HD Notebook

It’s official: 2013 was California’s driest year ever

Fri, 05/09/2014

San Joaquin Valley dairy areas were among the very hardest hit.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

When it rained, it didn’t pour in California last year.

As a result, the California Department of Water Resources (CDWR) has officially declared 2013 the driest year since records began being kept in 1895. The announcement came after the season’s final snow survey on May 1, which found the state’s snowpack water content to be just 18 percent of normal.

According to the Western Regional Climate Center (WRCC), California’s total average statewide precipitation in 2013 was 7.0 inches. According to the National Climatic Data Center, the 30-year average from 1971 to 2000 was 22.2 inches.

Different parts of the state, of course, vary tremendously in terms of what normal precipitation is and illustrate how severe the magnitude is of the state’s ongoing drought. Read more

Calcium supports your cows' transition

Thu, 05/08/2014

Milk fever impacts fresh cow health, production, reproduction and immune function.

by Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

As our cows transition into lactation, their calcium requirements elevate two to three-fold over their dry period needs. “Shortly before calving, a cow deposits 8 to 10 grams per day of calcium into her fetus. After calving, 20 to 30 grams per day are secreted into colostrum and milk,” noted Donna Amaral-Phillips in a recent edition of Kentucky Dairy Notes. If the cow isn’t metabolically ready for this upswing, blood calcium concentration drops below a critical level and milk fever (clinical or subclinical) can result. Read more

GMOs . . . just like an app for your phone

Wed, 05/07/2014

Technology allows you to do more with the same basis unit

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

How do you explain genetically modified organisms to a consumer without getting too science-based in your explanation? I recently heard the analogy of comparing the technology to produce GMO foods with adding an app to your smartphone. You have not fundamentally changed the phone, it is still a phone, but it just has some extra options now. For example, resisting drought and insects, as well as tolerating extreme climate conditions.

When a crop is modified at the genetic level, generally one or two additional genes are added to the genome. It is done to make the crop or plant stronger, more functional and able to withstand environmental stress. When these benefits are present, the result is the production of more food with the same resources. And with more food being produced, costs to the consumer can stay low. Read more

Happy 100th birthday, Cooperative Extension!

Tue, 05/06/2014

The Smith-Lever Act was signed into law on May 8, 1914, and the Cooperative Extension Service was born.

by Abby Bauer, Hoard's Dairyman Associate Editor

Smith-Lever ActThis Thursday, the Cooperative Extension System turns 100 years old. President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation a century ago, on May 8, 1914, that extended the land-grant university concept beyond college campuses to reach communities across the United States. Read more

What makes Wisconsin cheese so special?

Mon, 05/05/2014

The Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Program celebrates its 20th anniversary.

by Ali Enerson, Hoard’s Dairyman Special Publications Editor

Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker logoWisconsin is known for its cheese. In fact, a good friend of mine just told me last week "a Wisconsin-style pub just opened" near her apartment in New York City. It's serving “Sheboygan bratwurst, fried cheese curds and Milwaukee's Best beer.” Those three items do reflect fairly accurately what my home state is known for. However, what many don't realize is Wisconsin's commitment to excellence of our delicious, high-quality cheeses. Read more

Milk has never been so valuable

Fri, 05/02/2014

Class III is at an all-time high. Enjoy it, but be careful.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Dairy producers are living a milk price dream right now, even though scars from the nightmare five years ago are not fully healed.

It’s a bust-to-boom turnaround of staggering proportions that producers have every right to enjoy. Go to your cows and thank them: $24 milk! Hug them. Savor the moment. Be grateful you are here to enjoy it.

Use the money wisely, but don’t get accustomed to it. Because it can’t last.

Milk producers knew that Wednesday’s announcement of April's record Class III milk price of $24.31 per hundredweight was coming; futures prices had pointed to it for a few months. Even so, it is a staggering number that should not be taken for granted. Read more

Avoid spring calf care slip-ups

Thu, 05/01/2014

With temperatures swing from high to low and back again, our calves need a little extra TLC.


by Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

When combined with the five slip-ups below, fluctuating temperatures and wet spring conditions can often lead to an uptick in the rate of scours and respiratory illness we see on farm, noted Sam Leadley of Attica Veterinary Associates in the April Calving Ease.

These slip-ups all too often include:

  • Calves not having enough to eat
  • Consuming an insufficient level of coccidiostat
  • A shortage of clean, dry bedding
  • Colostrum being chilled slowly
  • Subpar cleaning procedures

Feeding Read more

Consumer trust in food production growing

Wed, 04/30/2014

Still a long road ahead of us.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

Based on 2014 data, 29 percent of American food consumers think food companies are trustworthy. With 44 percent neutral on the subject, that leaves 25 percent who feel food companies are untrustworthy. That’s what the white paper “Emerging faith in food production” found after surveying over 2,000 U.S. consumers. It was conducted by Sullivan Higdon & Sink (SHS) FoodThink, a marketing agency with offices in the Midwest and Washington, D.C.

Unfortunately, the survey found only half of consumers are open-minded. According to the report, when a negative food news story appears, they are willing to listen to food producers give their side. The sad part . . . 46 percent would not.

farmer talking to consumers
Read more

Employ a people strategy

Tue, 04/29/2014

Create a working environment where good employees can be great.

milking parlor

by Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Most farms have a clear strategy in place for taking care of their cows: professionally balanced rations, written protocols for milking, well-designed facilities and so on. But do just as many have a people strategy?

“The best players have coaches,” says Tom Wall, president of Dairy Interactive, LLC and Language Links, LLC. “It should be your goal to keep everyone on the same path.”

In his presentation at the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association annual conference, he explained that good employees want order, respect and opportunity. “Good employees want opportunity. They want to know there’s something in it for them.”

“If you don’t have order, you have chaos. Bad people flourish when there isn’t order,” he said. Read more

We are a ground beef nation

Mon, 04/28/2014

Even though higher value cuts yield a higher return, Americans are asking for more ground beef.


by Corey Geiger, Hoard's Dairyman Managing Editor

Americans like their hamburgers. So much so that ground beef accounted for 62 percent of all beef sales in the United States last year. However, when looking at the current beef production model, you would not know that was the number one market category as those who focus solely on beef production continue to aim for high-end meals. Rabobanks’s Don Close suggested that the U.S. beef industry rethink its production model to produce more competitively priced proteins like those being produced in the poultry sector. Read more

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