Daren Rubingh of Rubingh’s Dairyland in Ellsworth, Mich., is a first-place winner and one of three recently recognized farmers in Boehringer Ingelheim’s Producers for Progress recognition program, which celebrates dairy producers who demonstrate a strong commitment to animal well-being through judicious antibiotic use.
“There are so many producers that deserve recognition for their continued commitment to advancing the dairy industry,” says Linda Tikofsky, DVM, Boehringer Ingelheim. “These producers are choosing to do the right thing for their cows and consumers by mitigating the use of antibiotics and striving to optimize animal welfare.”
After careful consideration of more than 65 applicants by an expert panel of judges, the 2020 Producers for Progress program winners are as follows:
Grand prize. Paul Lippert, Grass Ridge Farm LLC, Pittsville, Wis.
First place. Daren Rubingh, Rubingh’s Dairyland, Ellsworth, Mich.
Second place. Hans Breitenmoser, Breitenmoser Family Farms, Merrill, Wis.
“The world is a fast-moving place," Lippert says. "As dairy farmers, we need to look for ways to use fewer resources, produce more milk and ensure consumers are purchasing safe, socially conscious dairy products."
As a herdsman and human resource manager at his family-owned dairy farm, Lippert is constantly looking for ways to enhance animal welfare and believes employees perform their best when they understand the reasons behind how and why they’re completing each task.
“We encourage employees to ask questions and provide feedback on a regular basis,” he says. “We hold monthly meetings to discuss a variety of topics, one of which is goal-setting, and rewarding employees for meeting those goals. Having interns the past four years has also pressed us to evaluate and improve our dairy’s procedures. One of these projects included setting up on-farm culturing of mastitis cases to improve treatment efficacy.”
Mastitis in check
Rubingh notes that mastitis is one of the most common and costly diseases found on dairy operations. He takes a six-step approach to mastitis management, which includes several disease prevention measures and using antibiotics only when needed.
“I personally milk every day, so I can keep a close eye on the equipment, the cows and their teat-end health,” Rubingh says. “If my cattle are not clean, comfortable and well-cared for, then I am not satisfied.”
Breitenmoser concludes, “We are nothing without our dairy cattle and our consumers. We owe it to our consumers to make sure that we do our due diligence, and our main priority has to be the animals we’re responsible for. We do well by both the animals and the consumers when we use antibiotics judiciously.”
Judges for this year’s program included Sandra Godden, DVM, University of Minnesota; Patrick Gorden, DVM, Iowa State University; and Linda Tikofsky, DVM, Boehringer Ingelheim.
Producers for Progress celebrates those who help protect the future of the dairy industry. For more information on the program, visit Producers4Progress.com.