HD Notebook

Who wants to be a judge?

Wed, 02/04/2015

Judges not only evaluate cattle, they are communicators.

by Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

judging cattleYou had success in judging contests as a youth. Now, you’d like to move onto the next level and judge dairy shows. What should you know?

I spoke with someone who has handled the judge selection process for state and regional fairs for over 15 years. Some information they take into consideration:

  1. Requirement for the show (approved lists by PDCA or breed organizations)
  2. Past judging experience
  3. Judging reputation, attitude toward exhibitors, personal behavior, and so forth
Read more

Taste trumps healthfulness in people’s food choices

Tue, 02/03/2015

Research shows that healthy and unhealthy eaters alike select foods on taste over nutritional value.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

empty shopping cartAn apple is healthier, but why do we reach for the doughnut instead? Most likely because we know it tastes good. If the calorie count and fat content were listed right there in front of us, would we make a different decision? Not necessarily.

Researchers at the Kiel University in Germany found that, even with nutritional information available, people were more likely to use taste to drive eating decisions. Participants in their study were presented with an assortment of yogurts with varying levels of sugar and fat. When given information about the ingredients, participants were still not more likely to select the healthier product. Read more

How are your heifers’ hooves?

Mon, 02/02/2015

Digital dermatitis in heifers can change hoof shape without causing lameness.

By Maggie, Seiler, Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern

Hoof CareA good set of feet and legs is imperative for a cow to live a long and productive life. Many producers understand this and breed it, but without attentive management, the farm’s heifers may never have the opportunity to reach their full potential as lactating cows. Feet and leg issues, such as digital dermatitis, often go unnoticed in heifers because they don’t always cause lameness. Read more

A new, simpler test for ketosis

Fri, 01/30/2015

DHIA milk sample-based method is 91 percent accurate identifying herd prevalence.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor


Next to mastitis, perhaps no subclinical health problem is as common, as unseen (if not outright ignored) or as costly to dairy producers as ketosis.

But a new, inexpensive monitoring tool called KetoMonitor developed in less than a year by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers Gary Oetzel, Heather White and Tawny Chandler (seen above), in cooperation with AgSource Cooperative Resources, was introduced on Wednesday this week that can put thousands of those dollars back into producers’ pockets.

Researchers long ago peeled back the scary reality about ketosis, which is more common in mature cows than heifers and is caused when their postcalving energy needs are simply unable to be met through feed intake:

Read more

Shrink impacts your balance sheet

Thu, 01/29/2015

In difficult economic times, we become better managers. Shrink is one area where we can tighten our belts.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Dairy rations are balanced on the cents per cow that an ingredient will add to or cut from a feed budget. Yet, if we watch a ration being mixed, it’s not uncommon to see finely ground feed ingredients blow away with the wind. What if we viewed this dust and debris as more than just a cost of doing business?

At its most basic level, shrink is the difference between the amount of feed delivered and the amount that is fed, noted Mike Brouk, with Kansas State University, at the Leading Dairy Producers Conference. Shrink is a potential profit opportunity on all dairies, but it’s not an area destined for improvement unless it is measured. Read more

Simplify your computer with this six-pack

Wed, 01/28/2015

Hints to help you save time and computer space

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

messy computer screenAh, a clean desk. No piles of brochures and papers surrounding your computer. Few farm offices can claim a pristine desk appearance much less a decluttered computer. But, there is hope. Some may have made a 2015 resolution to organize their work area, but many may be asking “Where do I start?”

Recently, I ran across an article on how to minimize digital clutter . . . the files that are sucking valuable storage space from your computer. For a computer with limited space for new files, the quick answer would be “buy more space.” That is like purchasing a bigger house only because your small one is in disarray. You’d just be making more room for more clutter.

Here are some of best-selling author Joshua Becker’s tips to minimize digital clutter: Read more

Taking care of the high-risk fresh cow

Tue, 01/27/2015

Keep fresh cows “fresher” by identifying high risk cows early on.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

high risk fresh cowThe high-risk fresh cow: She’s older (third lactation or greater), had a difficult calving and is battling lameness. She had a longer lactation (more than 350 days) the year before and produced above the herd average.

You know what she looks like, but can you pick her out in the crowd? According to Nigel Cook with the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, the number one factor impacting performance as herd size grows is the ability to find the sick cow in the fresh cow pen. Read more

It’s not easy, but it’s worth it

Mon, 01/26/2015

Tell your farm’s story for the betterment of agriculture as a whole

By Ali Enerson, Hoard’s Dairyman Special Publications Editor

I’ve come to the conclusion that the positive potential of sharing my farming story with the masses has to outweigh the fear. We hear more and more about the need to tell our farming stories on social media, especially with the rise in activist videos. And with the negative press those videos generate, I understand the hesitation to share.

There are many forms of “social” media a farmer can use; they don’t have to involve the internet. Ultimately, what you choose needs to work for your farm, and you only need to pick one or two. Here are a few options:

  • Sponsor a breakfast in your local community, inviting people to the farm.
  • Open your doors for farm tours to the local schools or daycares; leave them with some healthy chocolate milk and cheese at the end of the tour.
  • Start a farm Facebook page.
Read more

A closer look at MPP-Dairy sign-ups

Fri, 01/23/2015

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Taking a chance with MPP-DairyThere were some surprises in who signed up for the Dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP-Dairy), according to figures announced recently by USDA.

The biggest surprise is who didn’t sign up: almost half of all dairies in the country

Getting a $4 per hundredweight safety net for just $100, even if it’s only a catastrophic meltdown net that might not ultimately save anyone from bankruptcy if it came into play, seems like a no-brainer. And yet, nearly half of all milk producers disagreed.

Nevada had the highest sign-up rate of all states at 90 percent; Utah was second at 80 percent. Wyoming was the lowest at just 5 percent; Alabama was next at 29 percent. The nation’s biggest dairy states, California and Wisconsin, had sign-up rates of 69 and 54 percent, respectively. Read more

Calf management is like Jenga

Thu, 01/22/2015

If we miss a few blocks, it all collapses eventually.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Calf ManagementA classic game, Jenga tests players’ ability to strategically remove blocks from a sturdy tower. One by one, blocks are pulled until the stack comes crashing down. The individual with the steadiest hand is often the winner.

“Calf management is like Jenga. If we miss a few blocks, it all collapses eventually,” noted Amy Stanton, University of Wisconsin-Madison, as she began her presentation on growing healthy calves at the Leading Dairy Producers Conference. Read more

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