Top awards earned by top dairiesby Enrico Villamaino

A pair of Northeastern dairy farms were recently recognized by the Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council (DCRC) for excellence in cattle breeding.

Kayhart Brothers Dairy, located in Addison, VT, and Patterson Farm LLC, operating out of Auburn, NY, were awarded the DCRC’s Platinum Award and Gold Award, respectively. The awards were given at the DCRC’s annual awards ceremony, held recently in Pittsburgh, PA.

DCRC President Glaucio Lopes hosted the event. According to Lopes, “We covered every aspect of dairy management that affects reproductive performance from employee management to nutrition, from dry and fresh cow performance to fertility programs, from high-end technologies to cow comfort, and from herd health to cow welfare. Our goal is to help attendees go home and apply strategies they learned at the DCRC Annual Meeting.”

A total of 105 herds were nominated for DCRC recognition in 2019. The farms’ breeding data were then presented to an evaluation committee. To prevent any bias in the decision-making process, all data sets were presented blindly, without any information to identify the individual farms, to the committee. After the initial round of evaluations, the candidate pool was narrowed to the top 45 breeders. The selection committee then requested more detailed information to further winnow the number of farms to 24. They were then divided into four award groups: six platinum, six gold, six silver and six bronze.

Steve and Tim Kayhart run Kayhart Brothers. The farm was founded by their parents in 1979. After studying dairy science and economics at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Steve joined Tim, who had finished his term of service in the U.S. Marine Corps, in purchasing the farm in 2010. Today, the brothers oversee an operation that has expanded not just in acreage and herd size, but also in infrastructure. “We have over 1,200 cows, 2,400 acres and a brand new milking parlor we opened in 2016,” Steve said.

“I think this award speaks to the high quality of the work our employees do here every day,” he continued. “In particular, we owe a lot to our herd manager Gene Pouliot. He’s one of the best breeders around.”

Rev. Paul Colgan divides his time between working as the dairy manager at Patterson Farm and presiding over his congregation as pastor of Auburn Church of the Nazarene. “Depending on the day, it’s hard to say if it takes more work tending to the herd or the flock,” he joked.

Colgan has been at the 2,000-acre Patterson Farm for two years. In that time, the herd has grown from 1,100 cows to 1,600 today. Said Colgan, “We were very happy with this year’s results. Our herd’s pregnancy rate for last year was 39%. All our projections for this year’s rate have us at 41%. We’re hoping to score a platinum award next year.”

Nominations for the 2020 DCRC awards will be accepted from March 1 – April 30. Awardees will be announced in September 2020.

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