By Cheri Oechsle
Developing the red bloodlines created diversity and “something different” for Ohio Holstein breeder Jason Miley and his family. Jason, along with his wife Amy, are the fourth generation of family at Miley Holsteins in West Salem, Ohio. “When we first started with the reds, we liked a few of the red bulls like Advent and wanted to try something a bit different. It was around the same time that the Ohio State Fair started to have a separate Red and White show and our Red and Whites did well for us. So they were something a bit different to breed,” said Jason.
Miley Holstein Farm was established in 1930 by Jason’s great-grandfather Carl Miley. He milked several breeds including a few registered Holsteins. Jason’s grandfather, Jim, returned to the farm after graduation from The Ohio State University and his marriage to Jane. At that time the other breeds were sold and the farm became 100% registered Holstein. Currently, Jim and Jane’s sons, Jon and Joe, and their families, along with Jason and his wife are the driving force behind the Miley prefix. Also Buckeye graduates (as is Jason and his wife – see the theme here?), Joe and Jon split various responsibilities with Jason. Jason’s father, Joe, manages all the feed and the crops raised on 400 acres, mostly corn and hay. Jason manages the herd health along with the show cattle. He and his uncle Jon work together on sire selection and mating. Jon rarely misses a milking and does all the breeding. Jon’s wife Amy is in charge of the calves and their sons, Adam and David, help with chores around their school schedules. Adam, following in the family footsteps, is in his second year at OSU-ATI. David helps with fieldwork around his high school schedule. Jason’s mother Diana does all the bookkeeping and takes care of older heifers while Jason’s wife Amy feeds show heifers and manages the Miley Holsteins marketing. Although retired, Jason’s grandmother Jane is still involved with record keeping, registrations and “keeping everyone in line,” laughs Jason. Jason’s sister Anna helps when home and is always at the shows. Anna will be back home more this fall as she pursues a career in nursing, taking classes at Ashland University. The farm also has two full-time employees and three part-time milkers.
The Mileys currently milk 250 cows and raise 220 heifers. Their RHA is 23,000M 4.0% butterfat and 3.1% protein. The herd is on TMR with show animals having free choice hay as well. The herd is housed in sand-bedded freestalls with some older cows and special needs on a bedded pack. “We believe some of the success we have is from lots of time with the cows. We focus on cow comfort,” said Jason. “We are pretty much maxed out with space so we work at keeping things clean and in good shape, managing the free stalls, work on parlor training for prep and keeping the SCC low. We feed a high forage ration, work at keeping components up and making as good of quality forage as we can.”
Jason said the farm had some of their first Red and Whites in the mid-90s. They were breeding more for index cattle at the time and selling some bulls, but it was in 2007 that they had their first red heifer that most of the animals trace back to now and the shift on breeding changed more to an emphasis on type. “We are breeding for functional type, not all are show bulls. We have used bulls like Mogul, Shamrock and Super and have been really happy with the daughters. I like to use a variety of sires, but always keep good cow families and type together. We are paying more attention to some of the fitness traits, SCC traits with close attention to components. We are also paying close attention to rump structure, as we are seeing more issues in this area with many of the popular bulls,” he said. Red and white sires being used include Diamondback, Awesome-Red, Addiction-P and Defiant. “It’s a struggle to find something that’s not an Apple bull,” he said. Additional sires he uses on the black and whites include Doorman, Solomon, Slater and Crush along with Diamondback here too. “It’s been several years since we sold bulls so we aren’t using a lot of high genomic bulls at this time.”
The current herd is all homebred. The foundation cow of their red family was Miley Advent B Gem EX-93. She was the second red heifer born,” said Jason. Also prominent in the show ring, Gem-Red was the first Red and White to win the Ohio National Futurity in 2011. He stated that 90% of the red and whites go back to her and about half of the herd traces back to that family. It has been that family that the Mileys have sold predominately from both privately and in consignment sales. “The red and whites helped increase the prominence of our farm. They were marketable. We were finding if we had a nice red calf in a sale they always seem to sell really well,” said Jason. Another branch of that family resulted in Miley Debonair Glitter EX-94 that did very well for the Mileys. Both of these branches go back to Miley Nugget Rocket Gretchen who established multiple generations of Excellents. Other cows that the Mileys have flushed or had success with marketing and showing include Miley Durham March Madness EX-92. She was champion of the Junior Show at the Ohio State Fair and they have numerous daughters of her. Jason’s first 4-H project, Miley Charles BS Henna EX-93, has produced approximately 50 descendants.
The Mileys utilize the Pine Tree IVF satellite to do quite a bit of ET and IVF work. “We started doing some of that because we didn’t have many daughters out of the old cows but now we are doing it for merchandising. We have a bunch of pregnancies coming out of Gem that are due in June and September,” said Jason.
The Mileys currently have a bull out of the “G” family at Accelerated, Miley McCutchen Griffin. Others have included Miley Enhancer Grady, Tesk BS Garman-ET, Blackstar Grabbit, Gulliver, Glamor-ET, Gannon, Gus-ET, Gilbert and Graham to name a few.
The Miley family doesn’t just milk cows. They are active in their local organizations and churches. Jon serves on the county dairy service board and as a COBA/Select Sires Delegate. Both Joe and Diana, as Joe’s parents before him, are active with Ohio Holstein Association having served as president of the board, a regular delegate to National Convention and junior advisors. Joe is Chairman of the ODPA board and serves on the Smith Dairy Producer Board. Diana is also the office manager for the Ohio Holstein Association. Jason serves as a national director for the Red & White Dairy Cattle Association and he is running for his second term this year. The farm hosts multiple 4-H, FFA and collegiate dairy judging teams and the Miley men have helped coach teams as well. Jason has begun judging over the past several show seasons.
“Our goal is to do our best to take care of the cows. We want to continue to develop the genetics and enhance the marketability of our herd. From a management standpoint, we want to continue to focus on cow health as well as looking for ways to increase milk production and become more labor efficient,” Jason said.
Efficiency carries through to his take as a director of RWDCA. Jason states that it took a bit of getting his feet wet with how things worked but they have worked at getting more efficient as an association and he has enjoyed helping develop programs that serve the members. “That’s why I’m running again,” he said.