For generations Heins Family Dairy has let one value drive their success: do what’s best for the cows.
“My dad taught me that if we take care of the cows, they take care of us,” said Chris Heins, the sixth generation to farm in Lafayette County, Missouri.
That guiding principle is applied to all facets of dairy management on their operation: comfort, cleanliness, nutrition, and preventative care. The Heins family believes in preventing health issues before they ever begin, which is why they implemented a DCAD program with SoyChlor more than ten years ago.
Chris’s father, Paul, learned about DCAD in 2004, before anyone in the area had implemented the practice. His cows had been suffering a variety of metabolic problems at the time, and milk fevers were a common issue to treat.
His nutritionist had recommended adding SoyChlor to the ration, and it worked. Milk fevers went away. Other issues, like displaced abomasums, drastically decreased, and Paul was thrilled to see how much easier transition cow management could be.
Years passed and their cows continued to perform well, but because the Heins family is constantly looking for ways to improve, and ways to do even more for their cows, they researched other anionic supplements and approaches to make sure they were doing their absolute best with DCAD.
“Any time we asked our nutritionist about trying out a competitor product, he always urged us to stick with SoyChlor, because it was a proven product. He had to remind me that our DCAD program was working, and not to change what works,” Paul said.
So they heeded their nutritionist’s advice and stuck with what was working. But a one-time mixing error years ago still gave them that glimpse of what would actually happen if SoyChlor was removed from the diet.
SoyChlor had accidentally been excluded from their transition cows’ feed, and within days their cows were suffering milk fevers and DA's. They investigated the problem and quickly discovered the missing ingredient. Once that was corrected, all the issues quickly went away again.
Their DCAD program was smooth sailing once again until they encountered another mysterious issue just last year. Feed intake levels dropped too low, and their cows just weren't transitioning as well. The Heins' seemed to be doing everything right with their management, but what they didn’t know was that the brand of pH strips they were relying on was giving higher values than it should, causing them to feed some additional SoyChlor in order to maintain their target pH range of 5.75 to 6.25. When they checked the accuracy of these strips against a proven, reliable brand of pH strip, they discovered that they had actually driven urine pH down to 5.0, while thinking it was considerably higher than that. Inaccurate pH readings caused them to over-acidify cows without ever realizing it, until they encountered unexplainable problems and started investigating.
They switched to a brand of pH strips verified for accuracy, and once again their DCAD program was performing as they wanted it to. “pH testing is a very simple tool to help manage our DCAD program. But it was important to find the best brand to get the most accurate readings. Once you have in place a system that works for you, DCAD is very simple. It takes more time and management not to do DCAD,” Chris said.
To learn more about the verified pH test strip brand the Heins rely on for successful DCAD management, watch this exclusive DCAD webinar.