In the early 1970s, David Liere and his father were pushed out of their Harris county dairy by Houston’s urban sprawl. Interests rates and input costs in the late 70s, and early 80s, kept them from expanding and they were held to milking around 175 cows. Then they decided it was time to get bigger.
“In ’94 we changed the barn over and put 10 stalls in each side and this barn here now we can milk 100 cows per hour with two people in there pretty easy.”
“All cows, heifers, and everything we have over 900 here.”
The liere dairy now milks just under 500 cows. They milk 3 groups of high volume producers 3 times a day, and two groups twice a day. And if you’ve wondered how long a dairy cow can be milked before you give her a rest
“Let’s say a cow calves. You’re going to milk her approximately, about 300 and, 305 to 340 days. She’s going to give milk for an extended period like that.”
And for a cow to produce you have to fuel the factory.
“When ours are eating good during the winter time they’re eating like 52, 53 pounds of dry matter so that means on a wet basis they could be eating 100, 110 pounds of food you know.”
“Most all the forage we try to grow ourselves, like the hay, the silage.”
Liere says at some point big does become big enough.
“But there’s a point where bigness doesn’t pay off neither. (Cut about 5 sec pause) It’s best to keep it like a family operation where you can kind of hold some of your cost and divide out some of the high dollar chores to your relatives.”
And like most Ag producers, it’s hard to have everything going right at the same time.
“If we could have our milk price as good as the bull calf market, we’d be tickled pink.”
In the winter the liere dairy produces a 5500-gallon truckload of milk every 36 hours. Liere takes it all in stride.
“Which is not a whole lot, but it’s enough to keep busy.”
The dairy business, where loafers need not apply.
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