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                                          January 2014 
The best feed ingredients: Good people and good management main
Travis Thayer, DVM  Diamond V
The vast majority of dairy employees want to do a great job. But if they don't understand expectations, costs, and key performance outcomes, it can jeopardize your TMR investment. 

Producer Spotlight producer 
Thriving at the last dairy in San Diego
The Frank Konyn Dairy staff and families celebrate Thanksgiving in the alfalfa field barn. That's Frank next to his dog.
Who  Frank Konyn 

What  Frank Konyn Dairy

Where  San Diego, CA

Why  The one and only

There may be only one major city left in the U.S. that can still claim a working commercial dairy inside its city limits. San Diego, the 8th largest U.S. city, is home to the Frank Konyn Dairy, the only working dairy farm within the city limits and one of only three in San Diego County.

By California standards, the herd is small -- 1600 animals, including 700 milking cows. "Some dairymen might call us a hobby dairy, but we're not," says Frank. "I work with our staff on the dairy seven days a week."
Frank's dad started the dairy in 1962.

San Diego once had 200 dairies within the city. But land and water costs plus the lure of development dollars for farmland changed land use in major ways over the years. Frank's dairy leases its land from the city, and is located within a designated ag zone - the Agricultural Preserve in San Pasqual Valley -- that includes other agricultural producers. One sign of ag preserve land use: You can't see Qualcomm Stadium or the San Diego Zoo from the barn. "It's open space," Frank says. "We see the sun and the colors in the sky. It's a little gem here."

Environmental stewardship  The dairy also sits on top of an aquifer, which means close attention to its manure management program. "Forty percent of our manure goes out of the dairy and is sold as dry composting," says Frank. The compost is marketed by a sister company, San Pasqual Valley Soils. The remaining manure is utilized on the dairy's farming operation. The ag preserve location means closely monitored compliance requirements, Frank notes, which helps the dairy stay a step ahead of many other dairies in its regulated operations.

Creating fans
of dairy farming  Ag tourism is a big thing within the ag preserve valley, and at the dairy. "We don't do scripted tours," Frank says. "You tell us what you want to see and what you're interested in and we'll show it to you." Eventually, Frank would like to expand to a vertical integration, selling locally bottled milk to the public. A legacy of educational tours may help the milk brand get an extra boost in the marketplace.

One important element of the tours--certainly important to the success of the dairy--is depicting the fact that people and the jobs they do are what make the operation a success. Visitors can view a wall of employee photos which includes unique information about each person.

"We want to show that people work here," Frank says.  "Families work here. When people knock animal agriculture, they're knocking families and real people who work hard for a living."

Frank's dairy is permitted for milking 940 cows, but he keeps the herd at 85% capacity. "The bean counters will tell you that you should be operating at 118% capacity," Frank says.  "My philosophy is, once you start overcrowding, other things can go wrong. Operating at 85%, you have time to review things and make adjustments. And, the facility shows better to the public at 85%."

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Tip of the Month TIP
TMR mixing: Sharp cutting blades can sharpen profit margins
Tom Oelberg
Tom Oelberg, Ph.D.
Diamond V

Dull mixer blades and worn equipment are perhaps the biggest causes of variation in TMRs. Most of my conversations with dairy producers have revealed that they have never replaced blades, or they may have replaced them once per year. It appears that we need to monitor blade sharpness much more frequently than once per year, especially if dry hay is included in the TMR. Sharp mixer blades can improve TMR consistency, and hence, milk production and milkfat content.

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