“The entire dairy is equipped with headlocks. Lockup time is one of our main focuses, and our goal is 30 minutes or less of lockup time,” said Chris Terra, a Platinum winner of the Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council’s 12th annual awards competition. “Cows are not disturbed prior to milking, and feeding schedules are coordinated with morning milking to ensure that cows return to fresh feed when locked up for herd health,” said the Chowchilla, Calif., dairyman.
“Our motto is that we want personnel waiting for cows, not cows waiting for personnel,” summarized Terra.
All six of this year’s Platinum winners of the Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council’s awards shared additional insight in this Hoard’s Dairyman Intel as well as the Round Table found on pages 675 to 678 of the November issue of Hoard’s Dairyman. This year’s competition drew 105 nominations — the second most to date.
Here are additional responses to the question, “Describe your cow-handling facilities.”
Britannia Dairy, Flandreau, S.D.: All our cows and heifers are bred in headlocks. To better handle cattle, heifers are trained with headlocks at a young age at the calf ranch.
Holmesville Dairy, Argyle, Wis.: Our freestall barn has headlocks in each pen to breed cows. For our heifers, we have outdoor areas that have headlocks for breeding.
Kayhart Dairy, Addison, Vt.: We breed in a variety of different setups. First and foremost, we are headlock people. All of our facilities have headlocks. Each pen also has gates at crossover alleys to keep cows from circling and gives us the ability to create dead ends to catch loose cows.
Our heifer barn has headlocks and a small permanent breeding chute to catch any heifer that won’t lockup.
Our new dairy has a dedicated sorting area with a palpation rail. Most of the timed A.I. protocols are given in the rail. We are not currently using the rail to breed or preg check cows, but I’m sure it will evolve to that use in the future.
As much as we like headlocks, we really dislike leaving cows in them any longer than necessary. I can see the day where most cows are bred in the rail and headlocks are used less and less.
Schilling Dairy, Darlington, Wis.: Cows are bred in headlocks on a daily basis. Ovsynchs are bred around 2 p.m. Heifers are bred in outdoor headlocks.
Wenzel Hilltop Dairy, Hilbert, Wis.: The cows are bred in the pens with headlocks. The heifers are all A.I. bred at an out-of-state raiser who utilizes headlocks.
This Hoard’s Dairyman Intel article is part of a six-part series detailing top reproduction tips from the Platinum winning herds for the 12th annual Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council awards competition.