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

Milly the milking machine

Wistes 15-year-old cow one of the top on DHIA lifetime production list
Milly has stood in the same north-facing stall in the Wistes’ barn for all 13 of her lactations. (Photo by Krista M. Sheehan)
Milly has stood in the same north-facing stall in the Wistes’ barn for all 13 of her lactations. (Photo by Krista M. Sheehan)

By By Krista M. Sheehan- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

SPRING GROVE, Minn. - For the past 13 years, the Wistes have been able to point to a certain stall on the north side of their 26-stall stanchion barn and know which cow is standing there - Milly.
"She's had the same stall since her first lactation. It's the only place she's ever stood," Larry Wiste said.
It's in this stall that L&S Acres Jumpshot Milly has made her mark on the southeast Minnesota farm, producing 357,479 pounds of milk so far in her lifetime. The 15-year-old registered Holstein is also the highest lifetime production cow alive in Minnesota, and was bred and raised by Larry and Sharon Wiste, who milk 26 cows on their farm near Spring Grove, Minn.
"She just keeps going," Sharon said.
In her first lactation, Milly started her record with over 22,000 pounds of milk. She peaked in her sixth lactation when she produced 34,659 pounds. That was the same year she had a set of twin heifers. In both her eighth and 11th lactations, Milly produced over 30,000 pounds of milk.
"She's pretty consistent," Larry said.
So far this lactation, Milly has a record of 25,574 pounds after calving last April.
"She's not milking so heavily now because she's older," Sharon said.
The Wistes attribute some of her success to her size, stature and type. They describe the Jumpshot daughter as a medium or average sized cow with a deep rib, good udder attachments and sound feet and legs.
"She really developed into a deep cow as she got older," said Katie Wiste, one of Larry and Sharon's three daughters.
This modest sized cow with sound type is what the Wistes try to breed for in their herd.
"If she were any bigger I don't think she would be here," Larry said.
In addition to acknowledging her type for her production success, the Wistes give credit to their nutritionist, Scott Ellinghuysen, who has been helping them for over 10 years. Milly eats 40 pounds of silage, 25 pounds of a grain mix and a lot of dry hay.
"She's a big hay eater. It's what she prefers," Larry said.
Although she's consistent with milk production, Milly also has one consistent problem - milk fever.
"Every time she freshens she gets milk fever," Larry said. "We've learned how to deal with it ourselves because we know it's coming. Other than that, she's been a trouble-free cow."
Until this lactation.
"We're having trouble getting her bred. She's getting to the age where she probably won't reproduce," Larry said.
The last time the Wistes bred Milly, they used both a Holstein and Norwegian Red bull. Although the Wistes don't normally crossbreed, they said they were willing to give it a try for Milly.
"If a red calf pops outs, we'll know the Norwegian Red worked," Katie said with a laugh.
But getting calves from Milly hasn't been an issue in the past, especially with heifers. Two lactations in a row, she had twin heifers. Currently the Wistes' barn of 26 cows houses seven descendents of Milly - three daughters, two granddaughters and two great granddaughters.
"We have also sold some of her offspring privately because we can only milk so many cows," Sharon said.
Her oldest daughter in the barn, Salt, is following in Milly's hooves. At the age of 9, Salt has produced over 200,000 pounds of milk.
The Wistes said the descendants of Milly all have the same average build and are of the similar dispositions. Although no other cow can take Milly's place.
"She's the mother of the herd and nurtures all the calves born in the pasture," Sharon said.
She also has a calm demeanor.
"She's not a boss cow and never seems to be in a conflict," Sharon said.
She always used to be the first cow to enter the barn, but now with age, she lets other cows be No. 1.
"But she can still wiggle her way in first if it is bad weather," Sharon said.
Milly only gets small amounts of special treatment. She is let out of the barn last so she can take her time and she is curry combed every four days like the rest of the herd.
"She gets her turn, but she might get it a few extra times," Katie said.
Even if Milly stops reproducing, the Wistes have decided to keep her on the farm until her last day. Then they will find a place to bury her.
"We're just lucky to have her here," Larry said. "She's a good cow."[[In-content Ad]]


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