Taking calves to the next level
Dykeman & Sons Inc.
Fultonville, New York
Dairy Focus Consultant: Ed Varnam
Calf and Heifer Specialists: Ashley Audet and Gary Moore
- New parlor gave them confidence to make calf and heifer improvements
- Average daily gain has increased from 1.5 to over 2 lbs. per day
- Adjusted AFC goals to match their peak milk production sweet spot
Brothers Ray and Roy Dykeman were tired of being average. The 2nd generation New York dairymen had grown a 120-cow dairy to over 1,300 cows, but production was around 75 pounds and components weren’t where they should be. “One time, they told me they didn’t want to be mediocre anymore,” comments Cargill Dairy Focus Ed Varnam. “So, we started improving things to be anything but that.”
The first step was a new 60-cow rotary parlor, which greatly improved animal health, efficiency in the work force and boosted milk production to 90 pounds. Feeling confident from this positive experience, the Dykeman brothers said yes when Calf and Heifer Manager Josh Kilmartin asked to take his calf and heifer program to the next level.
Josh works with Cargill on his calf and heifer program, including Calf and Heifer Specialists Ashley Audet and Gary Moore. A pasteurizer was installed to feed waste milk, but HerdFirst® Early Calf Enhancer was needed to take their calf program where the dairy wanted it to go. HerdFirst Early Calf Enhancer helps to ensure that the calves are consistently receiving 14% solids. HerdFirst Starter is the grain complement.
The results are easy to measure. Since they’ve started pasteurizing and feeding solids at a consistent rate, they’ve seen their average daily gain increase from 1.5 pounds a day to nearly 2.25 pounds a day. The dairy team also decided to no longer breed animals under 12 months of age, and their age at first calving (AFC) goal is now 21 to 23 months of age. This is where they’ve seen the best peak milk performance occur in the herd.
Josh is proud of the healthy life cycle that he’s seeing in the animals he raises. “The health of the animals is better than it has been in a long time. They’re getting a higher plane of nutrition.” Josh continued, “From calf to cows, the whole herd health is just better. Then, when we grow these young animals into healthy cows, they put out healthy calves that we can raise.”