Prevention is Cheaper

February 2, 2009 06:00 PM

*Extended comments highlighted in blue.

Kevin Phillips
Waynesboro, Va.
Reproduction has moved up on the list of priorities since milk companies want rBST-free milk. (We can still use rBST, but at a $2/cwt. discount.) We have been rBST-free for one year.

Cows are turned dry 45-60 days before calving at the time we vaccinate with Novartis Vira Shield 6+L5 and Scour Bos 4. All cows have blood drawn to check for Johne's. If positive results are found, cows are sold within 30 days. Hooves are trimmed and cows are put out on pasture seasonally. They are given a ration of soft dough barley silage and corn silage. Then they are put into the dry cow barn three weeks prior to calving.

We built a new dry cow barn this past year to take better care of close-up cows and heifers. This allows us to watch and treat problems as they arise. After calving, the animals are moved into a special-needs pen at the milking facility, where they are milked for about two weeks before they go into the high production group.

For breeding, we are using a double Ovsynch program. Shots begin at 40 days. This program makes sure we have semen in every cow within 75 days. Cows are bred two to three times by AI. After that, they are bred to a herd bull.

Regular vet checks every two weeks include checking fresh cows and pregnancies after 35 days, vaccinating calves for Bangs and TB, and any other problems that need attention. We try to prevent problems by keeping vaccinations up to date, balancing nutrition and maintaining clean barns. Prevention is always cheaper than treatment.

We are not perfect, but strive to take care of our animals in a humane way and produce a superior glass of milk that all Americans would want to reach for.

Phillips' December Prices  
Milk (3.67% bf, 3.01% prt): $15.49cwt.
Cull cows: $42/cwt.
Springing heifers: $1,500/head
Alfalfa hay: $210/ton
Cottonseed: $240/ton
Ground corn:  $170/ton
Soybean meal (48%): $335/ton

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