Located in Oxford County, Ontario, halfway between London and Woodstock, is the town of Lakeside. Lakeside is home to one of 2017’s newest Master Breeder’s, Oostview Farm Ltd. Hugh Van Oostveen and family are pleased to have received their first Master Breeder Shield this year.
Give a brief History of your operation. How did you get started in purebred cattle? How have the facilities changed over the years?
Oostview Farms is a second-generation farm. It was founded in 1964 by Hugh’s father Kryn (now 81), who immigrated from the Netherlands shortly after the second World War. The farm began with a herd of pigs in a barn which Kryn converted to house 42 milk cows. In 1986, 18 more tie-stalls were added and in 1996 a new 100-cow freestall barn was completed. After an expansion to 150 cows occurred in 2008, two BouMatic double robots were installed.
Who is currently involved in the operation? What are their roles?
Hugh is the sole owner of the farm currently and is responsible for the milking herd and all the breeding decision on the farm. His father Kryn still helps with feeding calves on a regular basis. Hugh’s brother helps out a couple days a week with the mechanical repairs and equipment maintenance, while a cash crop neighbour handles all the feeding. Hugh has also employed a herdsperson full time for the past 3 years, who started with feeding calves and has become a huge asset to the operation.
How many cows do you milk? What is your current herd classification and herd production average?
Currently we milk 130 cows on 191 kgs of quota. All except two are Holstein. Our herd classification is 15 EX, 70 VG, 10 G and the rest GP. Our cows average 38 L /day with 4.2% Fat and 3.4% Protein.
What bulls are you currently using? Do you do any embryo transfer or IVF?
We are using a mix of Genomic and Proven sires including Unix, House, Casper, Lautrust, Lineman and Brewmaster. We’ve done very limited amounts of embryo transfer work, but we have flushed our EX-93 Lauthority cow, who’s EX-97 for mammary system and milking 160 lbs/day, to Army recently.
How many acres do you manage? Do you grow all the crops you need or do you buy and sell feed as well?
We manage 500 acres of crops that include corn (silage & grain corn), alfalfa hay and about 15% grass. We grow all the crops that we need and purchase some straw for feeding and bedding as well as some supplement. The milk cows receive a TMR of haylage, corn silage, soybean meal, canola meal and supplement. Dry cows that are further away from calving receive corn silage, mineral and oat bale and then closer up they receive a similar ration to the milk cows. Heifers are fed corn silage, haylage and minerals and calves receive free choice milk and then a 17% pellet mixed with straw.
What cow families have most impacted your herd and contributed points to this shield?
The “P” family has been here since the beginning and was the largest contributor of points to our shield. The family began with to twin sisters by Sheik out of Oostview Emperor Pat Peggy VG-86. The family transmits high components and medium to large sized cows that are incredibly long lasting. The family also gets a lot of heifers! Two that we are excited about currently are Oostview Iota Piddles EX-92 3E 1*, who already has 2 VG and 1 GP daughter to her credit and is from a long line of Star Brood cows, and Oostview S Jett Air Propell, who just recently scored EX.
Wykholme Dewdrop Stacy was purchased as a heifer in 1989. With three 100,000 kg cows behind her, the Stacy line has provided a lot of production in our herd. Stacy went on to be VG-87 7*, receive 1 Superior Lactation, and produce just over 101,000kgs in her lifetime. Her line left 14 milking daughters and was the 2nd highest contributor of points to the shield.
The “V” family also contributed points and can be traced back to Oostview Leduc Volunteer EX-90 4E 2*. This family originally produced cows with deep udders, but the use of good udder bulls on this line has helped tremendously and there have been quite a few nice descendant’s coming now! Volunteer herself reached 80,000kgs for Lifetime production and has 3 VG daughters milking in the herd.
Describe your thoughts on winning this award! Is this something you’ve always had as a main goal for your breeding program?
Winning a Master Breeder Shield was never really the goal for me! I always wanted to have a really good herd of solid cows, but I didn’t think we’d ever win. I remember having Carolin Turner classifying at the farm and one 2-year-old came through that she said, “I’ll make her 83 for your Master Breeder points.” At that time, I thought “we’ll never win that!” This has definitely been a huge highlight for us – it’s like winning the Stanley Cup I think! We had a wonderful time in Quebec, although with our 2 flight delays, not such a wonderful time trying to get home.
My future goals are to keep improving the efficiency of how we do things. I’d like to continue to improve the herd and the management of it as well, and milk more cows. Eventually, when I get closer to 65 I’ll probably downsize somewhat and just milk 50 cows on one robot, but that’s a ways away yet!