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Mercer Vu Farms: The Modern Model of Farming

Mercer Vu Farms is a model of modern farming in the ways they care for their animals, the environment, and the technology used to help efficiently meet their goals in husbandry and production. Currently, the farm has two locations. The home farm is located in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania and a new, additional farm added this year in White Post, Virginia. The Mercersburg location milks approximately 1550-1600 cows per day with a production of around 17,000 gallons of milk per day (even with a rotation of 200 dry cows). The home farm also raises all replacement animals (approximately 1750 head) and 300-400 steers are raised to 400 pounds. The second Mercer Vu White Post farm location also milks approximately 800 head.

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Mercer Vu Farms was not always the operation it is today. The farm has seen steady growth and development since its start in 1949. The current owners’ Grandfather Glenn and Grandmother Mae Hissong started the farm after Glenn returned from service in World War II. The original farm only had 7 cows, which were milked by hand.By 1960, the Hissong family had bought a neighboring farm and had increased their herd to 60 cows. Glenn and Mae’s son, Ron, and his wife Judy, joined the operation and added a free stall barn and milking parlor to milk 100 cows.

Throughout the 80’s, the farm added acreage and grew to 120 cows. In 1993, Rick returned from Penn State with a degree in Ag Mechanization, and in 1996 Rod followed with a degree in Dairy Science. That same year, a freestyle barn and bunker silos were built, and the herd increased again to 220. In 1999, Mercer Vu Inc. was formed between Ron and Judy, and Rick and Rod. Plans were made to milk 800 cows and facilities were built and improved accordingly. In 2011 Rick and his wife, Becky, and Rod and his wife, Amy, bought out their parents, and are now the joint owners of Mercer Vu Farms.

Herd numbers have grown and improvements such as feed storage facilities, and manure systems have been added. Mercer Vu Farms is continuing to grow and provide a wonderful example to dairy farms across the country.

For the past ten years, Mercer Vu Farms have relied on their Patz Vertical Mixers to produce a variety of balanced rations for their herd. Earlier this year, they purchased their second Patz 3600 Series Triple Screw Vertical Mixer, which they are currently using on their home farm along with the original triple screw as a backup unit. Likewise, their White Post, VA farm is utilizing a used Patz 950 trailer mixer to prepare balanced rations for its herd.

Mercer Vu Farms grows and processes all of their own corn silage, high moisture corn, and alfalfa as feed. They also supplement there feed with, cottonseed and even finely ground chocolate candies. This mixture was planned and approved by their nutritionist. The scale on the mixer helps the employees to know exactly how much of each ingredient to add to follow the nutritionist’s formula for optimal protein and fat content in the milk, as well as excellent animal body condition. Mercer Vu Farms has a Rolling Herd Average of 29,350 pounds and a 3.44 butter fat. Rick has always found the scale on the mixer to be accurate, which is calibrated with the certified truck scales located right on the farm.

It is extremely important that the Patz vertical mixers perform up to Mercer Vu Farms’ expectations. The entire herd is divided into 12 feeding groups that require about 914
batches per day. In an average day, the triple screw mixer processes 275,000 pounds of feed (or 138 tons) required to feed all the animal groups. The triple screw mixes at a rate of 20-35 minutes, depending on the complexity of the batch recipe, and the location of the feed ingredients stored on the farm.

In between the three daily milkings, the cows rest in sand bedding in the free stall barns. When it’s time to eat, the Patz triple screw mixer travels down the free stall aisles distributing the nutritionally balanced ration. Rick is very happy with the maneuverability of the machine and says the new steering axle is helping to reduce damage to the driveways and will increase the longevity of the mixer’s tires.

For Mercer Vu Farms, Patz vertical mixers stand out from the rest due to the proportions of the units’ designs. Rick likes the balance of the height and the length of their mixers, and comments that many competitor units on the market are often too long or too tall. Rick also appreciates the new triple screw mixer’s tub mounted magnets, which were installed to pick up any tramp metal that might have gotten into the ration.

Mercer Vu Farms not only uses Patz Vertical Mixers to feed their cattle, but also utilizes Patz conveyors in the farm’s manure separation systems. Mercer Vu Farms uses three Patz 8916 16-inch conveyors and one movable plow off unit in their manure separation system to assist in moving and diverting the materials. The process starts with recycled waste water flushing out of the free stall barns while cows are milked in the parlor. The manure then undergoes a multi-step process to ensure reusable material is not wasted. First, the sand used for bedding is separated from the waste. 90-95 percent of the sand being recycled is used to rebed the cows in the free stall barns. The rest of the material continues on the conveyors. The liquids and nutrients are separated out from the solid material and used as a valuable fertilizer for the crops grown on the farm. The solid material, which is mostly undigested hay and silage, is halved. Half of the dried solid material is reused as bedding for the dry cows and young stock, while the other half is composted and land applied to the fields.

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In all aspects, Mercer Vu Farms chooses to do their best for the environment, their animals, and their surrounding community and neighbors. Their practices have not gone unnoticed, as many agricultural associations and events, such as the recent North American Manure Expo, include Mercer Vu Farms as one of their featured farm tours.

Rick says, “We have always been impressed by the Patz organization, from contact with individuals from the company, their field staff and independent dealer organizations. They have stood by their machines, and provided the support we need for our 24/7/365 operation.” Patz is honored to partner with Mercer Vu Farms and wishes the Hissong family continued success.

PATZ CORPORATION’S RESPONSE TO CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

As an essential business supporting food and agriculture, Patz Corporation is taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of our employees, dealers, customers and communities.