Lawrence County dairy farmer Karl Wilke has a cow that can produce about 24 gallons of milk per day — that's 15 gallons more than the average Holstein dairy cow. It was enough to award her the title of Missouri Holstein Association Cow of the Year.
While it is not uncommon for dairy cows in some areas of the nation to reach the daily mark of 200 pounds, it is rare in the heart of grazing country.
PROPER MANAGEMENT: Karl Wilke, a fifth-generation dairy farmer, owns Dezi, a Holstein nominated for the Cow of the Year award. (Photo by Reagan Bluel)
Wilke feeds his dairy cow, Dezi, along with the rest of the herd, corn silage and high-moisture cereal rye bales — 60% moisture — and pastures the herd on cereal rye. There is no alfalfa in the Wilke herd diet. He quit growing alfalfa after the 2012 drought. The dairy farmer purchased alfalfa for a few years, but then fertilizer prices increased. He turned to a combination of grazing and feeding rations for his 165-head herd.
Feed, forage are key
The advantages of feeding a partial mixed ration (PMR) include more uniformity in nutrients reaching the cow, and therefore less disruption of rumen function, says Reagan Bluel, University of Missouri livestock specialist. Supplementation allows for an improved control of dry matter intake and reduced rumen digestive problems. "When supplementing pasture with PMR, the rumen is prepped for dietary changes to continue to support lactation, even when the pasture gets short," she says.
Research at Penn State University shows that grazing cows supplemented with a PMR had higher milk fat and protein, better body condition, and produced 8 pounds more milk per day than those not fed a PMR.
Wilke uses the services of the Dairy Herd Improvement Association for testing and recordkeeping. Bluel also points out that Wilke studies and then amends management based on the results of DHIA tests and records.
Hope for the future
The 5-year-old Holstein cow is being flushed to maintain multiple offspring. Wilke hopes her genetics will carry on to her progeny.
Source: University of Missouri Extension