On this #MemberMonday, discover what drives genetic and reproduction success at Plymouth Dairy Farms, Inc., near LeMars, Iowa. The operation recently earned the Platinum award for the Heifer category of the GENEX Excellence in Genetics & Reproduction Awards.
Plymouth Dairy is not a newcomer to the Excellence in Genetics & Reproduction Awards. In fact, the dairy earned the Platinum award for the >2,000 cows category last year (and a gold rating the year before). That’s some all-round good management!
The dairy, owned by the Feuerholm family, was founded in 1999 with the first cows milked in August 2000. Over the years, it has expanded to about 3,500 head. The growth, expansion and strong reproduction program are the result of teamwork, with Plymouth Dairy and GENEX committed to a strong and lasting relationship.
Key members of the team at the Plymouth Dairy heifer facility include (L to R) Paige Browning, Andy Nelsen and Chris McGuire.
The dairy's breeding-age heifers are raised offsite, at a nearby facility in Nebraska. A main component of the reproduction success for the heifers is the technician team. They perform professional, high-level heat detection and breeding service day after day.
Another driver of success is the nutrition and health of the animals. Heifers that are in a positive energy balance are the engine that run the show. Paired with quality genetics from GENEX sires that emphasize health and fertility, it is no wonder the dairy earned the award!
“It’s that simple,” explains Chris McGuire of Plymouth Dairy. “Success is due to quality heifers, good nutrition and technicians with a drive to do well.”
What does the award-winning reproduction program look like? Heifers are eligible to breed at 385 days or 12.5 months of age. If a heifer has strong heat expression, then GenChoice™ sexed semen is used on the first two heats. With this strategy, close to 75% of services are to sexed semen. The other 25% is to conventional dairy semen.
If a heifer does not show a heat by 405 days or 13.25 months of age, she is checked by a vet and either receives progesterone or an Eazi-Breed™ CIDR®. A heifer gets four services before a culling decision is made. Combine the excellent genetic and reproduction results along with a knowledgeable and motivated team and an overall focus on employee safety and satisfaction, and you have Plymouth Dairy.
The team at Omro Dairy, near Omro, Wisconsin, is always striving to improve. That determined go-getter attitude helped the team earn platinum recognition in the GENEX Excellence in Genetics & Reproduction Awards contest.
GENEX representatives Carlos Marin (far left) and Kim Egan (far right) presented the Omro Dairy team of Victor Montoya, Carlos Zelada, Jorge Montoya and John Vosters with their platinum recognition plaque in the 2,000+ cow category.
Omro Dairy joined the Milk Source family of farms in 1999. In recent years, changes and transformations have taken place on the farm. First, it was transformed from a Holstein herd to a complete Jersey herd.
In early 2017, they also transitioned from a Pre-Synch program with a 50 day voluntary waiting period and “cherry picking” to a Double Ovsynch program with a 60-day voluntary waiting period for first service.
The team at Omro has made the transition from conventional semen to entirely sexed or beef semen as well.
Altogether, the team is achieving over 83% of the herd pregnant by 150 days in milk, keeping the Jersey herd under 165 days in milk on average. There are very few fresh cow illnesses or culls, which is also an important factor in outstanding reproduction. Once confirmed pregnant, only 6% have an abort event. Heat detection is a key component of the reproductive program after first service, with about half of the cows becoming pregnant to standing heat breedings after first service.
Calm and quiet cattle handling is important to this team, and it is evident in the demeanor of the Jerseys as they play with their tongues and lounge in their sand beds. There is not a seasonal difference in conception either. With curtain sidewalls, fans and sprinklers, cows are kept comfortable year-round.
The breeding team at Omro Dairy certainly takes pride in their work. Every six to eight weeks, GENEX staff utilize the A.I. AccuCheck program to ensure no protocol drift in heat detection, semen handling or insemination technique. Proper functioning and cleanliness of equipment is also inspected.
While other things on the dairy may change, the breeding team remains consistent (with only one new team member), and every member of the team helps provide encouragement and training for the ultimate success of the program.
Congratulations to Omro Dairy and thank you for being a GENEX member!
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