After 25 years in business, Ag Oasis of Liberal, Kansas, has learned a lot about how to do things right. Part of that has been teaching – and learning from – summer interns as well as their full-time employees.
Farm history and protocols
Ag Oasis began in 1993 when the Tuls family moved from southern California to Kansas to start Tuls Dairy with 1,800 cows. In 2003 they started looking for new opportunities and purchased Lost Trail 1 and Lost Trail 2 in Oklahoma. They remodeled both sites and expanded the herd to a total of 5,600 milking cows at three locations.
In 2002 the Tuls family entered a partnership with the Hemann family. Todd and Pete Tuls were partners in California. In 2000 Todd left to build a dairy in Nebraska. About that time Todd and Pete contacted Brian Hemann with a business opportunity at Tuls Dairy. Hemann then moved his family dairy from New Mexico to the Tuls facility that year.
In 2006 to 2007 a new facility, MasCow Dairy, was built in Moscow, Kansas, and the two families were milking 8,300 cows at the four locations. The operations are about 110 miles apart.
From 2007 to 2009 enhancements to all four facilities, including an expansion of Lost Trail and additional corrals at Tuls Dairy, allowed them to grow the herd to 9,750 cows.
MasCow and Lost Trail 1 and 2 are open lot facilities, and at Tuls Dairy, half of the cows are in freestalls. Cows on the open lots have windbreaks, shade and composted packs. The cows are grouped by reproductive status.
Ag Oasis has a combined yearly average pregnancy rate of 28 percent on all dairies, and just 4 percent of conceptions are timed A.I. events.
They do use sorted semen on heifers to progress genetics faster and breed older cows to beef bulls. They do not currently use genomics, but may consider it in the future, Clint Anderson, operations manager of the four dairy locations, says.
Cows at all four of the Ag Oasis locations average 80 pounds of energy-corrected milk, with 3.9 percent fat and 3.2 percent protein.