4/10/2017 2:02:00 PM New Heights Dairy increases production with crossbreeding, employee training
A high corn silage diet of 20 pounds of dry matter or more is available for the cows 24 hours a day. PHOTO BY JENNIFER COYNE
Brent Czech follows a strict crossbreeding program that focuses on components, functionability and longevity. PHOTO BY JENNIFER COYNE
New Heights Dairy LLC Rice, Minn. Benton County Number of cows: 2,100
What is your current herd average, butterfat and protein? Our rolling herd average is 27,314 pounds of milk with 1,098 pounds of fat and 859 pounds of protein.
How many times a day do you milk? If you don't milk 3X a day, have you tried it in the past? We milk three times a day.
Do you use BST? If so, what is your protocol? Yes, we start using it at 90 days in milk. It is given every 14 days.
Do you contract your milk? Has it been successful for you? Yes, I work with Commodity & Ingredient Hedging, and we use a margin-based approach. Depending on what the profit margin looks like determines what kind of strategy we implement. It has been useful in keeping the momentum of the business moving forward.
Describe your housing and milking facility. Cows are housed in sand bedded freestall barns and milked in vertical lift parallel parlors. We currently finished building a 12-row cross ventilated freestall barn and have been pleased with the results.
What is the composition of your ration? What has been one of your most recent changes that has been successful for you? We generally run a high corn silage diet with 20 pound of dry matter or more, inventory permitting. What we really try to focus on is delivering the ration formulated by our nutritionist and making sure the cows have access to it 24 hours a day. This means making sure we have our dry matters dialed in correctly at all times, getting feed push up regularly, making sure pens aren't running out of feed, keeping the error rate low when adding ingredients to the mixer, making sure the mixer is well maintained and mixing properly, making sure we have all pen moves entered promptly so the right amount of feed is delivered, making sure we sample enough to catch changes in forages and communicating them. These all sound like simple things, but when something isn't going right it is generally one of these things.
Through the years you've been farming, what change has created the biggest jump in your herd average? There isn't one thing that created a jump all by itself. There are dairy producers who are much better than me and have much higher herd averages than me, and I study them. I look at how they make decisions and how it affects the profitability of their business. I think about how some of those things would fit my business model.
What is your herd health program? All animals on their first A.I. service are on double ovsynch. Cows are given GnRH a week prior to pregnancy diagnosis and submitted to a double prostaglandin ovsynch if open.
What does your dry cow and transition program consist of? Far off dry cows are moved off site and into sand bedded freestall barn. They are moved back into the prefresh group three weeks prior to calving. The prefresh group has sand bedded freestalls as well. From there, the first lactation and second lactation plus groups have separate fresh pens where they stay for at least 10 days (based on space) before they are moved to a high group.
What role does genetics play in your production level and what is your breeding program? Genetics plays a large role in my business. We look at amount of solids produced per cow as well as her functionality and ability to stay in the herd. We use a rotational cross breeding program, using Montbeliarde, Jersey and Holstein. The best bulls for crossbreeding are not necessarily the highest ranking bulls for TPI or JPI. I take into consideration what I am getting from hybrid vigor and what things in each breed I need to improve and protect when selecting bulls. Crossbred cows compete very well on a solids corrected basis. The reproduction has been much better in crossbreds leading to lower days in milk as well as reduced turnover rate and lower death loss due to hybrid vigor from crossbreeding.
What type of improvements would you like to make that would increase your rolling herd average even higher? We just purchased new equipment to do haylage in a day and will continue to update and design facilities for enhanced cow comfort.
What would you say are the three most important factors for you that helped you attain your current herd average? Crossbreeding, employee training, and implementing a risk management strategy so that I can consistently manage my dairy and not make impulse decisions.
Tell us about your farm. New Heights Dairy is a partnership between me (Brent) and my wife, Callie, and my parents Myron and Debbie. It is made up of two lactating sites in Rice and Foley, Minn. Dry cows and heifers are at a facility in Pierz, Minn.