by Amanda Smith, Associate Editor
Fa-Ba Farms

Front row (L to R): Jennifer May, Anna Rodas with Olivia and Easton, Macklen Fee and Bob DiCarlo. Back row: John Brown, Greg Guinan, Kevin Moore and John Knopf.

"Milk price has no bearing on how we administer our reproduction program. But it takes a better cow to stay in the herd, so we tend to cull a little harder when margins are compressed," explained John Knopf of Fa-Ba Farms when discussing how they ride out the margin roller coaster in our January 25 issue. "That works best, of course, when we enjoy strong beef prices like we have been blessed with the last year or two," the Canandaigua, N.Y., dairyman went on to say.

The 500-cow New York dairy is organized in two entities: the real estate is owned in a family partnership, while the operating dairy entity, Fa-Ba Farms, LLC, is owned by John Knopf and Bob DiCarlo. The dairy was established in 1960.

The milking herd is housed in a six-row freestall and milked in a double-12 parallel parlor. The 2x-milked herd averages 27,000 pounds with a 3.6 F, 3.0 P and 110,000 SCC.

Knopf noted, "Our dairy benefits from the energy of our young employees, stability from longer tenured folks like Greg and Anna, and the team leadership efforts of Bob. Business solutions and strategy are developed with our advisers at Farm Credit East, Perry Vet Clinic and Cargill. Hopefully, I provide some ballast, based on the experiences, successes and failures of a 35-year dairy career."

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

How do you ensure that you're taking full advantage of your homegrown feeds?


Of course, we always strive to make the highest quality forage we can. We inoculate, pack well and cover bunkers with an oxygen barrier and plastic. We use a defacer, store smaller volume alfalfa cuttings in silage bags, and Greg does an excellent job of minimizing shrink in the feedout process. That said, weather continues to have a huge affect on forage quality in the Northeast. We haven't figured out how to control that yet.

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


We make no changes in feeding and/or grouping of cows based on profit margins. Future investments we make on-farm may provide for more grouping options. Thus, our feeding strategy could change from our current approach, and a ration cost savings may be realized. This is currently under consideration.

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


Our effort at maximizing milk quality and components sold is the same regardless of profit margins. Sanitation, hygiene, equipment maintenance, training and milk quality bonuses for milking staff are ongoing processes.

To learn more about the Fa-Ba 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 18, 2016
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