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Boots and Gloves Required:
Visitors to Langer Dairy in DeForest, Wisconsin, are greeted with a friendly reminder to cover their shoes with plastic boots. Everyone, from the milk hauler to the veterinarian, and even preschoolers who tour the farm, are required to pull on the protective shoe wear or sanitize their rubber boots as they enter the farm.
The dairy’s owners, Sue and Randy Langer, strongly believe in protecting their cows, employees and farm, which is why they take numerous bio-security precautions. “Our main concern is preventing infectious diseases from being transferred to our farm,” Sue says. “Visitors often have to be reminded of our rules and to put on the plastic boots, but our efforts have paid off. We haven’t had to deal with any contamination issues on our dairy for the last seven years.”
Sue explains that some diseases are spread by clothing and boots or carried on a person’s body. Diseases also can be spread by animals other than cattle; and this is why the Langers monitor who is on their farm and the use of their equipment — to prevent both accidental and intentional contamination.
Bright mySecurity signs provided by Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. indicate restricted access areas and are strategically posted on entrances to the Langers’ milking parlor and barns advising visitors to contact a farm manager. It is important visitors check in before touring a farm because it allows the farm manager to keep track of who is on the farm at all times and prevents visitors from inadvertently going into restricted areas without plastic boots or sanitizing
In addition to posting the signs, the Langers also display DFA’s Guide to Farm Bio-security wall chart on their farm so that all employees have easy access to basic information on how to keep the food supply safe.
“We encourage all of our members to take advantage of the bio-security materials provided by DFA,” says Jim Carroll, DFA vice president, quality assurance and regulatory affairs. “I commend the Langers for their efforts in preventing the spread of disease. In addition to limiting infectious diseases, these practices aid in the production of high
Besides insisting visitors wear protective footware, the Langers also have their employees wear rubber gloves during milking and when conducting milk tests. Boxes of rubber gloves are strategically placed in the parlor, and wearing them is enforced.
“We always wear rubber gloves,” Sue explains, “especially when milking. We are very fussy about how we prep our cows for milking. We do not want to transfer contaminants from cow to cow or to our milking equipment. We also wear gloves when conducting milk tests; this decreases the chances that something on our hands will affect the test. Wearing gloves is just a part of the operation and it’s worth the extra expense.”
Langer Dairy’s employees are trained in a variety bio-security measures and taught to be on the look out for suspicious activity on the farm.
For instance, employees learn that chemicals are stored on the farm only when they are needed during the planting season. Chemicals needed for the dairy operation are kept in the backroom of the parlor and out of site.
Employees use a designated scoop for feeding the cows that is not used for any other purpose, ensuring that it is safe for the herd of 290 Holsteins and won’t spread any contaminants that might get in.
Cows that are treated with antibiotics are segregated in separate pens that are marked with red tape. Before these cows are milked, employees test them to be sure their milk is safe, and as an additional precaution, the cows are milked last to help reduce any possible contamination of the parlor.
Testing for quality and contamination
Producing a safe, quality product is very important to the Langers. Bulk tank tests are conducted regularly and their milk hauler does a monthly tank culturing. Antibiotic tests are conducted right before the milk hauler arrives, to ensure the milk is not contaminated before it is put on the truck.
The Langers store their morning milking in one tank and their evening milking in another. If there is a problem with their milk, it is easier to pinpoint the cause by keeping the milkings separate.
Continuing a long tradition
Langer Dairy is a family operation and Sue is a third-generation milker. In 1987, she and her husband purchased the farm her parents operated. Sue’s father, Gilbert Rauls, still helps around the farm. Randy and their sons, Darren, a recent high school graduate, and Justin, a senior in high school, also run a successful custom-farming operation. The Langers plant, harvest crops and bale hay for six clients. The custom work is in addition to farming their own land and acres that they rent.
The Langers’ daughters, Lindsey and Jenna, also play a major role on the farm. Lindsey is a junior at the University of Wisconsin in Platteville, studying animal and dairy science. Jenna is a sophomore at DeForest High School, and she loves taking care of the cows.
“Our kids play a big factor in helping with the dairy,” Sue says. “They all have responsibilities and help us on the farm.”
The Langer’s sons often show registered cattle at fairs and shows. Before animals are taken to shows they are tested, scrubbed down and cleaned. Upon returning to the farm, the animals are placed in separate pens and monitored for a few days before returning to be with the rest of the herd. These practices help prevent diseases from spreading when these animals are away from the farm.
In addition, when new animals are brought onto the dairy, they are treated similarly.
Planning for the future
A new addition to the Langer Dairy is a calf barn that features individual housing for each calf. The barn is especially crucial during the winter months, as last year the area received more than 100 inches of snow, and Sue and Randy spent a lot of their time clearing the snow away from their calf huts.
The Langers are happy with the size of their herd and their overall operation. In the future they anticipate incorporating the farm with Darren and Justin, and perhaps adding a few cows. They enjoy their busy lifestyle and are proud of the product they produce.
Remember, you are always welcome at Langer Dairy – just don’t forget your plastic boots.