There is nothing Select Sires Member Cooperative representatives love more than walking through dairy barns and discussing all things genetics and reproduction with you, our member-owners. These valuable conversations are even more insightful when they include our Dairy Marketing Director Tony De Mello, who is also a cow family enthusiast, and dairy manager Paulo Carvalho, who is also a nutritionist.

De Carvalho Brothers Dairy in Modesto was established in 1972 by two brothers, Artur and Jose, who immigrated from São Jorge Azores Island off the coast of Portugal. Jose’s son, Paulo De Carvalho, recalls fond memories growing up on the farm in California’s central valley where they milk around 600 Holstein cows today.

In the late 1990’s, the dairy was awarded by the Central Counties Dairy Herd Improvement Association for being the top production herd of its size. Paulo recalls that although this was a great accomplishment, the herd did not improve from their records at that time for the next 10 years! The herd was predominately bull-bred until the year 2000, with only 25 percent of their cattle being bred using artificial insemination. When he graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2003, Paulo was eager to return home to help his family’s herd progress, starting with improving management and the use of high-quality genetics and artificial insemination.

Paulo shared that the goal of his family’s farm has always been to have high producing, long-lasting cows, with a focus on pounds of fat and protein. “We started using sexed semen on heifers from bulls like 7HO8165 MILLION and 7HO8175 PRONTO, who were the first two heavy outside influence sires that we used back in the day,” Paulo recalls. “7HO6417 O MAN also had a big influence on our herd.”

“As we progressed, our herd had a tremendous will to milk, plenty of power, and lots of fat and protein, but we needed help on feet, legs and udder. When I started using 7HO11314 MOGUL, that really changed things here. To this day, I am still milking over 75 MOGUL daughters and over 50 7HO11351 SUPERSIRE daughters,” said Paulo. “We do tend to be a herd who uses a lot more proven bulls than genomic young sires. I am always talking to Tony De Mello about the sires he is seeing in other herds that are making a difference. I probably use sires a little later than I should, but we don’t make mistakes in our selection.”

7HO11314 MOGUL daughter in her fifth lactation
Projected 2x 305 36550
1232 Fat 1055 Protein

7HO11314 MOGUL daughter in her fifth lactation
Projected 2x 305 36770
1204 Fat 1065 Protein

Today, the herd is almost entirely bred using Select Sires genetics. “What I am looking for in a genetic provider is variety, quality, and fertility and that is exactly what All West and now Select Sires Member Cooperative continues to provide!” said Paulo. “Using Select Sires genetics allows me to have access to high fertility bulls from sire stacks and family lines that I am absolutely looking for. I feel like they put an emphasis on fertility, fat, and protein sooner than other studs and we as customers reap the benefits of that. The other big reason I use Select Sires is the great variety I am given. At any time, I can choose a sire who is leading the industry in any trait I desire who meets my exact criteria. The amount of selection and services that I have access to is the greatest advantage of using Select Sires Member Cooperative.”

Today, Paulo considers himself the “caretaker” of the dairy as the manager whose goal is to continue making the herd as profitable as possible for his parents with the amount of resources they currently have. “Our goal going forward is to continue to have long-lasting, trouble-free cows while focusing on production of fat and protein. I would like to improve the fertility of our herd, as well. Daughter Pregnancy Rate (DPR) and Productive Life (PL) are things I pay attention to, along with the CDCB Mastitis. I want cows that produce today and continue to produce tomorrow. That’s our number one goal,” said Paulo.

What’s in the tank at De Carvalho Dairy?

While he enjoys managing his family’s herd, Paulo also has a passion for continuously learning. This led him to return to school to pursue further education in dairy nutrition. For the past 12 years, Paulo has kept busy not only as a dairy producer himself, but also as a nutritional consultant for other producers.

“When I started consulting, it was a huge benefit for me to not only be learning about that subject, but also to be working alongside experts in reproduction, management and other areas of dairy operations every day in the field,” said Paulo. “This led me to change my own management practices in our herd, which resulted in production improvements.”

Paulo shared how he began to use what he was discovering in the field at home on De Carvalho Dairy as a “test herd” where he could fine-tune the concepts and practices he was learning from and sharing with others.

“What I’ve learned most is, outside of management and nutrition, what separates a herd’s quality is genetics,” Paulo shared. “Genetics is a lot like nutrition in the sense that you cannot cut corners without expecting negative long-term effects. Regardless of what the market is doing, you cannot waiver from your genetic program when times are hard. If you do, three years from now you’ll be milking a disappointing cow while your herd’s genetic potential was not reached. Your herd becomes an actual embodiment of the genetic decisions you’ve made over the years.”

One suggestion Paulo shared is to breed more dairy animals using beef semen when times are financially challenging, while maintaining the use of high-quality genetics on your top animals.

“If you’re not breeding at least some, if not most, of your dairy herd using beef semen, you’re missing out. Beef on dairy has given the industry clarity as another revenue source and it is here to stay for the foreseeable future,” Paulo stated. “Unless your goal is to grow your herd, you don’t need more replacements than necessary, especially from your bottom end.”

Although Paulo does not plan to continue operating De Carvalho Dairy for further generations, he is passionate about continuing to improve the next generation of the herd with the help of Select Sires Member Cooperative and plans to continue offering nutritional consulting well into the future.

Paulo’s own “herd” is eager to carry on his work in the industry, as well! Raquel is the oldest of Paulo’s three children and at the young age of three, she is already eager to be the next generation of his family to help improve herds with dreams of becoming a large animal veterinarian.

Thank you to Paulo for your continued business and support of Select Sires Member Cooperative and for always providing insightful discussion for the genetic team who serves you!


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