Groves-View Dairy ranks among the top  in the nation for their herd’s genetics

No matter how you shake it – surviving in the dairy business is a difficult venture. However one Ozarks dairy remains steadfast in an industry where mega dairies continue to edge out smaller, traditional dairy farms.
“There is no easy way at this right now. We struggle just as much as everybody else. It is a tough economy,” Brad Groves explained.
Brad and Todd Groves, along with their father, Lonnie Groves, operate Groves-View Dairy, which has been in their family since 1913. The century farm, located in Billings, Mo., boasts some of the top Holstein and Brown Swiss in the nation. The Brown Swiss joined the Holstein farm when Todd married Sheila, who grew up milking Brown Swiss.
“The Brown Swiss came with their marriage,” Brad said with a chuckle.
Groves-View Dairy survives by leaning on a century of experience and its genetically superior cow families.
“Even in the bad times, don’t ever cut back on the genetics. That has been a big thing for me,” Brad said. “Even when times are tough, go ahead and buy the best semen money can buy to get the best genetics possible.”
Groves-View Dairy’s quality genetics has garnered much attention and awards through the years. The Holstein Association USA awarded Groves-View Dairy with a spot on the prestigious Progressive Breeders’ Registry for seven years in a row. The Groves family has also won the Progressive Genetic Herd award for 13 of the past 15 years. In 2011, Brad was awarded the Distinguished Young Breeder award.
The Groves family started using embryo transplanting in the mid-1980s in order to build their nationally and internationally known herd. Currently, Groves-View has several donor cows on the farm and a few donor cows at Sunshine Genetics in Wisconsin.
“Last year we collected over 200 embryos. And exported around 50 embryos to Japan and China,” Brad said.
The milk barn at Groves-View stays busy – very busy. The families milk 175 cows twice a day, for a total of nine hours of milking. The entire herd, from calves to bulls, reaches close to 550 head.
Though that may seem like a huge herd, it pales in comparison to the mega dairies.
“When you are competing against guys who are milking several thousand a day; how do you compete with those guys?” Brad said. “It is like Wal-Mart versus your little hometown grocery store. It is tough to deal with it.”
A new challenge has merged on the scene for traditional dairy farmers. Scientific advances in the field of genomics, is creating a fast-paced, ever-changing market.
“On genomics, the guys who are willing to give a $100,000 to $200,000 for an animal, they have calves on the ground before that cow ever thinks about calving herself,” explained Brad. In some cases, Brad says breeders are starting to collect oocytes (immature eggs) with in vitro when a heifer is 6 to 7 months old.
“They are working more with the younger heifers than they are with the older cows because you can go a generation faster,” Brad explained.
Groves-View Dairy keeps its herd at the top by focusing on its elite cow families.
“The whole foundation starts with the dam. If you have an excellent dam and work with her, it is a lot easier to get those nice ones,” Brad explained.
The Groves’ use of embryo transplant allows the family to continue to improve its genetics and develop cow families. They breed for high production and extreme type. “It is one of those things that you have to figure out if you are going to chase the type or the genetics,” Brad said. “We still do a little of both and it’s worked.”
Another strategy that has worked for Groves-View Dairy is its transition a decade ago to a Total Mixed Ration (TMR) feeding program. The Groves enlist the expertise of a nutritionist who develops a ration recipe for the cattle. The nutritionist takes into consideration the nutritional quality of the Groves’ hay and tailors the plan to fit their dairy.
The Groves order and mix all their own feed. The ration includes a blend of grains, minerals, haylage, and corn silage combined together and fed all at once. The cattle go to one place to eat instead of three under their old system.
In addition, the Groves save money by purchasing the corn, cotton, corn gluten pellets, distillers grain and minerals separately.
“When you buy in bulk, you can contract out several months in advance and you can lock in and know what your grain price is going to be,” Brad said.
In an ever-changing industry, knowing a few things for certain can bring comfort. And for the Groves family, peace comes in their love for life on the farm.


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