A Hands-on, Hands-off Balance

October 4, 2011 06:40 AM

JeremyVisser 049Jeremy Visser

Sumas, Wash.
Visser milks 3,200 Jerseys and Holsteins near the Canadian border.




Editor’s note: Visser serves on the board of Darigold, the Seattle-based marketing and processing subsidiary of the Northwest Dairy Association.
Keeping cows comfortable and healthy is crucial to our success as a farm. I assume or hope everyone is doing the basics, such as providing great airflow, water, comfortable stalls and quality feed to the cows. We just try to do the basics, improve next month and repeat.

Come hear Jeremy Visser speak at the 2011 Elite Producer Business Conference.
While I may complain about our weather (find me a farmer who doesn’t), I do realize I live in a near-ideal area to milk cows. This summer, we had all of five days over 80°F. The days below 20°F in the winter are almost as rare. Not great weather for water sports in the summer or hockey in the winter, but it’s good for cows and ducks. As long as the cows don’t get drowned in the floods, they do remain at a comfortable temperature year-round.
We strive to provide great cow care when the cows need it, and we usually try to listen to the cows and stay out of their way. Too many times, we overthink things, do the wrong things, put up extra roadblocks or add stress to the cows.
For instance, because we know the cow is a social creature, we try to minimize pen movement. Some may try to move a mid-production cow to a more moderate energy level feed group. They will successfully create a mid- to low-production cow from this move. I am not saying it will never work, but keeping it simple, feeding and caring for all cows and removing stress works for us.
If the cow starts out good from the transition, she will move out to her lactation group and likely won’t leave that pen until she goes dry.

Visser's September Prices  
Milk (net mailbox for August) (3.5% bf, 3.0% prt) $21.09/cwt.
Cull cows $42/cwt.
Replacement springers $1,300/head
Alfalfa hay (milk cow) $320/ton
Corn (rolled) $345/ton
Canola $290/ton
DDG $270/ton
Soymeal $430/ton


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