Ramiro Ramirez, Dr. Leticia Leal Moya, and Dr. Jesus Olmos

Ramiro Ramirez, Sr., has been changing the dairy landscape in Jalisco, Mexico. In doing so, he and other co-op leaders have been improving dairy farm practices. For Ramirez, these efforts date back to 1995.

“We started our co-op to achieve better purchasing power,” explained Ramirez, Sr., in speaking through a translator.

“Our focus is dairy, with 95 percent of our members being involved in dairy at some level,” he said. That level of involvement has evolved as some members of the Prolea cooperative, or cooperativa in Spanish, have become specialists.

One intriguing area is forage.

In 1997, Prolea purchased a self-propelled forage harvester. That purchase coincided with area farmers switching from mostly sorghum to corn silage as a staple forage source. To enhance feed quality and reduce expenses, the forage harvester moves from farm to farm, harvesting corn silage with the aid of a kernel processor.

As confidence in the venture grew, so did the acres and tons harvested. Last year, Prolea harvested 30,000 metric tons of corn silage for nearly 200 co-op members. In the same measure, some 200 members are also engaged in dairy farming.

To further help with delivering high-quality rations, Prolea also has a centralized feed plant to process concentrate feeds.

In the same vein, Prolea also has a dynamic heifer-raising enterprise. Much like the custom heifer-raising trend that emerged in the United States, the Prolea cooperative coordinates custom heifer raising with growers. In the arrangement, dairy farmers send heifer calves to the co-op, which then disperses them to area growers. Most farmers retain ownership, and the heifers are returned to dairy farmers about two months before having their first calf. It is the only known collective heifer-raising arrangement in Jalisco, Mexico.

On the milk front, great efforts have been made to improve milk quality. And with it, the co-op also produces yogurt and cheese at its plant with Ramirez and his son, Ramiro Ramirez, Jr., serving as co-presidents of the co-op these days. The father-son team also has a 300-cow Holstein dairy.

To help improve the region’s dairy farming, the Prolea co-op and 16 others like it belong to a larger federation called Union de Cooperatives de Consumo and work closely with the Universidad de Guadalajara. On the day of our interview, Dr. Leticia Leal Moya, rectora, or director, of the university, and Dr. Jesus Olmos, who advises on nutritional matters, were on hand for the photo with Ramirez, Sr., Leal, and Olmos shown from left to right.
This Hoard’s Dairyman Intel article is part of an ongoing series that will highlight a Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer (DATCP) trade mission to Jalisco, Mexico. That trade mission coincided with the CIGAL Dairy Trade Show held June 13 to 17, 2016. In all, 11 companies, two educational institutions, two Wisconsin state agencies, and one publication attended the event, along with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and DATCP Secretary of Agriculture Ben Brancel.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2016
July 25, 2016