by Amanda Smith, Associate Editor
Prairie Dairy Team

"We are very fortunate to have a great team of employees at Prairie Dairy. We endeavor to hold milking classes multiple times per year to assure that we are correctly and consistently performing our milking procedure each and every time," said Kraig Krienke when discussing the steps taken to ensure milk quality while riding out the milk margin roller coaster in the January 25 issue of Hoard's Dairyman.

"A couple of years ago we switched to a nutritionist who believes in feeding for components by amino acid balancing the ration," added the Lester Prairie, Minn., dairyman. "As a result, we have realized a marked improvement in our components across the board."

Prairie Dairy was established 144 years ago, and today it is a sole proprietorship between Kraig and Rachelle Krienke, along with children Elizabeth, Blake and Brodie.

The Krienkes milk 400 cows in a double-7 herringbone parlor, and cows are housed in a four-row, sand-bedded freestall. The herd averages 31,000 M, 3.9 F and 3.2 P.

Kraig added, "Since 1998, we have participated in the Dairy Profitability Enhancement Program through the Minnesota Dairy Association. Our core team consists of the pictured individuals. They all greatly contribute to our margin management. We meet quarterly, and they have been instrumental in assisting us in growing our herd."

Front row (L to R): Allison Benson, team coordinator; Jim Salfer, extension educator; Dave Resch, lender; Paul Filzen, Farm Business Management instructor; Shannon Seifer, milk harvest technician. Back row (L to R): Patty Dahlke, vet; Jim Klein, creamery rep; Wayne Kozitka, DHIA; Rachelle and Kraig Krienke; Barry Visser, nutritionist.

The Prairie 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?

Our lactating groups are currently fed a one-group TMR. There is no differentiation based on the stage of lactation or age of the animal. We may alter this when we add heifers to the dry cow ration since the heifers are fed a lower cost ration.

We are frequently adjusting the ration to adapt to moisture changes and feed sources to ensure it is as accurate as possible. To ensure we maintain production levels, we make any ration changes in very small increments to minimize the effect on the cows.

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

We maintain close contact with our semen representative to assure we are getting the best bull options within our price range to assist in improving our genetics. Healthy, comfortable cows are easier to get pregnant and are better at maintaining that pregnancy. Taking that into consideration, we continually review our vaccination program, fresh cow protocols and reproduction policies.

Due to the fact we are growing internally, our culling strategy is the same when prices are high or low. If cows are maintaining production and performing well reproductively, they stick around.

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

In all financial climates, we endeavor to harvest the largest amount of high-quality homegrown forage and grain that our acreage allows. We strive to put up forage at the highest quality possible to capture the most value in milk production.

The use of adequate preservative and maintaining excellent bunker coverage are two areas that we won't cut costs in. To minimize shrink we store as much forage as possible in concrete bunkers using plastic covered sidewalls, a self-sealing oxygen barrier layer, double plastic on the top and cover edge-to-edge with cut tires. In the silage bags, where most of our shrink occurs, we avoid using the bags during muddy times of year to reduce the amount of loss.

To learn more about the Prairie 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 25, 2016

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