Schuttes say hard work, good cow care lead to successful herd
By Jean Caspers-Simmet
Date Modified: 07/09/2012 8:37 AM
MONONA, Iowa — High milk production and top-notch genetics are goals for Lance and Jonna Schutte on their Jo-Lane Farms.
"We want to do whatever we can do to be better," said Jonna.
The couple and their children, Blake, 3, and Briella, 1, milk 110 cows northeast of Monona, but will soon be up to 120 cows. The herd includes 20 brown Swiss, some of which came the herd Jonna built while growing up. The rest are Holsteins, and all are registered. Some Ayrshire calves will eventually join the milking herd.
Embryo transfer calves from Jonna's award-winning cow, Onword Calimero Addy-ET, and her dam Onword BBBK Abigail, will eventually join the herd. Addy and Abigail are at Onword Swiss, Jonna's family's Oelwein farm.
Lance graduated from the dairy program at Northeast Iowa Community College in Calmar and returned home to the operation.
Jonna's family lived in several places before settling in Oelwein. She graduated from Iowa State University with dairy science and ag education communications option degrees. She and Lance married in 2006.
Lance and Jonna bought his family's cows and began renting the facilities in April 2009. This March, the couple purchased the farmstead and buildings. Lance's father, Roger, works for them.
The Schuttes started milking three times a day in November 2008. They went back to two times a day for a short time in 2009, when the milk price dropped so low that it wasn't paying for itself. They started milking three times again when the price strengthened. They milk at 5 a.m., 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.
They have an 84-stall tie-stall barn.
They milk with 10 units that have automatic take-offs. Jonna milks twice each day, once with Lance and once with a hired milker. They hire two milkers for the third shift.
"We started milking three times a day for cow comfort, and the cows were producing fairly well," Lance said. "Since September, the cows have been between 100 and 109 pounds per day."
They sell milk to Wapsie Valley Creamery in Independence.
Their rolling herd average is 33,565 pounds of milk for the Holsteins and 31,329 pounds for the brown Swiss. For the Holsteins, fat is 1,222 and protein, 964. For the brown Swiss, fat is 1,297 and protein is 994.
Their somatic cell count is 200,000, although Jonna said that they have had some issues with that over winter and they're working to get things stabilized.
They are the winners of the National Brown Swiss Association's Group I Protein Genetic Herd Award for 2012.
The couple grow 270 acres of corn and hay. Lance said his first-crop hay this spring had 160 relative feed value and 22 percent protein.
The Schuttes feed a total mixed ration consisting of brown midrib corn silage, haylage, ground corn, a molasses-vitamin-mineral feed supplement from Quality Liquid Feeds, protein and a little hay. They work with a nutritionist from QLF.
"It's a mostly homegrown ration," Lance said. "We buy the protein."
The couple showed cows at the 2011 Iowa State Fair for the first time, and two placed second in their classes. Last summer, Blake was just old enough to show in the kiddie calf shows at the Big Four Fair at Postville and the Blue Ribbon Show at the Fayette County Fair in West Union. He said he wants to show Onword Denver Vinegarette, a 7-year-old brown Swiss cow, this year.
"We try to breed for good cows," Jonna said.
"We use top bulls," Lance said. "We're starting to work with polled genetics. There's a lot of interest in that."
Embryo transfer and in vitro fertilization are used. They work with Postville Veterinary Clinic and Trans Ova Genetics.
"We've sold some embryos, but the majority we've been putting in our cows to increase the genetic potential of our herd," Jonna said.
Jonna and Lance are active in the Clayton County Holstein Breeders. Lance is a District 1 director with the Iowa Holstein Association, and Jonna works with the state junior committee. Jonna is secretary of the Iowa Brown Swiss Association and they also work with the Iowa Ayrshire Association.
The Schuttes said that hard work, making quality forage and taking good care of the cows all contribute to the success of their operation.
"The cows make the milk, and so you have to do everything that they want," Jonna said.