September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
What is your pregnancy rate average for last year? 25 percent.
What is your reproduction program? How do you get cows pregnant? I use a presynch/ovsynch program for the whole herd. Cows receive their first prostaglandin shot on day 33 to 39, so most cows will be bred days 69 to 75. Open cows are set up on ovsynch if they are not bred. I watch for standing heats whenever I pass by the heifers or am in the freestall barn, which is a few times a day. I think part of my pregnancy rate is having a good dry cow program. My vet and nutritionist help me keep the cows in good shape. If the cows aren't healthy, they won't settle.
Do you use seasonal breeding or avoid certain months? I try not to calve heifers in January or February.
How often do you do pregnancy checks? Usually once a month, but twice if I have a lot of cows bred. The vet comes out and does ultrasounds.
What is your breeding philosophy? How do you select bulls? What traits do you focus on? Does fertility play a role in bull selection? Genex CRI does all the mating for me. I like to emphasize udder, feet and legs, and higher net merit. But the technician picks the bulls. For better heifers I'll sometimes use sexed semen. For bottom end cows I'll use Angus because I'm crowded.
What percentage of your herd is bred through A.I. or a bull? The herd is bred 100 percent A.I.
If you use A.I., who breeds your cattle? An A.I. technician from Genex.
Do you have a different philosophy when breeding heifers vs. cows? I try to use bulls with good calving ease for heifers and I will breed higher-end heifers with sexed semen. Other than that, I don't do anything differently.
What do you do to settle hard breeders? How many times do you try to breed a cow before you sell her? I use young sires, cheaper semen or Angus. Culling a cow is always a good solution. Depending on the cow, I will breed her three to four times before I sell her.
What is your target size/weight/age for breeding heifers? I start watching for heat at 12 months and get more aggressive as they age.
Is there anything you have done or changed that brought about a significant improvement in your reproductive program? I haven't really changed much and my herd's pregnancy rate has stayed consistent at 25 percent for about the last two to three years. The biggest change was about five years ago when I started using the presynch/ovsynch program. It's important to be consistent. You have to give the right shot to the right cow at the right time. I'm very observant when watching for heats. Anytime I drive past the heifers or am walking through the barn I watch for heat. I keep all my records with SCOUT and keep track of cows with DHIA.
Tell us about your farm. In 1987, my dad rebuilt our 52-cow stanchion barn after it burned in a fire. In 1998, we retrofitted a double-8 parlor into our stanchion barn. I grew up being very involved in the dairy. After high school, I attended Northeast Iowa Community College and graduated in 2005. I returned to the farm and bought the cows from my dad in November 2006. My dad farms 700 acres along with owning an electrician business. I buy the feed from him. Along with my cows, I feed out all my steers. My wife, Amanda, and I have been married for three years. She is a nurse at the Mayo Clinic. We have a daughter, Brecken (1). Amanda and I are in the process of transitioning the farm from my parents to us. We are currently buying the buildings from my parents.
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