Traditional breeding programs were all about luck. Today, dairy farms like Night Hawk Dairy in Stratford, Wisconsin are no longer depending on chance to replenish their herd.
Take a behind-the-scenes look at how Jim and Chris Leick, co-owners of Night Hawk Dairy, use a ‘beef on dairy’ breeding program to support efficiency and add value to their dairy business.
How Night Hawk Dairy uses beef on dairy
Night Hawk Dairy gathers and analyses as much data as they can to determine the future potential of their animals. Before heifers are bred, their genomic data is evaluated to determine whether they’re bred to dairy or beef semen.
Night Hawk uses more than genomic testing data to determine which animals have the highest future profitability potential. They move dairy calves based on weight, tracking each heifer’s growth every 10 days. Jim and Chris know when goals are being met.
Jim and Chris aim for 25 heifer calves per month based on a 25% milking herd turnover rate for their 900-cow herd. The top quarter of the highest producing cows are bred with Holstein dairy semen while the remainder receive Limousin beef semen.
By only breeding to produce enough replacement heifers to fit their current milking needs, Night Hawk Dairy has found success both in greater overall milk production from higher-quality genetics and better farm profitability through sales of dairy beef calves.