HD Notebook

Climate change adding challenge to farming

Mon, 11/30/2015

New research shows the predicted warming of the climate could spell a decline in Wisconsin dairies’ economic productivity between 2020 and 2039.

cow grazing

By Maggie Seiler, Special Publications Editor

Farmers have one guarantee: change. Farming, more than almost any other profession, is at the mercy of Mother Nature’s musings. As we enter what is expected to be a warmer than average winter for the northern part of the country, we are reminded of the ups and downs of the climate and its effects on farms’ pocketbooks. Read more

Floods shrink cotton crop even more

Fri, 11/27/2015

Cottonseed availability was going to be lower even before Hurricane Joaquin flooded major growing areas.


by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Even with milk prices down, whole cottonseed prices were on track to be up this year – and then Hurricane Joaquin slammed the Carolinas in early October just prior to harvest.

Called a “once in a thousand years” storm, Joaquin was blamed for a dozen deaths as it flooded parts of the Carolinas with up to 20 inches of rain, prompting President Obama to declare a state of emergency in South Carolina.

Those rains drenched a 500-mile wide swath that included the important Mid-South cotton growing area, “decimating a significant portion of that region’s 2015 crop,” according to Cotton Incorporated. Read more

How butter got better

Wed, 11/25/2015

That creamy spread hasn’t changed, but its public perception has.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

butter on toast Butter is back! On family tables and restaurant menus, our old friend is asking consumers to rethink this dairy staple.

Dairy Management Inc., the group that manages the dairy checkoff, recently shared the back story on how butter replaced margarine at over 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the United States.

For over 25 years, DMI has led milkfat research through the National Dairy Council. The results show that dairy fat is different than other fats. Because of the science, consumers now have "permission" to add dairy fat to their diet. Without the milk fat research, it is doubtful that butter would have replaced margarine at McDonald’s in 2015.

Stop the disappearing feed act

Tue, 11/24/2015

Action can be taken to reduce feed losses during the TMR mixing process.

TMR mixer

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Now you see it . . . and now you don’t. Just like that, feed that was once available for your herd can be lost due to mold, pests, weather conditions and human error.

Feed losses, known as shrink, often happen slowly over time. We may not notice the impact shrink has on feed inventories on a daily basis, but that does not mean these losses should be ignored.

“We cannot forget shrink,” said David Greene, a Dairy Field Technical Specialist with Diamond V. “That’s money spent that you don’t get value from.”

Some measurable losses can occur during the TMR mixing process. At the 2015 GPS Dairy Forum, Greene shared the following recommendations to maximize efficiency and minimize shrink when mixing feed:

What’s keeping your fresh cows down?

Mon, 11/23/2015

Subclinical hypocalcemia management is important, but it remains hard to monitor the successfulness of treatments.

fresh cows

By Maggie Seiler, Special Publications Editor

Drink your milk so you can have strong bones and healthy teeth was probably the first nutrition lesson I remember receiving. As I grew up, I learned more about calcium and the many other functions it serves in the body. Read more

MPP-Dairy winners and losers so far

Fri, 11/20/2015

Producers who are most ahead are those who didn’t sign up at all.

MPP-Dairy payment calculations

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

No matter what kind of insurance a dairy owner has, not needing to use it means nothing bad has happened, which is exactly what they hope for.

On the other hand, not using it means it was an overhead cost that generated no income, which no business can afford.

According to official feed cost and margin calculations done by USDA for the first nine months of 2015, the only Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) insurance payments made so far have been to the 269 producers nationwide who bought optional coverage at the maximum $8 per hundredweight level. Read more

Dry cows dig darkness

Thu, 11/19/2015

When cows’ light exposure is limited during the dry period, a milk production boost in the next lactation is likely.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

dry cowWhen light hits the eye, a cascade of hormonal events is triggered in the brain’s pineal gland. This cascade begins with a signal to suppress the release of the hormone melatonin. As darkness falls, the inhibitory impact of light is dampened, and melatonin secretion rises.

Animals use the daily fluxes in the duration of elevated melatonin concentrations to set their internal clock, which influences the secretion of a number of hormones.

“Consequently, days with greater light exposure are associated with a shorter duration of high concentrations of melatonin,” noted Geoff Dahl, University of Florida, when speaking at the Penn State Dairy Cattle Nutrition Workshop. Read more

Allow heifers to give your parlor a test drive

Wed, 11/18/2015

Introducing heifers to the milking barn or parlor before calving may be the ticket to reducing stress.

heifers in milking parlor

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

When a dairy heifer has its first calf, its world changes dramatically. A first-lactation heifer is likely to face different housing, a new social environment, more human interaction and an unfamiliar ration.

Perhaps the biggest change of all is adjusting to the milking routine. The sights, sounds and physical act of milking can be a stressful experience for a recently fresh heifer.

To help ease this transition, some farms introduce heifers to the milking barn or parlor prior to calving. Does this help reduce the nervous behaviors associated with milking time stress? Read more

Pouring water down the drain

Tue, 11/17/2015

When we throw away food, we are tossing more than just nutrients into the trash.

by Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

waterNo doubt, water is a valuable resource. We use it every single day in a multitude of ways.

When water supplies get tight, food production often comes under scrutiny. Why? Because water is a huge part of the food making process. We wrote an article a few months ago titled “Today you’ll ingest 1,000 gallons of water.” A study led by the California Rice Commission revealed it takes 1,326 gallons of water to grow the food an average American eats each day. In fact, nine out of 10 gallons of water used by Americans are connected to the consumption of food. Read more

Don’t mess with mud

Mon, 11/16/2015

Managing corral conditions year round in open-lot dairies is important for cow health, comfort and production in the rainy season.

tractor in field

By Maggie Seiler, Special Publications Editor

In the areas of the country where open-lot dairies are popular, the onset of winter means a welcome chance of rain, particularly with El Niño predictions this year. However, along with that rain comes a not so welcome problem, mud. Unlike pigs, dogs and the occasional human child who enjoy a well-placed mud puddle, cows are likely to avoid mud. According to Michael Payne, director of the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program, muddy corrals can lead to reduced dry matter intake, lower milk production and more disease potential. Read more

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