Happy Belated Father’s Day

This past weekend, many families celebrated Father’s Day. It is a time to honor those special Dads in our lives. On our farm, Jon and Tim (along with Steven, our custom harvester Danny and our new intern Annie), spent the day cutting oats, baling them in large round bales and then wrapping them. Here is a video to show the wrapping process (not our farm):

But, that is not the topic I wanted to talk about tonight. Today, I am going to talk about why there are no “daddy cows” on our farm.

Most dairy farms today do not have bulls on their farm. We haven’t had a bull on the farm for about 10 years. The last bull we had on our farm was named “Little Bill” and he was a short Red and White Holstein with a Napoleon Complex.

One reason bulls are no longer popular on farms, is that they can be very dangerous. To “service” the herd, the bull would need to be in with the cows all the time. Farmers do not want to be in between a bull and an in-heat cow. Bulls are very, very dangerous.

The second reason, and the most important, is that with artificial insemination technology, the dairy industry has been able to breed better genetics more quickly. Artificial insemination (AI) was first used in 1939 (according to Hoard’s Dairyman). We have farm records that show our farm used one of the first AI bulls (1H9). AI has become very popular over time.

Each year we receive many catalogs and sales calls from dairy semen salesmen. Each company has different bulls and a different line of up of genetics. Tim will sort through the charts and price lists to see what is available. Each herd breeds for slightly different traits. In our herd, we want a cow that has strong feet and legs, has a long productive life and easy calving abilities. Tim makes sure that each bull he selects has a high Net Merit ($NM).

A dairy proof, or bull score and information sheet, can be very confusing to look at. This is a proof for JAMMER, a bull we have used from ABS Global. There is a lot of information on there that we must sort through. Tim spends weeks looking over pictures and information to find the best bulls for our herd.

After Tim decides which bulls we would like to use, he calls up the salesman and orders. Semen comes in 1/4cc straws. We store them in AI tank insulated with liquid nitrogen.

Once the straws arrive on our farm, it is our responsibility to get the cows bred. Tim has been doing those honors since he was in high school. When a cow is in heat, he will look up which bulls are in the tank and try to match desirable genetics.

Here is a simple, short video on how AI is done.

Bull calves that will not grow up and be used for breeding are typically castrated and raised for meat.

I hope this answered some of your questions about bulls on our farm.

Emily

Zweber Farms is a 4th generation family operated organic dairy. We also specialize in sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken and sell it directly to customers in Minnesota.Visit our website to learn more, http://www.zweberfarms.com

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