Lingle Holsteins prove cow comfort matters

Ohio Holstein Association holds fall tour in Wooster, Ohio

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Lingle family
The Lingle family hosted the Ohio Holstein Association Fall Tour Nov. 11. Rick and Amy said the family farm has been a great place to raise their three children. Their son Ryan and his wife, Chelsi, continue to work on the family farm. (Catie Noyes photos)

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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.

Holstein tour lyle
During lunch at the Ohio Holstein Association fall tour, Lyle Ruprecht shared what made the Lingle family successful in raising a healthy dairy herd.

Cow comfort

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.

Lingle Holstein Farms
In 2011, the Lingles built a 150-head sand bedded freestall barn, a 500,000 gallon manure pit and a concrete feed bunk. In 2013, they built a second feed bunk and installed a ventilation system in the calf barn.

Improvements

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.

Immune health

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.

Genetics

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.

Lingle Holsteins farm tour

During the tour, guests were able to walk the alley of the 150-head, four row, drive-through freestall barn installed in 2011.
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1 View

Lingle Holsteins farm tour

During the tour, guests were able to walk the alley of the 150-head, four row, drive-through freestall barn installed in 2011.
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Health calves make healthy cows

Lingle Holstein's nutritionist Lyle Ruprecht is rarely called to the farm for health concerns.
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Lingle Holsteins

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Ohio Holstein Association fall tour

The cold November air didn't stop fellow dairy farmers from visiting Lingle Holsteins in Wooster, Nov. 11.
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Showmanship clinic

Sherry Smith, a dairy program specialist for Ohio State, goes over changes made in dairy showmanship rules.
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Calf health

Ryan Lingle discusses the upgrades made to the calf barn in 2013. Air tubes were installed to promote clean air circulation.
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Savanna loves cows

Savanna Thomas, 6, of North Lewisburg, travelled with her family to see the cows at Lingle Holsteins. Savanna has eight cows of her own on her family’s farm, Triple T Farms, and can’t wait until she is old enough to show in 4-H.

Brief history

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.

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Catie Noyes lives in Ashland County and earned a bachelor's degree in agriculture communications from The Ohio State University. She enjoys photography, softball and sharing stories about agriculture.

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