Member of Distinction: Mountain Area — Double W Farm Dairy

Written by Christine Bush
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For three generations, the men who ran Double W Farm Dairy in Holyoke, Colo., focused on continuous improvement, investing in cow comfort and nutrition. Glenn Huwa with his brothers-in-law, Marc and Gregg Wailes, operate the 1,500-cow dairy and stay committed to those goals while they search for new ways to advance the operation.

Family members made strides toward improvement when they consulted with a nutritionist a few years ago. The nutritionist suggested big changes to the feed program, which included growing some of their own silage. The family followed the nutritionist’s ideas and found success as the plan helped offset the high cost of alfalfa and combat the low-quality hay available at the time. The men eliminated hay and in its place added supplements to the feed mix.

“We’ve raised about half of our silage,” Huwa says. “We don’t raise any of our corn for shelled corn, so we like to put anywhere from 22,000 to 25,000 tons of silage every year. Our cow health is probably the best it has ever been. The animals are healthy and they look healthy, so we’ve been very pleased.”

They add straw as a fiber to help form the fiber net in the gut. In addition to nutritious feed, Huwa says cow comfort contributes to his quality milk.

Colorado can have extreme shifts in temperature. To help the herd handle the shifts, the men switched to freestalls, which improves ventilation. They began in 1996 by building two small freestall barns, added a larger one in 2002, and four years later, added another large freestall.

“They’re probably a good 10 degrees cooler inside the barn when it’s 100 degrees outside, and the cows will always be inside,” Huwa says. “It’s amazing. I think there’s almost more benefit of the freestall barns in the summertime than in the wintertime. I mean the winter’s nice, they get out of the severe cold and the wind, but I think they’re more beneficial in the summertime.”

When the weather is nice, the cows spend time in exercise lots and are moved back to stay in the freestall barns when weather turns bad. The men also installed misters in the barns to keep the cows cool, use curtains in different seasons to control air flow, groom the sand often and scrape the alleys three times a day to improve cleanliness.

“Not only just for the cleanliness of the cows, which help all of our counts, but, a cow doesn’t want to be laying in slop or mud,” Huwa says. “I think if we can make her comfortable, her production is going to be better.”

The family utilizes artificial insemination to breed Brown Swiss and Holstein embryos, which are used on the farm and marketed throughout the world.

“What we’ve done here in the past six to seven years is we have started flushing our best animals,” Huwa says. “So, instead of getting one calf a year out of some of our best animals, we’re getting multiple births by flushing, and then we put those embryos in our own recipient heifers.”

Marc oversees sick and fresh cows and manages heifer breeding. A veterinarian comes to the dairy every four to five weeks and consults with him about the breeding plan.
“We like certain blood lines to breed from,” Marc says. “We’ve sold Brown Swiss to South America, Mexico and probably 10 or 12 different states in the United States. We have even sold some to Canada.”