It’s been awhile since a dairy blog has been featured. This one is unique in that it focuses on bulls and genetics in the dairy industry. Jon’s site, DairyXbred.com, takes an “independent look at crossbreeding”.
1. Tell a little about you and your operation.
I’m a third generation dairy farmer and came back to the operation in 2006 after receiving my degree in Dairy Science from University of Wisconsin-River Falls. We milk 450 cows three times a day. I am in charge of the dairy operation while our cropping is another branch of the farm that I have less involvement in. Right now we are about evenly divided between pure Holsteins and crossbreds. That will change in the coming years as we are moving toward all crossbreds.
I had been thinking about it for some time. This isn’t my first attempt at a blog. Back when I was in college I had a baseball blog that was focused on the Milwaukee Brewers. Baseball blogs were quickly becoming saturated on the internet and I didn’t really have much of anything unique to offer. So my interest faded after a while. I began brainstorming a crossbreeding blog back in 2010. While there was plenty of information out there on crossbreeding dairy cattle, the message was mostly driven by the companies that were marketing the semen for crossbreeding. I wanted to have a place where farmers could share their experiences and information independent from any marketing. People that crossbreed dairy cattle don’t have local breed associations or other such outlets for discussion. With crossbreeding in dairy being somewhat of a new and controversial idea, it was almost like creating a support group on the internet.
3. What made you think of having contributors? & How is that working out?
I never intended for the blog to be about me. What works on my operation does not necessarily apply to the next operation. Somebody that is 100% grazing really can’t take much away from what I do in a 100% confinement operation. I wanted unique perspectives. With the four people I’ve brought on to contribute, I feel we’ve really covered a lot of ground in terms of geography and styles of dairy farming. It’s really been a pleasure working with the contributors I have. If I am busy for a few weeks where I don’t have much time or desire to post, somebody else will so there really aren’t any lulls where a lot of time goes by between posts. I never feel the urge to come up with something to post just for the sake of getting new material up.
4. What is your favorite post and why?
This is one of the most viewed and most commented posts on the Dairy Crossbred Blog. You could also say it was one of the most controversial posts since there was wide disagreement about the criteria for the award. The winner of the award was a Montbeliarde bull named Valfin that many felt was not proven enough to be named Bull of the Year. The whole series of posts for picking the Bull of the Year generated some of the healthiest conversation on the blog to date. We’ll be changing things around for 2012’s vote from what we learned, but I’m already looking forward to the next vote.
I never have and never will have a road map for what I want to do with the blog. It’s the content that brings readers to the site. My only goal is to continue providing content that interests people and a place for discussion. When you think about it, crossbreeding dairy cows is a fairly narrow niche within the world of agriculture as a whole. We also aren’t a general agvocacy blog. Consumers probably wouldn’t get much out of our blog unless there is a general interest in genetics. Yet, the amount of interest and views I’ve gotten on my blog has far surpassed my wildest expectations. Where it goes from here? Who knows.