HD Notebook

Dairy decline in 2014 was smallest ever

Date: 
Fri, 02/27/2015

Only 1,631 farms left, but it was still the 22nd yearly decline in a row.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

dairy farm

“Get out while the getting is good” saw 1,631 U.S. dairies leave the industry in 2014.

According to data released earlier this month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), that was the fewest farms to exit the industry since licensed dairy numbers began being tracked in 1992. Even so, it was still the 22nd yearly decline in a row.

It is a trend that shows no sign of ending nor, frankly, does it have any reason to.

While the numeric drop was the smallest ever, the 3.5 percentage dip was in line with figures seen since 2008. In fact, 3.5 percent was the average loss from 2008 to 2011, when milk producers struggled to recover from the industry’s historic financial collapse in 2008-09. Read more

Somatic cell count hit a stumbling block

Date: 
Thu, 02/26/2015

Up just 1,000 cells/mL, SCC reverted to 2012 levels this past year.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

After trending downward for nearly a decade, the somatic cell count average of herds enrolled in Dairy HerdInformation (DHI) testing rose this past year. Yet, it was a minor blip on the radar screen; SCC levels were up 1,000 cells/mL, reverting back to 2012’s 200,000 cells/mL. Prior to this, average DHI test day SCC had declined each year since 2005. Regardless of this about face, SCC has experienced a 62 percent reduction since it peaked in 2001 at 322,000 cells/mL. Read more

FFA Week goes social

Date: 
Wed, 02/25/2015

Week-long celebration promotes national ag program

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

FFA new logoWe are in the heart of national FFA week, which started on Saturday, February 21 and concludes on February 28. The week is celebrated each year over George Washington's birthday. As a past FFA member, I have many great memories of my time in the blue and gold. Read more

Should you beef up your dairy?

Date: 
Tue, 02/24/2015

Raising dairy steers can be a profitable venture, but consider how it will impact the rest of your operation before jumping in headfirst.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Beef prices are exceptionally high. Beef cattle numbers are near record lows. Is now the time for you to join the ranks of dairy beef producers?

Before you dive into raising steers on your dairy operation, Iowa State Extension beef field specialists ask you to consider the following:

Cash flow
Think about how raising dairy steers will impact both your short-term and long-term cash flow. For instance, income from bull calves will be delayed 14 to 18 months until those animals are sold. With bull calf prices where they are now, that could definitely lower short-term income. Read more

Silage effluent pollution should be taken seriously

Date: 
Mon, 02/23/2015

Effluent planning can be done now to make harvest easier this year

By Ali Enerson, Hoard’s Dairyman Special Publications Editor

Growing up on a small dairy farm, silage effluent wasn’t something I was overly aware of other than it smelled, and I tried not to get it on my boots and carry the scent around with me all day. However, after working for a large dairy farm later in life and learning in greater detail and scale about dairy waste management, my eyes continue to open to the magnitude of areas each farmer has to be aware of.

Why write about silage effluent in the middle of winter you might be asking. I believe a little preplanning this spring for grass filter strips, diverting effluent into a collection area or cautious planning to incorporate your effluent into liquid manure storage will get you ahead of the game. Read more

What To Feed Dairy Cows When Alfalfa’s Sparse

Date: 
Fri, 02/20/2015

Drought, less acreage, and rising global demand are reasons why.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

hay

Droughts in the West and rising demand around the world are increasing the price of hay and other forages for U.S. milk producers.

And the long-term outlook for prices is nothing but up, according to Western U.S. Forage – What the Hay is Happening to Prices? released last week by Rabobank.

It says that both prices and price volatility are already “at the point of no return” from their old levels, and prices are headed for a new and higher normal – one that is approximately double what was seen as recently as early last decade.

There are two big drivers behind this shift, according to the report, and our interview with lead author James Williamson: Read more

Milk letdown matters

Date: 
Thu, 02/19/2015

If you have good prep and good milkers, the use of an automatic teat scrubber or more conventional prep routine should have little impact on production.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Forestripping serves two purposes in the parlor: to stimulate milk letdown and aid in the detection of mild cases of mastitis. As farms adopt automated teat scrubbers to remove human variation in the milking routine, this step may be modified or eliminated. Pam Ruegg and other researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison evaluated how the use of teat scrubbers affects milk letdown compared to conventional preparation.

The study was conducted on a 1,200-cow dairy in Wisconsin. Two teat scrubbers were in the parlor; the farm had been utilizing the scrubbers on and off for six years. Cows averaged 90 pounds per day and were milked 3x in a double-24 parlor. Milk yield, average milk flow, peak milk flow and duration of milking were evaluated. Read more

Producers find assistance with the Farm Center

Date: 
Wed, 02/18/2015

Complimentary professional services for dairymen are available to Wisconsin farmers

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

When things get tough for dairy producers, they look for help. A family member, friend or trusted confidant can be to whom they turn. While they may provide emotional support, some may not have the expertise to help with a business problem.

Wisconsin dairy producers are fortunate to have a small army of agricultural experts who assist with professional and personal issues. The Wisconsin Farm Center’s goal is to “keep farmers farming whenever possible.”

The Wisconsin Farm Center is part of the Division of Agricultural Development, which is part of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). The division provides guidance to three sectors in our industry: producer level, processor level and international trade. Read more

Do your stalls make the cut?

Date: 
Tue, 02/17/2015

Watch the cows to be sure your facility provides the resting space they need.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

cow laying in freestall

Cows are busy creatures, and one of the most important activities they do is rest.

“We want to see high-producing cows lying down 10 to 14 hours per day,” said Dan McFarland from Penn State University. “I am confident with good stall design and management we can achieve this resting time on dairies.”

A good stall should encourage use, provide comfort and confident footing, and promote cleanliness and udder health, McFarland noted. In a Dairy eXtension webinar, he gave producers several measurements that determine if stalls are doing their job. Read more

Pulling it all together

Date: 
Mon, 02/16/2015

By Maggie, Seiler, Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern

Dairy Challenge
Photo credit: Photo courtesy of the Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge.

Dairy challenge competition allows students to connect the dots between classes, experiences and instinct.

I was the buzzer beater in junior dairy bowl. I studied and studied the questions, and on many of them, I could buzz in after only a few words. At the time, I thought I had a pretty fantastic grasp on the dairy industry. As I got older, I memorized fewer answers, and then I began to truly learn about dairy production. Read more

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