December 12, 2020 at 4:52 p.m.
Sauk Centre, Minnesota
What is your current herd average, butterfat and protein? 29,160 pounds of milk, 1,190 pounds of butterfat and 892 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 were three times a day up until a month ago.
Do you contract your milk? Has it been successful for you? No, we do not contract milk. We utilize Dairy Revenue Protection and Dairy Margin Coverage for our risk management tools.
Describe your housing and milking facility. We milk in a double-8 parallel parlor. The cows are housed in freestall barns, where they are bedded with either sawdust or separated manure solids depending on which barn they are in.
What is your herd health program? The vet comes every two weeks and ultrasounds. Cows are checked at 28-42 days since last heat, rechecked again at 60-74 days and rechecked again at 144-158 days.
What does your dry cow and transition program consist of? Cows are dried off at 50 days before due date and are put on a special dry cow ration. At 21 days, they are moved to a bed pack pen and a prefresh ration. After calving, cows are put in a post-fresh pen on a post-fresh ration.
What is the composition of your ration? What has been one of your most recent changes that has been successful for you? BMR corn silage, haylage, dry corn, soybean meal, corn gluten feed and protein/mineral mix. We feed a very high corn silage diet. We previously made high moisture corn and stored in bags. We now only put up dry corn and run all dry corn for rations through our on-farm grinder mixer. We have seen a bump in components when moving away from high moisture corn.
Through the years you have been farming, what change has created the biggest jump in your herd average? Comfortable, happy cows that are eating high-quality forages. We pay special attention to pile face management and ensuring the feeds in the ration are top quality. Modifications to the freestalls barns, such as raising neck rails and adding on to one barn for additional lunge space, also have improved cow comfort.
What role does genetics play in your production level, and what is your breeding program? We work closely with Daryl Zenzen, ABS Global representative. He chooses bulls based on high components and health traits. We use sexed semen on the top 40% of animals in the herd. The lower 60% of the herd is bred to beef semen.
What type of improvements would you like to make that would increase your rolling herd average even higher? Continue to make strides in cow comfort and high-quality forages for optimal production.
List three management strategies that has kept you profitable. We work closely with our nutritionist, breeder and other consultants on our team to brainstorm ideas, best management practices and then ultimately implement those ideas that will work on our farm. We are constantly discussing ideas and have to be willing to adapt as managers.
What would you say are the three most important factors for you that helped you attain your current herd average? Transition cow health has always been an area of focus. We have tweaked rations, tried the post-fresh cows in different areas of the farm and rearranged milking order and pen locations to find the sweet spot for our post-fresh cows. Making cow comfort a top priority is a continuous improvement area. We have one barn with mattresses bedded with sawdust and a second freestall barn bedded with separated manure solids. We have been working with Zinpro for a trial/study to keep bacteria counts lower in the separated manure solids stalls.
Tell us about your farm. We are second-generation dairy farmers at this farm. Nick took over the farm from his parents. We have two kids and raise all of our youngstock on site. We raise all our own forages and corn while other parts of the ration are purchased.
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