Alicia and Jonathan Lamb left the New York State Fair Holstein show with ribbons, but they attribute their success to the many hands at Lamb Farms for their wins.
“It was a great day at the state fair,” Alicia Lamb said.
From their farm’s herd of 16,000 Holsteins (8,000 milkers and 8,000 heifers), their 20 show cows won Grand Champion of the Red & White show, Intermediate Champion of the Black & White show and Grand Champion of the Black & White show.
Both Jonathan and Alicia grew up on dairies and participated in 4-H showing cows. His family’s farms include Lamb Farms and Lamb Farms II in Oakfield, NY; Lakeshore Dairy in Wilson, NY; and Convoy Dairy in Convoy, Ohio.
Jonathan, his brother Matthew, their father Gordon, and a non-family partner, Jim Veazey, form the farm partnership. The Lambs primarily operate the animal side of the business. The Veazey family manages the crop operations in New York and Ohio.
Oakfield Corners Dairy is a division of Lamb Farms that focuses on genetics with a large-scale ET and IVF program to supply the farm with high quality calves and to market bulls to artificial insemination companies. Oakfield Corners also sells at the biennial Spring Sensation Sale. About 120 employees keep the farms running.
Lamb Farms only occasionally purchases a show cow and a high genetic cow. Alicia Lamb attributes the farm’s low cull rate to good management practices and selecting top genetics.
The farm’s barns are all freestall, except for 20 boxes for show cows. They use deep bedding, misters and fans to keep the herd comfortable and carefully manage herd density.
The somatic cell count averages below 150. The cows provide 88 to 90 pounds of milk apiece daily. Lamb Farms ships through Upstate Niagara.
On 13,000 acres, Lamb Farms raises its own corn, alfalfa haylage, and wheat for straw. The heifers have a small amount of pasture for exercise but also receive feed. Each farm uses a nutritionist. Lamb Farms purchases about 35 to 40 percent of its feed. The farm raises a few vegetable crops, including peas, beets and cabbage on 300 acres.
Lakeshore just completed installing that location’s second methane digester, the second owned by the partnership.
Alicia Lamb said she and Jonathan have met a lot of friends through showing and the New York Holstein Association. She added that she and her husband have always enjoyed showing but also use it as a marketing tool for the farm.
“The biggest thing is getting the right people in the right place,” Alicia said. “It takes the right people to get everyone together the day of the show and the rest of the 364 days. You want the right stage of lactation and the best udder conformation at the show and the proper body condition.”
Though she and Jonathan provide a “face” for the showing facet of the farms, she said they depend upon all those behind the scenes to ensure the cows are ready for showing.
“They work more on the animals day by day and they deserve the credit,” she said.
In addition to membership in the New York Holstein Association and showing their cows, the Lambs market their operation through social media, making frequent postings on Facebook to update followers on farm news and personnel changes. They also frequently post picturesque and humorous photos and interesting articles to keep followers sharing.
Last year, the farm celebrated its 50th anniversary.