HD Notebook

Feed efficiency: The next dairy frontier

Thu, 01/16/2014

Genetics and management will change the way we feed cows.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

January 2014 webinar cover slideMike Hutjens, University of Illinois, presented “Feed efficiency – What’s new?” on Monday, January 13. His 50-minute presentation was fast-paced and full of new and dynamic details on feed efficiency. Digi-Star, LLC was the sponsor of the webinar.

Feed efficiency is always a factor of some measure of output, such as energy-corrected milk, compared to some measure of input such as pounds of dry matter. The price of milk may change or the cost of feed may vary, but knowing your feed efficiency and continually working to improve it always is important to your profit potential. Read more

Rethinking dairy genetics — Eight breeders to share needs in cows

Wed, 01/15/2014

advancing dairy genetics

Advancing Dairy Cattle Genetics: Genomics and Beyond will be a must attend workshop for those who want to shape the future of dairy cattle genetics. Early-bird registration ends January 15.

by Corey A. Geiger, Hoard's Dairyman Managing Editor

The future of dairy cattle breeding will be among the key topics as eight breeders from coast to coast voice their perspectives at the workshop Advancing Dairy Cattle Genetics: Genomics and Beyond in Tempe, Ariz., from February 17 to 19. As the early-bird registration comes to a close today, the high-caliber dairy farmers who will present thoughts at this conference might be reason enough to attend.

In the meantime, here is more insight on the two breeder panels that will hone in on the future of cattle breeding:

Traits of the Future:

Pain impacts animal attitudes

Tue, 01/14/2014

New research found that painful procedures, like dehorning, made calves more pessimistic.

by Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Dehorning causes some amount of pain, which we recognize based on behavioral changes, such as head shaking, ear flicking and vocalization, as well as physiological changes like elevated heart rate and plasma cortisol concentrations. What is harder to identify is how pain affects calves emotionally.

People who are depressed or anxious are more likely to interpret ambiguous stimuli more negatively, while people in a positive mood tend to have more optimistic reactions. Heather Neave, a recent master’s graduate of the University of British Columbia, and other researchers there hypothesized that animals would exhibit similar differences in judgment bias after a stressful event. Read more

Learn from 2013 so your dairy will prosper in 2014

Mon, 01/13/2014

Yearly family and farm goals help prioritize your daily to-do list.

by Ali Enerson, Hoard’s Dairyman Special Publications Editor

The new year stirs optimism and goal setting in many of us. Goals help focus your business and life. But before you charge forward with a “fire, aim, ready” mentality, I encourage you to take just 15 to 20 minutes to first honestly reflect on 2013.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. In what area of our business can we celebrate and be grateful for in 2013? What have we improved and done well over this past year?
  2. In what area of our business did we learn something new that we want to implement and practice in 2014?
  3. What growth have I seen in myself in my role over the past year?
  4. What items did you think would be done by now that remain unfinished? What got in the way of completing those things?
Read more

Corn is cheaper, so why not distillers?

Fri, 01/10/2014

DDGS prices have actually gone up since last summer.


by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

If the price goes down for a commodity whose processing waste is a by-product feed for cows, then the price of that feed will go down too, right?

So you’d think. But in the case of corn and distillers grains it hasn’t happened.

Corn prices today are down sharply from their 2013 high, yet prices for dried distillers grains plus solubles (DDGS) haven’t dropped at all. In fact they have gone up, says Darrell Mark, an adjunct professor of economics at South Dakota State University.

As of late December 2013, Mark points out the price for corn (South Dakota ethanol plant basis) was $1.50 per bushel ($53.55 per ton) less than on August 2. The price of DDGS, however, was $1.05 per ton more.

The reason why is higher demand. Read more

Learning linear gets a second wind

Thu, 01/09/2014

Five days and a dozen people helped revamp our educational offerings.

by Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

The first five issues of the year of Hoard’s Dairyman are best known for their covers, launching yet another round of the annual cow judging contest. For the 84th contest, we are supplementing this longstanding tradition with revamped educational material. Take another look at the Young Dairymen page in your January 10, 2014, issue (page 28).

A once popular item in our editorial department, Focus on Linear Scoring, sold out a few years back. Corey Geiger, with help from then interns Shelly Lammers and Kim Koepke, hatched the idea for that guide 15 years ago. With a group of 82 pictures taken by the late Rick Miller, a series of five articles was run in 1998. These articles were the foundation for the guide that was later printed highlighting each breakdown on the PDCA scorecard. Read more

Dairy showmanship: Some things do change

Wed, 01/08/2014

Fall 2011 PDCA showmanship scorecard changes are slow to be adopted.

by Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

Old habits are hard to break. Forming new habits helps reinforce positive actions, but breaking old ones, can be challenging. In the Fall of 2011, a group of individuals gathered to revamp the PDCA showmanship scorecard to make it more accurately reflect current practices. (Hoard’s Dairyman printed the updated scorecard in three of its Spring 2012 issues.)

dairy show lineup

However, not all shows, whether county fairs or state breed shows, have completely adopted the new guidelines. Many may not even be aware of the changes. The judge has the final say on the day, but participants rarely know if the judge is using the previous or current rules, which is a disadvantage to participants. Read more

Animal needs surge in frigid temperatures

Tue, 01/07/2014

Harsh winter temperatures raise the needs of all animals, especially young stock, on the farm.

by Abby Bauer, Hoard's Dairyman Associate Editor

Amy StantonAnother harsh, cold day is upon many of us across the country. Amy Stanton, animal well-being specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, shared some guidelines for caring for animals when temperatures are especially frigid.

In general, Stanton reminds us that all animals must have shelter from the wind. Because animals are spending a lot of energy to stay warm, provide extra access to food. Also, be sure fresh water is available to all animals at all times. A lactating cow needs to drink at least 15 gallons of water a day, and a weaned heifer needs at least 5 gallons. Snow is not an alternative to water. Read more

Over 100 Guernsey 2-year-olds now classified

Mon, 01/06/2014

A number of young Guernsey bulls, without official proofs, have daughters classified at the Hoard’s Dairyman Farm. Average age at first calving is 23.5 months.

by Corey Geiger, Hoard's Dairyman Managing Editor

The Hoard Farm team headed up by Jason Yurs continues to be pleased with the performance of young sires’ daughters. On December 13, a number of young bulls had daughters either scored for the first time . . . or very early in the evaluation process.

Ripley Farms Aaron Cordell, a young bull with 11 daughters in his production proof, has four appraised at the Hoard’s Dairyman Farm: 85, 81, 77 and 76, respectively. Cordell’s daughters ranged from 86 to 77 on feet and legs scores, from 86 to 76 in the udder. Read more

What influences a producer’s decision to relocate a dairy

Fri, 01/03/2014

Of the 110 factors studied, 13 ranked as the most important factors at locating a new dairy. For many years, the West ranked high on many of them.

by Margaret Seiler

It is no secret to those involved in the dairy industry that the cows are moving West. According to Normand St-Pierre, professor of dairy management at The Ohio State University, the movement of cows is evident in the raw numbers.

"The West and Southwest now account for 42 percent of the national milk production, which is up from 17 percent in 1970," said St-Pierre during his presentation at Kansas State University's Dairy Symposium on October 23. Symposium attendees heard St-Pierre present the findings of an Ohio State University research study that identified factors influencing where new dairies are located. Read more

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