September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
"It has been a century and then some," Wayne Fahning said.
Lance and Janice Fahning, along with Lance's parents, Wayne and Marilyn, opened their farm for a field day where they discussed everything from century farms to Salmonella and embryo transfers.
Lance is the fifth generation on their century farm. Wayne's great-grandparents bought the farm in 1884, clearing the land and using the lumber to build the original buildings.
In 1920, the barn that is still standing was built. When Wayne took over he had 30-35 cows; Lance expanded the herd to nearly 100 cows mostly by internal growth and buying some heifers from local herds. In 1995 they upgraded to a 105-cow freestall barn. They continued to milk in their 40-stall barn until 1998, when they put in a double-6 parallel parlor.
"That was our little expansion," Wayne said.
On their 350 acres, the Fahnings now milk 98 cows twice a day.
Lance said he watches his SCC by using pre-dip and paper towels for prepping.
"We try to get the teats dry; a little moisture on the udder before applying the milker is going to cause mastitis," Lance said.
The old barn is now used for dry cows, sick cows and as a maternity pen. They kept an airline in the barn so they can milk fresh cows in the bucket if needed.
Andrea Hoffman, who is a 2011 graduate of South Dakota State University, works part time for the Fahnings, milking mostly in the afternoons. She works alongside Kole Baker, who will be a junior in high school. Shawn Goettl, who has a hay business, also milks for the Fahnings and raises their 60 replacement heifers from three months until they are ready to be bred.
The Fahnings have always had a healthy herd, but in March high temperatures and liquid manure especially in the older and fresh cows, brought about a new challenge. Lance's vet service, Kind Vet Clinic, guessed it was a strain of Salmonella. It started with just two or three of his older cows but spread quickly. He said it didn't affect his 2-year-olds or calves.
They made a good guess, and now Lance vaccinates his herd with Salmonella Newport Bacterial Extract SRP which protects against Salmonella and gram-negative bacteria.
According to Valley Vet, Salmonella and other similar bacteria need iron to survive and reproduce, and siderophore receptors and porins (SRP's) are specialized iron-transport proteins found on cell walls. When purified, these SRP's are injected into the animal, stimulating the production of antibodies that block the SRP proteins on the infecting bacteria. This prevents the transport of essential iron into the bacteria, causing a bactericidal effect.
Lance revaccinated two weeks after the first dose with a booster shot. He said they still have to watch it and will be vaccinating for Salmonella for a few years.
"The answer to Salmonella is prevention," said John M. Zimmerman from Liberty Veterinary Service, LLC in Cologne, Minn., who came to speak at the field day. "Sanitation is the most important."
Zimmerman said the origins of Salmonella poisoning include oral transmission of feces, aerosol transmission in confined cattle, nasal and saliva secretions and milk and colostrum.
Reservoirs of the infection include manure, feed, water, sick cows and chronic shedders. He said cows can be shedders for more than five years.
The main causes of transmission between cattle are calf pails, nipples, coveralls, boots, equipment and carrier animals shedding. He said Salmonella can cross species, so it is very important to be working with clean hands.
"The dairy industry has really got to adopt the bio-security practices like the hog industry," said Diane DeWitte, a University of Minnesota extension educator for Blue Earth and Le Sueur counties.
Clinical signs are high temperatures, depression, low milk production, loss of appetite, dehydration, salivation and diarrhea. Zimmerman said the virus is prevalent in any stressed cow including heat stressed animals.
The vet said half of all herds have at least one positive cow a day.
"One in 20 cows are shedding on any given day across the U.S.," Zimmerman said.
Turning years into months
Lance strives to get the best of the best bulls for his herd and buys semen from up to six different organizations in hopes of signing an embryo contract for genomic selection. He hopes to use embryo transfers to not only get better heifers but also good breeding bulls.
If he gets a bull calf from an embryo transfer, Lance sends in a hair follicle for testing to see if the bull has any genetic potential.
Wayne's cousin, Mel Fahning, who is a retired instructor at the University of Minnesota, got Lance and Wayne started with the embryo transfer procedure. According to Zimmerman, for a rough estimate of $830 for medication, semen, flushing and implantation, the farmer can turn several years of hoping and waiting for a solid animal into one flush.
"It just speeds up generations," Lance said.
Instead of waiting every year with a 50/50 chance of getting the preferred sex, Zimmerman said having the cow produce multiple eggs to fertilize gives the farmer more material to work with sooner.
The average number of implantable embryos is 6.2 ,and the conception rate is 60 percent.
The cost of freezing embryos is approximately $50 each; the conception rate drops to 50 percent for frozen embryos.
After five generations of change on the Fahning farm, only time can tell what the Fahnings will experience next.
"The next generation gets to decide what they want to do." Wayne said.[[In-content Ad]]
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