HD Notebook

When should we give calves forage?

Tue, 01/05/2016

Proper timing of forage availability can ease the rocky transition of weaning.


By Maggie Seiler, Special Publications Editor

Weaning time is easily one of the more difficult management challenges for producers with calf and heifer feeding programs. For many, the transition from milk or milk replacer to a forage and concentrate diet spells a growth set back and potential for disease. The goal of the weaning process should be to adequately develop the rumen, meet nutrition requirements, and maintain growth and health.

In a recent Penn State Dairy Digest article, Xavier Suárez, a calf and heifer specialist, suggested the best formula for ensuring a smooth weaning period begins by focusing on the rumen environment and how we can meet the animals nutritional requirements. Read more

Cheese is falling from the sky

Mon, 01/04/2016

One Wisconsin city rings in the New Year by dropping a big piece of cheese.

cheese drop
Photo credit: Plymouth Arts Center

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s an . . . 80-pound Styrofoam cheese wedge . . . falling from the sky . . . at midnight?

Yes, it is indeed. Dropping cheese from a 100-foot truck ladder has become a New Year’s Eve tradition in Plymouth, Wis., the town where I grew up.

Plymouth is known to many as “The Cheese Capitol of the World.” That’s what past and current residents consider it, anyway, whether it is an official designation or not. From 1918 until the late 1950s, Plymouth was the site of the Wisconsin Cheese Exchange, where cheese commodity pricing was set for the country. Read more

Bad EPA, bad!

Fri, 12/18/2015

Independent report says the agency illegally tried to shape public opinion about its water rule proposal.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

The firestorm that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ignited last May with a proposal to redefine “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act – which opponents said is really a grab for more regulatory power — intensified dramatically this week.

And in the process, EPA’s credibility went even deeper down the drain.

In a 26-page report issued on Monday, legal counsel for the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) said the aggressive social media campaign used by EPA to promote its “Clean Water Rule” broke two federal laws in 2014 and 2015: one about publicity and promotion, the other about lobbying.

GAO’s brief overview summary of the report gives a terse synopsis of the violations: Read more

Keep your cows in working condition

Thu, 12/17/2015

When used regularly, body condition scoring can help you recognize potential issues and act proactively instead of reactively.

cows grazing

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

After a two-month vacation, our cows can calve in one of two ways: slow and sluggish or ready to roll. Their body condition at that time can tell us a good deal about how their lactation will progress. Ultimately, we want to avoid calving cows in either too fat or too thin and strive for a middle ground.

Body condition scores (BCS) can tell you a lot about your herd. These scores are assigned on a 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being the thinnest and 5 representing the most conditioned cattle. Read more

Objectively looking at technology tools

Wed, 12/16/2015

Gadgets and devices aid – not replace dairy management.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

December 2015 webinarAll that cool technology that people use to communicate, record exercise levels and monitor their sleep patterns, now are being applied to the management of dairy cows.

While cows aren’t wearing GPS devices, the technology is there to monitor movement, milk composition and eating routines. “I don't know if we need to be measuring everything a cow does, but it is possible to track most of it,” remarked Jeffery Bewley.

This University of Kentucky assistant professor is one of the leading authorities on dairy technology. He conducted the December 14 webinar, “Today’s tech tools to fine-tune herd care.” Read more

Ready for a calf road trip

Tue, 12/15/2015

Make a ride in the cattle trailer safer for your young bovine passengers by following these AABP guidelines.

truck and trailer

By Abby Bauer, Hoard's Dairyman Associate Editor

There are times we need to get our livestock from Point A to Point B, and that process often involves a ride in the cattle trailer. To make the trip smooth and safe for both the animals and people involved, the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) has produced a set of guidelines for transporting cattle.

Before any animals are loaded onto a trailer, AABP recommends that a load plan be put in place. This plan should take into account animal weight, frame size and the type of transportation equipment; consideration should also be given to the environmental conditions. Read more

Don’t be lame

Mon, 12/14/2015

Get a handle on lameness before it cripples your herd’s productivity.

by Maggie Seiler, Special Publications Editor

cowThe old saying goes, “the first step to fixing a problem is knowing you have one.” I would argue the second step is knowing what and how significant that problem is.

According to Peter Robinson, extension specialist at the University of California-Davis, lameness results in reduced profitability based on lowered milk yields, higher veterinary costs and more culling. Although many farms use regular trimming and footbaths to bolster hoof care, monitoring hoof health by regular scoring is a relatively new way to examine the impact lameness has on a farm’s bottom line. Read more

Nigeria’s big milk goal looks impossible

Fri, 12/11/2015

The math behind a plan to give a liter per day to 30 million schoolchildren doesn’t work.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

In the middle of a rising global flood of dairy products, the government of Nigeria has announced a plan to wildly increase its use of them.

In late October, the Nigerian government said it wants to combat widespread childhood malnourishment by starting a program next year that would eventually provide a liter of milk per day to over 30 million schoolchildren.

That is a fantastic public health idea, but one that seems deep in the realm of science fiction.

The huge takeaway message, though, is that Nigeria is talking about a national nutrition program built upon dairy. That’s because, according to the United Nations Population Division, Nigeria is forecast to have the third-largest population in the world in 2050, tied with the U.S. Read more

The average herd size is three cows

Thu, 12/10/2015

121.5 million dairy farms exist on our planet.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

Yep! Those numbers are current. They are based on worldwide data. Initially, your reaction might be like several I shared the data with. “No way, I don't think so.”

We are familiar with reports that show that 1 to 2 percent of U.S. citizens live on farms. In America, we are the minority and our numbers are shrinking. However, there are over 7 billion people in the world and 1 billion live on dairy farms. That is over 14 percent of the world population that see and work with dairy cows every day.

The average herd size in the U.S. is just over 200. Canadian dairy herds average 80 cows. But, worldwide, it is just three cows. Farms with more than 100 cows make up just 0.3 percent of the total dairy farm population. Imagine three-cow dairies scattered across North America . . . it is not even within most of our comprehension to view the scale that small. Read more

Keep your cool around animals

Wed, 12/09/2015

Whether you’re in the barn or the showring, you have to stay calm. You never know who’s watching.


by Hannah Thompson

Earlier this year, I was in the crowd at a county fair’s dairy show for the supreme champion selection. As anyone who has exhibited dairy cattle can attest, the supreme champion selection is always the highlight of the show. It gives us the opportunity to showcase the best of the best for the judge — and the consumers watching in the stands.

My pride in watching the 4-H exhibitors pulling out all of the stops to impress the judge took a hit when one exhibitor lost his temper with his heifer, which had been fighting him with every step since they entered the ring. I cringed as the youth lost his patience and audibly hit his animal across the nose, eliciting a gasp from fairgoers watching in the stands. Read more

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