DALTON, Ohio — Gregg Troyer has spent his life helping people, so he felt it was important to give credit to the people who have helped him achieve success with his dairy herd.
“I want to help others the way God has helped me,” he said.
Troyer is no stranger to recognition for his accomplishments in the dairy industry as he has ranked among the top herds in Wayne County for production and high cows, as well as low somatic cell counts over the past several years.
This year, Troyer added a new award to the list, as the recipient of the Wayne County Dairy Service Unit’s Outstanding Herd Management Award for 2013.
“Matt Kauffman suggested we try something different,” said Tom Stocksdale, a member of the Dairy Service Unit Board. “This is a new challenge for our dairy producers.”
Josh Kepler, also a member of the Dairy Service Unit Board, said when producers do everything right, they should be recognized.
Kauffman said the Outstanding Herd Management Award was based on production and reproduction. The award was broken down into production groups, based on energy corrected milk, with a point system based on the herd’s improved production and reproduction from the previous year, including the herd’s calving interval, days to first service, conception rates, heat detection, age at first calving.
Troyer was born in Mexico and spent a good share of his early years in other countries, where his family was serving in the mission fields.
After returning to the U.S., his father purchased the family’s dairy farm in 1989. Gregg took over the dairy operation in 2000, starting with 35 cows of his own and renting his dad’s cows.
Gregg was a dairy farmer until 2005, when he felt called to return to the mission field and spent five years doing mission work in Nicaragua. Working through the Church of God and Christ Mennonite Church, Troyer was involved in planting churches and hospitals in the area he was assigned.
“We weren’t really tied down at that time that we couldn’t do it,” Gregg said. “Dad sold his cows and I rented my cows. The man who rented my cows ended up buying them.”
Back in business
When he returned to the U.S., Troyer again entered the dairy business.
“I like cows and I like working with animals,” Troyer said. “Some people have cows so they can farm; I farm so I can have cows.”
Today, Troyer is back up to 80 head of Holsteins, with 75-80 percent of the herd registered Holsteins and the balance grade animals. He has a daily average of 70 to 74 pounds of milk with 4.1 butterfat and 3.18 protein tests.
His father continues to operate the farm and he buys his feed from his dad. He uses a TMR of corn silage, haylege, dry hay and grain for the milking herd and heifers receive hay, silage and some pasture.
Troyer attributes his success to his family and support from people in the community. Troyer said he didn’t really have the words to express the value of having a family like he has.
“I appreciate them very much,” he said. “My wife and children have been very supportive and my father has given me the opportunity to work into the farm.”
Gregg said when he returned to the dairy business, he was fortunate to be able to select cows from top dairy producers in the county.
He added that Ken Janes helped him find cattle, Josh Kepler helped him with breeding tips and Brad Woodman, his feed consultant, spent a great deal of time helping him with his feeding program.
Gregg said his goal is to have a profitable dairy operation, which means paying attention to the details.
Troyer’s herd has a 12.5 month calving interval and several cows in the herd are starting their fifth or sixth lactation, with a goal of keeping cows in the herd for at least ten lactations.
“My long term goal is to have good enough genetics to have marketable cattle,” he said. “I want to keep my cows around and sell animals for breeding stock, instead of culling them.”
Troyer said it is tough to make a living for two families with 80 cows, so he may be looking at expanding his herd as well. But profitability is always a challenge in the dairy industry. “Profitability is not always about high milk production,” Gregg said. “You can buy production but you have to be profitable.”