HD Notebook

Objectively looking at technology tools

Date: 
Wed, 12/16/2015

Gadgets and devices aid – not replace dairy management.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

December 2015 webinarAll that cool technology that people use to communicate, record exercise levels and monitor their sleep patterns, now are being applied to the management of dairy cows.

While cows aren’t wearing GPS devices, the technology is there to monitor movement, milk composition and eating routines. “I don't know if we need to be measuring everything a cow does, but it is possible to track most of it,” remarked Jeffery Bewley.

This University of Kentucky assistant professor is one of the leading authorities on dairy technology. He conducted the December 14 webinar, “Today’s tech tools to fine-tune herd care.” Read more

Ready for a calf road trip

Date: 
Tue, 12/15/2015

Make a ride in the cattle trailer safer for your young bovine passengers by following these AABP guidelines.

truck and trailer

By Abby Bauer, Hoard's Dairyman Associate Editor

There are times we need to get our livestock from Point A to Point B, and that process often involves a ride in the cattle trailer. To make the trip smooth and safe for both the animals and people involved, the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) has produced a set of guidelines for transporting cattle.

Before any animals are loaded onto a trailer, AABP recommends that a load plan be put in place. This plan should take into account animal weight, frame size and the type of transportation equipment; consideration should also be given to the environmental conditions. Read more

Don’t be lame

Date: 
Mon, 12/14/2015

Get a handle on lameness before it cripples your herd’s productivity.

by Maggie Seiler, Special Publications Editor

cowThe old saying goes, “the first step to fixing a problem is knowing you have one.” I would argue the second step is knowing what and how significant that problem is.

According to Peter Robinson, extension specialist at the University of California-Davis, lameness results in reduced profitability based on lowered milk yields, higher veterinary costs and more culling. Although many farms use regular trimming and footbaths to bolster hoof care, monitoring hoof health by regular scoring is a relatively new way to examine the impact lameness has on a farm’s bottom line. Read more

Nigeria’s big milk goal looks impossible

Date: 
Fri, 12/11/2015

The math behind a plan to give a liter per day to 30 million schoolchildren doesn’t work.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

In the middle of a rising global flood of dairy products, the government of Nigeria has announced a plan to wildly increase its use of them.

In late October, the Nigerian government said it wants to combat widespread childhood malnourishment by starting a program next year that would eventually provide a liter of milk per day to over 30 million schoolchildren.

That is a fantastic public health idea, but one that seems deep in the realm of science fiction.

The huge takeaway message, though, is that Nigeria is talking about a national nutrition program built upon dairy. That’s because, according to the United Nations Population Division, Nigeria is forecast to have the third-largest population in the world in 2050, tied with the U.S. Read more

The average herd size is three cows

Date: 
Thu, 12/10/2015

121.5 million dairy farms exist on our planet.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

Yep! Those numbers are current. They are based on worldwide data. Initially, your reaction might be like several I shared the data with. “No way, I don't think so.”

We are familiar with reports that show that 1 to 2 percent of U.S. citizens live on farms. In America, we are the minority and our numbers are shrinking. However, there are over 7 billion people in the world and 1 billion live on dairy farms. That is over 14 percent of the world population that see and work with dairy cows every day.

The average herd size in the U.S. is just over 200. Canadian dairy herds average 80 cows. But, worldwide, it is just three cows. Farms with more than 100 cows make up just 0.3 percent of the total dairy farm population. Imagine three-cow dairies scattered across North America . . . it is not even within most of our comprehension to view the scale that small. Read more

Keep your cool around animals

Date: 
Wed, 12/09/2015

Whether you’re in the barn or the showring, you have to stay calm. You never know who’s watching.

showring

by Hannah Thompson

Earlier this year, I was in the crowd at a county fair’s dairy show for the supreme champion selection. As anyone who has exhibited dairy cattle can attest, the supreme champion selection is always the highlight of the show. It gives us the opportunity to showcase the best of the best for the judge — and the consumers watching in the stands.

My pride in watching the 4-H exhibitors pulling out all of the stops to impress the judge took a hit when one exhibitor lost his temper with his heifer, which had been fighting him with every step since they entered the ring. I cringed as the youth lost his patience and audibly hit his animal across the nose, eliciting a gasp from fairgoers watching in the stands. Read more

Rural employment sees turnaround

Date: 
Tue, 12/08/2015

The employment rate in rural America is slowly recovering after the recession.

farm scene

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Many of us working in agriculture, myself included, grew up in the country. I think most “country kids” would agree that small towns are great places to live.

The vitality of rural communities hinges on many factors, but opportunity for employment is certainly one of the most important. The recession that swept the nation from 2007 to 2009 left a mark on employment rates in both urban and rural counties, but the rural areas have had a harder time rebounding.

Fortunately, after years of little or even negative change, employment rates in rural areas grew more than 1 percent during the year that ended in the second quarter of 2015. This data comes from the USDA’s Rural America at a Glance: 2015 Edition. Read more

Farm kids are raised to be resilient

Date: 
Mon, 12/07/2015

College students can’t solve their own problems according to psychologists and professors, but farm kids are raised differently.

father and daughter on dairy

by Maggie Seiler, Special Publications Editor

I was 16 or 17 years old, and my dad sent me out with the John Deere tractor and hayforks to pick up straw bales sitting on the edge of a field. There were only six bales, but they had been rained on and were in less than ideal condition. I fought those bales for 30 or 45 minutes going from mildly irritated to irate to tears. Read more

Dairy outlook for 2016 is “bah humbug”

Date: 
Fri, 12/04/2015

Disappointing milk price situation likely to get worse before it gets better.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

calendarSince they became a key part of the worldwide dairy export pipeline, American milk producers have seen these “dots” before and know how they connect:

  • Strong global supplies
  • Weak global demand
  • Shaky economies

So it’s no surprise that the U.S. milk price outlook for 2016 is worse than in 2015 — disappointing news that is already seen in Class III futures and is supported by analysts at the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC).

As bad as prices have been for all of 2015 ($15.98 per hundredweight average through October) and as bad as they’ve been lately (declines every month since June), producers should brace themselves for much worse prices in 2016, especially early in the year. Read more

A hairy hoof problem

Date: 
Thu, 12/03/2015

A clean environment, adequate cow comfort and footbath use all bolster your ability to prevent digital dermatitis.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

cow hoovesLameness affects everything a cow does. Feed intake, fertility, milk production and, in the end, profitability are all depressed when an animal has sore feet. Digital dermatitis is a prevalent and sometimes painful hoof lesion that develops when the hoof skin barrier weakens and Treponema species are able to invade it.

According to Dörte Döpfer, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, digital dermatitis is characterized by a raw, bright red or black circular erosion and inflammation of the skin above the heel bulbs. The edges of the lesion develop a white margin and overlong hairs that surround the sores or are adjacent to thick, hairy wart-like growths. Read more

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