Travis' Story - PROLEA

By Travis DeWolfe

In rural Acatic, Jalisco, an agricultural cooperative called Prolea raises dairy heifers, sells grain, produces dairy, and provides services and equipment to local Mexican farmers. This unique coop is the second largest cooperative in Mexico and is still growing, making it very important staple in Mexican agriculture. As our tour group walked on the grounds of the coop, I noted some things worthy to note that make it a great subject of study for improvement of dairying systems.

Some areas of success that I noticed all help the coop succeed in their ultimate goal of providing quality animals for surrounding farms to stimulate local agriculture. Overall, the nutrition looked to be a strongpoint. All animals were fed at specific times and the feed had good particle sizes and composition. The health protocol seemed to be aggressive and they looked to be proactive about treating animals right away. Their business plan was also very strong. They had a great employee handbook that I saw sitting in the calf feed room and they had really good employee management as well as goals and a vision which all strengthen the coop.

I also found many areas of opportunity for the coop to focus on to really bring money back to themselves as well as the members. One topic I noted was facility cleanliness. There were many instances where I was asking myself, “Why is that so dirty?” As I walked over to the wet calf barn, I saw that all the calf feed buckets were full of moist grain and the pails were very dirty. As we continued to walk through to the older groups of heifers I noticed how they were living in a pool of liquid manure and eating feed from dirty bunk feeders. They needed to improve bunk management and enhance feed distribution between the different groups as the feeder had missed the bunk feeder with the TMR mixer and shot it all on the ground while we were there. This also posed a problem as there was manure tracked by the tractor on ground where the feed was being dropped. Increasing feed bunk cleaning would improve feed intake and make it more effective and efficient in the facilities.

Three other noticeable things worth mentioning are that they have a problem with minute details on the farm. As we walked around the group pens I noticed various birds flocking around the feed and all the animals. This creates a pretty serious biosecurity problem as birds carry various diseases, which can be spread to and from other farms as well as to and from group pens. Another detail I noticed was that the water troughs were excessively dirty and an incubator for lots of algae. This is not healthy for any of the animals.

The last subject, calf management, is a huge subject that most farmers have problems with, even though raising calves correctly is one of the most important things you can do in animal husbandry. As I walked though the wet calf area, the first thing I noticed was that the calves were all within nose to nose contact. This offense will spread disease no matter how hard you try. The next noticeable thing was that as we were observing the facility, the calf manager was feeding the calves by bottle, and that all the bottles’ nipples were cut to help the calves drink faster. This is also bad because the calves can easily develop pneumonia and get sick easily. This creates a rough start and the heifer can potentially have health problems for the rest of its life.

With all of these little suggestions for fixing a small operation, you could solve huge problems. Even taking the time to sit down with employees and give training sessions or even setting aside time to fix the small things, you could end up saving a lot more money and raising healthier animals. Although I do realize Prolea is there to help, cleaning up these little things would help make the cooperative that much better and impact the community of Acatic, the state of Jalisco, and the country of Mexico even more than it already does.

KeywordsTravis DeWolfe, Story, 2008 Mexico Study Tour   Doc ID56691
OwnerAntonio A.GroupDS 473 Field Study Abroad
Created2015-09-23 22:33:46Updated2015-09-23 22:33:57
SitesDS 473 Field Study Abroad
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