SALEM, Ohio — David and Jim Herron are excited about their future in the Jersey breed.
Not only do they have one of the top ranked herds in Ohio — and also in the United States — for milk, fat and protein production, they bred a number of Excellent cows carrying their Cold Run Jerseys prefix.
And Jim and his wife, Tara, were just named as one of the recipients of the American Jersey Cattle Association’s 2014 Young Jersey Breeders, and will receive the award during the association’s annual meeting in Alexandria, Virginia, June 27.
Cold Run Jerseys is owned and operated by David Herron and his wife, Julia, their son Jim and his wife, Tara, and daughter, Ruby Sue. The farm hosted the Ohio Jersey Breeders’ Association’s annual summer picnic June 21.
Jim said his grandpa, Carl E. Herron, started milking Jerseys under the Welcome View prefix in 1945. Jim is now the third generation to be involved in the dairy operation, and started off like most farm kids, feeding calves and unloading hay.
Now his main responsibility is handling the reproductive program and Tara takes care of the calves.
“I enjoy dairy genetics and breeding cows,” said Jim. “It is fun when you have your first home-bred Excellent cow.”
After he graduated from high school, Jim decided to attend Ohio State’s Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster, which turned out to be a good choice because of the knowledge and hands-on experience he gained in his classes.
“I learned about animal health, reproduction, dairy business management, and facilities,” Jim said. “We could not have designed this place without it.”
He graduated with honors and returned to the farm in 2006. At that time, Jim and his father formed an LLC, under the name of Cold Run Jerseys. They were milking 80 cows from the original Welcome View herd, along with five cows that were in Jim’s name.
As they increased the herd size, a majority of the animals were homebred, but they also purchased a few animals from various breed sales. Currently, they have 250 cows, and 225 replacement animals.
“This herd probably has the best combination of type and production herds I have seen,” said Darwin Wilson, a genetic mating system evaluator for ABS Global.
Top genetics, management.
“Top quality genetics, plus a top quality environment equals top quality cows,” said Wilson. “I think Cold Run Jerseys truly represent this philosophy. This herd is always incredibly clean, comfortable, and in great body condition.”
Forty-five of the 225 cows are classified Excellent, with a host of Very Goods and potential Excellents. Their March rolling herd average was 20,250 pounds of milk, 1,148 pounds of fat, and 778 pounds of protein.
In 2013, the herd was ranked second in Ohio of Jersey herds on DHI test.
When Jim Herron makes breeding decisions with Wilson, each cow is analyzed for individual strengths and weaknesses, taking in consideration inbreeding and genetic recessives.
The Herrons also use sexed semen, embryo transfer and the occasional sale purchase to continue to improve the herd.
“Our goal for our herd is to breed cows with exceptional type, while producing an ample supply of high component milk,” said Jim. “Udders are our number one priority, because of the correlation with longevity and milk quality.”
In the herd.
Some of the favorites in the herd include Three Valleys T-Bone F Maddie, EX 92. “Maddie” was purchased in the All American Sale and has proven to be a valuable addition, with a top record of 22,900 milk, 1,425 fat and 930 protein.
Her son, Cold Run Impuls Malice, is in an A.I. sampling program. Her daughter, Cold Run Fastrack Mercedes-ET, is the highest Genomic Jersey Performing Index (GJPI) heifer on the farm, with a 212 GJPI, earning her a spot on the Top 500 GJPI list.
Also on the top 500 GJPI list is Cold Run Fastrack Mercury-ET with a 209 GJPI.
Welcome View Brazo Tapper VG 88 earned recognition as a national class leader for fat and had the fourth highest record for fat in 2010, with a record of 27,710 pounds of milk, at 6.4% for 1,761 pounds of fat, and 1,004 pounds of protein.
Hall of Fame cow Cold Run Action Rhea, EX 90, was ranked seventh in the nation for milk production with 33,360 pounds of milk, 1,443 pounds of fat and 1,093 pounds of protein.
Herd health focus.
“One thing that makes our operation unique is the care we give to our cows and heifers,” said Jim. “Herd health is a top priority.”
When Jim returned to the farm in 2006, the Herrons constructed a new freestall barn and milking parlor. They use a double 10 herringbone parlor with meters to allow them to record milk weights from the individual animals and meet the requirements for DHI testing. The 212-by-100 four-row freestall barn allows them to group their cows. Side curtains and fans keep the cows comfortable.
Their holding pen in the parlor will hold 100 to 115 cows. It also has fans to keep the cows cool while they are waiting to enter the parlor.
“We like the barn, but one change we would make is to have more man passes in the barn and add more box stalls,” said Jim.
They added a 160-by-60 heifer barn in 2011 to house the calves once they come out of the hutches. The heifer barn also has side curtains and a roof ridge opening to the east. The calves are housed on bedded packs with head gates for easy care and feeding.
Another priority is producing quality grain and forage for the herd. The Herrons farm about 1,200 acres and raise corn, sudex, beans, wheat, oats and alfalfa.
“We raise all of the feed for the dairy, except for our protein concentrates, and still have hay and grain to sell for a cash crop,” Jim said.
They feed a total mixed ration of corn silage, baleage, dry hay, mineral and a protein mix from Purina.
Working in a family business offers a unique set of challenges.
“Sometimes it is hard when you are working with multiple members of the family,” said David, “but communication is the key.”
Open, honest communication and treating employees like family are part of the secret, daughter-in-law Tara added.
“Everyone has a role,” explained Jim. “We try to split up the responsibilities.”
And while Jim and David see challenges coming from government regulations on manure applications and nutrient management in soils, they are optimistic about the future for their family.
“As long as we work with our soil and water conservation district, I don’t think this (regs) will be an issue for us,” said David.
The Herrons constructed a 1 million gallon manure lagoon, which is hauled out in tankers by a custom manure hauler. David Herron said the manure is surface applied, but they follow up by tilling the fields to get manure in and control odor.
Conservation practices include no-till and crop rotation.
“No-till definitely made things easier and it helps conserve the soil,” he said.
David said that while he enjoys all of the jobs around the farm, he has turned most of the responsibility for the cows over to Jim so the he can concentrate on the field work.
Jerseys a ‘no-brainer.’
David admits that one reason he likes Jerseys is because he grew up with them.
“But I have been around enough other breeds to know that with the cheese market and the Jersey components, it is a no-brainer,” he said. “Their body size makes them more efficient.”
“I think the Jersey breed is only beginning to grow,” Jim said. “We want to be part of the reason that Jerseys are the most profitable dairy breed.”
Maurice Core, former executive secretary of the American Jersey Cattle Association told the group attending the picnic at Herrons, that “when you have cows the size of these Jerseys making 1,100 pounds of fat and milking 80 pounds of milk a day, you don’t need to talk about any other breed.”
“We are blessed to have these people in the business.”
Down the road.
Jim said their long-term goals include maintaining high milk production without sacrificing type. They also plan to continue their embryo transfer program with their top cows to accelerate the genetic gain in their herd.
They support state and national sales with high quality consignments, and many of their consignments have gone on to be successful in other herds as well.
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