Published on Tue, 03/29/2016 - 11:35am

For 24-year old TJ Tuls, who, along with his cousin Parker, manages the 4,700 head Rock Prairie Dairy in eastern Rock County, Wisconsin, his whole life has revolved around dairy cattle. “I’m a fourth-generation dairy farmer. I’ve been hanging out with my dad ever since I can remember, and I began feeding baby calves at 10 and learned to perfom A.I. when I was 13. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. Running a dairy is a lot of work, but it is also gratifying, being able to work with the animals that provide food and milk products for a whole lot of people.”

All in the family

That best describes the family history. The dairy lineage actually began in California with TJ’s great-grandfather and grandfather. Then in 1994, TJ’s father, Todd, and uncle Pete moved to Kansas and built a dairy farm there. Todd sold his share of the dairy farm and moved to Nebraska in 2000. Since that time, he has expanded operations to include the 4,400-head Double Dutch Dairy near Shelby, Nebraska, and the 6,000-head Tuls Dairy-Butler County near Rising City, Nebraska. Longtime employee Pat Klitz oversees both operations. TJ’s cousin Mark helps on the 6,000-head dairy, while another cousin, Pete Jr., is training to manage a planned 5,000-head dairy in Wisconsin. TJ says, “That one is still in the permit/planning stages.”
TJ’s uncle Jack runs a dairy heifer herd of 13,000 head along with 5,000 steers being raised as fat cattle near Garden City, Kansas. So, it’s easy to say that raising dairy cattle is a family affair for the Tuls. And that doesn’t include all of the other family members that chip in whenever they are needed.

Rock Prairie Dairy

When talking about Rock Prairie Dairy, TJ expresses an appreciation for the opportunity to be able to work with his Holstein cattle. After all, it is about the cows. As TJ says, “Take care of the cows, and they will take care of you!” With 4,700 head, that can be a tall order, but that’s why TJ entrusts so much responsibility to his management team that oversees 50+ employees. That all begins with the dairy barns that are designed to keep the cattle extremely comfortable year-round. “The buildings are insulated for winter, helping keep the cattle out of the elements. At the same time, the buildings are tunnel ventilated and with evaporative cooling, we can control the temperature even in the heat of the summer.” The barns also have a clear ridge cap and curtains that offer a lot of light. “The climate in the barn is automatically controlled by a computer thermostat system. As a matter of fact, last week the temperature got to 60 degrees, and the curtains opened up into our natural vent mode.”
TJ works in partnership with nine farmers to provide the corn silage and other crops for the cattle. “Working together, we provide them the liquid fertilizer for their cropland.” State-of-the-art milking equipment is crucial in being able to provide quality milk and, once again, comfortable cattle. That’s where McFinn Technologies located in Kenosha, Wisconsin, fits in so well. McFinn provides all of the Tuls’ dairies with the newly-designed and patented low-shear pumps. TJ notes, “They really do a good job for us and are much more gentle handling the milk than the previous standard pumps. They are definitely better pumps that use less power, don’t spin as hard and as fast and do a better job of pumping milk than standard pumps. They also don’t go through nearly as many seals as others we have had.”

About McFinn Technologies

Formed by partners John McGinn and LeRoy Finnigan, McFinn Technologies ( is changing the way the dairy industry looks at pumps. It currently develops innovative gentle handling, low-shear pumps for the dairy industry and currently holds one U.S. patent on low-shear pump technology with an additional patent applied for. In addition, McFinn holds three registered trademarks and is a 3A sanitary standards holder for pumps, valves and fittings According to McGinn, there is a big difference between the way the standard pump and the Bowpeller® works. Standard centrifugal milk pumps have radial impellers that pull liquid into center of the impeller and force a dramatic 90-degree turn of the liquid by accelerating it with flat blades that slap it outward. McGinn says, “Just a look at a standard centrifugal pump and it is pretty obvious that it imparts damaging forces to milk fat globules.” The patented Bowpeller® impeller is a huge departure from standard radial impellers. McGinn describes the process. “Bowpeller® does not force or slap the milk into a 90-degree turn and accelerate it dramatically across a flat blade impeller. Instead, the helical or screw design gently pulls milk toward the back of pump while accelerating the milk outward across its helix at much less than a 90-degree angle.” McGinn continues, “This longer and less severe acceleration path provides less shear force to the milk fat globule and provides much gentler product handling. The improved hydraulic design of the casing ensures efficiencies and adherence to all dairy industry standards. The Bowpeller® is a dramatic improvement over standard pump designs and it is focused on maximizing milk quality.” The Bowpeller’s® design is over 70 percent hydraulically efficient, which is the highest of any sanitary milk receiver pump on the market. The design also has a low net positive suction head so that the pump will not cavitate. Finally, the design does not agitate or emulsify air into the milk. Meanwhile, the US-FIP® flexible impeller milk tanker pump is the leader in high capacity flexible impeller pumps for the milk hauling industry. US-FIP® introduced the first 3" x 3" flexible impeller pump with the MILKMAX remote-control loading system. McFinn Technologies also utilizes Bowpeller® model B3258 in the California milk hauling market. This Bowpeller® centrifugal model delivers 350 gal/min and utilizes only 5hp. McFinn’s programmed variable-frequency pump drives ensure no overloading and long motor and pump component life. When McFinn Technologies started manufacturing pumps for the milk hauling business, the average time to fill a milk tanker was 46 minutes. McFinn reduced loading time to 26 minutes with the 3" x 3" US-FIP® 30080 MILKMAX system and to 19 minutes with Bowpeller® B3258 system.