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More than 130 Holstein breeders and dairy enthusiasts attended the Ohio Holstein Association Barn Meeting and the Springhill Tag Sale held Saturday, Dec. 15, at Nashville. Following the open house and tag sale at Springhill in the morning, everyone gathered at noon for a delicious luncheon served by the Nashville United Methodist Church.
The speaker for the afternoon was Don Bennink of North Florida Holsteins. Bennink moved from New York to Florida in 1980 and now has a 2,400 acre operation and milks more than 4,500 registered Holsteins. He speaks from a commercial perspective but may have the most registered cattle on one site in the United States. The cows are all classified and the farm has developed more than 750 Excellent cows. His goals are top production, genetics, herd health and making money.
The farm is known for its intern program and three former Ohio Holstein Juniors have completed internships there. They are Jason Miley, Ryan Welch and Katy Burkhart. The farm has also hosted many international interns.
Bennink projected numerous facts and figures on his screen that currently influence the Holstein breed and are very important to the direction of the Holstein breed in the future. There is information available to all breeders that allows us to breed the kind of cows and heifers that we need and want in the future. However, the information needs to be used correctly. A mere 3 percent of the herds in the United States produce half of the milk. There are herds of up to 30,000 cows and many are converting to the Jersey breed. It is Bennink's opinion that Holstein breeders need to be asking why and changing their ideas for breeding to produce the kind of cow that works well in and is desired by the larger dairies.
Breeders need to look at feed efficiency. Those dairymen can save $219 per cow per year on the cost of dry matter with cows that weigh 300 pounds less. In large herds that figure adds up to several dollars! Productive life is very important and the first 60 days after calving are most important. Cows need to be able to hold their body condition. Those with poor body condition have a longer calving interval.
Cows with good body condition will also have healthier feet. Cows with moderate frame traits stay in herds longer. It is Bennink's opinion that we need to breed cows that will make more money not only for those dairymen breeding and milking them, but also for the customers who are buying breeding stock from us. A question and answer session followed the presentation, with numerous of those in attendance participating.
The Springhill Tag Sale continued following the meeting and was held on Sunday afternoon, Dec.16, from 1 to 5 p.m. Forty-two head of registered Holsteins were made available for the sale