September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
Schmity Holsteins LLC
Owatonna, Minn.; Steele County
What is your current herd average, butterfat and protein? We are currently at 27,698 pounds of milk, 1,062 pounds of fat and 885 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 two times a day. We have not tried three-times-a-day milking. We thought about it, but we don't see the economic benefit for the number of cows we have to hire more labor.
Do you use BST? Yes, we give BST to every healthy cow that is at least 70 days in milk.
Do you contract your milk? Has it been successful for you? We usually have at least half our milk protected either with contracts, options or LGM. We have been contracting for about two years. We sometimes miss the highs, but we at least have our profit locked in.
Describe your housing and milking facility. We have a 140-stall six-row freestall barn with two bedding pack areas for close up and fresh cows. The freestall barn is tunnel ventilated with baffles to keep air flow at cow level. Sprinklers are used over the feed alley to help keep cows cool during the warm months. Cows are milked in a double-10 flat barn parlor.
What is the composition of your ration? What has been one of your most recent changes that has been successful for you? We feed 40 pounds of corn silage, 28 pounds of haylage, four pounds of dry hay, ground corn, cottonseed, canola, distillers and a protein mix. We went through a major nutrition change 1.5 years ago. The forage portion of the ration stayed the same, but adjustments were made in everything else. We now push a little bit more production. So far, we've been able to get more milk and better components. Before the change, we would average around 80 pounds of milk per cow per day. Now are we usually at about 90 pounds and we peaked at 95 pounds.
Through the years you've been farming what change has created the biggest jump in your herd average? Building the freestall barn in 2009. Cow comfort really changed and we could manage the cows a lot better. Before the freestall barn, the cows were in two separate tiestall barns.
What is your herd health program? Our vaccination program starts with our calves when they are born. They receive Calf Guard. At two to three months they receive Pyramid 10 then again at breeding age. The cows receive an annual vaccination of a nine-way for things such as BVD, IBR, etc. We have a vet check once a month.
What does your dry cow and transition program consist of? At about 60 days before calving, we dry off the cows. We use Tomorrow tubes and Orbeseal. They are fed a far-off dry cow ration. About three weeks before calving they are moved to the prefresh pen. The cows will calve there, then go to the fresh cow pen where they are monitored closely for the next two to three weeks.
What role does genetics play in your production level and what is your breeding program? We're pretty big into flush and embryo transfer work. The herd is also all registered. We tend to breed more for production and health traits than for type. We like to focus on fat, protein, daughter pregnancy rate and productive life. Before genomics, we would use the top proven bulls. Now we breed everything to the top genomics bulls and no proven bulls are used.
What would you say are the three most important factors for you that helped you attain your current herd average? The three most important factors are cow comfort, nutrition and genetics. Our freestall barn is comfortable for the cows. It has lots of air flow with the tunnel ventilation and is comfortable with the sand bedding and sprinklers. We don't overcrowd. Our recent change in our ration has helped us increase in production. We've been able to maximize on each cow's genetic potential. They are just as healthy - if not healthier - as they were before. The new ration helps keep a little weight on them, which has been a good thing. Through our genetics, we breed for production. We're not into the show type animals. We want sound animals that can milk.
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