Cows lie in sand bedded freestalls at Shiloh Dairy near Brillion, Wisconsin. Cow comfort has been a key factor in the dairy’s 96-pound daily tank average.
Cows lie in sand bedded freestalls at Shiloh Dairy near Brillion, Wisconsin. Cow comfort has been a key factor in the dairy’s 96-pound daily tank average. PHOTO SUBMITTED
Travis Speirs, Gordon and Cathy Speirs
Shiloh Dairy LLC
Brillion, Wisconsin
Calumet County
2,300 cows

What is your current herd average, butterfat and protein? The herd averages 96 pounds of milk per cow per day with 3.9% butterfat and 3.23% 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 three times a day and have been doing so for 20 years.

Do you contract your milk? Has it been successful for you? We have contracted milk off and on over the years. At this time, we are mostly staying out of the contracting game and riding the market.

Describe your housing and milking facility. All cows are housed in sand-bedded four-row freestall barns with headlocks. We switched to tunnel ventilation seven years ago.

What is your herd health program? Herd check is every Tuesday for the cows. We do a double ovsynch program with a 74-day voluntary waiting period. Open cows are resynched. Heifers are tail chalked. We vaccinate our calves with a five-way vaccine starting at 6 weeks of age and follow that up with a 10-way at 6 months. All pregnant animals are vaccinated with a gram negative, salmonella and clostridium.

What does your dry cow and transition program consist of? Cows are dried off at 229 days pregnant. Dry cow therapy is selective, and all cows get a teat sealant. Dry cows are milked once a day for three days before treatment. Cows move to a closeup pen about 25 days before calving. The ration is low energy, high fiber for far off dry cows, and the closeup ration is similar with some added ionic salts. When calving starts, cows are moved into individual calving pens. Post fresh, they are in a pen of less than 100 head for 10 to 14 days.

What is the composition of your ration? What has been one of your most recent changes that has been successful for you? Lactating ration is corn silage, alfalfa haylage, cotton seed, gluten feeds and canola meal. Pushing cotton seed higher and reducing alfalfa helped with production in a poor year of haylage, and the bigger bump in production was from BMR corn silage.

Through the years you have been farming, what change has created the biggest jump in your herd average? The BMR corn silage was a huge help. Also eliminating the use of rBST and cleaning up the herd so we had the right cows milking instead of heavy, old cows being supplemented to stay productive. Level of management also increased in stall condition, bedding condition, maintenance and forage quality.

What role does genetics play in your production level and what is your breeding program? We have focused on functional type and production for years. We look at genetics as an investment not a cost to improve our herd.

What type of improvements would you like to make that would increase your rolling herd average even higher? We want to have a continued focus on forage production to assist in milk production and cow health. As stated, constantly evaluating the environment and making adjustments to ensure the cows are comfortable all year is important.

List three management strategies that have kept you profitable. Keeping accurate financial records to track progress and see opportunities. Engaging employees to their tasks. Constantly working on cow comfort. Monthly production reports and looking at health trends two to three times a month to see both successes and opportunities to do better.

Tell us about your farm. We are a fourth-generation farm that focuses on cattle health and well-being. We strive to provide the opportunity to express their full potential for both the cows and the people. This is accomplished by being dedicated to our core values and principles and making sure everyone knows what the expectations are that come with them.