12/14/2013 7:00 AM
By Charlene M. Shupp Espenshade Special Sections Editor
SMOKETOWN, Pa. — Despite Tuesday’s snowstorm, more than 200 farmers and dairy industry representatives gathered at the Good ’N Plenty Restaurant, Smoketown, Pa., for the Lancaster DHIA annual meeting.
The association discussed its growth and passed several bylaw changes to adapt its policies to the completed merger with the Vermont DHIA.
Although the association posted growth for 2013, some of those gains came through the merger of the two organizations.
A total 3,154 herds with 270,566 cows were tested in 2013. There was a loss of some herds from 2012, but the total number of cows grew again. Jere High, the association’s general manager, said this reflects the long-term trend of fewer herds, but more cows per herd.
On average, dairy producers added three more cows per herd for testing.
According to the 2013 annual report, the average herd on test had 82.9 cows, milking 21,410 pounds. Milk quality continues to improve, with the somatic cell count dropping from 240,000 to 223,000 in 2013.
High said he is amazed by the changes the association has seen in more than 20 years, growing from just Lancaster County to eight states with more than 270,000 cows on test today.
The association added 176 new herds, and although it also lost herds, the decline was not as steep as 2012.
Talking about milk quality, High said the association has more than 1,000 herds with a somatic cell count below 200,000.
The merger between Vermont DHIA and Lancaster DHIA is complete. The association’s bylaw changes included a realignment of the board structure to include two board members from the Vermont region.
“Business was good, the merger is completed,” said Ellis Krieder, Lancaster DHIA board president. Several upgrades were made in the testing lab to improve testing speed.
Curtis Groff of Simon-Leaver, reporting on the association’s financial status, said it did make a profit, although lower than last year, in part because of the costs of the merger.
Reporting on the lab, High said that though there is the added expense for expanding its testing capabilities, there had also been a reduction in the staffing hours needed in the lab. The other testing programs continue to perform well, he said.
A new report feature has been added to the PC DART records program, called money corrected milk. High said it’s a great report for farmers to evaluate which cows are profitable on their farms.
Steve Hershey, the association’s National DHIA representative, spoke about his service on the National DHIA board.
“Being in a national group gives you perspective” as you meet people from different parts of the country and learn about their farms, he said.
Hershey spoke about the movement of the bull proof calculations from USDA’s Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory to the Council of Dairy Breeding. The transfer “has gone very smoothly,” he said.
Several dairy farms were honored for top production and milk quality.
Furnace Hill Holsteins of Lebanon, Pa., topped the association with the top protein rolling herd average of 34,395 pounds of milk, with 1,071 pounds of protein and 1,248 pounds of fat for the 158 cows tested.
The other top 10 herds were Roaring Creek farm of Franklin County, Pa.; Vanderfeltz Holsteins of Susquehanna County, Pa.; Gary Lee and Patricia Mase of Centre County, Pa.; Frederick Farms of Blair County, Pa.; Dewdrop Meadow Holsteins of Berks County, Pa.; Scott and April Cooper of York County, Pa.; Brian Mull of Lancaster County, Pa.; Eric and Jen Frederick of Blair County, Pa.; and Matt Sensenig of Lancaster County, Pa.
JoBo Holsteins topped the color breeds for high protein rolling herd average with its Brown Swiss herd. The 49 Brown Swiss tested had a rolling herd average of 29,236 pounds of milk, 1,016 pounds of fat and 920 pounds of protein.
Other top herds were Gary Lee and Patricia Mase, Centre County, Pa.; Creek View Farm, Blair County, Pa.; Mount Rock Jerseys LLC of Cumberland County, Pa.; John Peila III of Lancaster County, Pa.; Merle Lawton of Tioga County, Pa.; Southmont Jerseys, of Bradford County, Pa.; Earnie, Wanda and Matt Derr of Lycoming County, Pa.; Ryan and Jen Clark of Blair County, Pa.; and Vanderfeltz Jerseys of Susquehanna County, Pa.
Topping the low somatic cell count award was Adam and Joanna Lidback of Orleans County, Vt. Their 46-head herd had a somatic cell count of 47,000.
Other herds in the top 10 were Taylor and Alan Henderson of Washington County, N.Y.; Deep Valley Holstein of Tioga County, Pa.; Robert and Melanie Swenson of Orange County, Vt.; Matthew Deome of Susquehanna County, Pa.; Brent Helsel of Bedford County, Pa.; B.J. Hanfield of Orange County, Vt.; the Laprise family of Washington, R.I.; Elam Stoltzfus of Clinton County, Pa.; and Elmer and Mary Burkholder of Cumberland County, Pa.
Lylehaven Farm of Washington County, Vt., received the top lifetime production award for its cow Loriann.
This aged cow, born in 1998, has a lifetime production of 353,149 pounds of milk, with 16,151 pounds of fat and 11,690 pounds of protein.
Other farms with top individual cow production records included Deep Run Creek Holsteins of Lebanon County, Pa.; Derek Long of Steuben County, N.Y.; Lynn Royer of Lancaster County, Pa.; Kenneth Myer of Lancaster County, Pa.; Vanderfeltz Holsteins of Susquehanna County, Pa.; Whittier Farms Inc. of Worcester County, Mass.; Wade Benedict of Franklin County, Pa.; Don and Pam Gable of Chester County, Pa.; and Nelson Wenger of Lancaster County, Pa.