Learnin’ down on the farm

Majestic Crossing hosts Classroom on the Farm event
by Verla Peichl
Review Correspondent


REPRESENTATIVES FROM JOHN DEERE were on hand to discuss farm equipment, during the 14th annual Classroom on the Farm event held recently at Majestic Crossing Dairy Farm in Sheboygan Falls. — Review photo by Verla Peichl REPRESENTATIVES FROM JOHN DEERE were on hand to discuss farm equipment, during the 14th annual Classroom on the Farm event held recently at Majestic Crossing Dairy Farm in Sheboygan Falls. — Review photo by Verla Peichl The Sheboygan County Farm Bureau recently sponsored the 11th annual Classroom on the Farm event with the help of volunteers, Ag Coordinator Marcia Fenner and the sixth generation Strauss family farm Majestic Crossing Dairy in Sheboygan Falls.

Nearly 1,000 students from the city of Sheboygan, Sheboygan Falls, Cedar Grove, Elkhart Lake and Random Lake schools participated in the Sheboygan County Farm Bureau Event.

One of the highlights for the day was watching robots milk the cows. The young students learned the extreme amount of work that precedes the final phase of robotic milking.

During the robotic milking process, the cows rotate through gates that are strategically positioned so they enter and leave the area without help from humans.


STUDENTS LEARNED ABOUT the robotic milking machines, during the 14th annual Classroom on the Farm event held recently at Majestic Crossing Dairy Farm in Sheboygan Falls. 
— Review photo by Verla Peichl STUDENTS LEARNED ABOUT the robotic milking machines, during the 14th annual Classroom on the Farm event held recently at Majestic Crossing Dairy Farm in Sheboygan Falls. — Review photo by Verla Peichl The cow wears a collar with a computer chip that matches the program of the robots computer in her milking station. That chip tells the robot who she is, relays how much milk she gives and any other data that has been entered in her file.

Majestic Crossing Dairy has 13 robots. Each robot milks 60 to 70 cows in a 24 hour period. The cow has a collar which is programmed to that robot and the robot then controls the amount of milking each cow receives.

The robot will not milk a cow if she enters the milking stall too early. The robot is able to detect if she entered wrong and the gate will open and she will leave the area.

Everything that’s needed to know about each cow is mapped and programmed. Once the information is in the computer, the cow is in that system for the rest of her life.

One positive fact for this process is that employees are limited in the milking area.

The cleanup process uses 3,000 gallons less of water each day and the robot has a computer screen that records everything about each cow and that information becomes a part of her permanent record.

“This lets a cow be a cow,” said Rick Knoflicek, Majestic Crossing Dairy machinery maintenance technician. “She milks when it’s comfortable for her and not at a set time.”

Another feature of extreme interest was the robotic feeding machine. During the process, the robot named Burrito pushes the feed back to the cow so she can reach it.

The robot is programmed to go up and down the barn, but the end doors need to be closed or he will continue in a straight line until he reaches an area that will remind him to turn.

When he is finished with his job he retreats to his charger and waits until his services are needed again.

Other stops for the day included milking Addie the Cow with presenter Marlene Kamman, dairy ambassador, Wisconsin Ag Diversity, Nicole Franzen Barlass, robotic milking, presenter Courtney Hess, beef, presenter Jenny Kuffel, The Cow Doctor Dr. Chris Booth, A Day in the Life, Kathy Zimbal, Farm Machinery, Riesterer & Schnell Inc., A Cow Needs to Eat, Barb Grzywinski, baby calves and Michelle Klemme.

The host farmers were Ed Strauss’ sons Dean and Darin, who are the sixth generation of Strauss farmers and co-owners of Majestic Crossing Dairy.

A grand total of 1,900 cows call Majestic Dairy home and the milk from the cows is shipped to Sartori Cheese, in Plymouth.

At Sartori, the milk is made into award-winning artisan cheeses.

Dean Strauss is the managing partner, Darin is the dairy manager and Bryan Neeb is the operations manager. Knoflicek is married to Sara Strauss and works in the shop maintenance area.

The purpose of the event was to provide elementary students with real-world learning experiences to enhance what they learn through lessons in the classroom.

The third and fourth graders heard from the professional presenters about the six-generation farm learning about milking equipment, animal health and nutrition needs and helping them to develop an understanding of the quality of Wisconsin dairy products.

“We welcome the children to our farm to learn where their food comes from,” said Dean Strauss. “Our family is proud to share our farming heritage while providing the students with a fresh perspective on how the latest technology helps farmers produce the highest quality dairy product possible milk.”


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