HD Notebook

Bank sees a short dairy downturn

Fri, 12/19/2014

Milk price decline in 2015 should begin recovering late in the year.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

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Strong production by most major dairy exporting nations during the second half of 2014 collided with weakening economies in much of the world to swamp global markets, cut demand, and trigger the rapid decline in milk price that U.S. dairies are seeing now.

It’s a situation that Rabobank expects to continue in the first half of 2015 but then turn around. Its Dairy Quarterly report released two days ago forecast lower production and falling market inventories during the second half of the year that should encourage prices to rise. Read more

Feed refusals are a balancing act

Thu, 12/18/2014

There’s a fine line between ensuring cows have adequate feed for milk production and minimizing the cost associated with what’s left in the bunk.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

FeedingDairymen balance their feed budgets on pennies. Ingredients are often pulled from a ration based on the perceived cents per cow it could save the bottom line. Feed refusals, too, fall victim to this mindset. In an effort to reduce the amount of feed that is “wasted” on a daily basis, some producers have chosen to feed to a slick bunk. This choice isn’t always advantageous, though.

Providing dairy cattle with unlimited access to high-quality feed over the course of the day is the best way to promote maximum feed intake and improve milk production, noted Alanna Kmicikewycz, a Ph.D. candidate at Penn State University. Read more

If hiring employees was like the NFL draft . . .

Wed, 12/17/2014

Select the best person for the position

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

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On NFL draft night, the team with the worst record picks first. They are, in theory, in need of the best talent. It used to surprise me that the most touted college players, like Heisman Trophy finalists, didn’t get selected first, second and third. Now, I understand it is more about how that player would fit into the current organizations team dynamics. Read more

Let the lactation curve guide calf feeding

Tue, 12/16/2014

Just like a lactation curve peaks and then tapers over time, so should your calf feeding program.

by Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

calfToday’s dairy producers use the lactation curve to schedule milk harvest from a cow. Her milk production level dictates ration changes, housing group and may push up or move back her dry-off date.

“The original purpose of the lactation curve, though, was to feed calves,” says Trevor DeVries from the University of Guelph. DeVries discussed the need to apply concepts of natural behavior to modern calf rearing practices during his presentation at the Calf and Heifer Congress in Rochester, New York. Read more

A lighting strategy for your whole herd

Mon, 12/15/2014

Don’t overlook lighting options for heifers and dry cows.

by Ali Enerson, Hoard’s Dairyman Special Publications Editor

cowsYour lighting decisions affect animals at all ages, not just lactating dairy cows. A recent Kentucky Cooperative Extension paper reminds us of the importance of both long-day and short-day photoperiods throughout the cow’s life cycle.

While long-day lighting is commonly touted for up to a 10 percent boost in milk production, lighting strategy in both heifers and dry cows seems to take a backseat. Read more

U.S. milk quality has never been better

Fri, 12/12/2014

National average SCC set a new record low in 2013.

somatic cell count averages by state

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Slowly but surely, the average quality of U.S. milk is becoming amazingly good.

In 2013, for the 12th year in a row, the nationwide average somatic cell count (SCC) for all cows on Dairy Herd Improvement testing dropped to another new all-time low — this time to 199,000, according to the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding.

Just 10 years earlier, national average SCC was 319,000.

Twenty-six states had lower SCC averages in 2013 than in 2012, while 20 states had higher averages. Read more

What’s your dairy IQ?

Thu, 12/11/2014

The December Young Dairymen Quiz has been posted online. Enter your answers there for a chance to win a Foster Mothers of the Human Race print.

by Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Young Dairymen quizIn December 1974, Hoard’s Dairyman published, “How do you score in dairy knowledge?” on its Young Dairymen page. The quiz featured 51 questions based on articles that had appeared in the magazine during that calendar year. Since that first quiz, the December Young Dairymen tradition has remained strong. Read more

Managing winter’s weather

Wed, 12/10/2014

Minimizing temperature changes preserves teat health.

by Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

December 2014 webinar slide Keeping teats soft and healthy is the goal of every producer, but becomes more challenging during winter’s cold temperatures. Leo Timms, Iowa State University, discussed this topic during the Hoard’s Dairyman monthly webinar.

Cold temperatures cause cellular stress on teats. In as quick as 12 hours, teats react. They’re exposed to the elements and have little protection. To compound the problem, cows that move from warm to cold temperatures, like from a parlor or stall barn, to an outdoor feed bunk, are at greater risk for teat damage. The degree of change is the problem. Read more

Farms will feel the heat from climate change

Tue, 12/09/2014

A recently released USDA study predicts that climate change could cost the dairy industry between $79 and $199 million in 2030.

by Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

dairyGlobal warming or not, the world’s climate is changing. In the United States, greater variability in precipitation patterns, more pronounced differences in weather between regions, and rising average temperatures are all signs that climate is not standing still.

More hot days mean more stress for our livestock. Dairy cattle are particularly sensitive because of their high metabolic heat production from rumen fermentation and lactation. Hot weather reduces milk output and lowers fat, solids, lactose and protein. Heat stress also negatively affects fertility. Read more

Mastitis tied with infertility

Mon, 12/08/2014

Research sheds additional light on the specific effects of mastitis on reproductive efficiencies.

by Maggie Seiler, Hoard's Dairyman Editorial Intern

The dairy cow’s internal balance can often be a fragile thing, and it is never more apparent than when producers are trying to get a stubborn breeder to conceive. The list of causes of reproductive failure goes on and on, but a recent study has provided more answers about the connection between clinical mastitis near breeding and unsuccessful services. Read more

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