Testing 1…2…3…

The past week was full of tests! I’ll break it down by subject matter…

Engineering Tests…

As previously mentioned, I spent April 13th and 14th in Topeka taking the Structural Engineering exam to hopefully get my PE license. It’s a beast. I took it last October and did not pass. I think it went better this time, but I’m not sure if it went better enough. It is a national exam that states use for licensure, so the scores are curved based on nationwide averages, and they calibrate the results to previous exams. In addition, the two afternoon sessions each include four multi-part written problems. I was told by the proctor that these are each scored by 3 professionals to limit the effects of personal bias on the scoring. With all that factored in, grading is a bit of a process. As a result, I won’t receive my results for a couple of months. I expect them in mid to late June.

Cattle Pregnancy Tests…

On Sunday, we drew blood from seven cows for pregnancy tests. Those results came on Tuesday. A couple of months ago we ran our first blood pregnancy tests, with pretty awesome results. This time was a little bit of a disappointment (especially by comparison) with only 4 out of 7 positive, but we’re happy to report confirmed pregnancies to Atwood, Colby, Sanchez and Alexander (for those of you who know and care about bulls). We’ll be testing a few more in another two or three weeks.

Cattle Production Tests…

Finally, on Wednesday we started DHIA testing. DHIA stands for Dairy Herd Improvement Association. Here’s how it works: a lady comes once a month (starting last Wednesday) to test each cow individually. She measures each cow’s total milk weight and takes a sample of their milk to send to a lab. The lab then sends us milk weight, component percentages, and somatic cell counts for each cow. They emailed us the results the next day (and sent a paper copy through snail-mail). We intentionally waited until after my SE exam because I was supposed to be spending my free time studying rather than playing with milk data. Monday after the test, David called to set it up, and she came on Wednesday – great service!

We’re really excited about the impact DHIA can make on our herd. We don’t have milk meters, so until now, our production information for each animal wasn’t much more than an educated guess. Knowing which cows are high and low for each of these traits will help us with breeding choices by identifying which production traits need improvement in each animal. It will also help us determine which cows are and are not profitable, and when it might be time to either cull an animal or possibly dry her up early. Basically, DHIA reports are a great management tool if you use them (as we intend to). These tests should help us have happier, healthier cows – something we’re always striving for!

Milk weight for number 18, the highest for this test day.

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