Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, July 11, 1998, Image 26

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    A26-Lancaster Farming, Saturday, July 11 1998
While this composite of two photographs doesn’t match up exactly, it
gives an idea of the features of the Skyline Acres dairy facility. Notice the
14-foot sidewalls with curtains. The front walls are also 14 feet high, but the
curtain drop from the top. In front of the end curtains, in front of each sup
port post, are pipes that serve to prevent the end walls from excessive flap
ping in the wind, reducing wear and tear and noise. The automatic Houle
floor scaper system cleans the freestali floor every four hours. The manure
is gravity fed to a lagoon. Siting the facility on top of a fairly treeless hilltop
ridge allows maximum use of natural ventilation, as well as great liquid flow
control storm water can be diverted away easily and manure doesn’t
(Continued from Page A 1)
ty, operator comfort was consid
ered equally with cow comfort,
and also because it was designed to
provide opportunities for the child
xen of the two couples.
With 800 acres of cropland.
Skyline Acres concentrates on
quality milk production. They sell
fr Clover Farms Dairy Company
i Reading.
The herd is not the largest in the
''late, but the current 450-head
nerd represents more than a dou
bling of the herd the families had
oeen milking.
Such a jump in size is something
mat was considered carefully,
according to John Hix.
He said he was aware from his
i xpericnccs and those of others
Miat as good as the job opportuni-
■ cs are with such a business
■ xpansion, the risks are great
The future of the children was
< onsidered as a major reason for
expansion, Hix said.
“The opportunity is here for
tnem,” he said, but quickly added
‘nat whether the children take
tnose opportunities, “You can’t
plan that”
Employed at the farm are John
and Donna’s three children Jennif
er, 24, Michael, 23, and Mark, 18;
and coming up are Terry and
Kim’s children. Derrick, 17, and
.aura, 15
The farming acreage is on the
oiling hills just east of the village
of Shartelsville. It is characteristic
western Berks County, kind of a
lill-and-dale geography.
According to John, the work
responsibilities are fairly well
His brother Terry docs all the
herd work, breeding, and herd
management John does the crop
Terry’s wife takes care of young
calves, John’s daughter Jennifer
lakes care of the dry cows and vac
cinations. His son Mark feeds
young stock among other things,
while Michael, a recent college
graduate, docs rations and just
about all the feeding, working with
a nutritionist.
“Everybody pretty well has their
jobs," John said, “something they
do that no one else has to bother
* V ?S»|
County Dairy
The basic outline of the new
daily facility is a 450-frccstall bam
with 14-foot high curtained sidew
alls and end walls, a 10- to 12-foot
alley way for cows going to the
parlor via a breezeway, with a
three-foot wide single return alley
with an automatic sorter gate.
The parlor is actually a
double-18 rapid release parallel
Surge setup currently being used
as a double-12.
The quick release parlor is
unique in the area mainly for two
reasons; it features a single alley
cow return, with a crossover
bridge so one side can cross over to
the other side and exit through one
alley; and it is called a “subway”
The parlor is called a subway
system because it has a third, lower
floor beneath the pit floor. It has
three levels one for the cows,
one for the milkers, and one for the
It is also unique because the
milking floor of the parlor has been
outfrtted to be adjustable to the
height of the milker.
It has been outfitted with six air
bags beneath a 3,000-pound frame
and vinyl finished floor cap.
The parlor is not much different
from other computerized parlors
outfitted with meters, except,
instead of having all the meters
located immediately next in line to
the milking claws, the vacuum
pipeline extends from the milkers
down through the parlor floor to a
“basement" room where the
meters are in line, and electronic
data is automadcally available to
the main farm computer.
The farm can generate its own
production charts and graphs.
It can’t do individual somatic
cell testing, and though the Hixes
have dropped using official daily
herd improvement testing, they
may pick it up again for certain
functions. John said there’s just
been 100 much other activity
occupying their minds and time to
be able to concentrate on some of
those other details.
The Hix’s have been progres
sive dairy fanners.
“My dad originally started dairy
farming at the home farm in 1945,
about a mile and half from new
- i>
(Turn to Page A 27)
Adds New Level To Milking System
This is the cow floor in the milking parlor, one side of the double-18 parallel parlor
that is outfitted with 12 milking systems. The additional capacity can be used in case
the decision is made to expand the herd.
This is the subway, showing one wall of the milk weight testers. The information is
computerized and automatically linked to the cow so that the operator can know each
cows daily output and know immediately if there is a significant change, which could
indicate a health problem. The subway allows this part of the milking system to be iso
lated from the milking floor, and its normal mess and moisture. That minimizes the
amount of cleaning of equipment after each milking, which theoretically sh&uld
reduce milking time, as well as tasks.
need to be pumped as hard or as much as some operations with level or ele
vated manure storage facilities. On the for left is the entrance to the dairy
facility, which requires biosecurity measures, mainly disposable vinyl
boots, for guests and visitors. Someone milking in the parlor can be seen
from the parking lot in front of the entrance by looking through the double
glass doors and through the lobby. Feed bins, bunker silos and feed mixer
are located about a couple of hundred yards away from the freestail and
milking parlor, down the hill in the valley at the older dairy barn where John
Hix lives with his family in the two-femiiy dairy operation. The feed is mixed
and loaded and then hauled up to the freestail for drive through feeding.
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