June 14 2016 07:00 AM

Spend some time analyzing your most valuable group of cows - those that are so problem-free you almost forget they are present.

healthy cows
We are all intimately familiar with our top cows - those special ones that outrank their herdmates in production or type. We form a special bond or attachment with those animals and celebrate their accomplishments in the showring and parlor. They are the real reason we get out of bed every morning, and it is an honor to work with them.

At the same time, we all also know our bottom cows. Those ones that, for whatever reason, struggle. They just don't meet their genetic potential or seem to find all the problems. We spend most of our time keeping this group sound and healthy.

What about those cows that make up the middle?

Our favorite group of cows should be those we can almost forget about.

They go about their job without issue, producing at a profitable level. They breed and calve easily. They transition and peak without any extra help. Before we know it, it's time to dry them off again.

This is the core of every herd, and yet not very often do we celebrate these middle cows. Their true value lies in their ability to make dairy farming look almost easy. They don't require extra management to reach their potential and are just problem free. The middle cows' consistency yields a productive life that spans numerous lactations.

In fact, often you can find these middle cows at the foundation of the milking herd, supporting the top cows. With the right combination of sires, these average cows achieve what you are looking for in type and production. Spending a few minutes looking at your middle cows is worth the time to see where your foundation lies.

So here's to you, middle cows! May we always appreciate what you bring to the very core of our herds.

Darleen Sichley blog footer
The author is a third-generation dairy farmer from Oregon where she farms in partnership with her husband and parents. As a mother of two young boys who round out the family run operation as micro managers, Darleen blogs about the three generations of her family working together at Guernsey Dairy Mama. Abiqua Acres Mann's Guernsey Dairy is currently home to 90 registered Guernseys and is in the process of transitioning to a robotic milking system.