HD Notebook

Grain markets are twitchy

Fri, 03/14/2014

Brazil drought and Ukraine turmoil have traders on edge.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

cornFebruary and March have brought new reminders that nondairy events almost anywhere in the world can affect milk production costs on U.S. farms.

The latest examples continue to bring new price volatility to corn, soybeans and wheat.

The distance from the biggest U.S. corn state (Iowa) to Kiev, Ukraine, is about 5,200 miles, and it’s about 4,500 miles to the Mato Grosso region of Brazil. And yet, events in those distant places have spooked traders at the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) and driven grain prices 20 percent higher in just several weeks. Read more

Learn the nuances of sterile sampling

Thu, 03/13/2014

When multiple strains of bacteria are grown in culture, it is impossible to determine a course of treatment.

milking scene

by Amanda Smith Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Most of the time, a single type of bacteria will cause mastitis. When multiple strains are recovered the milk sample is almost useless. It becomes difficult to interpret which bacteria is the culprit, noted Pam Ruegg, with the University of Wisconsin’s milk quality group.

The most important component of culturing does not happen in the laboratory. It is essential to obtain a useful, aseptically collected sample on-farm. If this step is not done with care, everything done in the lab is a waste. With multiple strains, the pathogen and the contaminant cannot be distinguished from one another. Read more

Be prepared for metabolic changes at calving

Wed, 03/12/2014

Supplemented calcium exists in different forms and compounds.

by Patti Hurtgen, Hoard's Dairyman Online Media Manager

March 2014 webinar cover slideGarrett Oetzel, University of Wisconsin, presented “Cows and their calcium”, in our Monday, March 10 webinar. For 30 years our presenter has studied the topic.

With development of a new calf and the onset of milk production, calving time has its challenges. Hypocalcemia, low blood-calcium level, is one of those post-calving issues that dairy operations dread. Obvious signs of cold ears and cows not wanting to rise can alert people to this deficiency. However, nearly half of second-lactation and older cows experience sub-clinical hypocalcemia, even those fed anionic salts. Low calcium levels are defined as below 8.6m/dL. Read more

Bruises can tell a story

Tue, 03/11/2014

Improved animal husbandry and welfare benefits an animal, inside and out.

herd health check

by Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Several swollen hocks or neck abscesses might tell us that our stalls need more bedding or our neck rail height needs to be adjusted. Similarly, bruises on a carcass can reveal a lot about welfare once an animal is sent to slaughter.

“Bruises tell a story,” said Lily Edwards-Callaway from JBS, a well-known meat processing company. She spoke at the UW-Extension Dairy Well-being Conference last week in Eau Claire, Wis.

For any packing plant, bruising slows productivity, as that damaged meat needs to be cut away from the carcass. Bruising also creates wasted product and can lower financial returns for both the producer and the packing plant. Read more

Dairy conferences provide limitless returns

Mon, 03/10/2014

Here are four reasons to take time away from the farm.

dairy conference

by Ali Enerson, Hoard’s Dairyman Special Publications Editor

Everyone struggles with taking time away from their daily workload to attend a conference, but it’s especially difficult for some dairy farmers to hand the reins over for a few days.

As a dairy farmer, you interact with other local farmers on a regular basis, but ask yourself if these same people help challenge you and your business to be its best. With many dairy events, you are in the presence of other producers of your same caliber, giving you a greater opportunity to discuss challenges and solutions applicable to your operation. Read more

Daily milk production is 11,740 pounds per farm

Fri, 03/07/2014

U.S. average has doubled in just 12 years.

milk tanker truck

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Even during a down year, the average U.S. dairy grew in 2013.

Both average herd size and milk production per cow went up — herd size by a lot and production per cow by a little. The result was a big bump in the average amount of milk made by each farm during the year.

Per-cow output set a new record of 21,822 pounds; a small 102-pound gain that was less than a third of the average increase for the previous 22 years. Meanwhile, average herd size rose by 9 cows to 196 head, the second largest one-year gain in history.

As a result, the average dairy in the U.S. in 2013 made 4,284,937 pounds of milk, which was 224,000 pounds more than the previous year and nearly double the average amount made per farm in 2001. Read more

We’re all tired of winter

Thu, 03/06/2014

With record lows and extended cold snaps, spring is nowhere in sight.

Hoard's Dairyman Farm

by Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Like many of you, the Hoard’s Dairyman Farm met its match this winter. Amidst frozen feed, frozen pipes and a few calves lost too soon, we’ve battled unpredicted and unforeseen cold.

And, as every member of our farm team can attest, they’re tired.

It’s taken a toll on our 400-plus-cow herd of Guernseys and Jerseys, as well. Production has been steady for most of the winter, averaging 67 to 69 pounds along with a 5.0 percent fat and 3.9 percent protein, but is starting to slowdown.

These high averages enabled the Hoard’s Dairyman herd to excel on national breed production lists this past year. For protein production, the Jersey component of the Fort Atkinson,Wis., based herd is eighth in the nation. Read more

Updates to Dairy Policy E-Source on hoards.com

Wed, 03/05/2014

Farm bill resources found in one location

by Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

It was a long time coming. The farm bill, which is scheduled to be renewed every five years, had delays, extensions and multiple compromises. But that is due to the multiple facets of agriculture, and in turn its reach into international trade, environmental concerns, food safety, nutrition and rural issues.

It was difficult to keep up with the whole drawn-out process as two separate bills and amendments had to be reviewed and voted upon, before being merged into one unified document. It seemed everybody commented during the deliberation process, which simply filled the air until the real decision makers (the House and Senate) could finalize the details. Read more

Smarter calves come in pairs

Tue, 03/04/2014

Calves raised in pairs may be cognitively superior to their individually housed counterparts, new research shows.


by Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Group housing is becoming a more popular and acceptable way to raise dairy calves. Besides feeding and health benefits, new research shows that raising calves in a group setting might also make them smarter.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia conducted an experiment where calves housed in pairs were taught an easy task. Calves entered a test pen and could approach a black bottle to receive milk or a white bottle to receive nothing. The calves learned rapidly and soon all knew to only approach the black bottle. Read more

Hoard’s Jerseys see the appraiser

Mon, 03/03/2014

With an average score of 81.5 points and production bumping the 20,000-pound mark, the Hoard’s Dairyman Farm Jerseys are performing well.

Jersey cows

by Corey Geiger, Hoard's Dairyman Managing Editor

The Hoard Farm team, headed up by Jason Yurs, continues to be pleased with the performance our Jersey herd. This group was evaluated by a pair of American Jersey Cattle Association appraisers on a very cold Thursday in late January.

On that day, the entire herd averaged 81.5 points on the 300-plus head. Had the 25 cows sold weeks earlier to a young dairyman been included in the mix, the average would have been 81.9 points. Read more

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