“I think BST has made us sloppy because it did give us 7 to 10 pounds of milk in the bulk tank. If you’re sloppy, it’s time to tighten up and do it,” shared Gordie Jones, D.V.M., midway through a talk at the recent Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin conference.
The consultant, who is also a partner at Central Sands Dairy in Nekoosa, Wis., reminded the predominately Wisconsin crowd filling the room that even for the best-managed farms, there are opportunities to find milk.
One area that can be a huge opportunity, particularly on farms that have used BST, is lowering days in milk. Jones explained that dropping from 180 to 150 days in milk average on the farm is worth 5 pounds of milk.
Jones also suggested looking at the time budget of a farm’s cows. “Time is precious to a cow,” he said. “How do you figure out what time is to a cow?”
“For a cow to achieve excellence, it needs to spend 20 hours a day in the pen,” he continued while referencing work from the University of Guelph’s Trevor DeVries. “If you do something on the dairy and it changes a cow’s behavior, you have failed.”
He specifically applied this concept to feeding procedure. If all the farm’s cows get up and immediately move to the bunk, their behavior is changed because they are hungry. Jones would call that a loss.
For fellow presenter Dean Strauss of Majestic Crossing Dairy in Sheboygan Falls, Wis., pulling BST from the farm’s management program resulted in higher components, reproductive efficiency, and culling levels. Meanwhile, his farm’s twinning rate and clinical mastitis cases dropped.