Ashley and Aaron Wiener and their children (front row, from left) – Hank, Elliot, Hailey and Ryland; (back row) Emily – milk 85 cows near Sauk Centre, Minn. PHOTO BY MARK KLAPHAKE
Ashley and Aaron Wiener and their children (front row, from left) – Hank, Elliot, Hailey and Ryland; (back row) Emily – milk 85 cows near Sauk Centre, Minn.
PHOTO BY MARK KLAPHAKE
Aaron and Ashley Wiener
Sauk Centre, Minn.
Stearns County
85 cows

What was your average pregnancy rate last year? Our herd's pregnancy rate was 34 percent.

What is your voluntary waiting period for cows? For heifers? Cows are at 70 days and heifers are bred starting at 13 months.

What is your first service conception rate? The cows have a first service conception rate of 61 percent, while the heifers are at 52 percent.

What is your reproduction program? I start the cows on the double ovsynch program at around 42 days. I use it on the cows for their first service and regular ovsynch for any subsequent services. What is just as important as having a good reproduction program is having a good dry cow, transition cow program. If they end up with retained placentas and metritis after they calve they will not be ready to breed back nearly as early. That is why what they are doing at day 30 in milk is just about more important than what they are doing at day 60, because by day 42 you start sticking money into them on shots and if they are not healthy, it is a waste of money. Heifers are given a prostaglandin shot and tail chalked at 13 months. My ABS representative, Daryl Zenzen, stops in and checks for heat for the following five days.

How do you observe for heat? About 90 percent of the cows are bred on a synchronization program. The heifers are tail chalked.

How do you confirm pregnant or open cows? I use the DHIA milk test and ultrasound on the cows.

What is your breeding philosophy? How do you select bulls? What traits do you focus on? Does fertility play a role in bull selection? For a good all around cow, Daryl selects the bulls. He uses very good genomically-tested bulls with proven fertility and good feet, legs and udders.

How are cows and heifers bred? Do you have a different philosophy for breeding both? I use the same philosophy on both the cows and heifers, but the heifers are bred using sexed semen on their first service and are bred to calving ease bulls.

What do you do to settle hard breeders? I already am implementing synchronization programs. If they don't settle from those they will be going down the road.

How many times do you try to breed a cow before you sell her? Four.

Is there anything you have done or changed that brought about a significant improvement in your reproductive program? In January 2016, I started using the double ovsynch program because at that time the pregnancy rate was at 14 percent. That is the only thing I have changed in my repro program that led to where the pregnancy rate is now.

Tell us about your farm. We are a fourth-generation dairy farm with 85 cows and 200 acres. We raise corn and alfalfa. I also do some custom baling on the side.