Feb. 1 2012 02:34 PM

Gordie Jones, D.V.M., kept a crowd curious with the ideas he developed over the years, all in the name of improving life for the dairy cow.

Cows turn right easier than they can turn left. Cows move faster when herded into a smaller space. You can nearly eliminate D.A.s on any farm with the right ration. The preceding three statements were just a fraction of the many ideas and lessons Gordie Jones, D.V.M., shared at the Dairy Management Workshops held cooperatively by the Minnesota Milk Producers Association and University of Minnesota Extension. The workshops took place on January 30 (St. Joseph, Minn.) and February 1 (Rochester, Minn.).

Jones is a partner in the Central Sands Dairy of Nekoosa, Wis. He presented two talks during each of the workshop days. He has experience as a practicing veterinarian in Michigan and Wisconsin and now is sought worldwide as a consultant and expert on dairy construction, design, and cow flow.

His first presentation, "Back to the basics: Concentric consistency," talked all about the cow as the hero of the human race. Jones agrees with Hoard's Dairyman magazine's founder, W.D. Hoard, that the cow is indeed the "Foster Mother of the human race."

After all, the small pox vaccine is based off the cow pox virus, resulting in the "mark of the cow" on hundreds of thousands of shoulders as a reaction from the vaccination. Jones also notes that vaca, the Spanish word for cow, is similar to the Latin vacca, the root word for vaccinate.

Three circles to think about
But the biggest piece of advice Jones pushed to the nearly 250 attendees of the sessions was to think about circles when thinking about how to manage our dairies. Each cow has a daily circle, just like you. How can we make every 24 hours a routine? When does she eat, get milked, and how long is she standing?

After the one-day circle, examine a year in a cow's life. That circle starts at the maternity pen. Think about how to get that cow back to the maternity pen in just one year. Where does she freshen, when does breeding start, and when is she dried off? Of course, there are many questions in between.

Finally, think about the two-year circle. That circle starts at the maternity pen, too, but this time begins with the calf. How do you get that calf into the maternity pen two years later? What is she fed, when is she vaccinated, and how is her first calving handled?

Jones insists that thinking about these three circles, no matter the size or shape of your farm, will allow you to dedicate your processes and facilities to the cow. And we do owe her respect, just like all mothers.