys that are doing it and they like the feed and they're successful with it. So it's a great alternative.
Allen Pung (05:57):
Had a lot of growers producers in the last few years growing triticale has really caught on, which is basically just, it's a wheat-rye hybrid, makes great feed. Typically what those guys just works well in the rotation because usually you can plant that in the fall after they chop corn. And it kind of gives almost like a cover crop kind of scenario. So you can get an opportunity to haul manure as well. And then they'll mow it and chop it usually early May before heads obviously. So you got good quality feed and then that gives 'em a place again, if they want to haul manure an opportunity to do that. Usually there's plenty of time to go back to corn. So it's corn silage, triticale in the fall and back to corn silage after the trail. And we have quite a few growers. That's a nice rotation. A lot of feed.
Leta Larsen (06:45):
Nutritionists seem to like it, right? Very right. They know what to do with it.
Allen Pung (06:48):
Yep, it, it's a good quality. I mean, it's a lactating cow quality feed. It's not just meant for heifers or dry cows. And you're utilizing those acres too. That's the big thing. It's just there again, like we talked before about mm-hmm <affirmative>, getting everything off as many tons as I can off every acre on my farm.
Leta Larsen (07:04):
And then like you said, a spot for manure too, because that's a big deal.
Allen Pung (07:07):
And seeding alfalfa works well into that rotation as well too, because if you take corn silage off, you could see, gives you a chance to maybe do some manure, maybe an application of lime if it's needed, and then do some triticale and then that's going to come off in spring. And then if you want, you have the option of going back behind that and seeding alfalfa too. You've typically got a nice level seed bed. You have to do some tillage obviously, but you're not starting from scratch.
Leta Larsen (07:33):
Allen Pung (07:34):
Uniformed seed bed. So I would almost say that the triticale has become a bigger thing than the forage sorghum of sorghum-sudan has.
Leta Larsen (07:42):
I'd have to agree.
Morgan Seger (07:43):
Personally, I'm pretty unfamiliar with triticale, so I asked Allen to share more details around that crop.
Allen Pung (07:50):
It's just like winter wheat. Okay. I mean, if it's growing in a field and you're driving by at 60 mile an hour, yeah, you, I would challenge somebody to tell the difference between triticale and wheat. It's a nice crop. We have quite a bit. It is several dairies doing that now and really like it been doing it for a while now.
Leta Larsen (08:06):
Yeah, they'll complain about how much is out there that it plugs mergers and they can have just because there's so much.
Allen Pung (08:12):
They so much. Yeah, the it's right. Yeah, a lot of tons and a lot of good tons. And then it also gives you an opportunity, even if you do manure, a light coating if you're going to go back to corn, it's usually a minimum tillage sort of thing because you got a nice seed bed. So they don't necessarily have to till that to go back in there. If they're set up to do minimum till or no-till, you can very easily do that and plant corn back into it usually works well and as far as their workload and their labor, because it's going to come off in the spring before you're going to start alfalfa. And a lot of times actually what they will do is they'll do their triticale and then they're planting corn in between there too. But they can go right from triticale and move right into harvesting first crop on hay, on hay on alfalfa.
Morgan Seger (08:53):
As we've mentioned several times through this series, our best laid plans can still change based off of weather and other external factors. Next, Allen walks us through what happens if that triticale does start to head out.
Allen Pung (09:05):
Yeah, that's the bad thing to really, if you run into a weather event where you can't get out there and mow it, the downside is it quickly will, once it starts to head or gets far along, it's going to quickly lose its quality fast. There was this couple folks that we worked with this past spring where it got away from 'em a little bit. We had rain come in and they didn't get out there to mow it. I mean they still did. It was almost heading and they knew the quality was not going to be there. So then it become, instead of a lactating cow feed, it became, yeah, heifer feed or dry cow feed. But there again, that still helps your overall feed inventory because those cows were eating something before. So now that probably just means they were probably getting almost, I dunno if too good a feed is right, but for heifers or dry cows, I mean you have to watch the energy levels. They don't need really good feed because you don't, there's just not What if you feed a, especially a dry cow that's pregnant, I mean that too good of feed are just going to get fat, I guess mean it's no other way to call it too big. They're going to get too big. They're going to get too big. And then that presents a whole host of problems too.
Leta Larsen (10:06):
Same thing with fat heifers,
Allen Pung (10:08):
So that, but you're right, Morgan, that does, the quality goes away quickly if you let it go too far along. Yeah, and there was some fields last year I saw were I remember going by, I mean they were headed mean it was in another week. They could have went in and combined it <laugh>, but they still mowed it. I don't know what they fed it to or maybe depending on, it just depends on what they're feeding. If they're feeding some sort of BMR or corn silage, a lot of times some of those folks, because if they are feeding BMR corn silage and they're putting up a really good haylage that passes through the cow so fast because it's such good feed quality. So sometimes they will, it doesn't have enough digestible fiber or undigestible fiber actually. So they will add something like this, and that might have been where some of that went.
They might have needed some of that to provide in their ration to try to slow everything down a little bit so it doesn't pass through the cow so fast it it's becoming a practice as that is what I'm saying. Yeah. I mean at first it kind of maybe started as, oh, this makes good feed. It's an emergency. I'm short on feed, I'm going to do this. Well, then they did it and they quickly discovered, Hey, this really works. This is a good feed. It's a good rotation for me. I'm going to plan on doing this.
Leta Larsen (11:14):
They already own the chopper. They already own the merger to do all that anyway, so it's like, well, yeah, as well works out and
Morgan Seger (11:20):
It's still fitting in, spreading manure and all of those other things that they were doing before, so. Right. Makes sense.
Leta walks us through the harvest schedule for these sorghum x sudans.
Leta Larsen (11:31):
So it would be 40 days or 40 inches, whatever comes first for most of the sorghum x sudan, what it would be in my head, I group everything into forage sorghum, which I probably shouldn't, but there's forgage sorghum products which are single cut, and then there's sorghum x sudans that regrow. So I would say that the sorghum x sudans would probably be the most popular among dairies.
Allen Pung (11:50):
And there's a place for those too. And that's one of the areas where it's kind of cool when the agronomy team sits down with the nutrition team, because most of all the producers I know, they have all got fields where depending on the soil type, the conditions, they just don't grow very good corn silage, those type of crops, those sorghum sudans, they take a third less water than corn does. So when it comes to soil types and that type of ground, it's less little more, less nitrogen, less nitrogen, a little more marginal or stressed ground. They're perfect crops for that kind of ground. So they have a fit too. It's just make sure that we we're talking with everybody on the farm, we're just not planning this because it's the right thing to do. Agronomy, is there a use for it on the farm? Is there a home?
Leta Larsen (12:29):
Yeah. Can the nutritionist actually do something with it?
Allen Pung (12:34):
Silage. Good. I mean, I would say it's equal
Leta Larsen (12:36):
On the BMR stuff. On the BMR stuff on the, yeah. Yeah. So not like your older rocket type products, but the newer BMR stuff,
Allen Pung (12:45):
Probably the big difference might be starch levels obviously
Leta Larsen (12:47):
Not have starch. Yeah, that's where my head was like you would
Allen Pung (12:50):
Corn silage because of the corn. Yeah, but still there's sugars, there's in those forage sorghum or sorghum x sudan plants that it almost feeds like corn silage from what guys tell me.
Leta Larsen (13:01):
Protein won't be as high as alfalfa is, but it's still fairly good. Not just heifer feet, right? Anymore.
Allen Pung (13:07):
No, it's not a throwaway thing. Yeah, it can be fed to lactating cows.
It's kind of interesting. I just saw the statistic not that long ago. People don't really think of it in Michigan, but Michigan actually, we have one of the largest percentages of large dairies of anybody in the country. Michigan does as a state...
Leta Larsen (13:22):
And we get the most milk out of our cows.
Allen Pung (13:25):
Is for the full milk for cow. No, that's a fact.
Leta Larsen (13:27):
I think I hear that stat every week from some type of farmers like Michigan dairy farmers are dang proud of that. They are proud of it. They really are. They're proud of it. It is something to be proud of. It is.
Allen Pung (13:38):
They get more milk out of their cows in any other state in the country.
Leta Larsen (13:41):
Incredibly efficient. Climate is a big contributor. Cows like the cold.
Allen Pung (13:44):
Cold, they like the climate. They'd rather have it a little cold or big animals, they don't like the heat.
Leta Larsen (13:48):
Yes, we can get in to some inconsistencies that sometimes they'll dip in milk and all that, but for the most part, fairly consistent climate too. Obviously we get our summers.
Allen Pung (13:59):
And we do have good dairy producers. I mean they're sharp folks and I think the industry as a whole in Michigan really is, I would even include us in that, right? From everybody that's involved in it, I think plays a part where we're doing things that are helping them be better at what they do. That's what they do. That's their job. Make milk. Yeah. I always find it interesting if I work with producers that aren't from this country, I'll ask, I love asking 'em that question. So why did you pick Michigan? You could have went and milked cows wherever you're from, you could have went and milk cows anywhere. Why did you pick Michigan? And a lot of 'em will tell you two things. Climate, the climate is good for cows able to grow good feed,
Leta Larsen (14:42):
Yeah, you have water...
Allen Pung (14:43):
And water. Reliable source of water is a big deal. We just talked about that coming down, and that's not even only alfalfa. We grow over 300 crops in Michigan. We're number two for diversity only Behind California, we're number one with a reliable source of water. That's what California doesn't have. And a lot of our producers interesting when they come from Europe. So alfalfa's a new thing for them. Most of them have never grown alfalfa. They don't grow alfalfa in Europe. They can't. It's all grass. They get a lot more rain than we do. The climate is just not conducive for alfalfa. So when they come over here, there is a little bit of a learning curve for 'em as far as growing alfalfa. They want to grow grass, they want to grow grass. Grass is not as good of feed. It's not as high of protein. It's just not as, you know, it's like, okay, you have to forget a little bit about what, from where you came from.
We grow alfalfa. This is what we do here. We grow alfalfa. A lot of 'em come over here and they predominantly, they want to grow, feed a heavier corn silage diet because that's what they're used to growing corn. They're good at growing corn. They're not really that familiar with hay. But once they get hay into their production, start feeding it, they see how the cows like it. The next thing they're feeding, they're growing a lot more alfalfa and they're feeding a lot more alfalfa. Well, and Leta just said on the way down here, what did you say? How much longer does a cow live? Yeah,
Leta Larsen (15:57):
Yeah. I remember a stat at Michigan State, and I don't remember where it was from, but it was in one of my classes, so I can't say this is where I got it up in Missauckee County in McBain there. That pocket, the average age of a lactating dairy cow is around five years and it's a heavy haylage diet. And over in the thumb where it's maybe a heavier corn silage diet, some counties over there, it's like 2.8 years. So just the haylage introduction into that diet it, it's huge. Haylage being a heavy portion of the forage in the diet, that's a huge deal overall. And it's important in crapping rotations too. As we go back to the nitrogen piece, providing that nitrogen fixation.
Allen Pung (16:36):
Cows are ruminants. People forget that sometimes they want to feed 'em kind of like pigs, but they're not pigs. They're ruminants. They like the alfalfa, they like that forage, they like that fiber. I mean, that's what they do. That's how their body works.
Leta Larsen (16:49):
Actually. And I'm not a dairy nutritionist, so I'm sure someone else with a nutrition background could go into more detail on this. But we've got collars at home that monitor rumination in all of our dairy cows. And my dad always comments is when we get into good haylage, good quality haylage ruminations always jump. It boosts rumination, boost milk production because of that. So it's kind of neat that we can directly track that too and relates back to us for helping him cut every 28 days. And now he's seeing that by looking at these collars like, oh wow, not only is milk production up, but cow health is up too. So it's a big deal.
This technology is great from, so what else do they get from those collars? I mean, they can detect -
Heat detection, heat, so that's been a big deal for us. We use one guy where we used to use three just in helping with reproduction, things like that. The collars can identify when they're actually in heat. So that's a big deal.
Allen Pung (17:45):
Do they monitor how many steps? I mean activity during the day and stuff, or is that how you're tech detecting heats as far as activity?
Leta Larsen (17:52):
And Yep. Yep. Monitors activity. So if you have a down cow maybe she's not moving, I forget what the exact parameter is on how many hours she hasn't moved. But it can detect when we have a down cow so the herdsman can know exactly what number it is, what pen she's in, go pull her out of there, treat her. There is an app on our phone that will alert us if we have a down cow. If there's a cow that's either not ruminating, not moving, or in heat, we get the herdsman gets a texts like, Hey, whether it's like 2383 is in heat. So it's pretty cool.
Allen Pung (18:24):
But there is so much technology today. The robot milking systems still fascinate me to think that we could be milking cows
Leta Larsen (18:32):
- With robots -
Allen Pung (18:33):
With robot. And that technology has come just so far in the last few years. And a lot of that was driven by labor people not being able to find labor or dependable labor. It's like one guy told me, my robots don't call in sick. They show up every day. They're always here. And really you can set it as far as limiting at how many times. So basically, really it's up to that cow how many times she wants to get milk during the day, really within parameters. But if they're uncomfortable and it's a high producing cow, they can go in there. I know some folks that are three, four times a day. Three,
Leta Larsen (19:03):
Four, yeah, four even. Yeah, it's like unheard of. Had we said that 20 years ago, it'd be like "Four times a day milking. That's insane." But that's just the way it's
Allen Pung (19:11):
Calm. Some of the cows quickly figure out, they just keep coming back through. They, they're so now you have to turn after three or four times. It's like, yeah, no, you're not getting,
Leta Larsen (19:19):
Allen Pung (19:19):
Leta Larsen (19:20):
You're done eating. Cut her off.
Allen Pung (19:24):
But yeah, it's just crazy. And a lot of producers will tell you milk, they actually, production increases
Leta Larsen (19:31):
Allen Pung (19:32):
They gain more milk with robots. And it's just a more consistent, the experience for the cow coming in every time is the same.
Leta Larsen (19:38):
Cows want to be milked.
Allen Pung (19:39):
Yeah, they're creatures that habit too. I mean they like that. Once they get it figured out, maybe the first few times they come in and are milk by robots, always. The transition is interesting. I mean, it's like I know dairies that have transitioned. I mean, they're calling neighbors. I mean it's like all hands on deck. It is for the first three, four days to get the cows used to it, but once they get used to it, yeah, it's like get out of their way. They like it.
Morgan Seger (19:59):
Now we are in our fourth episode with Leta, but she's going to take a few minutes and break down exactly how she works with Ceres Solutions when it comes to the agronomics behind dairy nutrition.
Leta Larsen (20:11):
I partner with all of our series employees through our locations in Michigan, so we've got the two main ones, so that'd be McBain in that Fremont area. We've got our sellers and our managers and agronomists up there, all of them who I can help if they need it with scouting, with different management topics like this, talking growers through making those management decisions for their alfalfa planning, their cropping rotations, things like that. And then obviously scouting in the spring, making recommendations on fields to rotate things like that, training new sellers on how to do that. And then training sellers on all of our varieties that we have as we make recommendations for spring planning. And then like Al mentioned, just a lot of scouting in the summer for insects, diseases, tissue tests, things like that to know where your nutrient levels are see if we need to get different applications of potash, boron, sulfur, wherever things might fall based on what they need.
And then in the fall again, doing stand evaluations making sure that stands are healthy, going into winter, making recommendations on when to take that last cutting so you have enough regrowth growing into winter things like that. And then started all over in the spring. And then like I mentioned too, so I worked directly for the CROPLAN alfalfa marketing team. And so I put together things like our alfalfa newsletter, different tech bulletins, things like that, and send that data out to our growers as well as our Ceres employees. So they have all those resources to provide to their farmers too.
Allen Pung (21:37):
So we believe that, and I think most nutritionists believe that as well. Everything starts with forages on the farm. That quality of your forages dictates everything that they're going to do. I know I've heard our nutritionist say that they want, obviously they'd like the best quality that they can, but they'll also tell you probably number one for them, I want it to be consistent, even if it's consistently bad, I can work with that.
<laugh>. So we do try to communicate as an agronomy team with our feed team a lot. And we do try to make even some joint calls on our producers if we can. You start talking about some of these plans and sometimes on the agronomy side, we'll, we'll be visiting with the dairy and we'll come up with an idea about maybe planting a forage sorghum or a different crop that is meant to be fed because it works in the rotation. That's what's best for the agronomy. We're going to use this field, it's just sitting, let's do something with it. If we don't include our counterparts on the feed side, we'll have this big plan and then the dairy producer will have this big pile of feed, and then they'll come to the nutritionist and the nutritionist will say, well, what do you want me to do with that?
We can't feed that. And that's, I think something else again, that we have an advantage as Ceres. We can close that loop and bring it all together. And our dairy producers appreciate that because it just, we're all on the same page. They can try to coordinate that if they can. And some of 'em do as far as keeping the lines of communication open. But most of the time we're having to do that, lead that discussion. And even if we don't meet on the farm together, we have a lot of conversations with our nutritionist when we're talking about picking out corn hybrids for silage maturities. What does their feed inventory look like? When are they going to chop? And a lot of times we're having those conversations amongst ourselves behind the scenes, and the dairy producer may not even know about it. We just have to do that because that's what we need for them to be successful.
So we do have a great facility in the feed manufacturing side in White Cloud. They have, that's the latest technology. There's not, I would dare say it's got to be the newest feed mill in Michigan. There's not very many new feed mills built, and it's only a few years old and they have a lot of great technology there. Capacity to put out some great pellets and stuff for folks feeding in parlors. We just try to work a lot with our nutritionist. It's not easy sometimes because everybody's busy try to get schedules lined up. But we try to, in order to be best for our producers and the Centered on You philosophy that we have in Ceres, that we need to be visiting internally with each other, agronomy and feed to do what's best for those dairy producers.
Morgan Seger (24:01):
Ceres Solutions is in a unique position where they can include not only all of this agronomy information we have been talking about, but they have a way to tie it in to feed and the nutrition side. A few years back, Ceres Solutions decided that they had reached a critical point in their journey where they needed to decide if they were going to be all in for local livestock producers for the long term. That question led to a $13 million expansion into the White Cloud feed mill. By spring 2018, the feed mill was manufacturing feed, and the thing that was really unique was that Ceres Solutions, being a farmer owned cooperative, took time to listen to what the growers in their area needed. There were three urgent priorities that they decided to focus on every day, assuring feed quality, consistency, and biosecurity. The location has almost 40 ingredient bins and automated loadout bins with 90,000 bushels of storage. It was designed and built for them to grow and scale over the next 100 years as well. Truly making this a state of the art facility. Henry Huisjen, the White Cloud feed mill manager, shares more information about the background and the customer experience at White Cloud.
Henry Huisjen (25:14):
One of the best ways to build a relationship is to ask questions and to listen at Ceres Solutions. We've been doing a lot of listening. I'm Henry Huisjen and I'm pleased to represent the Animal Nutrition team behind Ceres Solutions Feed. Our team is committed to delivering results to local livestock producers. Biosecurity is important to our customers, and we're proud to operate a Fully Biosecure facility where every mix is a custom mix. Quality and consistency are important. Working with each customer and nutritionist, our team tailors manufacturing solutions and creates products we believe will help optimize production and profitability opportunities, flexibility and responsiveness matter to our customers. That's why our facility provides bulk deliveries, custom rations, mineral mixes, and pelletizing capabilities. We also offer price risk management and financing options. Plus our White Cloud facility routinely achieves Safe Feed, Safe Food Certification standards. This recognition is pursued by our team every year because it helps set us apart. It's not a requirement of our industry. It's something we ask voluntarily of ourselves. Your confidence in your trust are exceptionally important to us. Again, I'm Henry Huisjen. It would be an honor for me and others on my team to visit with you, to listen and to earn your business. What can Ceres Solutions feed manufacture for you?
Morgan Seger (26:46):
Well, that's a wrap on our fifth series focused on the agronomics behind Dairy Nutrition. A huge thank you to my co-host, Allen Pung and our guest Leta Larsen with CROPLAN. If you'd like to learn more about working with Ceres Solutions agronomy or with the nutritionist and the feed team at White Cloud, feel free to give them a call. Reach out to your local Ceres Solutions representative or learn more at ceres dot co-op. I learned so much throughout this series, and I really hope it was valuable for you and your operation. Our next series is going to be focused on new technology. We'll have some wide ranging guests from tech industry experts to agronomists. I cannot wait to share that one with you.