HD Notebook

Doing more with less land

Tue, 03/10/2015

Last year, the United States saw another drop in farm acres and number of farms, but productivity filled the gap.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor


Our nation’s farmers are faced with the continuous challenge of doing more with less. The world population is climbing; meanwhile, the number of acres devoted to farming in the United States is shrinking.

Total land for farming in 2014 was at 913 million acres, down 1.03 million acres from the year before, according to recently released numbers from USDA. The number of farms in the United States was estimated at 2.08 million, down 18,000. The only number to go in the opposite direction was average farm size, which moved up 3 acres to reach 438 acres in 2014.

Five years ago there were 2.17 million farms on 917.5 million acres, averaging 423 acres per farm. Read more

Embryo market proving to be fertile ground

Mon, 03/09/2015

GenElite and Holstein Plaza help bring buyers and sellers together in today’s evolving dairy genetics trade.

by Brittany Statz, 2015 Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern

I attended the 124th Wisconsin Holstein Association Convention on February 21 in Hudson, Wis. Before the annual business meeting, a panel discussion titled “Marketing Embryos in a Global Setting” took place, starring Steve Berland of GenElite and Hendrik Albada of Holstein Plaza. The moderator of the discussion was none other than Hoard’s Dairyman Managing Editor Corey Geiger. As someone who is still acquiring knowledge about the increasingly multidimensional dairy industry, I didn’t quite know what to expect from the following exchange of thoughts and ideas on how to market embryos internationally. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how enlightening and informative the discussion truly was. Read more

Tips from genomics gurus

Fri, 03/06/2015

Elite breeders have simple advice for dairies about how to get started.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor


Genomics technology has taken the dairy breeding world by storm, giving milk producers tools to make dramatic improvement in their herds faster than ever possible.

Three early and aggressive adopters shared their results at the 12th Western Dairy Management Conference this week in Reno, Nev. Between them they may do more monthly genomic testing than any other three dairies in the U.S. They also had simple, basic tips for other producers who want to get started with the technology. Read more

Ag degrees pay dividends

Thu, 03/05/2015

Students holding degrees in agricultural and natural resources are anticipated to earn a starting salary of $51,220, on average.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

The ultimate goal for most students is to graduate from college employed. After all, the pursuit of higher education will leave many of them swimming in debt. This time of year becomes crunch time. Job offers are made, contracts are signed and students prepare for life postgraduation.

According to USA Today, students in the Class of 2015 who pursued an agricultural or natural resources degree and subsequent occupation will be among the highest paid graduates in the nation.

As of 2011, nearly one out of every three people over the age of 25 held a bachelor’s degree, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Furthermore, a bachelor’s degree holder typically earns $2.4 million over their lifetime. Read more

Start the day right

Wed, 03/04/2015

“Fuel Greatness” campaign stresses breakfast for children

by Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s dairyman Online Media Manager

Fuel Up to Play 60 logoBreakfast sets the table for the day’s activities. Starting the day with a meal is the fuel that helps us stay active. Studies have shown that improved nutrition, which includes breakfast, and more physical activity improve students’ academic performance, attentiveness and behavior. Feed the body . . . Feed the mind.

During National School Breakfast Week, March 2 to 5, the Midwest Dairy Council, Fuel Up to Play 60 and additional nutrition organizations are working together to educate young people and school leaders about the value of breakfast. They have an uphill battle as 60 percent of students do not eat breakfast daily. No Kid Hungry’s annual “Hunger in Our Schools” report identified that 76 percent of educators say students come to school hungry. Read more

Make antibiotics and vaccines work for you

Tue, 03/03/2015

The steps you take before administering an animal health product play a large role in the treatment’s effectiveness.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor


In our animal care toolbox, vaccines and antibiotics are powerful instruments. These products can really work wonders in preventing and treating many diseases — if used properly.

Much of their success can be linked to dosage and duration of treatment, but capturing the full benefit of these animal health products begins with storage and handling. University of Wisconsin Extension Agriculture Agent Sandy Stuttgen, D.V.M., offers some guidelines to managing antibiotics and vaccines.

Stuttgen recommends producers store products in their original box to keep bottles clean and labels attached. Keep all written instructions, including the box, label and insert, with the product. Read more

What’s the plan?

Mon, 03/02/2015

Crisis management is intimidating to address but essential for long-term success.

by Maggie Seiler, Editorial Intern

farm scene

When I was 12, my family had an experience that significantly altered our operation. At 11 p.m. in the middle of wheat harvest, our hay barn caught fire. Because of the layout of our barns, the flames quickly spread from the hay barn to the adjacent loafing shed, and within a few minutes was threatening our milking parlor and home. My father and older brother jumped into action to try to free the cows while my mother phoned 911. Read more

Dairy decline in 2014 was smallest ever

Fri, 02/27/2015

Only 1,631 farms left, but it was still the 22nd yearly decline in a row.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

dairy farm

“Get out while the getting is good” saw 1,631 U.S. dairies leave the industry in 2014.

According to data released earlier this month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), that was the fewest farms to exit the industry since licensed dairy numbers began being tracked in 1992. Even so, it was still the 22nd yearly decline in a row.

It is a trend that shows no sign of ending nor, frankly, does it have any reason to.

While the numeric drop was the smallest ever, the 3.5 percentage dip was in line with figures seen since 2008. In fact, 3.5 percent was the average loss from 2008 to 2011, when milk producers struggled to recover from the industry’s historic financial collapse in 2008-09. Read more

Somatic cell count hit a stumbling block

Thu, 02/26/2015

Up just 1,000 cells/mL, SCC reverted to 2012 levels this past year.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

After trending downward for nearly a decade, the somatic cell count average of herds enrolled in Dairy HerdInformation (DHI) testing rose this past year. Yet, it was a minor blip on the radar screen; SCC levels were up 1,000 cells/mL, reverting back to 2012’s 200,000 cells/mL. Prior to this, average DHI test day SCC had declined each year since 2005. Regardless of this about face, SCC has experienced a 62 percent reduction since it peaked in 2001 at 322,000 cells/mL. Read more

FFA Week goes social

Wed, 02/25/2015

Week-long celebration promotes national ag program

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

FFA new logoWe are in the heart of national FFA week, which started on Saturday, February 21 and concludes on February 28. The week is celebrated each year over George Washington's birthday. As a past FFA member, I have many great memories of my time in the blue and gold. Read more

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