Sept. 23 2015 12:59 AM

Aggressive management yields impressive statistics

Hoard's Dairyman FarmThe Hoard's Dairyman Farm has been in existence since 1899. Numerous advancements have been made in technology and management since those early days. The changes in the farm can be seen in the photos that line the walls of the farm office.

On occasion, we receive requests to tour the farm, primarily from readers who have the enjoyed the publication over the years and want to see the iconic dairy once owned by Wisconsin's 16th governor, W.D. Hoard.

A member of the Hoard's Dairyman editorial team conducts the tour. During their visit, the staff learns what producers and consumers are thinking about and wanting to know about modern dairy farming. (To schedule a tour, contact the Hoard's Dairyman office three days prior to arrival so we can arrange for an editor to be your guide. We do not allow non-guided tours.)

Last week two dozen people from Denmark visited the farm and were very interested in our reproduction program and its results. I thought I would share some of the farm details with those of you who have not visited our farm, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The current herd is two-thirds Jersey and one-third Guernsey, so statistics on each breed are kept separately, but protocols are the same.

Calves and heifers are raised and housed 30 miles from the home farm at a custom heifer grower who only cares for our heifers. They return to Fort Atkinson one month before calving, and their age at first calving averages 23 months.

Once fresh, the voluntary waiting period starts at 55 days. Cows not showing heats before day 70, start on a modified ovsynch program with two prostaglandin injections. The veterinarian makes weekly herd health checks. Ultrasound is used to diagnose pregnancy.

The Jerseys average 2.3 services and the Guernseys average 2.8 services per conception. That equates to an average of 120 days to conception.

The herd uses proven sires, as well as young sires. With smaller breed populations, we feel it's important to use young sires to find bulls that can shape and improve the breed in the future.

The farm uses embryo transfer and in vitro fertilization. However, high genetic cows are housed at nearby Sunshine Genetics for reproduction purposes. Currently, we have three cows at their facilities. Bella Blue is EX-95 and on a regular embryo transfer program. The top Guernsey PTI bull, Dairyman Mint Phonze, was bred by Hoard's Dairyman Farm. His sister, Phanny EX-90 EX-MS EX-FL is at Sunshine in their ET program and his dam, Phame is in the IVF program. Embryos are transferred into cows at the Hoard's Dairyman Farm.

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The author is the online media manager and is responsible for the website, webinars and social media. A graduate of Modesto Junior College and Fresno State, she was raised on a California dairy and frequently blogs on youth programs and consumer issues.