HD Notebook

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

Best blogs of 2015: The lost art of a 4-H dairy meeting

Wed, 08/26/2015

Are we teaching youth a variety of dairy skills?

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

As a 4-H member I remember attending monthly local 4-H dairy meetings. Held at a leader’s farm, all members, from first year to the very experienced, were expected to attend.

Meetings were a great opportunity to learn, but not necessarily compete – there would be contests later for implementing the skills learned.

Now, when I talk to youth or their parents, I find that very few have structured meetings anymore. They either do just dairy judging or have no meetings at all. Are we missing an opportunity to teach young dairy enthusiasts valuable skills?

teaching dairy youth

Sessions I remember well:

Read more

Conduct a heifer interview

Tue, 08/25/2015

Genomic testing allows a dairy to be more selective about which heifers to keep as part of the future herd.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor


Our Hoard’s Dairyman Farm began genomic testing Jersey heifer calves last year. Those test results proved to be instrumental in clearing up a few misidentified sires and dams and tweaking protocols to prevent parent misidentification in the future.

Looking forward, how can genomic test results be of further value to the Hoard’s Dairyman Farm? That was the topic of discussion at a recent farm meeting with Richard Wallace, D.V.M., Dairy Technical Services Veterinarian, and Angela Zwald, Territory Business Manager, both from Zoetis.

The main value of genomic testing for commercial dairies, according Wallace, is to help make the three biggest decisions in a heifer’s life: Read more

Taking the plunge

Mon, 08/24/2015

Blending my passions for words and cows led to one of the greatest formative experiences of my college career.

By Brittany Statz, 2015 Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern

Hoard's Dairyman editorial team

In eighth grade, I developed a sudden interest in becoming a dairy farmer. I hadn’t been around cows since I was 6, but I was determined to spend my life milking them. Since I wasn’t raised on a farm, my dad was confused and my teachers were confused, but my Spanish teacher – a former farm girl herself – visited home one weekend and thought it would be a good idea to bring back some issues of Hoard’s Dairyman for one particular student to check out on Monday morning. I remember turning back the cover, being absolutely transfixed with the content seeping its way into my brain . . . and thirsting for more knowledge on dairying. Read more

Another buyer’s market for corn

Fri, 08/21/2015

Third biggest harvest in history is predicted for 2015.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

corn field

For the second year in a row and even with disappointing milk prices, dairy producers will probably be smiling as they shop for corn this fall.

If USDA’s latest crop estimate for 2015 – 13.7 billion bushels – pans out, it would be the third largest in history. It is a buyer’s market outlook that comes despite a second straight year of fewer total acres.

Much of the decline comes from the Southeast and four Plains States – North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. Minnesota acreage is also significantly lower.

Marginally fewer acres, however, are expected to be offset by an average yield of 168.8 bushels per acre, the second most ever. Read more

The labor pool is dwindling

Thu, 08/20/2015

A falling birthrate and growing Mexican economy are keeping potential employees south of the border.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

working in parlorTo thrive, dairies are dependent upon a reliable labor source. While some of our farms survive with family alone, others require a steady immigrant workforce to keep their parlors running.

For the latter, the labor pool from which they can source employees is slowly drying up.

The number of individuals emigrating from Mexico to the United States, both legally and illegally, has dropped sharply in recent years, noted a recent study conducted by the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey School of Public Policy.

A total of 819,000 people migrated from Mexico to the United States from 2008 to 2012 compared with 1.9 million between 2003 and 2007, a drop of 57 percent, according to U.S. Census figures. Read more

Are you treating your beef right?

Wed, 08/19/2015

Proper selection and preparation can make a difference.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

meat produceLike milk, beef has a unique combination of nutrients that support a healthy body. Beef is surprisingly lean. Over time, cattle have become more efficient in feed conversion and are not finished to the excessive heavier weights of decades ago. Today, all lean beef cuts have less than 10 grams of total fat in a 3.5-ounce cooked serving. That 3-ounce portion is just shy of half of a person’s daily protein needs. Read more

Curing respiratory disease in calves and kids

Tue, 08/18/2015

Research in calves may have unlocked the key to treating a certain respiratory disease in children.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor


Whether you are a caregiver for calves or children, your top goals are to keep them safe, growing and healthy. Unfortunately, the bugs that cause respiratory and digestive issues seem to be even more prevalent in calf barns and day care centers, elevating the risk for disease. While the common cold is pretty, well, common, some respiratory diseases pose a more serious threat.

For both calves and humans, one such illness is respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. This disease often moves from the throat and nose into the lower respiratory tract, making it a leading cause of pneumonia and bronchiolitis. In humans, RSV is especially dangerous for premature infants, the elderly and adults with compromised immune systems. Read more

Let’s stop being mean to each other

Mon, 08/17/2015

Divisive attitudes toward others in the dairy industry will get us nowhere, especially as more farmers are choosing to leave the business.

by Brittany Statz, 2015 Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern

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As a member of several dairy industry groups on social media, I enjoy being part of a community where I know we’re all in this together. These groups were created with that very togetherness in mind, and most of the posts asking for guidance or ideas are met with sound advice from those in the business who genuinely care about other dairy farmers. Read more

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