Medina Dairy, located in Hudson, Mich., is a 3,300-cow dairy owned by Milk Source. Founded in 1999 by Jim Ostrom, John Vosters and Todd Willer, Milk Source operates dairies in Wisconsin, Michigan and Missouri, where they produce milk that is used to make many different types of dairy products. Milk Source has become a leader in modern sustainable agriculture and has been recognized for their commitment to environmental stewardship and innovation in the use of sand recycling, manure separation and nutrient application to the soil.
Like many dairies in Michigan, Medina Dairy uses sand as bedding in their freestall barns. Sand is a popular choice for freestall bedding because it is an inorganic material, so it prohibits the growth of bacteria and reduces the exposure of teat ends to mastitis-causing pathogens. It provides traction, making it easier for the cows to get up and down, and reduces potential injuries to knees, hocks and joints. Sand also offers a comfortable place for the cows to lie.
“We think sand is the best bedding there is, as long as you manage it well,” said Herd Manager Husbaldo Dominguez, “and cows are extremely comfortable on it.”
When Milk Source purchased Medina Dairy in 2013, it wanted to enhance the dairy’s existing bedding and manure management practices, which consisted of pushing sand-laden manure into manure storages, to improve the sustainability and environmental impact of the dairy.
Milk Source began a comprehensive investigation of the Medina site, considering all avenues for sand-manure separation and sand recycling. They had a good relationship with Komro Sales and Service, McLanahan’s agricultural dealer in Wisconsin, who had recently put in a McLanahan Sand Separation System at another of their dairies in Wisconsin. With this in mind, they reached out to McLanahan and Komro to evaluate the Medina site.
With McLanahan’s assistance, Komro put together plans for upgrading the existing flume system at Medina Dairy as well as adding a McLanahan Sand Separation System to recycle the sand bedding for reuse. The McLanahan Sand Separation System included a Dual Collection Auger, two Inclined Manure Augers, two Sand-Manure Separators and two Agricultural Sand Dewatering Screens.
The Collection Auger helps to pre-separate the sand before the Inclined Augers pull the sand-laden manure out of a reception pit and deposit it into the Sand-Manure Separators. The sand, being heavier than the organic matter that floats out of the system for further processing, sinks to the bottom of the Sand-Manure Separators. It is then conveyed by rotating spiral augers out of the Sand-Manure Separator and onto Agricultural Sand Dewatering Screens as clean, recycled separated sand containing minimal organic content. The vibrating Dewatering Screens shake off any excess moisture to discharge a drip-free sand that can be reused in the freestalls within days. The screens also help to remove some of the remaining organic material in the recycled separated sand.
“Keeping organic matter out of the sand is key; you have to make sure you don’t have much of that,” Dominguez said.
Adding the sand recycling and separation facility to Medina Dairy helped Milk Source to meet their environmental and sustainability goals for the site. Recycling their sand reduces the amount of haul trucks on the neighboring roads, as well as saves the dairy from frequently purchasing new sand. It also saves them from cleaning sand out of the manure storages, which have been decommissioned thanks in part to the McLanahan Sand Separation System.
Another benefit of the McLanahan Sand Separation System is that it provides a nearly sand-free manure stream. Removing the sand from the manure stream allows the dairy to press and stack the solids for land application without the sand.
Medina Dairy runs the McLanahan Sand Separation System 24 hours a day, and Dominguez said the system has been working well.
“It’s been pretty good,” Dominguez said of the system, which has been operating continuously on the dairy since 2014. “As long as you manage it and you train new guys on how to run it and you train the pushers on how to dump manure into the flush system, it works great.”
Milk Source maintains a great working relationship with Komro. If they ever need parts, service or general support on the system at Medina Dairy, they know they can call on Komro for assistance. One of the many benefits of partnering with a McLanahan dealer is the local service and support they can provide.
“Komro helps us with training, parts and any technical support we need,” shared Dominguez.