HD Notebook

Lost in the crowd

Mon, 01/19/2015

Keeping transition calves healthy starts at providing them with the right environment.

by Maggie Seiler, Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern


If there was one job I truly despised as a kid growing up on a dairy farm, it was helping bed the calf barn, which housed our calves from 3 months of age to around 500 pounds. I just never found a way to enjoy the swirling straw dust and strands of straw stuck down in my boots. At the time, I didn’t appreciate that the discomfort I experienced had a positive influence to the success of the young heifers.

According to John Tyson, a Penn State extension specialist, this group of animals, which he refers to as transition calves, often get lost in the mix of the other tasks on the farm. He warns that improper housing, animal care and management of this group can lead to stunted growth and late entry into the lactating herd. Read more

Ten ways to control heifer mastitis

Fri, 01/16/2015

Tips from NMC that help prevent mastitis from taking hold early in life.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

cowsMastitis threatens your young ladies – and your bottom line – long before they reach the milking parlor.

Heifer mastitis is real, it is costly, and dairy scientists say it is more common than many milk producers think. How common? It isn’t considered a problem unless more than 15 percent of heifers freshen with clinical cases.

But it’s a threat that can be significantly reduced through hygiene, nutrition, and strict management protocols. The National Mastitis Council (NMC) recommends that every dairy consider this 10-point prevention and control program when heifers are still calves:

  1. Improve general udder health management to decrease infection of udder pathogens from older cows to heifers.

We can’t breed our way out of lameness

Thu, 01/15/2015

Prevention is king, but early detection is key to improving lameness.

cow hoof

by Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Lameness and hoof health have garnered a great deal of attention in recent years. At the Vita Plus Dairy Summit, veterinarian Gerard Cramer discussed how we can address hoof health globally.

An often-mentioned method is to breed a better cow. “The heritability of hoof health is quite low, which equates to slow progress,” noted Cramer. A few countries, such as Holland, do have a claw health index built in to their genetic evaluations. Selection based on this index, though, will only reduce the prevalence by 0.7 percent per year. “It’s not the be all, end all,” stated Cramer.

Instead, we need to take an integrated approach and adjust our management strategies to reflect the cows we have today. Read more

Transition cows are at high risk for health issues

Wed, 01/14/2015

Prevent problems before they cause early culling

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

January webinar slideMike Hutjens presented ”Feeding cows for transition success” during the January Hoard’s Dairyman webinar. He shared 10 Key Performance Indicators (KPI). While all 10, would be admirable, it’s not realistic. “Choose two or three KPIs and really focus on those for your herd,” suggested Hutjens. Read more

What your lender needs to see

Tue, 01/13/2015

Prepare for a more positive outcome at the bank by understanding the “5 Cs of credit” before seeking a loan.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Running a business has a lot to do with building and maintaining relationships, and for a farm, an extremely important relationship is the one with their lender.

The foundation of that relationship is numbers based. For lenders, a financial analysis is a major tool used in determining their ability to finance an operation’s credit needs. “It’s what we, as lenders, are going to base our decision on,” explained Paul Dietmann, Emerging Markets Specialist with Badgerland Financial, during his presentation at a UW-Extension dairy modernization meeting.

A financial analysis is multi-faceted, and it goes beyond just dollars and cents. A lender will typically look at these “5 Cs of credit” when making loan considerations:

Character Read more

Be grateful you did; don’t wish you had

Mon, 01/12/2015

Another new year, another opportunity to refresh your purpose

By Ali Enerson, Hoard’s Dairyman Special Publications Editor

If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time

You may have heard this saying previously and wondered what it means or how it would apply to your dairy or everyday life. It's one I try to live by daily in all things, big and small, I sum it up with one word: Purpose. Not to say I don’t miss goals I set for myself, or that I don’t take a day of rest or that I am perfect, I’m completely human. But keeping this reminder in front of me is the only way I’ll stay focused and disciplined to move in the right direction. Read more

U.S. dairies at risk from global economy

Fri, 01/09/2015

Growing prospect of another recession threatens exports and farm milk prices.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Despite big dips in the stock market this week, the U.S. economy remains in fabulous shape.

Except that’s in comparison to the rest of the world. Depending upon whom you ask, “fabulous” is just a matter of our financial boat having smaller holes in it than everyone else’s.

Outside our borders, the global economy is in trouble. Especially where oil revenue is vital. Unemployment and deficits are rising, income is falling, and just about everyone’s currency exchange rate against the dollar has taken a hit. A couple have taken big hits.

At best, foreign economic growth and recovery from the 2009-11 recession may have stalled. More likely, say more and more business articles, another one is at hand. Read more

Standing signs

Thu, 01/08/2015

Monitoring the time cows spend standing may help producers detect cows at risk for ketosis.

by Maggie Seiler, Hoard's Dairyman Editorial Intern

cow laying

It was drilled into my head from a very young age to watch out for calves with droopy ears, sunken eyes and clear signs of illness. Many producers use physical and behavioral signs such as these to detect sick animals on the farm in conjunction with other monitoring strategies such as taking temperatures and watching milk production.

The standard sickness monitoring strategy for cows that become ketotic following calving has been the use of urine, blood or milk samples. These are effective in identifying cows already suffering the effects of the energy imbalances that cause ketosis. Read more

The importance of kindness when agvocating

Wed, 01/07/2015

While it’s human nature to become upset when agriculture is “attacked” a little bit of kindness and compassion will go a long way.

by Brittany Statz, Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern

describe pixt

It seems like every day there’s a new video or angry blog post that condemns farmers and their practices. While these are usually exaggerated and hold few truths, animal agriculture and dairy, in particular, are under constant assault. With less than 2 percent of our nation’s population actively involved in farming, it’s incredibly easy to paint such a small sector with a broad brush. These events have led to a national conversation about food, but farmers have been shushed, if not excluded from the conversation. It’s important now more than ever to share our stories with the American people so they can make informed decisions regarding the food they eat. Read more

Calving isn’t always easy

Tue, 01/06/2015

Dystocia impacts the cow and calf in many ways, but one of the greatest concerns is the elevated risk of stillbirths.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor


“One of the most important events on a dairy is calving,” said Mark Thomas, D.V.M., a New York veterinarian and consultant with Dairy Health and Management Services, LLC.

During his presentation at the Calf and Heifer Congress in Rochester, N.Y., Thomas emphasized that the events that occur before, during and after parturition can have a significant impact on the livelihood of the cow and calf. Read more

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