Each year the Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council, or DCRC, honors the best of the best dairy producers that have achieved high reproductive efficiency. Each year, producers in both Holstein and non-Holstein categories are awarded and all finalist herds are divided into Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze categories by a judging panel.
This year, CRV USA is proud to see a Bronze award going to one of our customers! View Point Dairy is a family owned operation located in Sunnyside, Washington consisting of 2,000 Holstein cows milked in a double 25 herringbone parlor and 450 acres of land. The farm is owned and operated by Billy and Lisa DeRuyter and family.
Winning a DCRC award for good reproductive success isn’t something that happens every day or to every farm. CRV USA met with Miguel, the herd manager at View Point to talk about what this award means for the dairy and how they manage to stay on top of their game. “It means a lot. We’ve worked very hard on this dairy to get to where we are. It’s a big accomplishment and my life work to get to where we are today and to see these numbers,” Miquel explains.
When asked what the dairy’s secret to success is, Miquel explains that there is one thing that the DeRuyter family finds very important about their reproduction management: keeping things simple. Miguel explains why they keep things simple, ”We understand that there are many factors that can have a major impact on our cows’ reproduction. This is why we just let cows be cows and don’t mess with them unless we need to.” Despite their simple concept, View Point still stays on top of their game. Miquel continues to describe how they set up strict protocols for the dry cows and close-up group, which has helped cows during the transition period.
They pregnancy check their cows every two weeks and use Lutalyse based on the pregnancy results. They have a voluntary waiting period of 50 days in milk for the cows and 55 days for the heifers. Every cow that reaches 100 days in milk without a heat receives a CIDR. Miguel also describes that they really work on preventative techniques, which includes testing uterine pH for our close-up pens every week.
Simplicity is emphasized again when discussing heat detection and the maternity pen. At View Point Dairy, the breeder breeds off heat detection and paint. They also don’t keep night guys in the maternity pen because they really want their cows to calve unassisted, where they consistently have over 90% unassisted calvings. When it comes to letting cows be cows, View Point Dairy also benefits from their geographical location. “We always try to keep the cows dry and comfortable, even when the cows are in the open lot in the winter,” says Miquel. In the evening, even in summer, they receive a unique breeze that helps cool the cows down, along with their misters.
Like any farm, View Point Dairy does still sees challenges despite their success. Labor is their greatest concern. Miquel explains that they find themselves struggling to find employees with the same values and see this as one of their main challenges in the future.
Thankfully, one of CRVs own breeders, Jorge Contreras has the special trait that DeRuyters look for in their staff. Miquel praises Jorge for his contribution to the dairy’s success in reproduction. “Jorge is a true cow man,” Miquel explains. “Anyone can breed a cow, but being a cow man, you have to have patience and naturally work with the cows. That is what Jorge brings to us. He is excellent at his job.”
Jorge is not the only thing that View Point Dairy likes about CRV. “CRV has helped us achieve our current numbers. We mate all of our cows through CRV and focus on bulls that produce premium milk with high CFP, strong udders, and moderate stature, while using conventional semen.”
Lastly, View Point knows success doesn’t come easy and would like to share some advice that they have learned through their own struggles. “Do not overcrowd the pens. Start from the far-off cows then to close-ups and to the maternity and fresh pens,” Miguel suggests. They stress the importance of keeping all the cattle comfortable. Also, they know protocols are important, but it’s even more important to strictly follow them, or the protocols are useless. When following protocols, Miquel stresses to use the proper and clean tools, like needles. And all of these things are influence by people because people are the ones who make a difference and managers make the wheels turn on a business.
So, what does the future bring for View Point Dairy? This award is just a benchmark. Miguel speaks about the future saying, “Looking ahead on our business, we are thinking about implementing genomic testing in the future to have more control for selection of their ideal herd.” But mainly, View Point Dairy is excited to keeping improving what they already doing. Using the best genetics and, of course, letting the cows simply be cows.