Farm: Trotacre Farm
In the morning we depart Ohio for Pennsylvania. Soon after crossing the state border we are at Trotacre farm, where multiple generations of the Trotter family are farming. Jimmy & Marylou bought the farm in 1942, and Guernseys have been a part of the farm since then.
The farm has 500ac of crop land – only 177ac beans and 120ac corn has been planted so far with the wet weather. They are in the middle of cutting more haylage, and cows are sent out to graze in better weather in addition to their PMR. The family has a small ice cream shop that supports the local community, but the main focus is now moving to launch a coop with Golden Guernsey milk selling a naturally golden product. The partnership is being developed with 5 other Guernsey breeders to ship Guernsey milk to a specialty processor and generate a better return for the members for their superior product.
Trotacre is also a partner with a number of other breeders – Melinda Rushing being one of them. Paokie was established as a PA/OK partnership, and Lil Ernie being named after Melinda’s father. Steve Lynkarski is also a partner from the TX area joining the Guernsey breed.
We enjoy a family lunch in front of a group of heifers, with Ernie featuring prominently as sire, along with Ladysman and Copper. We then move across to the calf pens, and look through the dry cows – Cara’s favourite Maelyn is a strong powerful cow, currently dry but with 3 calves, she will be quite the 6 year old with her next calf. In the milking herd there is a nice range of cows sired by different sires – VIP, Jonathon, Grumpy and other bulls. As the animals walk out the barn and past the feedpad, the cows demonstrate their great feet & legs, silky udders with great width and medium stature. The cows walk out to join the rest of the Holstein herd grazing on the pasture.
We then load up with Robin and head off to Rivendale farm. The owner is a passionate supporter of the dairy industry and has set up a brand new barn with automatic Lely robots to milk the purebred Jersey herd. The original setup caters to nearly 240 head, but the site is only 10ac with 15ac for cropping. They buy all their inputs, and the site has issues with manure (storage and spreading). The cows are fed a TMR with corn silage and hay – with approximately ¾ of the grain requirements fed through the robot. This is spread throughout the visits, as the cows average 4.1 visits/day.
The cows are housed in a compost pack that is ripped 2x per day by a rotor tiller with spikes – the bedding is actually a longer bark that originally arrived by accident but has now proven to be more a more economical choice and better for the cows. In the show barn the cows are in individual box stalls/ large tie-stalls which are then connected to pasture which the cows enjoy in the evenings.
With the robots they could milk 180 but are now looking to review the numbers down to 70 cows in order to reduce the number of FT workers on farm. The cows are all A2A2, and the milk is sent to be processed into both liquid milk and ice cream. The dairy is currently buying cream to keep up with demand and keeping up to the soft serve. The milk is standardised to a 3.5% fat test and supplied into 7 stores (after buying the business with 5 currently). They have a repertoire of 36 flavours, with 10 currently in production. Riverdale are nice enough to bring us containers of ‘Pirates Treasure’ - a specialty flavour made for the Penn Pirates, along with a delicious chocolate milk, and plain milk for us to take with us to our hotel to be able to enjoy decent milk whilst in the hotels with ‘non-dairy creamer’.
From Riverdale we then head across to Washington PA.