HD Notebook

Strive for a higher pregnancy rate

Wed, 01/20/2016

There are real benefits for herds that can achieve a 25 percent pregnancy rate.

cow ultrasound

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

One common goal all dairy producers share is getting cows bred in a timely fashion. What is a realistic target for which to aim?

“Our goal is to have herds reach a pregnancy rate of 25 percent,” said James Ferguson, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, during his presentation at the Purina Leading Dairy Producers Conference. “When you’re above a 20 to 25 percent pregnancy rate, losses per unit of pregnancy are very low.”

Ferguson explained that under a 20 percent pregnancy rate, you can’t maintain herd size. You will either need to purchase animals or extend calving interval dramatically (by 20 to 25 percent, depending on calf mortality, culling rate, age at first calving, and so forth) to sustain herd size. Read more

Think twice about feedings

Mon, 01/18/2016

Twice per day feedings may expand the time cows spend at the bunk, boost milk production and improve fat and protein content of milk.

feeding cows

By Maggie Seiler, Hoard's Dairyman Associate Editor

A cow’s time budget allows for three to five hours of eating per day during which time they consume nine to 14 meals. The rest of the cow’s budget is reserved for lying or resting (12 to 14 hours), traveling to the milking parlor or standing (2.5 to 3.5 hours) and drinking (30 minutes). This tight time budget means producers must deliver feed on time and focus on optimizing the opportunity to meet cows nutritional requirements. One way to cash in on this opportunity is to consider feeding twice per day. Read more

Feed Additives: When, where and how

Fri, 01/15/2016

Select those that target your needs

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

Hoard's Dairyman webinarIf every feed additive delivered on its hype, feeding them all would keep pushing milk production up and up. However, that is not a realistic expectation. If only dairy cattle nutrition was that simple . . .

Mike Hutjens, University of Illinois, delivered, “An update on feed additives: Probiotics, yeast and niacin” during the monthly Hoard’s Dairyman webinar on January 11. He covered a wide range of products, as well as an overview of their benefits. Read more

Fuel newborn calves with colostrum

Wed, 01/13/2016

Colostrum offers newborn calves benefits beyond immunity, including critical energy used early in life.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Holstein calf

Carrying around a few extra pounds of holiday weight gain, some of us in colder climates may joke that we need that extra padding to help keep us warm. For most humans, a little extra fat isn’t going to make an impact, but for newborn calves, it really can mean the difference between life and death.

We know colostrum best for its crucial role in providing immunity for calves. Another benefit is the nutrient content it brings. According to Debbie Haines, a professor at University of Saskatchewan’s Western College of Veterinary Medicine, colostrum contains high amounts of important vitamins and minerals. Read more

Five tips for forage utilization

Mon, 01/11/2016

The crops are in, and it’s time to decide how to use what’s available.


By Maggie Seiler, Special Publications Editor

Winter is in full swing now, and it is time to start thinking about how to most effectively use the forages in the bunker. Bob James, extension dairy scientist at Virginia Tech, suggests it is dangerous to rely on past experience to determine future forage utilization. For any given forage, quality greatly affects the amount that is needed in a ration. For example, in a well-balanced ration, a high-quality corn silage with low fiber would be used in a larger proportion than a moderate or low-quality forage, and the balance of use between these two types of silages would greatly impact the total forage requirement for the year. Read more

“Adventures in Real Food” float wins Rose Parade award

Wed, 01/06/2016

California’s dairy industry highlighted during annual event

Adventures in Real Food float

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

It was the first time in the 127 year-history of the Rose Parade, the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) had a float entry. The organization represents the state’s dairy farmers. The pizza, baked potato, ice cream sundae and grilled cheese sandwich-inspired float earned the “Tournament Special Trophy” for exceptional merit in multiple classifications. Just 24 floats in the parade earned honors. Read more

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

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