The Modern Genetic Assembly Line

Posted on November 13, 2012 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Gary Sipiorski, dairy development manager
It was Henry Ford who invented the idea of the assembly line to build automobiles. He got the idea from observing the disassembly of beef carcasses in a slaughter plant. Cars in the early 1900s were built one at time from start to finish – a very slow and expensive possess. Ford’s idea was to build automobiles fast, efficiently and affordable. His revolutionary idea utilized 84 work stations, turned out a car every 93 minutes and produced up to 10,000 cars a day.
Have you ever thought about your growing heifers as growing in an assembly line-like fashion?  After the cow has done her job for nine months, it is now up to you to continue the growing process. Each day, cell by multiplying cell, the baby calf gets bigger. The quality of that calf is now up to you.
Think of that newborn calf as wooden yard stick with all 36 inches on it. The entire yard stick is the genetic potential that the calf is born with. Don’t get colostrum into the calf on time and you can break off a few inches of future potential. The calf gets pneumonia and now some lung capacity might be scarred for life with the genetic potential never realized. The same can be said for scours or other health problems that breaks off more inches from the yardstick. What genetics were there will now never be seen in growth and milk production.
Newborn calves are a growing asset in dollar value as well. Each day, if properly cared for, that heifer is worth more money. Your banker likes you to have growing assets. That is why they insist on you having a balance sheet completed each year. They want to see it grow each year. You should want to see it grow as well. The nice thing about milk cows is they replace themselves, unlike machinery that wears out and loses value. If done right, a herd of dairy animals replaces itself and grows in value or, at the least, maintains value.
To a certain degree, there are as many ways to raise a heifer as there are people who care for the youngstock. But one thing is always the same and that is the calf has only one way to grow to achieve full genetic potential. Dairy producers that understand that reach higher levels of proper growth and genetic potential. That is why some people just seem to do better and financially keep getting ahead year after year.
Some dairy producers find it best to have someone else grow their heifers from the day the baby calf is born. The good professional heifer growers can bring more consistency to the entire process. They are like that efficient assembly line of Henry Ford’s. Each day, each step along the way is done in an orderly fashion. With the right care, the grown heifer comes back to your dairy with most of the inches on the yard stick. Other dairy producers have found the correct method to care for their own heifers right at home. There may be family members involved or hired personnel caring for these valuable assets.
Regardless of how you do it, saving money means doing every step along the way correctly. What would an F-150 pickup look like at the end of an assembly line if someone missed a step along the way of the 84 steps?  Would you want to buy that one?
What a great value and asset that you have in your youngstock. You have one over on Henry. His assembled units will rust away one day. When you have “built” one right it will be genetically productive and birth another great one!

Category: Business and economics
Starting Strong - Calf Care