HD Notebook

Should you beef up your dairy?

Tue, 02/24/2015

Raising dairy steers can be a profitable venture, but consider how it will impact the rest of your operation before jumping in headfirst.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Beef prices are exceptionally high. Beef cattle numbers are near record lows. Is now the time for you to join the ranks of dairy beef producers?

Before you dive into raising steers on your dairy operation, Iowa State Extension beef field specialists ask you to consider the following:

Cash flow
Think about how raising dairy steers will impact both your short-term and long-term cash flow. For instance, income from bull calves will be delayed 14 to 18 months until those animals are sold. With bull calf prices where they are now, that could definitely lower short-term income. Read more

Silage effluent pollution should be taken seriously

Mon, 02/23/2015

Effluent planning can be done now to make harvest easier this year

By Ali Enerson, Hoard’s Dairyman Special Publications Editor

Growing up on a small dairy farm, silage effluent wasn’t something I was overly aware of other than it smelled, and I tried not to get it on my boots and carry the scent around with me all day. However, after working for a large dairy farm later in life and learning in greater detail and scale about dairy waste management, my eyes continue to open to the magnitude of areas each farmer has to be aware of.

Why write about silage effluent in the middle of winter you might be asking. I believe a little preplanning this spring for grass filter strips, diverting effluent into a collection area or cautious planning to incorporate your effluent into liquid manure storage will get you ahead of the game. Read more

What To Feed Dairy Cows When Alfalfa’s Sparse

Fri, 02/20/2015

Drought, less acreage, and rising global demand are reasons why.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor


Droughts in the West and rising demand around the world are increasing the price of hay and other forages for U.S. milk producers.

And the long-term outlook for prices is nothing but up, according to Western U.S. Forage – What the Hay is Happening to Prices? released last week by Rabobank.

It says that both prices and price volatility are already “at the point of no return” from their old levels, and prices are headed for a new and higher normal – one that is approximately double what was seen as recently as early last decade.

There are two big drivers behind this shift, according to the report, and our interview with lead author James Williamson: Read more

Milk letdown matters

Thu, 02/19/2015

If you have good prep and good milkers, the use of an automatic teat scrubber or more conventional prep routine should have little impact on production.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Forestripping serves two purposes in the parlor: to stimulate milk letdown and aid in the detection of mild cases of mastitis. As farms adopt automated teat scrubbers to remove human variation in the milking routine, this step may be modified or eliminated. Pam Ruegg and other researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison evaluated how the use of teat scrubbers affects milk letdown compared to conventional preparation.

The study was conducted on a 1,200-cow dairy in Wisconsin. Two teat scrubbers were in the parlor; the farm had been utilizing the scrubbers on and off for six years. Cows averaged 90 pounds per day and were milked 3x in a double-24 parlor. Milk yield, average milk flow, peak milk flow and duration of milking were evaluated. Read more

Producers find assistance with the Farm Center

Wed, 02/18/2015

Complimentary professional services for dairymen are available to Wisconsin farmers

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

When things get tough for dairy producers, they look for help. A family member, friend or trusted confidant can be to whom they turn. While they may provide emotional support, some may not have the expertise to help with a business problem.

Wisconsin dairy producers are fortunate to have a small army of agricultural experts who assist with professional and personal issues. The Wisconsin Farm Center’s goal is to “keep farmers farming whenever possible.”

The Wisconsin Farm Center is part of the Division of Agricultural Development, which is part of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). The division provides guidance to three sectors in our industry: producer level, processor level and international trade. Read more

Do your stalls make the cut?

Tue, 02/17/2015

Watch the cows to be sure your facility provides the resting space they need.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

cow laying in freestall

Cows are busy creatures, and one of the most important activities they do is rest.

“We want to see high-producing cows lying down 10 to 14 hours per day,” said Dan McFarland from Penn State University. “I am confident with good stall design and management we can achieve this resting time on dairies.”

A good stall should encourage use, provide comfort and confident footing, and promote cleanliness and udder health, McFarland noted. In a Dairy eXtension webinar, he gave producers several measurements that determine if stalls are doing their job. Read more

Pulling it all together

Mon, 02/16/2015

By Maggie, Seiler, Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern

Dairy Challenge
Photo credit: Photo courtesy of the Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge.

Dairy challenge competition allows students to connect the dots between classes, experiences and instinct.

I was the buzzer beater in junior dairy bowl. I studied and studied the questions, and on many of them, I could buzz in after only a few words. At the time, I thought I had a pretty fantastic grasp on the dairy industry. As I got older, I memorized fewer answers, and then I began to truly learn about dairy production. Read more

Robotic rotary parlor debuts at Tulare

Fri, 02/13/2015

Format that attaches at every stall attracted many lookers at World Ag Expo this week.

rotary parlor

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Goodbye milkers.

One of the busiest dairy exhibits at World Ag Expo this week in Tulare, Calif., gave an up-close look at what is the inevitable future for many large herd farms — a fully automated rotary milking parlor.

The DairyProQ from GEA Farm Technologies is the second robotic rotary configuration to be introduced so far, but the first to provide udder prep, unit attachment, postdipping, and unit back flushing at each individual stall. This allows the platform to stay in constant motion as cows load and exit, like nonrobotic rotaries do. Read more

How they get their next pound of milk

Thu, 02/12/2015

While forage procurement and feeding play a huge role in the success of high-producing herds, they aren’t the only factors. Reproduction and milk quality are critical elements, too.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Each winter, 24 of the nation’s dairy herds provide a detailed look at a particular sector of their dairy operation for our Round Table series. In our most recent issue (February 10, 2015), four herds, from Washington, New Mexico, Wisconsin and Iowa, shared their strategies for obtaining the next pound of milk. While the majority of the printed responses focused on the dairies’ feeding strategies, they also shared information on reproduction and their milk quality efforts.

Round Table Farms

Below, these four high-producing herds share a bit more:

How does the dairy’s reproductive program play into production? Read more

Margins matter; manage for the cycles

Wed, 02/11/2015

Volatility and opportunities exist in the peaks and valleys.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

February webinar slideProducing milk is full of peaks and valleys. We love the highs and dread the lows. Understanding your financial status can help your herd maximize profits in good years and mitigate losses the slim years. Greg Bethard, the chief financial officer for two Wisconsin dairies, Pagel’s Ponderosa and Dairy Dreams, presented the Hoard’s Dairyman webinar and shared his vast experience to guide producers to “Nail the big-dollar decisions.” Read more

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