Katrina Curti Rainey
The Raineys milk 550 Jerseys at Rainimade Dairy in California's Central Valley.
We keep our cows happy, healthy and ready to breed by sticking to the fundamentals of cow comfort. Our goal is to put the cow’s best
This includes limiting lock-up times and limiting cow movements. We look for bottlenecks that might hinder the cow’s natural desires and focus on what is best for her, not what is best for management.
In order to limit lock-up times we utilize what we consider old technology—RFID with pocket cow card. Herd checks take one to two hours. Each pen is locked just prior to working to limit lock-up time.
At that time, we administer BST, draw blood for pregnancy at 27 days bred, reconfirm at 60 days carried calf, confirm dry cows, check fresh cows and pull beef cows. This leaves everything done except our timed AI on Thursday mornings.
Summer time always brings added needs for soakers and fans to help cool cows. Although we run soakers and fans in both our freestalls and our holding pen, we believe one of our greatest opportunities is enhancing our cow cooling in the summer, particularly in our holding pen.
This is especially important with breeding sexed semen in the summertime as we did this past year. We run a 60-day voluntary wait period and a standard pre-sync/Ov Sync. We do not breed many cows and utilize different variations of higher conception semen throughout the year, depending on our total number of heifers.
We constantly discuss the importance of fresh feed for our cows with all of our employees. This includes managing individual ingredients for freshness as well as having a fresh TMR in front of the cow. Currently we feed 2X and push up feed eight scheduled times.
We use a feeding program to track dry matter intake and use water as an ingredient so we can optimize
intake and palatability when wet feeds fluctuate in moisture. We want the TMR to be at the same percent of moisture all of the time.
This also makes it easier for our feeders to make intake adjustments as it tends to hold as-fed pounds more similar day to day. This is easier for our feeder than the dry matter adjustments my husband, a dairy nutritionist, is constantly tracking and managing.
Finally, we run a very simple vaccination program. We focus on vaccinating at dry-off when the cow’s energy balance is optimum for positive vaccination responses. We do an annual topical treatment for lice in early spring and a whole herd clostridial vaccine in late fall or winter.