The herd at Neu-Hope Dairy near Bluffton, Ind., averages 94 pounds of milk per cow per day. While maintaining a high level of milk production is always a goal, the farm’s co-owner, Alex Neuenschwander, said what is more important to him right now is the herd’s 7.24 pounds of combined fat and protein per cow.
“For the last several years, we are only getting paid for solids in our market,” Neuenschwander explained during the March Hoard’s Dairyman webinar. “Pounds of milk starts to get less important, and pounds of solids get considerably more important. We really focused on raising the fat and protein, something we have been trying to do the last several years through genetics and the way we feed as well.”
Neuenschwander is a fourth-generation farmer who owns the 950-cow dairy with his brother, Kip. When it comes to production, feed was the first area Neuenschwander covered in his presentation.
“Nutrition is paramount to having good production,” he stated. “If we don’t have good feed, we won’t make much milk.”
The Neuenschwanders grow corn for silage and low lignin varieties of alfalfa with high digestibility. They also harvest fescue, which Neuenschwander said is a highly digestible fiber option that promotes rumen fill and good rumen health.
“High-quality forage makes milk production a lot easier,” he said.
They mix five different cow rations daily. “Our goal is to match the feed to the cow, especially in this current climate of high feed prices,” Neuenschwander explained. “The milk price is good right now, but we want to make every cent we can, so we try to match the ration with the cows’ production level.”
Cows receive fresh, clean feed every day. Feed is pushed up every one to two hours during the day, and at night, Neuenschwander said feed is pushed up every 45 minutes.
“Someone is constantly making sure feed is distributed through the entire bunk of every pen,” he explained. They had tried using an automated feed pusher but found a skid steer and blade worked more successfully in their system.
The farm’s veterinarian, Mark Hardesty of the Maria Stein Animal Clinic in Maria Stein, Ohio, added a few more thoughts about nutrition during the webinar.“Water is the first limiting nutrient of milk production,” he shared. “At Neu-Hope Dairy, water is available. When cows leave the double-12 parlor, there is room for 12 cows to line up at waterers and take a big drink before they return to the freestall barn.”
Hardesty noted that waterers should be scrubbed clean on a regular basis to keep that water fresh and healthy for cows to drink.
To learn more about Neu-Hope Dairy and hear additional advice from Neuenschwander and Hardesty, please watch our March Hoard’s Dairyman webinar, “The details add up to high production.”