HD Notebook

Watch appetite, not milk yield

Wed, 03/19/2014

Regardless of herd size, we must model the tie stall when it comes to illness detection.

by Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

fresh cow and calfWhen it comes to finding sick cows, tie stall herds have the upper hand. As we have transitioned our dairies from this individual care system to managing groups, illness detection has become one of our most significant struggles.

“To stay ahead of illness in larger groups, our chosen herd managers must have good observation skills,” noted Gary Oetzel, with the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. “We need to find sick cows before milk yield drops. If we wait for this trigger, we are two to three days behind the illness curve,” he continued when addressing the audience assembled for the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin’s annual meeting. Read more

Organic consumers don’t fit one mold

Tue, 03/18/2014

A variety of people are choosing organic foods, leaving an upside of opportunity for organic dairy production.


by Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Organic sales are driven by people wanting to make better choices. Organic is one of those choices. And it’s not just one type of person making that choice.

“The idea that there is a typical organic consumer is a myth,” said Suzanne Kevlyn, director of consumer insights at Horizon Organic. “There is a huge range of people who purchase organic products. That’s important for producers to understand.”

“There are some people who dabble with organic products, for their health or the health of their family,” Kevlyn explained. At the other end of the continuum are people who are committed to organic products and a more sustainable lifestyle. Read more

Uganda: Where hand milking and high-tech coexist

Mon, 03/17/2014

Paul Queck’s photo documentary details how this African country is upgrading its dairy practices.

by Corey Geiger, Hoard's Dairyman Managing Editor

“How can I improve my dairy farm?”

It was an unexpected question from a Ugandan dairy farmer to the group — an assembly of one Canadian, two American and 12 European farm writers touring farms in this lush East African country sitting on the equator.

One of the writers quickly blurted out, “Queck’s our dairy expert” and Mrs. Philomina Kemijumbi Nshangano, the 71-year-old owner of Rubyerwa Farm, turned to Paul Queck, the author of the March 10 article on page 170, documenting dairy farming in Uganda. (Click here to download a copy of the article.) Read more

Grain markets are twitchy

Fri, 03/14/2014

Brazil drought and Ukraine turmoil have traders on edge.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

cornFebruary and March have brought new reminders that nondairy events almost anywhere in the world can affect milk production costs on U.S. farms.

The latest examples continue to bring new price volatility to corn, soybeans and wheat.

The distance from the biggest U.S. corn state (Iowa) to Kiev, Ukraine, is about 5,200 miles, and it’s about 4,500 miles to the Mato Grosso region of Brazil. And yet, events in those distant places have spooked traders at the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) and driven grain prices 20 percent higher in just several weeks. Read more

Learn the nuances of sterile sampling

Thu, 03/13/2014

When multiple strains of bacteria are grown in culture, it is impossible to determine a course of treatment.

milking scene

by Amanda Smith Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Most of the time, a single type of bacteria will cause mastitis. When multiple strains are recovered the milk sample is almost useless. It becomes difficult to interpret which bacteria is the culprit, noted Pam Ruegg, with the University of Wisconsin’s milk quality group.

The most important component of culturing does not happen in the laboratory. It is essential to obtain a useful, aseptically collected sample on-farm. If this step is not done with care, everything done in the lab is a waste. With multiple strains, the pathogen and the contaminant cannot be distinguished from one another. Read more

Be prepared for metabolic changes at calving

Wed, 03/12/2014

Supplemented calcium exists in different forms and compounds.

by Patti Hurtgen, Hoard's Dairyman Online Media Manager

March 2014 webinar cover slideGarrett Oetzel, University of Wisconsin, presented “Cows and their calcium”, in our Monday, March 10 webinar. For 30 years our presenter has studied the topic.

With development of a new calf and the onset of milk production, calving time has its challenges. Hypocalcemia, low blood-calcium level, is one of those post-calving issues that dairy operations dread. Obvious signs of cold ears and cows not wanting to rise can alert people to this deficiency. However, nearly half of second-lactation and older cows experience sub-clinical hypocalcemia, even those fed anionic salts. Low calcium levels are defined as below 8.6m/dL. Read more

Bruises can tell a story

Tue, 03/11/2014

Improved animal husbandry and welfare benefits an animal, inside and out.

herd health check

by Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Several swollen hocks or neck abscesses might tell us that our stalls need more bedding or our neck rail height needs to be adjusted. Similarly, bruises on a carcass can reveal a lot about welfare once an animal is sent to slaughter.

“Bruises tell a story,” said Lily Edwards-Callaway from JBS, a well-known meat processing company. She spoke at the UW-Extension Dairy Well-being Conference last week in Eau Claire, Wis.

For any packing plant, bruising slows productivity, as that damaged meat needs to be cut away from the carcass. Bruising also creates wasted product and can lower financial returns for both the producer and the packing plant. Read more

Dairy conferences provide limitless returns

Mon, 03/10/2014

Here are four reasons to take time away from the farm.

dairy conference

by Ali Enerson, Hoard’s Dairyman Special Publications Editor

Everyone struggles with taking time away from their daily workload to attend a conference, but it’s especially difficult for some dairy farmers to hand the reins over for a few days.

As a dairy farmer, you interact with other local farmers on a regular basis, but ask yourself if these same people help challenge you and your business to be its best. With many dairy events, you are in the presence of other producers of your same caliber, giving you a greater opportunity to discuss challenges and solutions applicable to your operation. Read more

Daily milk production is 11,740 pounds per farm

Fri, 03/07/2014

U.S. average has doubled in just 12 years.

milk tanker truck

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Even during a down year, the average U.S. dairy grew in 2013.

Both average herd size and milk production per cow went up — herd size by a lot and production per cow by a little. The result was a big bump in the average amount of milk made by each farm during the year.

Per-cow output set a new record of 21,822 pounds; a small 102-pound gain that was less than a third of the average increase for the previous 22 years. Meanwhile, average herd size rose by 9 cows to 196 head, the second largest one-year gain in history.

As a result, the average dairy in the U.S. in 2013 made 4,284,937 pounds of milk, which was 224,000 pounds more than the previous year and nearly double the average amount made per farm in 2001. Read more

We’re all tired of winter

Thu, 03/06/2014

With record lows and extended cold snaps, spring is nowhere in sight.

Hoard's Dairyman Farm

by Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Like many of you, the Hoard’s Dairyman Farm met its match this winter. Amidst frozen feed, frozen pipes and a few calves lost too soon, we’ve battled unpredicted and unforeseen cold.

And, as every member of our farm team can attest, they’re tired.

It’s taken a toll on our 400-plus-cow herd of Guernseys and Jerseys, as well. Production has been steady for most of the winter, averaging 67 to 69 pounds along with a 5.0 percent fat and 3.9 percent protein, but is starting to slowdown.

These high averages enabled the Hoard’s Dairyman herd to excel on national breed production lists this past year. For protein production, the Jersey component of the Fort Atkinson,Wis., based herd is eighth in the nation. Read more

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