Fri, 01/30/2015

DHIA milk sample-based method is 91 percent accurate identifying herd prevalence.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

ketosis

Next to mastitis, perhaps no subclinical health problem is as common, as unseen (if not outright ignored) or as costly to dairy producers as ketosis.

But a new, inexpensive monitoring tool called KetoMonitor developed in less than a year by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers Gary Oetzel, Heather White and Tawny Chandler (seen above), in cooperation with AgSource Cooperative Resources, was introduced on Wednesday this week that can put thousands of those dollars back into producers’ pockets.

Researchers long ago peeled back the scary reality about ketosis, which is more common in mature cows than heifers and is caused when their postcalving energy needs are simply unable to be met through feed intake:

Thu, 01/29/2015

In difficult economic times, we become better managers. Shrink is one area where we can tighten our belts.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Dairy rations are balanced on the cents per cow that an ingredient will add to or cut from a feed budget. Yet, if we watch a ration being mixed, it’s not uncommon to see finely ground feed ingredients blow away with the wind. What if we viewed this dust and debris as more than just a cost of doing business?

At its most basic level, shrink is the difference between the amount of feed delivered and the amount that is fed, noted Mike Brouk, with Kansas State University, at the Leading Dairy Producers Conference. Shrink is a potential profit opportunity on all dairies, but it’s not an area destined for improvement unless it is measured.

Wed, 01/28/2015

Hints to help you save time and computer space

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

messy computer screenAh, a clean desk. No piles of brochures and papers surrounding your computer. Few farm offices can claim a pristine desk appearance much less a decluttered computer. But, there is hope. Some may have made a 2015 resolution to organize their work area, but many may be asking “Where do I start?”

Recently, I ran across an article on how to minimize digital clutter . . . the files that are sucking valuable storage space from your computer. For a computer with limited space for new files, the quick answer would be “buy more space.” That is like purchasing a bigger house only because your small one is in disarray. You’d just be making more room for more clutter.

Here are some of best-selling author Joshua Becker’s tips to minimize digital clutter:

Tue, 01/27/2015

Keep fresh cows “fresher” by identifying high risk cows early on.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

high risk fresh cowThe high-risk fresh cow: She’s older (third lactation or greater), had a difficult calving and is battling lameness. She had a longer lactation (more than 350 days) the year before and produced above the herd average.

You know what she looks like, but can you pick her out in the crowd? According to Nigel Cook with the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, the number one factor impacting performance as herd size grows is the ability to find the sick cow in the fresh cow pen.

Mon, 01/26/2015

Tell your farm’s story for the betterment of agriculture as a whole

By Ali Enerson, Hoard’s Dairyman Special Publications Editor

I’ve come to the conclusion that the positive potential of sharing my farming story with the masses has to outweigh the fear. We hear more and more about the need to tell our farming stories on social media, especially with the rise in activist videos. And with the negative press those videos generate, I understand the hesitation to share.

There are many forms of “social” media a farmer can use; they don’t have to involve the internet. Ultimately, what you choose needs to work for your farm, and you only need to pick one or two. Here are a few options:

  • Sponsor a breakfast in your local community, inviting people to the farm.
  • Open your doors for farm tours to the local schools or daycares; leave them with some healthy chocolate milk and cheese at the end of the tour.
  • Start a farm Facebook page.

Fri, 01/23/2015

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Taking a chance with MPP-DairyThere were some surprises in who signed up for the Dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP-Dairy), according to figures announced recently by USDA.

The biggest surprise is who didn’t sign up: almost half of all dairies in the country

Getting a $4 per hundredweight safety net for just $100, even if it’s only a catastrophic meltdown net that might not ultimately save anyone from bankruptcy if it came into play, seems like a no-brainer. And yet, nearly half of all milk producers disagreed.

Nevada had the highest sign-up rate of all states at 90 percent; Utah was second at 80 percent. Wyoming was the lowest at just 5 percent; Alabama was next at 29 percent. The nation’s biggest dairy states, California and Wisconsin, had sign-up rates of 69 and 54 percent, respectively.

Thu, 01/22/2015

If we miss a few blocks, it all collapses eventually.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Calf ManagementA classic game, Jenga tests players’ ability to strategically remove blocks from a sturdy tower. One by one, blocks are pulled until the stack comes crashing down. The individual with the steadiest hand is often the winner.

“Calf management is like Jenga. If we miss a few blocks, it all collapses eventually,” noted Amy Stanton, University of Wisconsin-Madison, as she began her presentation on growing healthy calves at the Leading Dairy Producers Conference.

Wed, 01/21/2015

Prevent a cold from taking you down this season

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

Snowy Winter

“I’m fine.”

How many times have family members commented when a loved one looks under the weather and got that response? I venture a lot if you deal with farmers. They are the “no excuses, gotta get work done, no matter how I feel” poster people.

Gallup-Healthways research backs this. Farmers rank second only to doctors who take the least amount of sick days. Unfortunately, some may be hampering their recovery if they indeed are sick and still working.

We tend to take better care of our calves than ourselves. Follow this wintertime advice to help keep the human body’s immune system at full strength.

  • Drink the optimal amount of water. Consider keeping bottled water handy so it’s there when you want it.

Tue, 01/20/2015

If you’re looking for a good steak, the cities on this list are places you’ll want to visit.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Denver cut steakMeat is a diet staple for many Americans, yet some parts of the country tend to be more meaty than others. In a nonscientific study, cable news channel CNN created a list of the top 12 meatiest cities in the nation.

The cities were ranked based on three criteria. One was the city’s number of experts in “beef, burgers and barbeque.” Also included was per capita meat consumption, based on USDA data and Nielsen sales figures and survey responses provided by health assessment platform Sharecare. The third factor was the number of steakhouses and special events held in regards to meat.

Mon, 01/19/2015

Keeping transition calves healthy starts at providing them with the right environment.

by Maggie Seiler, Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern

calves

If there was one job I truly despised as a kid growing up on a dairy farm, it was helping bed the calf barn, which housed our calves from 3 months of age to around 500 pounds. I just never found a way to enjoy the swirling straw dust and strands of straw stuck down in my boots. At the time, I didn’t appreciate that the discomfort I experienced had a positive influence to the success of the young heifers.

According to John Tyson, a Penn State extension specialist, this group of animals, which he refers to as transition calves, often get lost in the mix of the other tasks on the farm. He warns that improper housing, animal care and management of this group can lead to stunted growth and late entry into the lactating herd.