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Dairy Operation Grew Slowly With Rare Normande Cattle
Dan and Ruth Vosberg have grown their dairy operation gradually over 3 decades, calf by calf and cow by cow, into a herd that’s now mostly registered Normande milk cattle. The Wisconsin dairy farmers, along with their 3 children, milk more than 200 cows with more than half of those showing 50 percent or higher Normande bloodlines. They’ve been “breeding up” to achieve high percentage Normande genetics for 17 years and now have the most Normande dairy cattle registered by the North American Normande Association (NANA).
  The Vosbergs say it takes about 9 years from the time a cow is first bred to Normande semen to get a 94 percent Normande in the milking string. Of their 200 cows, only 2 are full blood Normande.
  Early in their Normande breeding efforts the Vosbergs purchased 15 embryos before getting their first female. The Vosbergs say only about half of their cows will settle with embryos, considerably less than with AI breeding. Eventually they purchased a full blood cow and flushed embryos from her. With that effort, only one heifer was produced from 5 pregnancies. At a price tag of $500 per embryo and a 1 in 5 success rate, that heifer calf cost a whopping $2,500.
  The Normande breed’s roots trace back to France in the 1850’s. The animals are known for their versatility as a beef and dairy breed. They’re low maintenance and easy foraging, with exceptional milk and carcass quality.
  The Vosberg’s first Normande offspring appeared too ‘beefy’, but they were also quiet and well-behaved. As those offspring grew into milking cattle, the Vosbergs were impressed with the fat and protein tests for the milk. Now their whole herd averages about 16,000 lbs. of milk per cow with a 4.6 percent fat content and 3.7 percent protein. The cattle are rotationally grazed part of the year and also fed a total mixed feed ration. The Vosbergs are persistent in their desire for higher Normande genetics because their top Normande cow produces about 26,000 lbs. of milk in a 305-day lactation.
  The registered Normande cows in their herd weigh 1,400 to 1,900 lbs. with much of that weight in muscle. They are gentle cows with smooth, supple udders and produce milk at high levels throughout lactation. The offspring have colorful mottled coats. In addition to milking their Normandes, the Vosbergs are selling embryos, bulls and breeding stock. Dan says it’s their way of adding value to a dairy herd rather than expanding into larger numbers that require more labor.
  Another benefit of Normande milk cows is their ability to produce A2 milk, which researchers say causes less inflamation and problems with people who are lactose intolerant. About 40 percent of the Vosberg’s cows carry that distinction and they are thinking of creating a second herd of just A2 milk cows. Prospective buyers of Normande stock are specifically asking for that gene, so they see good potential for added revenue.
  The Vosbergs promote their animals through fairs and shows and typically bring home show ribbons that lead to more inquiries for animals and embryos. The Vosberg’s children Derek, Megan and Jared are helpful contributors at the farm, along with Derek’s fiancee, Sarah Mueller.
   Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dan Vosberg, 2295 Cisserville Rd., South Wayne, Wis. 53587 (ph 608 439-1049).

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2016 - Volume #40, Issue #1