HD Notebook

Defining Cow “Happiness”

Mon, 10/19/2015

Animal welfare is at the forefront of consumers’ minds and at the core of dairy producers’ businesses.

By Maggie Seiler, Special Publications Editor

cow in pasture
Happy cows come from California or Wisconsin or wherever. Whatever your opinion is as to where the happiest cows live, no doubt you have been asked about that popular saying. Research has shown animal welfare is at the forefront of consumers’ minds. Belgian consumers ranked animal welfare as the number two priority in making food purchasing decisions while dairy producers and industry members in Canada rated it as the top management issue. One of the most common questions I field from urban consumers is how do you know your cows are happy? Read more

Winners and losers in a California FMMO

Fri, 10/16/2015

Producer revenue is projected to rise $1 billion per year in the far West, but fall $230 million everywhere else.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Proceedings continue each day in Clovis, Calif., to consider establishing a Federal Milk Marketing Order in California.

Today concludes the fourth week of the public hearing being conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Clovis, Calif., to gather input on four proposals that have been submitted for a Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) in California.

It is so far proving to be the long and tedious process that many expected, and has so far seen minimal input from dairy producers themselves. Daily proceedings from the hearing can be heard via internet webcast at http://www.ams.usda.gov/live Read more

California is tightening its antibiotic-use rules

Thu, 10/15/2015

The recently signed bill, which goes into effect on January 1, 2018, will restrict the routine use of antibiotics for disease prevention and bans antibiotic use for growth promotion.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor


California has long championed public health and environmental issues. It’s home to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is regarded as the most pro-environmental court in the country. And, with the ink drying of one of its most recent bills, California will maintain its progressive public health track record.

This past Saturday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that sets the strictest government standards to date for the use of antibiotics in U.S. livestock production.

Brown vetoed a weaker bill last year. Read more

Outside factors impact price and quality of forages

Wed, 10/14/2015

Understanding these conditions, we can manage feed quality and costs.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman, Online Media Manager

October powerpoint slideDuring “A crop and feed outlook for the months ahead” webinar, Mike Hutjens and Mike Rankin gave an overview of dairy ration ingredients and where prices have been and may be heading. In addition to price, they also looked at this year’s forage quality. Weather wreaks havoc, not just on the land, but alters quality and ultimately the price of forages. Read more

One milk cooperative’s road to prominence

Tue, 10/13/2015

A milk marketing cooperative born out of farmers’ concerns has grown to become a nationally ranked organization.

by Brittany Statz, 2015 Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern

Dairy farmers won’t soon forget 2009. Abysmal milk prices and razor thin margins were enough to push many of them out of the industry for good, and those who chose to stay held on by their fingernails.

But while 2009 was the end of the line for some farmers, it spelled a new beginning for others. Dairy farmers, already watching their pennies, more closely scrutinized where their dollars were going. They decided they needed something different that would give them more control over where that money was headed.

Those farmers, many of whom were influential in founding Wisconsin’s Dairy Business Association, created the Dairy Business Milk Marketing Cooperative (DBMMC) in April 2010 in Green Bay, Wis. Read more

Hairy Hoof Wars

Mon, 10/12/2015

Focus on identification and management to diminish heel wart prevalence.

By Maggie Seiler, Special Publications Editor

HolsteinI can remember the first time we detected digital dermatitis, also referred to as hoof warts or hairy heel warts, in my family’s herd. It was in the early 2000s, and we had recently purchased a few cows to expand our herd. What we got was a little more than we had bargained for – an ongoing battle against digital dermatitis.

What my family has learned over the last 15 years is that digital dermatitis is not a problem that can be ignored away. Management commitments to hoof health are necessary to reduce the prevalence of the disease in the herd. That begins with classification of digital dermatitis. One method for doing so was introduced in the 1990s by Dörte Döpfer and associates. Read more

Sustainability report touts dairy’s efforts

Fri, 10/09/2015

Partnerships aid in promoting our products.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

U.S. Dairy Sustainability Report

We are doing things right.

The Innovation Center for Dairy recently published the 2014 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Report and details the industry’s efforts.

The 40-page report details progress and current initiatives. Producers and processors work diligently to ensure sustainable practices and to educate consumers about our people, products and plans.

Some key points and messages from that report:

• Since 1944, milk production has quadruped, but the industry uses 90 percent less cropland, consumes 65 percent less water and emits 63 percent fewer greenhouse gases. Read more

Secure your farm to protect your reputation

Thu, 10/08/2015

by Hannah Thompson

Having grown up working in the dairy industry, I know firsthand how hard dairy farm families work to make cow comfort and safety a top priority. Unfortunately, animal rights groups, with the ultimate goal of ending the consumption of milk, meat and eggs, make their top priority misleading consumers about how dairy cows are cared for on farms.

One method of accomplishing this is sending “undercover” activists to gain employment on farms. These individuals — who are also being paid by animal rights activist organizations in addition to collecting a paycheck from the farm — have the sole mission of capturing footage or images that activist organizations can use to depict the industry in a poor light.

Let me be clear — no one in animal agriculture condones any sort of animal abuse. If animal mistreatment is occurring, it needs to be reported and dealt with swiftly. Read more

Why do other states care about a California FMMO?

Wed, 10/07/2015

Because it would probably hurt producer prices just about everywhere else.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

All-Milk price changes under cooperative proposal

One of the interesting aspects of USDA’s public hearing that is underway in Clovis, Calif., to gather testimony on establishing a Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) in California, was participation by producer groups on the opposite side of the country.

However, it comes as no surprise after seeing the department’s 46-page analysis of projected economic impacts that a California FMMO would have on the country’s current FMMOs. That analysis can be downloaded here. Read more

Robot cows are on the move

Tue, 10/06/2015

The success of a robotic milking system depends on four good feet to get each cow to the robot with ease.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Jack Rodenburg“Healthy feet are absolutely critical for success in robot barns,” said Jack Rodenburg from DairyLogix Consulting in Ontario, Canada. During his educational seminar at World Dairy Expo, he pointed to research that showed a drop in robot visits and a rise in the number of fetch cows when lameness was prevalent in a herd.

“Fetching cows” is a new labor demand for producers milking with robots. Fetch cows are cows that don’t visit the robot for milking voluntarily. The number of fetch cows typically runs between 2 to 10 percent on robot farms, noted Rodenburg.

This number can escalate when the incidence of lameness rises. Thus, timely and effective treatment of lame cows is a necessity in robot herds. Read more

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