Monday, March 27, 2017

Oakfield Corners’ Jonathan and Alicia Lamb

How they approach genetics and marketing
By Gayle Benedict for the April 2016 HolsteinWorld Exclusive

     “Alicia and I enjoy merchandising and working with the cattle,” says Jonathan Lamb of Lamb Farms (Oakfield Corners Dairy) in Oakfield, New York.   Winners of the National Distinguished Young Breeder Award  in 2012, Jonathan and Alicia Lamb manage Oakfield Corners Dairy, the cows, genetics and marketing program of Lamb Farms. The dairy consists of 8,250 cows (all identified) located on four dairies, three near Oakfield, New York, and one in Ohio.  Jonathan and Alicia lead the team that transfers more than 5,000 embryos annually, sends 30 bulls to AI each year, and puts on the Oakfield Spring Sensation Sale every other year (for the last six years)!
     Lamb Farms is managed by the Lamb family and consists of:  Jonathan & Alicia (a nutritionist), Jonathan’s parents Gordon and Peggy; his brother Matthew and his wife Kendra; their brother Craig, a DVM who does heath work at the farm one day each week and Crops Manager Jim Veazy.  
      How do they get this all done so successfully?  “It’s a team effort.  The high-type animals and the genomic animals are handled separately and managed differently,” Jonathan said.  “Adam Dresser, who started as our herdsman, now does all our embryo work.  He does both IVF and conventional flushing.    Jenna Smith Lenhart assists with the embryo program, while her husband Andrew Lenhart manages the Genetics Barn at Oakfield Corners.”  The genetics barn was built in 2015 and features 14 boxstalls where the high-type individuals are kept.
 “For matings we have a pool of donors and a pool of sires. We meet weekly to discuss the matings.   We rely on Rick Verbeek, from Select Sires, as an extra consultant in our breeding program,” he added.
How Do You Determine Sires for Show Type?
When Jonathan and Alicia attend shows they like to talk with different breeders about what is working for them. “We will use some high-type young sires, but not too much. We like to wait and see how the calves look,” he explained.
     “We used Doorman early on all our higher-index cattle and those Doormans are starting to calve for the second time” Alicia added. Five have been classified so far…four are VG (one at VG-88) and one is GP.  “We liked his daughters well enough that we switched and started using him on our show cattle.  The Doormans from our high- type individuals are 12 -15 months of age.”
         Show bulls they are currently using are Beemer, Atwood, Doorman and OCD 1stClass Callen-ET.   Callen is +3.50T +3.14UDC +2.72 FLC with a maternal side that is VG-88 Mayfield X VG-88 Atwood X VG-86 Shottle X Pine Shelter Cheyenne (3E-95), Grand Champion International Holstein Show and All-American Three-Year-Old 2003.
      For the Red and White Holsteins, the Lambs are using Cycle McGucci Jordy-Red, a +3.68T McGucci (McCutchen X KHW Regiment Apple-Red 3E-96) son from a VG Gold Chip. And, because they like the calves, they are using more Addiction-P.
 Strategy for Buying and Developing Show Winners
   “Full pedigrees are very important. We like animals that get better over time.  We don’t spend big dollars to buy potential show animals,” they admitted. “We like to buy and develop our show cattle and we want them to be marketable.  How an animal develops is kind of a crapshoot. Of course when you are at the top end of the shows, you need to be picky. You need exceptional udders in order to show well, especially high rear udders and good feet and legs.”
     Leading the list of most rewarding recent purchases is Craigcrest Rubies Rachelle (EX-92@3y), who was second Junior Three-Year-Old at World Dairy Expo last fall, Honorable All-American Junior Three-Year-Old 2016, and Unanimous All-New York Junior Three-Year-Old 2016.  Her full sister is Craigcrest Rubies Gold Rejoice (EX-94), All-American and All-Canadian Senior Two-Year-Old 2011. Rachelle has another full sister, Gold Reba (EX-90) at Oakfield Corners. Rachelle has pregnancies by Doorman, Beemer, Crush and Sid.
       “We bought Rachelle two years ago as a bred heifer in the Craigcrest Dispersal. She was stylish, long and from a good cow family,” says Jonathan. “She is a Goldwyn X Dundee cross. She was one of the best heifers in the sale. As a junior two-year-old she was Reserve All-New York. She just continued to develop. We do not usually buy bred heifers, instead we buy them calved in. But in this case, if she had calved in, she would have been too high priced for us to buy. We give Kelly Lee Reynolds (Oakfield Corners’ former show herd manager, now Executive Director for New York Holstein Association) a lot of credit for developing Rachelle to her potential.”
Selection Criteria for High Genomics
     “We select bulls first for TPI, then protein pounds, and third calving ease. It seems that if the calving ease gets over 8.5 to 9, it’s hard to market. It detracts from their value. We also want the parent average to be as high as we can get it,” he added.
      Type is not in their top three criteria because, “If we use a good solid genomic bull, the heifers will be adequate for type. I find conformation from genomic bulls to be sufficient. Somatic cell is not a deal breaker for us when buying semen, unless it’s over 3.0. I really hate to not use a bull that is high in TPI, but has one poor trait…because they can add so much from their good traits.”
     On the rest of the commercial herd, Jonathan shared that they use a lot for recipients. And, because they send several bulls to AI each year, Lambs get some of the semen back from these and use it in the herd. On the February 2017 index run, Oakfield Corners had 26 young sires with GTPI +2648 or higher!
      “Our goal is a profitable cow with functional type. She doesn’t need to be extra fancy. The rate of progress is different today. Genomics kicks it up a gear with the commercial cattle,” says Lamb .        “Animals sired by high milk bulls make more milk. Cows from high DPR bulls breed back more consistently.  High Productive Life bulls transmit daughters that last longer. We almost always get more of a response than what we expect. Good genetics pays in commercial herds,” states Lamb. “Our internal herd growth is high. We sell a lot of fresh two-year-olds.”
     “As for type, we like a moderate-size cow with adequate strength in our commercial herd. We appreciate those two-year-olds that are GP-82 and 84-85 in the mammary.  If they are Good Plus across the board with no holes, that’s a profitable cow. We see feet and legs as the hardest to predict how the classifier will see them. Feet are affected by management more than any other trait.” 
Buying Model for High GTPI Individuals
     “When we are buying index, an animal being near flush age is important, especially with genomics and the fast pace of genetics. Criteria we use for buying:  high GTPI, high production and calving ease.   Because we have a lot of recipients, we pay moderate prices, flush a lot and end up with some high indexing individuals. We also make sure we are working with a variety of cow families .”
Cow Family Highlights
 A herd favorite, Edg Ruby Uno Rae 2054-ET (EX-90 EX-MS 3y7m) with 2-01 3X 365D 25,510M 5.1% 1299F 3.4% 878P and GTPI +2559 combines the right ingredients for profitability. She is a Numero Uno X Robust X Planet X Bolton X Forbidden from the Dellia (EX-95) family. Uno Rae has six offspring over +2700 GTPI from five different sires! Her son OCD Kingboy Rambo-ET is +2709 GTPI +3.05T.
Sired by McCutchen and from the All-American Eastside Gold Missy (EX-95) cow family, Butz-Hill Magical Missy-ET (EX-91 EX-92-MS) has a Delta daughter that topped their Oakfield Corners Sensation Sale two years ago. This family has proven they can transmit show type and high genomic numbers.
Type transmitter Cowtown Durham Luella (EX-94-2E) is a Durham out of Eleeta Skybuck Lucy (EX-95), the Grand Champion at World Dairy Expo 2007. Luella’s Goldwyn daughter claimed Reserve All-Canadian and High Honorable Mention All-American Fall Yearling honors in 2014. Plus, her December Solomon daughter won Reserve All-New York Winter Calf. Luella has one Excellent and seven Very Good daughters to date.
     It’s amazing to go through Oakfield Corners website and see the depth of pedigree, quality of the animals and the variety of genetics they have to offer.    
Key To Successful Sales Series
   The Lambs stressed that putting together a top sale starts with a good team – from the people at the farm, fitters, sale manager and ring men.  Next they pay attention to the market.  Jonathan says the question they ask themselves is, “What animals would I like to add to my program?” They also consult with Rick Verbeek on marketing decisions. 
     Third, the Lambs believe that it’s important to have good communication between everyone.    Fourth, they expect challenges, but when mistakes occur they just pick themselves up and learn from them.
     “There is a lot involved -- you have to pick the right animals, mate them, flush, get pregnancies, get a live and healthy calf on the ground and then develop it. We pay attention to details and get advice from people we respect,” Jonathan shared.
     Many success stories have come through the Spring Sensation Sale.  Pine Tree Dairy in Ohio acquired high-indexing OCD Supersire 9882-ET (VG-85 @2-07) as a heifer in the 2015 Sensation Sale. A year and a half later, she topped the World Classic Sale, Madison, Wisconsin, for significantly more than they had paid for her. Three of her sons, all bred by Oakfield Corners, are in the top 15 GPTI bulls (with semen available) December 2016.
     Show type success stories from the Spring Sensation Sale include: Oakfield Goldwyn Lyric, Reserve All-Canadian Fall Yearling 2014; Oakfield Amedo Vanity (VG-87 @2y), Reserve All Canadian Jersey Junior Two-Year-Old 2012; OCD Contender Lonnie (VG-89 @2y) , First Fall Yearling at the  Royal; Ms Atwood Madison (VG-89 CAN), Reserve All-Canadian and Honorable Mention All-American Four-Year-Old; Oakfield Pronto Angelina (EX-94), Nominated Junior All-American Aged Cow 2014; Oakfield RB Shantay Red-ET , Honorable Mention All-American Red & White Fall Yearling; plus many more state and local winners.
      The Lambs offered a Tag Sale in 2016 in conjunction with a “Growing Through Showing” workshop for more than 200 dairy youth at their farm. This is just one of many areas where they serve the dairy community. And, of course, on their schedule for May 20, 2017 is Lamb’s seventh edition of the Spring Sensation Sale. 

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