HD Notebook

A new barn for our future

Tue, 04/05/2016

While a new barn and robots may not be the answer for every dairy, this new era will improve our future lifestyle, overall business consistency and cow care.

breaking ground

by Darleen Sichley

This week was very exciting on our farm as we broke ground for our new robotic facility. As our already busy schedules become even crazier, I am looking at the end goal and why we even chose to take our farm this route. I think these are all things that people looking at the future should consider when they examine if robotics might be the right fit for their dairy farm.

“What are you going to do with all your free time?” is the number one question I get asked about our decisions to install robots on our farm. Read more

Prevention before treatment

Mon, 04/04/2016

Survey shows: dairy producers believe in the power of prevention.

By Maggie Seiler, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Prevention is key.

herd health
This was a favorite mantra of my family’s veterinarian. Every time he came out to diagnose a particular problem in the herd, he looked for the cause. Quickly following the identification of the cause was the suggestion of preventive action. That, after all, is the best way to ensure an illness doesn’t run rampant on the farm.

The recent Dairy 2014 report from the USDA shows dairy producers are paying special attention to providing preventive care on their operations. Read more

How do all those Cow Judging Contest entries get tabulated?

Fri, 04/01/2016

Hand-scoring and double-checks is still the most efficient for us.

Hoard's Dairyman Cow Judging Contest

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

The Cow Judging Contest has been part of the Hoard’s Dairyman brand for 86 years. Images of the cows were originally printed in just black and white, and then eventually in color. Last year we created online judging for those wanting to avoid the hassle of mailing an entry.

The one thing that has remained constant is how the contest is scored. Retired Hoard’s Dairyman employees score over 13,000 hand-written entries each year. That number at one time was over 250,000! In the new online judging option, scores are electronically calculated allowing the contestant to see their scores once all entries (including paper) have been evaluated. More juniors have chosen to enter the contest this way than adults. Read more

Investing in technology can save you some sleep

Thu, 03/31/2016

Cameras installed in maternity barns can help determine if expecting cows are in need of assistance.

By Taylor Leach, Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern

heiferYou kick off your shoes after a long day on the farm, take a quick shower and crawl into bed, knowing that you have to get up in two hours to check on a first-time heifer that is calving.

Sound familiar?

As a child, I can remember my parents getting up at all hours of the night to check on cows and heifers that might be calving. It was not uncommon for an animal to calve late into the night, and, like all dairy farmers, my parents wanted to make sure that the calf, along with the cow, was alive and healthy. Read more

The real farm behind the name

Wed, 03/30/2016

Products marketed under a farm name resonate well with consumers . . . but does a name always tell the whole story?


By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

What’s in a farm name? For some dairy producers, their farm’s name has been carefully crafted to reflect the hopes and dreams for the future of their operation. For others, the farm name states clearly and proudly a family name, a name (and farm) that has been in the family for generations.

For dairies that have ventured into on-farm processing and sales, their name not only represents their farm but also their product. It is a name they hope customers connect with quality.

Woodside Farms. Willow Farms. Boswell Farms. Nightingale Farms. Redmere Farms. Rosedene Farms. Suntrail Farms. These are names attached to products sold in Britain at Tesco, the country’s largest supermarket chain. Read more

A fire in the barn

Tue, 03/29/2016

Electrical fire serves as wake-up call.

farm scene

by Sadie Frericks


There might not be another word so capable of quickly igniting fear in the hearts of farmers.

I’m sure you can imagine the level of panic we felt after smelling smoke during milking one night last week. Our cows are housed in a tie stall barn during the winter and our baby calves are housed in an auto-feeder pen in the front section of our barn . . . so a fire in the barn would put a lot of animals in danger.

Although it first smelled like the smoke was coming from our hayloft, an electrical transformer in our utility room was quickly identified as the source. The transformer’s steel box had confined the flames, but the fire left a mess of smoldering and melted wires inside the box. Read more

Weathering the new regular

Mon, 03/28/2016

Long-term growth and short-term fluctuation are the new norm for commodity markets.

By Maggie Seiler, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

graphIn Kansas this past weekend, my relatives woke up to a blanket of snow. Almost 3 inches fell there overnight and greeted early risers on Easter morning. Well past the months they are used to seeing a few inches of snow, it was an odd sight for my parents, but also not completely surprising. It is, after all, Kansas in spring, a season there that can see an 80°F day followed by snowfall making its weather patterns at least as variable as commodity markets over the last several years.

But just as my parents have grown accustomed to the ups and downs of Kansas weather, the dairy industry is adjusting to the new global standard of variability in markets. Read more

A beauty pageant for the smart females

Fri, 03/25/2016

A twist on pretty will debut at a Canadian cattle show in April.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

show ring sceneWhile no beauty pageant exists just for young ladies with IQs above 120, there is a pageant of sorts debuting in Canada next month for heifers with GLPIs over 2600 points.

At some point in our lives, we have watched or seen parts of a beauty pageant. The most impressive contestants combine an attractive appearance with an ability to speak eloquently on important matters.

The dairy industry has its version of beauty pageants – shows and expositions. It is a hobby for some, while a marketing opportunity for many. The critics of shows would argue that the “pretty cows” don’t milk as much as the “working girls” in their barn. Similar to human beauty and brains, this generality might be true in a few cases, but not all. Read more

Finding my way as a young woman in our industry

Thu, 03/24/2016

Having rejoined the family dairy business right out of college, I gained a new appreciation for working with coworkers.

women working on the farm

by Caitlin Rodgers

The ratio of women to men working in the dairy industry has become a whole lot closer to 50-50. If you were to go back just a few decades ago, or even just 10 years ago, women were next to none in the industry . . . much less having any type of management roles. Times have changed, my friends. Read more

Invest in these five employee “firsts”

Wed, 03/23/2016

Taking time upfront to bring new employees onboard can save farms time and money in the long run.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

“You’re making an investment when you hire someone,” said Trevina Broussard, an associate trainer with Humetrics, during her presentation at the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin’s annual meeting held in Madison, Wis.

Broussard doesn’t work specifically with agricultural clients, but her advice can certainly carry over to a dairy farm setting. One area she discussed was what she dubbed the “Five Firsts”- five times employers should check in with their new employees. Read more

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