A COW-SIDE INVESTIGATION INTO
MANAGING EXPANSION CHALLENGES
Numerous ‘culprits’ on dairy farms
combine to rob herd performance
and injure a dairy’s bottom line.
Identifying and arresting the offender
isn’t always easy, and a proactive
investigation can help reduce chal-
lenges before they arise.
By Kevin Putnam
had grown slowly from 100
cows in the mid-80s to 1,000
In 2008, Bilow Farms, Malone, N.Y., cows in 2008. The current
was preparing for another expansion of
herd averaged 75 lbs. of milk/
both the dairy and farming operations. Owned
cow/day, with the high group
by partners Vincent Bilow; his wife Trudy; son averaging 110 lbs. Rations
Andrew; and nephew Mike Poirier, the farm
consisted of 47% forage
with some purchased corn.
The farm produced adequate
forages needed for the current I Kevin Putnam
herd size. Overall, the opera- is a Pioneer
tion was performing well.
Contact him via
But, with major expansion e-mail: Kevin.
plans in place, Vincent knew putnam@
reﬁ ning his management prac- pioneer.com;
tices was a necessity. Making phone 585-245-
the next jump to 1,650 cows 1239; or visit
www.pioneer. was a colossal investment and com/forages.
certainly one that needed to
You want more than a milk check from
pay for itself. The expansion called for preci-
sion. Evaluating the entire operation was essential.
Vincent understood the need for more efﬁ cient
time, money and management practices. A criti-
You want more services that help increase
cal component of success would be Vincent’s
ability to produce enough high-quality feed to
profit margins. Representation that tells
support his expansion. To take the herd to the
Capitol Hill what farmers need. Innovation
next level would require more tonnage and
that takes your milk from farm to table.
more starch from corn silage acres.
FYI That’s More Cooperative.
www.dfamilk.com Assembling the investigation team
Vincent always worked with several experts
in a variety of ﬁ elds, staying current on new
management practices and products, meet-
ing with each expert and gathering individual
recommendations. With an expansion looming, Vincent recog-
nized a typical consultation with each expert
wasn’t enough. So, he gathered his advisors
as a team, including: crop consultant, Mike
Contessa, Champlain Valley Agronomics; seed
supplier, Floyd Morter, Bourdeau Bros. Inc.;
area manager, David Kosztyo, Pioneer Hi-Bred;
and nutritionist, Neil Andrew, Cargill. During
the team’s ﬁ rst meetings, they identiﬁ ed ﬁ ve
1) Reduce variability and increase forage
quality 2) Increase tonnage from ﬁ elds
3) Improve forage starch content to support
Please turn to page 18
16 April 2012 EASTERNDAIRYBUSINESS