Recapping Kentuckiana Dairy Exchange 2015

The 2015 Kentuckiana Dairy Exchange proved to be an amazing opportunity to see well-managed dairy farms in southwest Indiana, interact with producers from two states, and see some of the very latest technologies available to dairy farmers. Nearly 130 people participated in some part of the two-day event. Click here to view photos of Kentuckiana 2015.


Kentuckiana 2015
Mark Rauscher 

The first dairy farm visit was to Rauscher Dairy, belonging to Mark Rauscher, and his son Dan, in Huntingburg in Dubois County. The farm was established in 1885 and is now seeing the 5th generation take a leadership role in the dairy. In addition to Mark and Dan, the Rauschers have 4 full time non-family members working at the dairy, as well as 2 part time employees. Rauschers are mostly a seasonal herd where they freshen 80% of their 220-cow herd in September and October. It's not uncommon for them to have 100 bottle calves in September-October. No calves are born from Christmas Eve through March 1 and again for a couple months in the summer. Dan discussed some of their hired labor challenges that come with seasonality, due to the high workload certain times of the year. Asked for their ability to achieve such a low Somatic Cell Count (well below 100,000), Mark said when the cows are clean and comfortable, it's not been difficult to maintain the excellent count. Mark enjoys the cows, but one of the biggest challenges he's ever had has been transitioning the dairy to the next generation. Getting the right people to help with the process was huge.


KentucKiana 2015
Steve and Wes Obert 

Obert Legacy Dairy, Fort Branch, welcomed the group next. They milked 760 cows the day of the Kentuckiana tour, currently averaging 27,000 RHA with 1000 pounds of butterfat. They also operate 1200 acres of crops. Back in 2007, Steve and Kelly Obert and their family took a trip to Michigan. They asked themselves, "Do we still have a passion for this? Is this an industry with a future?" They returned believing the answer was yes to both of the questions, and the new facility that was built in 2010 was the result. The family members that are active at the dairy include Steve and Kelly, three sons, Wes, Klint and Mitch, and Steve's brother Tom. Four years ago, they installed automatic calf feeders, mostly overseen by son, Wes. It was a very hot day when the Kentuckiana tour visited the farm, but the fans and misters made the barns considerably cooler than the outside air. The sand separator and sand lane that are utilized definitely made nutrient management of the farm easier and using recycled bedding has worked well.


Kentuckiana 2015
Brian and Ranell Rexing Family
(not pictured, 2 yr old son, Case) 

Brian Rexing and his wife Ranell shared their New Generation Dairy, Owensville in Gibson County. The day the tour saw the farm was exactly 7 years from the 1st day a cow was milked there. That day, it was 119 cows, but the numbers have moved up considerably, and with their last expansion in 2010, they are currently milking around 1250 cows, with room to go to around 1400 or so. Rexing's have 25 full time employees. Their herd manager and his wife are both a great support to Rexing's. They have an excellent observation deck for viewing the double 28 parallel parlor. The Rexing's built it because they wanted to share their story with others who wished to visit the farm. They currently have an agritourism business, and over 2000 people toured the farm this past spring.  New Generation Dairy is a direct-load farm, and every tanker of milk is weighed on the scale as it leaves the farm. The cows are milked 3 times a day with an RHA of about 29,500. They use about 85% recycled bedding, but they use new sand in the fresh cow pen and the hospital pen. Brian said, "It's not an easy life, but I love it. I chose this life and I try to never complain about it."


Kentuckiana 2015
Duane Koester 

Koester Brothers Farms, Wadesville in Posey County was the final stop of the tour. In 2012, Raymond, Duane, Dale and James Koester built a new freestall barn with four Lely robotic milking units, and they began milking on Dec. 18th when some of the 5th generation of Koesters were home from attending Purdue University and could help over their Christmas break. The reason for installing the robots was mostly labor related, but the interest with the next generation was really key. The family originally got into the dairy business when the brothers' parents were married back in 1951. For a wedding present, they received a couple of bred heifers, and the rest was history. They really like the heat detection system that is included with the robotic system. They also have the Juno robotic feed pusher in the alleys. The Koesters raise all their own forages except for buying most of their cow hay from Kansas. Koester's admitted they are still working on cow comfort issues, but the new facility was very impressive and it was so encouraging, seeing this inspirational family working together.

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