HD Notebook

The farm meeting

Mon, 03/07/2016

Approach farm meetings prepared and with a goal in mind.

informal farm meeting

By Maggie Seiler, Hoard's Dairyman Associate Editor

Growing up, my favorite farm meetings occurred around the breakfast table. Specifically, I remember chowing down on some bacon prepared by my grandfather while he and my dad drank coffee and planned the day. Food aside, there were some days when these meetings were productive, quick and to the point. Other days they would drag on and on.

As I got older, I witnessed these same trends in meetings I attended for clubs and group meetings in college. Sometimes people came prepared, we discussed pertinent information and we moved on. Sometimes I sat through frustratingly long conversations that had little to do with making decisions and executing plans. Read more

Five things dairy farmers can learn from wrestlers

Fri, 03/04/2016

Keep your focus so you don’t get pinned or pushed out of the ring.


By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

Wrestling can be a bit like dairy farming. Farmers must be scrappy to stay mobile and not get taken down. While I have only watched a few high school wrestling matches, I understand the premise and appreciate the mental toughness and focus young athletes endure for those intense minutes.

A few weeks ago I was talking to a dairy farmer whose son wrestled in high school. His daughter is the wrestling team manager. He was telling me about two local wrestlers. Read more

Stepping out of the classroom

Thu, 03/03/2016

Dairy Challenge competitions combine book learning with real-life situations.

Dairy Challenge

By Taylor Leach, Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern

It’s the same old routine. You’re sitting in a classroom listening to lecture after lecture while thinking to yourself, “Am I really going to use this someday?” If you’re in Philosophy 101, then probably not, but you may want to pay closer attention in that dairy science course of yours. Read more

Age and season impact colostrum quality

Wed, 03/02/2016

A few factors play a big role in the quality of colostrum.


By Abby Bauer, Hoard's Dairyman Associate Editor

While breakfast may be our most important meal of the day, for calves, that first feeding of colostrum is the most critical meal of their lives. Colostrum provides immunity in the form of immunoglobulins (IgG), nutrients and energy that newborn calves desperately need.

Not all colostrum is created equally. New research from the University of New Hampshire confirmed that colostrum quality is correlated to the age of the cow; on average, colostrum improves with each lactation. Read more

Dairy’s new leaders

Tue, 03/01/2016

Young farmers need opportunities to develop leadership skills.

by Sadie Frericks

We all know that dairy farmers wear many hats. I spent the last several days wearing my leader hat.

First, while finishing Phase III of the Young Dairy Leaders Institute.

Then as a voting delegate at my cooperative’s annual meeting.

Young Dairy Leaders Institute

One of the topics that came up at the co-op's annual meeting was finding new leaders within the Gen X and Millennial generations.

It's a topic that has a complex answer. Leaders aren’t born, they are made. So the focus shouldn’t be on finding leaders, but on developing leaders.

When I look at what prepared me to run for a co-op delegate position, three things rise to the top of the list.

Opportunities to engage Read more

Balancing the breakeven

Mon, 02/29/2016

Another tight year for dairy producers raises the question, how does one best manage break-even costs?

dairy farm

By Maggie Seiler, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Managing fluctuation is an important part of today’s global economy. Farms that successfully direct their opportunities during financially tight times can more readily capitalize on milk market upswings.

A recent Penn State dairy extension publication highlighted common financial constraints that hold break-even costs up on 107 dairies in the Keystone state. Over the course of the past five years, researchers found large variation in break-even costs between farms. In 2015, the break-even point for more than half of the dairies in the state was greater than $19 per hundredweight and ranged from less than $16 per hundredweight to more than $22 per hundredweight. Read more

FFA develops leaders – some more famous than others

Fri, 02/26/2016

National organization continues to develop skills of young people.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

FFA logoNational FFA Week concludes tomorrow. This weeklong celebration of FFA happens every February, and in honor of the occasion, I recently reviewed a list of America’s most recognizable FFA alumni.

President Jimmy Carter is the only past FFA member to serve the highest office in the land, but there are other FFA alumni who have served our country as state agriculture commissioners, judges, Senators and Congressmen. The leadership skills developed through FFA are hard to deny. Even those who do not have prestigious positions, use skills learned in FFA in their everyday lives. Read more

Daddy and daughter dairy together

Thu, 02/25/2016

Some days it’s like we speak and learn via a different language as a boomer dad and millennial daughter. Yet, we both have the same goals for our dairy.

by Mark and Caitlin Rodgers

My daughter, Caitlin, decided to return to the farm after graduating with a degree in diversified agriculture to manage our herd health and reproduction programs. In other words, she wanted to take over part of my job.

We are a lot alike and that sometimes can lead to conflict. A lot of the time I am trying to get her to trust, without questioning, that what I am asking her to do is correct. All the while she is asking why . . . and wants to try a new way of doing the task differently than the way I explained to her. It’s these same scenarios that happen on other multigenerational dairy farms. Let’s consider each person’s unique perspective.

Caitlin: I want to improve a fairly successful program. Read more

Reach into the closet to keep calves warm

Wed, 02/24/2016

Calf jackets can provide much needed warmth for young animals on cold days.

calf jackets

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

A few mild days in the Midwest made it feel like spring was on the way, but since it is only February, we can be fairly certain that more cold and snow are in our future.

When temperatures dip, we reach into the closet for another layer of clothes. An added layer of protection, in the form of a calf jacket, can also shelter the youngest members of our dairy herd. In a recent University of Wisconsin-Extension podcast, agriculture agent Sarah Mills-Lloyd, D.V.M., shared her recommendations for using jackets on calves.

“Calf jackets do an excellent job keeping calves warm,” she said. When should jackets be used? Mills-Lloyd suggests that calves under 21 days of age should be wearing a jacket anytime the ground is frozen. Read more

Invest in relationships

Tue, 02/23/2016

Learning is a lifelong process and the Young Dairy Leaders Institute helped speed up that process.

Young Dairy Leaders Institute

by Darleen Sichley

Today, I hop on a plane to finish Phase III of the Young Dairy Leaders Institute in sunny Phoenix, Arizona. Besides the great weather — because we can all use some sunshine this time of year — I am most looking forward to being together with my classmates of YDLI once again.

It’s been a whirlwind of a year since finishing Phase I in Phoenix last February and then continued with my Phase II projects at home. When I first applied to be a member of YDLI’s Class 9, it was because the leadership development conference had come very highly recommended, and I saw it as another opportunity to invest in myself.

What I didn’t expect was the network I would gain. Read more

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