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WOOSTER, Ohio — It was bit on the colder side for the annual Ohio Holstein Association Fall Tour Nov. 11, but that didn’t stop dairy farmers from making the trip to Lingle Holsteins.
Rick and Amy Lingle operate the family farm with their son, Ryan, and his wife, Chelsi. The Lingles milk around 160 registered Holsteins and have a current rolling herd average of 25,058 pounds milk, 989 pounds fat and 780 pounds protein. They farm 445 acres and also rent 140 acres.
Keys to success
Cow comfort, health and genetics are the keys to success for the Lingle family. Very rarely is nutritionist Lyle Ruprecht called to the farm for a health problem. Since he started working with the Lingle family nine years ago, Ruprecht said the family focused on three things — health, comfort and nutrition — to improve cow production.
“So many things begin with nutrition,” said Ruprecht, who has worked as a nutritionist with Gerber Feed Service for 18 years. But cow comfort also plays a big role in the health of the herd.
When Ruprecht first started working with the Lingles, the freestalls included the “old mattress beds” or rubber mats on the concrete stalls. Ruprecht said this style of bedding worked fine for the younger cows in the herd, but the older the cows got, the harder it was on their joints when they stood up.
When a cow goes to stand, she puts her weight on her front knees while pushing out with her back feet, he explained. On the rubber mats, the back feet can slip, causing the cow’s weight to fall more on her front joints.
And if it is hard for her to get up, she won’t want to lay down, which can lead to stress and low production, added Ruprecht. His suggestion: sand bedding.
“A deep bedded pack distributes the cow’s weight across her whole body,” said Ruprecht.
In 2011, the Lingles built a 150-cow, four-row, drive-through freestall barn with sand bedding.
Along with the construction of the new freestall barn, the Lingles put in a 500,000-gallon concrete manure pit and a bunker for feed storage that same year. A second bunker was built in 2013 and improvements were made to the calf barn.
Five years ago, the Lingles installed air tubes for ventilation in their calf barn. All year long, clean air is circulated throughout the barn with the ventilation system. Building immune systems starts with the calves, explained Ruprecht.
“The circulation of clean air reduces respiratory problems.” If a calf contracts pneumonia early in life, it could have an effect on lung development and respiratory health for the rest of that calf’s life.
Along with cow nutrition and health, Rick Lingle said he places a large emphasis on genetics. “Breeding cows is an art, not a science,” he said. “I don’t think (breeding) will ever be replaced by a formula.”
In fact, the Lingles have celebrated some high ranking cows over the years.
- In 1987, Lingle Holsteins had reserve All Ohio Junior Best Three Females.
- Lingle Mandigo Echo Ex 93 was the 1989 Holstein Futurity winner.
- In 2014, Lingle Goldchip Feline, owned by Petitclerc Holsteins, received Honorable Mention All American Fall Calf and the reserve All Canadian.
- Lingle Gold Freaky Girl, owned by Budjon and Vail, received an honorable mention as the 2015 All American Winter Yearling and was the 2016 intermediate champion unanimous All American Senior 2-year-old at the International Holstein Show.
“It’s all about mama cows producing good calves,” he said.
Rick’s father, Robert, started the family farm with a small herd of Holstein cattle in the early 1950s. Rick received his first registered Holstein heifer as a high school graduation gift in 1977, which was the beginning of his registered herd.
He married his high school sweetheart, Amy, in 1979, and together they have three children, Amber Morlock, Ryan and Alyssa Lingle.