“Can we keep it?”
Ironically, that was the first comment our kids said when they saw the fuzzy, black calf.
They don’t understand the dynamics of maintaining herd size yet, but my husband and I do. And we’ve finally accepted that we’re raising too many replacement heifers. Too many heifers leads to having too many cows.
I remember when we first mentioned the problem of having extra cows to our team of advisers. The unanimous response was, “That’s a good problem to have.”
But it’s still a problem.
Especially now that the market for springing heifers and young dairy cows is nearly nonexistent in our area. It doesn’t make sense to continue producing something for which there is no market.
So, part of our solution to this problem is to start making more bull calves (and, thus, fewer heifer calves) through the use of sex-sorted semen from LimFlex sires.
Interestingly, the first cows we mated to LimFlex didn’t settle to the beef-hybrid semen, even though enhanced fertility is supposed to be one of the product’s benefits.
Are you using beef-hybrid semen on your dairy farm?
How do you decide when to use it and on which cows?
What other strategies do you use on your farm to keep your herd right-sized?
The author is a dairy farmer and writer from central Minnesota. She farms with her husband, Glen, and their three children. Sadie grew up on a dairy farm in northern Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in agricultural communications and marketing. She also blogs at Dairy Good Life.