September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Forages, bedding, genetics keys to high production at Trailside Holsteins

Colleen Nederhoff is the parlor manager at Trailside Holsteins. The Johnsons said excellent employees have been a critical aspect of achieving high production. (Photo by Krista Sheehan)
Colleen Nederhoff is the parlor manager at Trailside Holsteins. The Johnsons said excellent employees have been a critical aspect of achieving high production. (Photo by Krista Sheehan)

Trailside Holsteins
Jon Johnson, and Michael and Margaret Johnson
Fountain, Minn.
Fillmore County
430 cows

What is your current herd average, butterfat and protein? Our current herd average is 30,977 pounds of milk, 1,043 pounds of butterfat and 932 pounds of protein.

How many times a day do you milk? We have been milking three times a day since 1997, shortly after building the parlor and freestall barn.

Do you use BST? Yes, we use BST. All cows begin BST shots at 60 days in milk, and continue until 200 DCC. We have been using BST since it came out.

Do you contract your milk? Yes, we have contracted about 40 percent of our milk. For the most part, we have not had the best luck, but it takes some of the worry out and produces some guarantee.

Describe your housing and milking facility. The cows are milked in a double-8 parallel parlor built in 1996, which was retrofitted into our 40-cow tiestall barn. Our cows are housed in one of two freestall barns: a 96- by 204-foot four-row barn or a 112- by 205-foot six-row barn, each bedded with sand.
What is the composition of your ration? What has been one of your most recent changes that has been successful for you? Corn silage, haylage, dry hay, cottonseed, high moisture corn, corn gluten pellets, whey permeate and protein mix. About four years ago we added the whey to the ration. It is a liquid that is added into the mix. We added it for economic reasons and to stretch out the corn; however, it has gone up in price because more people are using it. If the price does not increase any more, we will continue feeding it. The cows seem to do well with it. A recent change has been the Supreme vertical mixer we bought 1.5 months ago. It's bigger than our previous mixer so we're able to cut back on the number of batches we're mixing. It also mixes a lot more consistently, which we feel has helped with components.

Through the years you've been farming what change has created the biggest jump in your herd average? One of the largest changes to our herd average was in 1982 when we began to use a TMR mixer. Our RHA increased by nearly 3,000 pounds. The next big increase came when we started using BST. It's good technology.

What is your herd health program? We have weekly herd checks with our vet. We use a complete vaccination program that includes Calf Guard, One Shot, Inforce 3, Bovishield Gold 5L5, Salmonella Newport SRP, J-5 and CM 5L5.

What does your dry cow and transition program consist of? At dry off cows are treated with Quartermaster, given Orbeseal, poured with Cydectin and given J-5 and salmonella Newport SRP vaccines. We use two different forage rations during the dry period. Cows receive a higher energy ration that includes straw at 21 days pre-fresh. They also receive a J-5 booster at this time.

What role does genetics play in your production level and what is your breeding program? Genetics plays a very important role in our production. We have been 100 percent A.I. since it became available and have always used the top sires. We have used some sexed semen and flushed a few of our top cows to increase genetic quality of the herd. We predominately use top TPI sires, and are currently using approximately 20 to 30 percent genomic sires. Individual matings are chosen for each cow. Some of our current service sires include Colby, Mammoth, Doberman, Benefit, Paradise and Airnet. We use a full Presynch, Ovsynch and Resynch reproduction program. Currently 77 percent of our breedings are from timed A.I.

What would you say are the three most important factors for you that helped you attain your current herd average? 1) High quality forages. We mainly use all Ag Bags for storage, but have been using a bunker for corn silage. We have had the same nutritionist for 23 years. 2) Sand bedding and environment in general. We began using sand bedding in 1996 and have really enjoyed the benefits. 3) High quality A.I. semen. Using top A.I. sires and the latest genetics has been a crucial part of our success.
None of this would be possible, however, without the help from excellent employees that stay with us for many years. We currently have six full-time and two part-time employees who have been critical pieces to our success.
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