ARCHIVED  September 1, 1997

At high-tech Duo Dairy, computer chips dominate

LOVELAND – Duo Dairy is somewhat unique in the dairy industry. For one thing, its cows walk around with computer chips around their necks. For another, a highly-computerized operation has made the dairy the site for many secretive research projects over the years. In fact, a new secret project will begin next month when people from an undisclosed pharmaceutical company will arrive at the dairy to create “a new animal drug affecting feed efficiencies,´ said Vickie Uthman, one of the dairy’s owners. Uthman did disclose that the researchers will spend about $2 million to come up with a drug they can take to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for approval before marketing it. Furthermore, she revealed that Colorado State University is conducting tests at the dairy “to study the effectiveness of low-dose semen for artificial insemination.” Duo Dairy emerged in 1989 when Uthman and her husband, Roger, joined their dairy-farming operation with that of Mike Dickinson, a third-generation Colorado dairy farmer and co-owner of Duo. Most dairy farmers today employ computers somewhere within their operations, but Uthman said Duo Dairy is unusual for the extent of computers used, not only in administration but also in caring for the dairy animals and monitoring milk production. For example, it’s true that every milk cow has a computer chip attached to her neck, Uthman said. The chip allows a computer to record the pounds of milk each cow produces each milking session. Reeds, births, lineage and health treatments are also tracked by computer for each cow, she said. Uthman said the dairy recently installed a new electronic filing system for administrative purposes that can scan and store documents and allow for easy retrieval. “That addition cost about $10,000, she added. Ethanol sales support corn prices. Although corn raised in Colorado is not being sold to make ethanol, a high-octane compound used in gasoline, the Colorado Corn Growers Association is still an active supporter of the ethanol industry because “we believe ethanol is good for the economy, the environment, and for farmers and consumers,´ said Jim Geist, field services director for the CCGA. “They say for every hundred million bushels of corn used for livestock, ethanol, plastics and all the other uses, it adds five cents per bushel” to the price of corn, Geist said. One of the reasons Colorado corn is not sold to ethanol producers is that Colorado is a corn-deficit state, Geist explained, having to import from 20 million to 40 million bushels annually just to meet the state’s demands for corn. “An ethanol producer must produce 70 million gallons annually. That’s 35 million bushels of corn, and in Colorado, we only produce maybe 135 million bushels each year. So it makes more sense to have ethanol plants in Nebraska or Iowa, where they annually produce a billion bushels of corn,” he said.

Introducing: Min-Ad Inc.

GREELEY – Tucked away in a small office building on 25th Avenue are the corporate headquarters for Min-Ad Inc. What Min-Ad does here is about as secret as what it does at its mining claims somewhere in Nevada. As Reg Whitson, president and CEO, describes Min-Ad’s business, the company “mines, processes and markets a specialty type of magnesium limestone that is used as an antacid and buffer” in feed supplements for ruminant animals. “These natural limestones are composed of a bewildering mixture of particles, sizes, shapes and porosities, depending on when they were laid down and what other contaminants, other chemicals were floating around from the volcanoes. They are almost all crustaceous seabed depositions,” Whitson explained. Although Whitson “imagined” that his competitors knew the locations of his “very large deposits” in Nevada (just as he knows the locations of theirs), he said his company doesn’t make them public because “precisely the same chemical composition is not found anywhere else in the U.S.” Having claims to such a precise composition is one of the reasons Min-Ad can charge only $100 a ton to process and ship its product when competitors’ products cost from $180 to $250 per ton. Min-Ad is a privately held Colorado corporation that Whitson and his “group” took over in 1979. Typical customers are large feed manufacturers in the United States, Canada and Mexico, such as ConAgra Cos.

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LOVELAND – Duo Dairy is somewhat unique in the dairy industry. For one thing, its cows walk around with computer chips around their necks. For another, a highly-computerized operation has made the dairy the site for many secretive research projects over the years. In fact, a new secret project will begin next month when people from an undisclosed pharmaceutical company will arrive at the dairy to create “a new animal drug affecting feed efficiencies,´ said Vickie Uthman, one of the dairy’s owners. Uthman did disclose that the researchers will spend about $2 million to come up with a drug they…

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