HD Notebook

Take your parlor to the next level

Thu, 09/10/2015

Performance evaluations identify the milking routine bottlenecks that are holding your herd back.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

milking parlorFarms operate on pennies and seconds. The pennies saved per head after a ration reformulation can equate to thousands of dollars over the course of a year. When seconds are cut from each turn of the parlor, more cows can be milked

At the National Mastitis Council’s Regional Meeting, Rick Watters, Cornell University, encouraged producers to develop a thought process that challenges their current parlor efficiency standards.

“Milking center performance focuses around cows, people and equipment. Developing synergies between these three is key to improving performance,” noted Watters, who works with the university’s milk quality group. Read more

Ag jobs are out there

Wed, 09/09/2015

Nearly 60,000 openings each year for new graduates, but do students have the right skills?

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

employment opportunities“Not only will those who study agriculture be likely to get well-paying jobs upon graduation, they will also have the satisfaction of working in a field that addresses some of the world’s most pressing challenges,” stated USDA Secretary Vilsack.

The United States Department of Agriculture and Purdue University released a report on job availability for new college graduates, “Employment Opportunities for College Graduates in Food, Agriculture, Renewable Natural Resources, and the Environment, United States, 2015–2020”. The shortfall in people to fill those jobs should make students look twice at agriculture. There are nearly twice as many openings as graduates to fill them. Read more

The hidden costs of raising cattle

Tue, 09/08/2015

Feed makes up the bulk of cattle rearing costs, but other expenses chip away at profits, too.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Today’s high price for beef may entice more dairy producers to raise some steers as a second enterprise. Mixed with the more cost-friendly price of grain right now, feeding out steers may seem like a very viable option. Before taking the plunge, though, one must first consider all the costs associated with raising cattle.

Whether you are raising dairy or beef cattle, feed is the single largest expense. But, other expenditures can eat away at profitability, too. Don’t forget the little expenses that can add up big over time. Read more

A voice of sanity amid GMO hysteria

Fri, 09/04/2015

Article in Washington Post is a huge and high profile challenge to common perceptions.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

screaming womanWe in agriculture are often angered by articles about food or farming in publications with huge readerships that tend to be clueless about both.

That is why I urge everyone to read a recent interview article about GMOs that appeared in, of all places, the Washington Post. Read more

Cooling cows from below

Thu, 09/03/2015

Circulating chilled water through a waterbed may be another avenue to alleviate heat stress.

cows lying down

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

As the latter half of the year looms, our thoughts have started to turn toward harvest and our winter checklists. While temperatures have begun to moderate from their summertime highs, our cows may still be feeling the early September heat.

When it comes to cooling, fans and misters or soakers have become the norm. Conductive cooling from below, though, could serve as a future heat stress solution. Read more

“Ag safety is not just a slogan, it’s a lifestyle”

Wed, 09/02/2015

Autumn is the perfect time to promote farm health and safety.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

National Farm Safety & Health Week, September 20 to 26, is the perfect time to reiterate why safety matters. Whether it’s your first or 51st harvest, we all need reminders about the dangers that can present themselves as a result of heightened machinery use and transportation. The event is hosted by the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS) at Northeast Iowa Community College.

Ag Safety logo
Read more

A step up from dial-up

Tue, 09/01/2015

Computers and the internet are becoming an integral part of every day farm life.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

computerThe internet can provide a wealth of information for dairy producers . . . if they have access to it. A frustration across rural America of farmers and non-farmers alike is the lack of high-speed internet in parts of the country. Still, the options for connecting to the internet continue to grow, and computers and smart phones have become an almost constant presence in our lives.

Likewise, computer and internet usage and availability are on an upward trend among farmers. Every other year, USDA-NASS conducts a survey and releases a Farm Computer Usage and Ownership report. According to their most recent report revealed last month, 70 percent of farmers reported having access to the internet, up 3 percent from 2013. Read more

Our bread, our butter, our pals

Mon, 08/31/2015

As dairy and livestock producers, many of us consider our animals not just as a source of income, but a part of the family.

By Brittany Statz, 2015 Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern

describe pixt

My Aunt Lois – my dad’s youngest sister – had a very special friendship with one of the cows on our family’s farm. She was a big white Holstein named Creamy, and she was as mild as a lamb. Aunt Lois told me how, as a little girl, she would braid Creamy’s tail and tell the sweet, gentle bovine all her secrets. Creamy was more than just a cow to my aunt; she was a trusted friend. Read more

Price picture for 2016 is disappointing

Fri, 08/28/2015

Futures prices this far out already point to belt-tightening in the first half of 2016.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Plenty of change could still happen in the next few months – both good and bad – but right now the milk price picture for the first half of 2016 is not good.

After startlingly high prices in 2014, dairy producers knew 2015 had only one direction to go. They expected much lower prices, perhaps not much above break-even, and they’ve been right so far.

Profits and prepays have generally eased the pain of getting through 2015, but as the year now heads into its final months what should producers prepare for in the next one?

I hate to say it, but more belt-tightening looks likely.

Until we get to November, futures prices at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for 2016 won’t have much more significance for me than anyone else’s guess. Read more

Avoid these lighting pitfalls

Thu, 08/27/2015

Illumination improvements yield energy and cost savings if you avoid common upgrade stumbling blocks.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor


Incandescent. Compact fluorescent. Light emitting diode. Metal halide. From antiquated to efficient, on-farm lighting options span the energy-use gamut. Lighting is often one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to reduce energy use on a dairy.

As with anything in life, though, there are numerous ways to botch a lighting upgrade. In the Penn State Dairy Digest, Agricultural Engineer John Tyson and Research Associate Daniel Ciolkosz illuminated four common pitfalls to watch for when taking your lighting to the next level. Read more

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