LANCASTER, Pa. — “The past 20 years have been a journey,” says Jere High, manager of Lancaster DHIA, and he “feels blessed to be involved in Lancaster DHIA” for nearly the entire duration. More than 350 producers and ag industry professionals were in attendance for the annual meeting and 20th anniversary of the Lancaster DHIA at Good N Plenty Restaurant, on Dec. 4.
Their territory has changed in the past 20 years. Lancaster DHIA grew from 1,100 dairymen with 56,000 cows to 3,200 dairymen with 285,000 cows. The association membershp has expanded from southeastern Pennsylvania to include several Mid-Altantic and New England states.
A highlight in 2012 was a merger between Lancaster DHIA and Vermont DHIA. They will be using the Vermont DHIA name for the New England area.
High also said there is a change in the average Somatic Cell Count, “a few years ago, 350,000 was the average and this year 240,000 was the average SCC.” He also pointed out, 396 herds that are registered with Lancaster DHIA run at “an outstanding 150,000 SCC and 381 run between 151,000-200,000. We are just shy of 1,000 farms providing excellent milk.”
The Lancaster County lab sees 11,000 samples of milk a day and 220,000 samples a month. Samples are tested in at the lab headquarters in Mannheim, Pa. Data is processed through DRMS (Dairy Records Management Systems) in Raleigh, N.C.
Aside from milk, Lancaster DHIA has expanded to include a micro lab, culture lab, and a forage lab. A new protein-detected pregnancy test will be released soon; it has been in the testing phase for four to five months and will be a good management tool for dairies who wish to detect early pregnancies.
John Clay, DRMS, spoke on “Capitalizing on Genetics: Progress and Future.”
Clay emphasized the changes in the dairy industry, such as the “dramatic increase in milk production” is due to improvements in feeding methods, feeds, forage harvesting methods, animal housing, udder health, reproductive management, and genetics.” Milk production has increased, even though the number of milk cows has decreased.
Clay said, “technology plays a large role in the progression and succession of a dairy,” emphasizing the positive effects of the daughter pregnancy rate introduced in 2003. He gave examples of Pennsylvania producers choosing high-quality service sires.
Technology will continue to move our industry and Clay talked about how Progeny Testing and most recently, genotyping (genomics) can affect the dairy herd. He recommended using “genotyping to help identify top heifers (to become the next generation) and bottom heifers (to cull or use as recipients).”
Top award winners are:
Top herd for high protein RHA: Gary Lee and Patricia Mase, Centre County, Pa.
Top color breed for high protein RHA: Jobo Holstein Farm, Adams County, Pa.
Top herd for low SCC: Gary Kim, Orange County, Vt.
Top individual cow for combined lifetime fat and protein: Lylehaven Farm, Washington County, Vt.