Editor’s note: This is an update to a case study in the June 15, 2012 edition of this newsletter, involving Jason Brixey, partner at Pine Creek Nutrition Services in Turlock, Calif.
The farm was in big financial trouble when Jason Brixey was called in to help.
Nearly a year later, things have improved considerably. “We have just been kicking butt,” he says.
It’s hard to say that a ration change alone saved the farm, but it played a role. For years, the central California dairy worked with a feed mill to have all of its feed pre-mixed and delivered on a daily basis.
But that changed when Brixey came on board. The dairy began mixing its own feed ingredients, which saved about 50 cents per cow per day.
Some serious ration adjustments were made, as well. The ration that the dairy had been feeding had “some pretty big holes” in the formulation, according to Brixey. “Cows were being starved from a nutritional standpoint.”
Once the ration changes were made, the cows responded almost instantly.
In early April (2012), the farm was shipping an average of 68 pounds of milk per cow per day (on three-times-a-day milking). By early June, that number had increased to 89 pounds.
“I have never in my career seen that kind of response in a Holstein herd so fast,” Brixey says.
The farm has since hired a management consulting firm and the owner’s son-in-law is now in charge of the day-to-day operation.
“They are doing things they have never done before,” Brixey says. The farm has made a number of improvements, such as improved hoof care, better prepping of cows in the milking parlor, keeping the water troughs clean and cow comfort.
“We have changed the whole philosophy of that dairy and workforce to ask what is in the best interest of the cows. That is why I think we are getting sustained results,” he adds.
During the past six months, milk production in the herd has averaged at least 88 pounds per cow.
Last spring, Brixey wasn’t sure the farm could hold on in the face of financial difficulties that had occurred prior to his arrival. Yet, he was surprised at how fast the turnaround was starting to occur and said there may be a few more surprises left.
Eight months later, the farm continues to roll onward, making huge headway against years of accumulated debt.