by Amanda Smith, Associate Editor
Corbin Family

Pictured (L to R): Tyler Gaddie, David, Martha and Roger Corbin.

"We added more BMR (brown midrib) corn silage to our diets and use fungicide on it," said David Corbin when discussing ways to take full advantage of homegrown feeds. "BMR hybrids account for about 50 percent of the corn we grow," he went on to say.

"We cut wheat extra early to ensure better quality for silage and use inoculants on silage and store it in bags. We test all feeds and mix silages at the right time with the right quality and moisture," said the Campbellsville, Ky., dairyman in response to our January 25, 2016, Round Table, "How they ride the margin roller coaster." "In addition, we hire extra people at harvest but use our equipment to speed up harvest. Timing is very important for quality.

"We also load feed ingredients under a roof to help reduce shrink. Overall, our team tries to manage the bunk for about 2 to 3 percent refusal, with refusals fed to short-bred heifers," he said.

Corbin Dairy, which has been in business for 24 years, is a partnership between brothers David and Roger Corbin. They lease the dairy from their mother, Martha.

The dairy's 300 Holsteins are milked 2x in a double-8 parallel parlor. Cows average 27,300 pounds of milk with a 3.8 F, 3.1 P and a 180,000 SCC. The Corbins have two bedded pack barns - one for 50 cows and one for 80 cows. They also have a sand-bedded freestall barn that houses 180 cows.

Since the Corbins began farming, they have had the same nutritionist and veterinarian. They are also quick to note that the dairy's employees are key to managing their margins. Finally, they add that they've received good advice from extension personnel and researchers at the University of Kentucky.

The Corbin Dairy Team also had this to say in response to additional questions focused on "How they ride the margin roller coaster":

How do your feeding and grouping strategies change when margins are tighter?

We do not feed a high-group/low-group ration to cows. This decision was made because we feel that mixing extra loads to save money may be lost in labor cost. Also, cows are grouped for different reasons. We do not have a barn for low-producing cows.

How do you ensure that reproductive performance isn't sacrificed?

We try to get cows bred at the proper time. We assign cows to the do-not-breed list earlier if we don't want them to calve again. It is our strategy to cull open cows when production goes below 50 pounds. We watch breeding records closely and also have activity monitors so we can tell how cows are cycling. This is used to help us decide to not breed and cull at a later date.

What steps are taken to ensure you ship high-quality milk?

We do not change anything in our milking routine during low milk prices. We feel it is important to get as much of the quality premium as we can. As far as butterfat, we made some hay adjustments in our TMR and try not to overmix. We talk to the nutritionist to sec if the ration can be changed to get better butterfat without losing production.

To learn more about the Corbin Dairy operation, turn to pages 46 to 48 in the January 25, 2016, issue to read the Round Table, "How they ride the margin roller coaster."

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2016
January 11, 2016
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