Hof Herwing is a farm that has existed since 1263. Today Heinz-Gerd Herwing and his brother Ansgar manage it together with their parents. Heinz-Gerd Herwing specializes in dairy farming, and his brother specializes in pig farming. There are currently around 100 dairy cows on the farm. The first apprentice came to the farm 20 years ago. The young man from Brittany participated in an exchange program of the Chamber of Agriculture. Since then, Herwing has regularly trained apprentices. The apprentices change companies every year in August and live on the farm "with a family connection". Once a week, they attend vocational school.
Each dairy cow produces between 15 and 60 litres of milk a day. The milk is filtered through a fleece filter and stored at four degrees in a 6,000 litre tank. The filter can be thought of as something like a coffee filter. Every two days the tank truck arrives from Naarmann and picks up the milk.
Herwing works with a “herringbone” milking stall in which 16 cows can be milked at the same time. The dairy cows are milked twice a day, 365 days a year. Milking is usually done in pairs: one employee brings the cows together to form a group, the other starts with the milking in the milking stall. When the cows enter the milking stall, they are identified by the collar transmitter and assigned to the appropriate pen. Before the milking equipment is put on, the udders are cleaned and the first drops of milk are released. After milking, the teats are dipped into skin care products. The first milking session begins at 6:15 in the morning. It takes about two hours, including stall cleaning. The process repeats in a second round at 5 o’clock in the evening.
At the Herwing farm, the dairy cows are housed in a cubicle stall. This allows them to move freely on the perforated floor and settle down to rest in a pen. The pens are padded with a latex mat, are cleaned twice a day and laid out with fine, fresh straw. The grated floor is cleaned by a robot several times a day. Part of the necessary electricity is produced by the farm itself using a photovoltaic system.
The calves in the yard are fed by Heinz-Gerd Herwing's mother Helene, the dairy cows by his father Heinz. Once a day, they receive a mixture of grass and corn silage and drink house water from the farm's own well. They can eat all day long – and in fact this is also the main daily activity for ruminants. Herwing grows corn, grass and cereals on around 100 hectares. The grass and maize are processed into silage by causing lactic acid fermentation through compaction and oxygen production. The fermentation takes about 6 to 8 weeks. Then the silage is stable and can be fed to the cattle. In addition to the silage, the cows also get soybean meal, rapeseed meal, cereals, straw and minerals.
About once a year, around every 400 days, a dairy cow calves. She will become pregnant about four times in her life. In Germany, new-born calves must be reported to a database within seven days of birth. The male calves are raised on the Herwing farm and fattened to slaughter. The female calves are reared by a specialised partner business from the age of half a year. The cattle are inseminated on the partner farm and return to Herwing at the age of two, shortly before the first calving as future dairy cows.
During the time when the dairy cows at Herwing do not give milk because the birth of the next calf is imminent, they are in the pasture or in the straw barn. This dry phase lasts around six to eight weeks. During this time, when they are not milked, the dairy cows can prepare for calving.
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