HD Notebook

The stories of our lives

Tue, 02/16/2016

Farmers need to share their stories with each other, too.

by Sadie Frericks

As dairy farmers, we hear a lot about sharing our stories with consumers. Stories about why we farm and how we care for our cattle help us connect with consumers.

What we sometimes forget, though, is that we need to share the stories of our lives with each other, too. Our stories about the joys and challenges of dairy farming help us connect to each other. We need those connections. We need dairy farmer friends who understand what this life is like.

Each of us is drawn to sharing our stories in different ways. Some of us share our stories in private conversation. Others find more public ways to share.

I’ve been sharing my stories in newspaper columns and blog posts since 2003. I am honored and thrilled to start sharing stories about my farm and family here in the HD Notebook.

Frericks family
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Know your herd’s locomotion

Mon, 02/15/2016

Locomotion scoring can help detect lame cows and gauge overall herd health.

Holstein cow

By Maggie Seiler, Hoard's Dairyman Associate Editor

When it’s not a problem, foot and leg health is something that flies under the radar on a many dairies, but soggy spring conditions and gimpy cows can quickly turn the tables. A well-developed foot and leg health program that includes locomotion scoring, regular hoof trimming and clean facilities is the best way to combat headaches incurred by lame cows.

A functional set of feet and legs can be described as one on which a cow can freely move from location to location, spend time standing at the feed bunk and comfortably move in and out of the milking facility. Determining cows’ abilities to do these simple tasks begins with locomotion scoring. Read more

Vaccinations and good management maximize effectiveness

Fri, 02/12/2016

Understanding immunity promotes calf health.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

Hoard's Dairyman webinarVaccinations are designed to stimulate the immune system. They aren’t cures, but tools to help the calf defend its body from viruses, bacteria and parasites. The ultimate goal is calf health.

At birth, calves are born without immunity and that’s why colostrum is so important. The valuable antibodies it supplies sets the stage for health and growth and, later, milk production. But colostrum alone is not enough.

Amelia Woolums, D.V.M., presented the February webinar titled, “Getting the most for your vaccination dollar.” It included an overview of how vaccines work and recommendations on how they should be used. Read more

Prepare for the unexpected spectator

Wed, 02/10/2016

Animal activists are becoming bolder in their actions; even events like dairy shows could attract guests with ulterior motives.

dairy show

By Hannah Thompson

You’ve lined up the judge, secured the award sponsors and ordered the ribbons. The entries have been received and organized, the food vendor is ready to go, and the show veterinarian is on deck for health checks. Your checklist for planning a spring show looks complete — but you may be forgetting to prepare for the unexpected. Read more

The art of cow whispering

Mon, 02/08/2016

A good herdsperson not only observes but takes action.


By Maggie Seiler, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

In college, I fielded many questions about my agricultural communications degree that went something like this, “So you’re studying to be a cow whisperer?” My quipped remark was often some type of dig at the individual’s chosen major, but what I wanted to tell those people was that I was actually studying the art of talking to the real cow whisperers. As a dairy farmer’s daughter, I spent many childhood hours following around my father who is a talented cowman and who for many years I believed was a genuine cow whisperer. Read more

Trade show attendee tips

Fri, 02/05/2016

Have a plan for what you want to see and do.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

trade showWinter – the season when not a lot happens in the fields. And for this reason, trade shows are scheduled to entice busy farmers to attend.

With World Ag Expo next week in California, I’ll be working in the Hoard’s Dairyman booth. Acres of diversified ag products will be on display to serve all types of attendees from grape growers to cattle ranchers to nut processors. Fortunately for dairy producers, the majority of dairy businesses are in one building.

There are plenty of suggestions for booth workers to maximize their exposure at these events. That being said, attendees should also be planning to get the most of their time at a trade show. Here are a few tips for optimizing your time spent at an agriculture trade show. Read more

Good cow care on a larger scale

Wed, 02/03/2016

Farms with more cows prove that animal welfare is still a priority.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

dairy barnThe average herd size for dairy farms in the United States keeps growing while the number of farms continues to decline. This trend is unlikely to change.

Take a look at the Upper Midwest. From 2000 to 2012, the percent of state milk production coming from farms with more than 500 head grew nearly threefold. According to USDA data, the percentage of milk produced by farms with more than 500 cows in Iowa grew from 5.0 percent to 44.1 percent; in Minnesota, from 8.5 to 32.6 percent; in South Dakota, from 26.0 to 75.2 percent; and in Wisconsin, from 9.0 to 38.1 percent. Read more

Stay calm around the young ’uns

Mon, 02/01/2016

Young calves demand much care and patience.


By Maggie Seiler, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

My two siblings and I grew up showing Holsteins, and from the time I was pretty young, I seemed to be the one who always ended up showing the flighty animals. About the time I reached middle school, I had developed a plan to end this particularly unfortunate habit of mine for selecting the “crazy heifers.” My strategy was straightforward. If any of my cows calved, I would pet the calf and sweet talk it every day to make sure it would remember me. My siblings had more of a hands-off strategy, leaving the calf alone to its own devices. Read more

He shared his talent with millions of readers

Fri, 01/29/2016

Jim Baird, gifted Hoard’s Dairyman Art Director, passes on

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

Jim BairdWe would consider ourselves lucky to be really good at one thing – something that truly symbolized the essence of our being. But to be skilled in many disciplines, is rare.

Longtime Hoard’s Dairyman Art Director Jim Baird shared his talents with readers of the magazine, the dairy industry and the public. His body of work, including his etchings, painting and photos, is a beautiful legacy to such a talented gentleman.

Baird joined the staff in 1948 and saw many changes in the publication and dairy industry. During his tenure, Hoard’s Dairyman went from black and white to color photos, letterpress to computers, and he personally saw the advancements in dairy farming in 37 states. Read more

Some ins and outs of milk quality

Wed, 01/27/2016

An array of factors help this Illinois dairy farm maintain a below average somatic cell count month after month.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Bill DeutschWhen it comes to milk quality, Sycamore, Ill., dairyman Bill Deutsch focuses both inside and outside the udder. With that philosophy in mind, Deutsch Dairy Farm maintains an average somatic cell count between 100,000 and 150,000, often dipping below 100,000 for several months in a row.

Deutsch, who spoke at the 2016 Dairy Summit in Freeport, Ill., is quick to state that he’s “just an average kind of dairyman,” but he’s certainly found ways to get top-quality milk from his 150-cow Holstein and Brown Swiss herd. What strategies does he use use? Read more

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