Inspirational young dairyman tailors bank barn renovation for cow comfort

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© Sherry Bunting

\’Cause Comfort Matters Blog

By Sherry Bunting for Farmshine, Jan. 27, 2017

CHILTON, Wis. — When Adam Faust purchased his parents farm four years ago, he was determined to carry on his grandfather’s legacy, and had already had his sights set on updating the old bank barn for creature comforts during his 15-year partnership with his father. The last update was in 1974.

The work began in October 2015. Two months later, he was milking cows in the renovated tie-stall barn on Christmas Day 2015.

“I spent a lot of time researching. I looked at all types of ventilation systems and all types of facilities and milking systems. I looked at Nigel Cook’s designs at the University of Wisconsin. but when it came right down to it, Tom Kestell (Ever-Green-View) encouraged me by telling me the walls here are strong, and that what’s between them can be replaced, and so that’s what I did,” Adam reflects. “He told me there is not a better system for making milk than a properly designed and managed tie-stall barn.”

Faust6751.jpgWhile he farms 500 acres, runs a custom harvesting business and sells Latham seed, it is the cows on the Northeast Wisconsin farm that are his biggest focus. Whether it’s the cows or the crops, Adam enjoys developing genetics in all that he does. He has a few Excellent cows, including an Adonis daughter with four out of five dams all Excellent that he purchased as a calf, and calved into his herd last summer.

Adam was one of five finalists for the 2017 Wisconsin Outstanding Young Farmer award. He is president of the Calumet County Forage Council, has served several years on the county dairy promotion board, is a member of the Holstein Association and Farmers Union, as well as participating actively in various community civic organizations and volunteering as a member of AgrAbility.

But those aren’t the things I found so inspiring during my summer visit to the rejuvenated Faustone Holstein Farm, Chilton, Wisconsin.

Born with spina bifida, Adam has overcome mobility challenges from the various degrees of paralysis. He has worked hard and persevered to pursue his passion for dairy farming. His recent remodel of the bank barn added a few touches for his own assistance, but his focus has admittedly always been the cows.

AgrAbility partnered with Easter Seals and the Wisconsin Division of Vocational Rehabilitation to help Adam realize his dream of independent farming, including custom steps for the tractor and feed bins instead of carrying feed bags for the youngstock and the detacher rails for moving milkers from stall to stall.

“I have always known this is what I wanted to do,” the young dairyman said. He has been mentored by some of the best in the community, like Tom Kestell, getting him involved in showing at the age of 12. From these mentors, he learned how to pick a calf that will make a good cow. Some of his best can be traced to the Ever-Green-View cow family that produced Kestell’s single-lactation milk yield world record holder for 2013 and 2016.

Adam has been thinking about modifying the dairy’s bank barn ever since he completed the two-year University of Wisconsin short courses in agronomy and dairy at the Madison campus in 1999. He did his own research on dairy systems in Europe and Canada, and he was inspired by Kestell’s comments, especially since Ever-Green-View is home to the cow that set the world record for single-lactation milk production in two of the past five years.

Top on his cow comfort list was to increase the stall size. He added 10 inches to the width and length and increased the neck rail space for lunging from 48 inches to 54.

Faust6687.jpgHe deep beds the tie-stalls using “Alternative Animal Bedding” produced from a byproduct of recycled de-inked paper from a mill outside of Green Bay. Each load is mixed with deep-bedding lime to reduce moisture and increase pH. Adam grooms the stalls each day to keep the deep-bedded material flat and adds fresh as needed. The cows are free to nestle in just like a sand bed.

“I like big powerful cows, so I wanted the stalls to fit the kind of cows I like, and I wanted them to be comfortable,” said Adam as he showed me around and pointed out a few of his top producers and Excellent cows. He has built up the pedigrees for type, relying on quality forages, a high forage TMR and improved cow comfort for increased production among his 70 cows. Production continues to climb into the upper 70s with good components and low somatic cell counts as the comfort has improved.

Faust6735.jpgMilk from the Faustone Holsteins is shipped nearby through membership in a small local marketing cooperative and is used for both cheese as well as soft serve made famous by the farmer-appreciating Midwestern restaurant chain: Culver’s.

While he uses genomics to a point, Adam is building his herd’s genetics by investing in cow families and is quick to point out that the world record milk production cow from Ever-Green-View was not a high genomic testing cow on paper. Adam is proud to have daughters from her in his herd because, as he points out, “that family has produced tremendous milk cows.”

“I will use high genomic bulls — if the pedigree behind them in decent,” he explains. “I want the bulls to have something real behind them. I look for deep cow families and components. I want a balanced cow that I can feed for yield. They need to be big enough to consume enough forage to make the milk.”

Faust6720.jpgTo that end, he feeds a 65% forage TMR that consists of hay, corn silage, corn and soybeans — all grown on the farm.

Adam has made numerous other cow comfort modifications to the bank barn.

Faust6704.jpgThe detacher rails are helpful to him, allowing him to pull the milkers to each tie-stall on the rail system instead of carrying them. And he has equipped each tie-stall with a deep Canadian-style drinking cup.

He has opened up the window sections of the concrete block walls for larger glass-block windows to let in more light and added long-day LED lighting. This concept can be a bit difficult for the previous generation when walking through the barn feeling as though lights need to stay off. But Adam is happy with the atmosphere for the cows.

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To increase air flow through the barn, he put into the wall at the far end of the stable two 72-inch ceiling-to-floor fans for air-intake year-round and small directional fans over stalls for summer. The two large intake fans produce air exchange every 14 seconds and air movement at 12 to 15 miles per hour.

The barn is now wireless equipped, and Adam uses the Del Pro system, allowing the DHIA testing to be done electronically.

In addition to the tie-stall renovation and the deep bedded stalls, Adam has adopted the 7-day fresh cow routine for his fresh cows and two-year-olds. “I picked up a sample on the first day of the 2016 Oshkosh show. Two days later, after using it on a high-pedigree 2-year-old, I had my hired man go back to buy a whole gallon.”

That fresh heifer had not been milking out completely and was giving well below her production potential. “I sprayed her udder after each milking, and by the 3rd time, she was milking out to a dishrag. Her 7-day average rose quickly from 15 to 94 lbs after the Udder Comfort straightened her out,” he explained. “I am sold on this product. It gets edema out fast for a complete milkout. Now we spray it on all fresh udders after each milking for 7 days to improve comfort and reduce stress. I see them get going and their SCCs coming down faster with far fewer high-count cows. ”

All of these changes will help Adam further build the herd’s performance at Faustone, and he has no regrets about renovating instead of building new. He wanted to continue with the tie-stall style of management and wanted to keep the herd small.

Dairying is something he loves, and now he loves the way the barn suits both him, and his cattle.

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Photo captions

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Adam Faust was born with spina bifida, but that has not stopped him from pursuing his passion for dairy and carrying on the legacy begun by his grandfather in Northeast Wisconsin. He recently renovated his tie-stall bank barn for modern-day cow comfort. Photos by Sherry Bunting

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Adam deep beds the tie-stalls using “Alternative Animal Bedding” produced from a byproduct of recycled de-inked paper from a mill outside of Green Bay. Each load is mixed with deep-bedding lime to reduce moisture and increase pH.

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Detacher rails were installed to make it easier for Adam to move his milking units from stall to stall.

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Adam Faust did a lot of research over the past 15 years and decided to stay with tie-stall milking. He bought the farm from his parents four years ago and the renovation was complete on Christmas Day 2015.

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Two 72-inch floor-to-ceiling fans were installed for air intake, providing air exchange every 14 seconds and air movement of 12 to 15 mph.

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