Regancrest Farm strives to balance quality genetics and management.
by Taylor Pires, Hoard's Dairyman Editorial Intern
In the dairy community, Regancrest is associated with elite Holstein bulls like Regancrest Elton Durham-ET and deep cow families, like those from Regancrest-PR Barbie-ET. Along with stellar genetics, Regancrest should be recognized for its top-notch management. As with many things on the dairy, the day-to-day operations are a family affair. Brothers Frank, Charlie and Bill, along with their families, each have their specialized roles on the farm. The Regans successfully work together to produce balanced cows and a profitable business.
While Regancrest's last sale was a success, averaging $12,207 on 108 lots, they have also made recent gains in the parlor. A month ago, they switched to three times a day milking and saw a jump in production. Cows were initially producing, on average, 10 additional pounds of milk per day. Beyond more milk production, other benefits from the switch include improved udder health, lower somatic cell count and younger heifers making more milk.
The Regans are also making advances with their young stock. They have a new facility five miles away from the farm where they raise their heifers and bulls. Regancrest genomically tests their bulls and collects semen from those that have good pedigrees but may not be ready to go to stud. They sell the semen at an affordable price to local dairy farmers and ship it all over the United States. Although these bulls may not be the next Durham, Regancrest recognizes quality when they see it. "We collect bulls we would want to use ourselves," said Sheri Danhof, who assists her dad Frank with genetics and marketing, along with doing the book keeping for the farm and working with her uncle Bill on the finances. Sheri also adds that dairymen value their bulls for improved calving ease.
The Regans value high fitness traits in their cows, as well. " Balance is the key to anything," Sheri said. They tend to be type conscious, but know that calving ease, production and somatic cell count are important considerations when striving to breed for the most balanced cow. Strong emphasis is also placed on good udders and sound feet and legs.
Frank Regan is a firm believer in "breeding for the best cow there is." He wants to develop a cow that is going to pay the bills. He believes that the best cows come from strong cow families. "I don't buy anything that isn't out of a good cow family," he said. In addition to producing high transmitting, balanced cows, Frank is also looking to develop more homozygous polled animals, as he sees value in using genetics to eliminate the need for dehorning.
There is no doubt that the forward thinking Regan family will continue to look for new ways to advance their farm and their herd. Even as they make improvements and changes, one fact remains, "Balance is the key to anything."
The author is the 25th Hoard's Dairyman editorial intern. She will be a senior at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. At Cal Poly, Taylor is majoring in dairy science with an agricultural communications minor. Pires grew up on a 500-cow dairy in Merced County, Calif.
Join Hoard's Dairyman next Monday, July 8 at noon (Central time) for the "Playing the crop-year hand we've been dealt" webinar. Mike Hutjens will present. He will discuss challenges with winter-killed alfalfa, delayed corn planting and higher cottonseed costs. Managers need to look at their forage and feed strategies as weather continues to impact all of us. Multiple alternatives will be discussed, while keeping in mind profitability and cow health.
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