“One of the things we work at is developing our cattle from the ground up through genetics,” Craig says.
Craig leads Wargo Acres and works with nine other employees. Milking 425 registered Holsteins and managing 700 acres of corn and alfalfa, the operation includes Craig’s mom and dad, Gordon and Emily who farm, mostly care for the calves. In addition, Emily handles the farm’s bookkeeping.
Craig gets his penchant for genetics from Gordon, who worked toward building herd strength over time while avoiding the allure of hitting a quick homerun with genetics alone.
“I’m approaching our breeding program the same way. We add genetics when we think it can help but we’re not necessarily trying to buy the next big thing,” he says.
When his approach works well, the result is good-looking cows that produce a lot of milk and the farm has extra cattle to move. While Craig breeds for high numbers, he ultimately wants heifers that turn into great cows.
Over the years, Wargo Acres has done a good job of marketing surplus cattle, moving embryos and selling bulls to AI. Sometimes, by the time he knows he has a great cow, she’s passed the optimum point of interest from a genetics standpoint. But that’s okay with Craig - he’s happy with high-producing cows that stay in the milking string for a decade because it translates into fewer concerns about replacements and more good-performing cattle to sell. Icing on the cake is when they also have embryos to sell from the daughters.
Continuing to stay educated is also important to the dairy. “PDPW arms us with information that helps us solve problems on the farm and become educated on industry issues,” says Craig.
At Wargo Acres, the mindset that ongoing education extends to employees as well. “We’ve implemented employee perks that we learned about through PDPW and we’ve learned some good things about putting together an employee handbook.”
When it comes to helping employees stay engaged and take their skills to a higher level, Craig says it’s often a matter of igniting a spark in someone which sometimes includes formal training. Ultimately he wants the employees who are seeking leadership roles to become strong leaders.
“We’ll keep taking good care of our cows – and our employees.”