David Vosberg
Vosdale Farms
Livingston, Wisconsin
115 cows

Describe your facilities and list your breeding management team. My daughter mates the cows, and my wife, Anne, breeds them. We write down cows in heat and our daughter chooses who to breed them to. Anne checks the notebook and breeds the cow to the sire that is indicated. We milk in a robot facility, and rely on activity collars to help us find cows in heat.

What is your current pregnancy rate? Around 47%.

What is your reproduction program? Do you use a synchronization program? How do you get animals pregnant? We use  activity collars to monitor activity. We do herd health once a month and use prostaglandin as needed.

Describe your breeding philosophy. We try to get heifers to calve in at 24 months. The robots print a daily report of cows that have not been bred in the last 80 days. Those cows get grouped together to watch.

What guidelines do you follow to reach the goals for your breeding program? We breed cows at 60 days fresh. We breed heifers at 50 inches tall. We put more emphasis on size rather than age when it comes to heifers. Some do not mature as fast if they were sick as a calf.

What are the top traits you look for in breeding your dairy herd and how has this changed since you started farming? We breed for more milk, fat and protein. We focus more on components than show traits. We used to show. Half our herd is Holsteins and half is Brown Swiss.

What are certain traits you try to avoid? We avoid anything with difficult calving ease. Also, with the robots we watch udder tilt and teat closeness. Size is important too. We can’t have cows that are too big to fit in the robots.

Describe the ideal cow for your herd. Our ideal cow has good type, is medium-sized, with good components and good production.

What role does genetics have in reaching the goals of your farm? Genetics are very important in reaching our goals. We need to keep our cows functional for our set-up.

What percentage of your herd is bred to sexed, conventional and beef semen? 10% is bred to anything other than normal, which for us is Holstein. Holsteins that are hard to settle get bred to beef.

What is your conception rate? How does this differ with different types of semen? I’m not sure of the exact rate but I think beef settles better somewhat.

What is the greatest lesson you have learned through your breeding program? AI is better for planning, especially for the county fair. We have learned not to calve heifers in winter. Cows don’t seem to mind calving in winter.

What is the age of your heifers at first service? We focus on the maturity of the heifer more than the age. We wait until they are 50 inches tall to breed them. Brown Swiss tend to mature later also.

How does your heifer inventory affect your breeding program? It does not. We calve consistently year-round. We used to sell bred heifers but now we keep them because they are easier to adapt to the robot.

Tell us about your farm. We are a family farm that works together. We farm 270 acres which provides the feed for our animals. Our daughter-in-law opened a supper club where our son and Anne both work part time.