Brian Brown looks through a sire booklet. The herd at SunBurst Dairy is bred using 100 percent A.I.PHOTO BY CASSIE OLSON
Brian Brown looks through a sire booklet. The herd at SunBurst Dairy is bred using 100 percent A.I.
SunBurst Dairy
Brian, Yogi and Cory Brown
Belleville, Wis.
Dane County
493 milking cows

What was your pregnancy rate average last year? Our herd's pregnancy rate is 36 percent..

What is your first service conception rate? The first service conception rate is 59 percent.

What is your reproduction program? How do you get cows pregnant? Cows are set up with double ovsync. Before pregnancy checking, cows are set up so if declared open, they are inseminated three days later.

Do you use seasonal breeding or avoid certain months? No, with cooling systems (fans and sprinklers) in place, heat is not as much of a concern as it used to be.

How often do you do pregnancy checks? Weekly.

What is your breeding philosophy? How do you select bulls? What traits do you focus on? Does fertility play a role in bull selection? I like to use good genetics. It's an investment you don't start to see a return on for three years. We use a mating program. I like to visually evaluate 2-year-olds. Everything is pedigree mated. I like medium sized cows with respectable milk and good legs. If a sire has a bad trait, chances are we will not use that bull. Fertility traits are noted and if poor, we probably won't use those bulls much, especially on a hard breeder. We also refer to fertility information from Dairy Comp.

What percentage of your herd is bred through A.I. or a bull? Our herd is bred using 100 percent A.I.

If you use A.I., who breeds your cattle? Brian and our herdsman, Alfonso, breed our cows. If we need a backup, Jason Goke from Accelerated Genetics helps. Mark Wallace from Accelerated Genetics breeds heifers.

Do you have a different philosophy when breeding heifers versus cows? Heifers are chalked and bred. If there are no signs of estrus, the vet will check them and decide what direction to take.

What do you do to settle hard breeders? We don't have any certain protocols. We evaluate each situation, and if they have a history of difficulty breeding they may be marked as do not breed (DNB).

How many times do you try to breed a cow before you sell her? We may go to 250 days in milk versus times bred. Each cow's status is evaluated individually.

What is your target size/weight/age for breeding heifers? The heifers are bred by age. We target 23 months at first calving.

Is there anything you have done or changed that brought about a significant improvement in your reproductive program? Through the years, as we have learned more about animals and facilities, we have made adjustments to what we do on the farm. We don't overcrowd pre-fresh, post-fresh and milking pens. Cooling systems, nutrition, double prostaglandin the week of breeding and keeping animals calm have helped with our breeding program. We keep a close watch on our nutrition program, too.

Tell us about your farm. SunBurst Dairy is owned by Brian and Yogi Brown. There are three generations actively involved. Our son, Cory, is involved with all aspects of the farm. He is transitioning into the operation and his fiancé, Katy, helps feed calves on weekends. Brian's father, Gerald, helps with cropping and maintenance. We operate 750 acres of owned and rented land, with half of the acres for corn and half for alfalfa. We have nine employees.