A feature in our 2022 Summer issue written by Julie Ashton.
Located in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley of California, Silveira Dairy of Chowchilla celebrated their 30th year of dairying in November 2021. Originally from Hanford, Johnny Silveira began farming with his father Jose while finishing his senior year of high school. After marrying Terianne, who grew up on her family’s dairy in Tulare, they moved the dairy 70 miles north in 2003. “We wanted to grow the herd and farming operation and had an opportunity up north,” commented Terianne. “We have mild winters and warm summers that are ideal conditions for cattle and in the summer, we get an evening breeze that helps with cooler temps than further south.”
Chowchilla is just 30 miles north of Fresno, which is considered the heart of the 100 Mile Circle, the most vital and productive growing region in the world. Although this 100 Mile Circle covers less than 1% of the total land mass of the U.S., it produces nearly one-half of its fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts – more than 250 different crops rich in the vitamins and nutrients essential to human survival. This area also produces more milk than the entire state of Wisconsin.
Today, the herd consists of 1500 Holsteins and 400 acres of almonds, along with corn and wheat for silage. The entire herd was originally grade, but when Johnny and Terianne’s children, Logan and Lauren, began showing, they joined the Holstein Association USA in 2017 and started registering a handful of show cattle. Meanwhile, they had already been genomically testing the herd and once they began seeing favorable results, they increased the number of cows they registered. Today, nearly 1/3 of the herd is registered, including 200 head that Logan and Lauren own personally, and 100% of the herd is genomically tested.
“We’ve been genomically testing our animals for the past eight years,” said Johnny. “It’s interesting to see animals that tested high as a calf and watch their growth and performance just as the tests predicted. We feel the genomic tests are very accurate and the cattle we register are superior cows above the average Holstein breed.” These claims are further proven by the herd being named a Progressive Genetics Herd Award winner from HAUSA, which recognizes the top 500 herds with the highest average TPI for females in the herd. The Silveira family has earned this recognition since 2019.
“Raising registered purebred Holstein cattle adds a premium to their value. You have the lineage and history of that animal that allows you to mate her correctly. Proven cow families that work and the history on these animals is key to breeding a better dairy cow and their future progeny,” added Terianne.
The Silveira herd is milked twice a day in a Double-20 parallel parlor with over a 30,000 lb. milk RHA (3.95% fat and 3.15% protein). They are just under 100 lbs. of fat corrected milk. One of their main goals is to improve their herd average every year and build an overall better herd. And they seem to be doing just that. In 2020, they were the 8th highest averaging herd for Tulare DHIA, the largest dairy county in the U.S., and in 2021, they’ve improved to 4th overall with a herd average of 30,900 lbs. ECM. While the cows are excelling in production, their type numbers are following suit as well. Of the registered animals, there are 12 Excellent and over 200 Very Good cows to date.
In the grand scheme, the Silveiras do not focus on specific cow families, rather, they look for genetic traits overall that will work with their breeding program for that specific mating. By evaluating all their cow families, they can pull from the best. “We feel this approach has helped improve our herd both genomically and in the show string.”
Because they are looking at improving upon each generation, the Silveiras have utilized IVF technology for the last two years. They implant 150 embryos per month in cows and heifers, mating the top bulls to their high genomic females. Logan serves as vital role in helping determine matings and assists with the overall IVF process. “The type of cows we focus on breeding have favorable genetic traits such as GTPI, milk, components and DPR,” commented Johnny. “We feel that focusing on these traits helps us build a better herd.”
With their extensive IVF program and central location to many other dairies, the Silveiras recently opened a Boviteq IVF Certified Collection facility at their heifer ranch. Both Logan and Lauren have also shown an extreme interest in the IVF process, which makes having their own collection facility that much more beneficial. Eventually, the goal is to solely breed their cows through implantation using IVF technology, which will help them maximize the genetic potential, creating a more efficient herd with maximum milk production.
While the new IVF lab has certainly gained Logan and Lauren’s attention, they have both been actively involved in the dairy prior to this. “What keeps us optimistic about the future of our dairy is seeing our young kids want to be involved,” remarked Terianne. “They both have been interested in learning about all aspects of the dairy and we’ve included them from an early age.” When virtual learning occurred in 2020, Logan and Lauren had more opportunities to work on the farm and gain more experience. Logan has become a main part of the breeding program and mating selections, and both kids assist with herd health checks weekly.
After Logan finishes high school in 2023, he plans on attending college and then return to the dairy. While Lauren is just starting high school, she also plans on returning home after college and be involved in their IVF program. She is interning with Boviteq this summer to learn more about the IVF process.
Off the farm, Logan and Lauren are involved in school and community events, with most of their activities focused on agriculture and showing. Logan was named the Breeder of the Future by the California Holstein Association in 2019 and was 2nd High FFA Individual at the Western Classic Dairy Judging contest the following year. In 2021, Logan and his team from Chowchilla FFA won the State FFA Dairy Judging Contest (as a sophomore) and his team placed 7th at the national contest.
Lauren has been very active in 4-H as well as the California Junior Holstein Association since 2017. She has competed in Dairy Jeopardy and Dairy Bowl at the State Junior Convention and was on the winning Junior Dairy Bowl team at the National Convention this summer (her first year attending!). She was also named the California Breeder of the Future in 2022 and plans on continuing her involvement in 4-H, Junior Holstein and FFA as she enters high school this fall.
With less than 5 years of showing Registered Holsteins under their belt, Logan and Lauren already have an impressive list of accomplishments between them. Both kids exhibited replacement heifers from the dairy at their local shows to begin with, and eventually they began purchasing a few Registered Holsteins to add to their show string.
In 2020, Logan exhibited Ms-AOL Aristocrat Rista-Red, a summer yearling from the Miss Roxys Recovery-Red (EX-92) family, who was 2nd Open and 1st Junior at the Western National Holstein Show. In 2021, she scored VG-87 VG-MS and was the winning Summer Junior 2-Year-Old at the Western Dairy Showcase. So far in 2022, her daughter, Silver-Elite Warr Roxy-Red, has been named the All-California Red & White Summer Yearling, Reserve All-California Summer Yearling and Reserve Junior All-California Summer Yearling. Her other daughter, Silver-Elite Wr Rose-Red-ET, was the 2022 Reserve All-California Red & White Winter Calf and was 1st at the Western Spring National Red & White Junior Show.
Logan also exhibited the 2021 Junior All-California Summer Yearling, Heritage Redmylips-ET, who he purchased at the Heritage Dream Sale. She was also 2nd at the Western National Spring Holstein Show and ended the year placing 7th at the International Junior Holstein Show. This was the first time the Silveiras made the 2000-mile trip to World Dairy Expo. She is an Avalanche from an EX-91 Absolute from the Acme Star Lily family and is +3.14T with a promising future ahead of her.
During that same trip to World Dairy Expo in 2021, Lauren also had the opportunity to exhibit on the colored shavings. Silver-Elite Aristocrat Mia *RC placed 4th in a very deep class and earned the Silveira family their first Junior All-American Nomination. Mia returned to the showring this year and was named Reserve All-California and Reserve Junior All-California Spring Yearling and placed 2nd at the inaugural Western National Junior Holstein Show and was named Best Bred & Owned in her class.
Like many families in the dairy industry, the Silveiras are forging their own path and paving the way for their children to be involved for years to come. They have found the balance between their larger herd, focusing on milk production and efficiency, while also working with a select group of show animals that are creating the next generation of show prospects for the kids. Johnny and Terianne are Logan and Lauren’s biggest fans, while also instilling their work ethic and values in them that is evident in all projects they take on! With a strong family dynamic and true passion for the Registered Holstein, it’s a safe bet we haven’t heard the last of the Silveira family and Silver-Elite Holsteins.