HD Notebook

She sees a Class III low of $15.50

Wed, 11/19/2014

But decline could be brief; economist expects a rebound to $18.50 in fall.

Mary Ledman

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Virtually no one doubts that U.S. farm milk prices will be lower in 2015. While many different predictions are out there, the only debate is about how far they may fall.

Speaking at last week’s United Dairymen of Idaho annual meeting in Boise, economist and Daily Dairy Report editor Mary Ledman (seen here) said her prediction is a low of around $15.50 per hundredweight in April, May or June — or perhaps all of them.

She noted with obvious skepticism that the latest USDA All-Milk forecast for 2015 was $19.50, and then told producers, “If you can lock in your milk anywhere close to that, do it!” She pointed out that, in New Zealand, the current Fonterra price forecast suggests a world market price of $14. Read more

Build heifer facilities that meet your needs

Tue, 11/18/2014

A larger building means extra costs, but your heifers will thank you during surges in animal numbers… and an empty pen now and then isn’t a bad thing, either.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Building heifer facilities to meet your needs

If the time has come to build a new heifer facility on your farm, it is wise to do your homework before the construction crew moves in. One major decision is how big the building should be.

“Know where you’ve been in terms of heifer herd size,” said Becky Brotzman, D.V.M., with the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, during a Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin Calf Care Connection workshop. She advised farms to first determine their average and 80th percentile heifer calf delivery rate per year and by month. Read more

Why do cows die?

Fri, 11/14/2014

Simply guessing as to the cause is part of the problem.

by Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

November webinar slide

Death loss is a challenge to every producer. Minimizing early removals from the herd should be the goal, but it starts with an understanding of the root cause of the illness or injury.

Choosing to focus on the positive side of the issue, veterinarian and Colorado State University professor Frank Garry spoke on the topic of “Moving toward longer-lasting cows” during the November Hoard’s Dairyman webinar. Read more

Forage shrink: what are you leaving on the table?

Thu, 11/13/2014

Combined with poor ensiling practices, up-front and secondary fermentation losses can account for unnecessary losses.


by Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

“In the best-case scenario, we’ll lose only 2 to 3 percent of our harvested forage tons to fermentation shrink,” noted John Goeser, Rock River Laboratory, at the Penn State Dairy Nutrition Conference. But, when combined with poor ensiling practices, up-front and secondary fermentation losses can account for anywhere between 3 and 25 percent of harvested tons, he continued.

While it is too late to change tactics and better preserve this year’s crop, Ev Thomas, previously with the Miner Institute, shared strategies to reduce forage shrink in future years. Read more

New York 4-H sweeps National 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl

Wed, 11/12/2014

Empire State has won nearly one-third of all national contests.

by Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

After a second place finish in last year’s contest, New York 4-H came back in full force in 2014. Not only did they win the team portion of the dairy quiz bowl contest in Louisville, Ky., they had the top four individual scores on the 50-question short answer written test!

New York 4-H team

Since the contest started recognizing top test scores, no team has swept the top four spots. New York, Wisconsin and Minnesota each previously had claimed a one-two punch. New York’s team was (in order of test scores) Courtney Dearnley, Stephanie Bishop, Ian Stewart and Katie Sondericker. They are coached by Deborah Grusenmeyer and Matt Young. Read more

More than 50 teams compete at NAILE

Tue, 11/11/2014

Dairy judges from Minnesota, Illinois and New York took home the first place team honors.

by Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Three dairy judging contests were held at the North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE) in Louisville, Ky., on Sunday, November 9. In all, 51 teams participated in the collegiate, post-secondary and youth contests.

Midwest teams rise to the top in the youth division
With three individuals in the top 10, Minnesota 4-H led all teams in the youth contest with a score of 1919 points. Coming in second was their neighbor to the east, Wisconsin 4-H, with 1907 points. The team in third was Michigan 4-H, with a score of 1883. Florida 4-H was fourth, and New York 4-H was fifth.

Minnesota 4-H team
Top youth team members: Coach Stacy Leiding, Kayla Leiding, Amy-Jo VanderWal, Clint Irrthum, and Haely Leiding from Minnesota 4-H.
Read more

Just a calf

Mon, 11/10/2014

One small responsibility can bloom into a lifelong passion.

by Maggie Seiler, Hoard's Dairyman Editorial Intern

Over the past year, I have repeatedly been asked how I became interested in dairy cattle considering I grew up in a state more well-known for beef and wheat. Many times, that conversation prompt leaves me talking about the lessons I learned growing up on a dairy farm in central Kansas. The story I tell revolves not just around hard work and early mornings. It was also greatly influenced by my dad’s decision to give me a cow when I was in third grade. Read more

Will this GMO ban also apply to marijuana?

Fri, 11/07/2014

The largest crop in Humboldt County, California, poses a potentially funny “what if.”

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

A small dairy area in far-northern California climbed aboard the anti-GMO bandwagon on Tuesday, when voters in Humboldt County approved the “Genetic Contamination Prevention Ordinance” by a 59 to 41 percent margin.

Yes, another GMO ban. Never mind the just-released conclusion of an epically massive scientific review of GMO studies dating back 29 years and representing 100 billion animals – that GMO feed is safe and nutritionally equivalent to non-GMO feed – Humboldt voters nonetheless passed a countywide ban on growing any genetically modified organism.

Doing so sets up the possibility of a situation that could one day become incredibly fun to watch. Read more

Are your forages underwhelming?

Thu, 11/06/2014

If your forages didn’t produce as anticipated, now is the time to secure feed and fill in the gaps.

by Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

This year’s harvest marks two very different ends of the spectrum. Some dairies have been blessed with an abundance of forage to feed over the coming year. Meanwhile, others, due to late or prevented planting, have a reduction in forage for the upcoming year.

If your dairy falls into the latter category, it is critical to develop an accurate representation of your current forage inventory. The next step, notes Jim Paulson, extension dairy educator with the University of Minnesota, is to build a feed and forage budget for your farm.

Quickly calculating what you have and what you lack enables you to identify and secure alternative feed sources. Of the forages you have on hand, the highest quality material should be allocated to the milking herd and youngest heifers. Read more

A gift for a farmer

Wed, 11/05/2014

Hoard’s Dairyman can be your stocking stuffer this year.

By Ali Enerson, Hoard’s Dairyman Special Publications Editor

Gift for a Farmer

I’m not typically an early Christmas shopper, but in the more recent years I’ve learned to pay closer attention to what my dad needs when we are fixing something, milking the cows or working around the farm.

This past weekend we built a new door for the barn, fixed a waterer, screwed a couple of new boards to the large barn door where others had fallen off in the wind and just did a little general cleanup. And while the number one thing my dad says he’d prefer for a gift is for his kids to come spend a few days at home helping him out, we know that sometimes when you live well over three hours away from the farm, that’s not always as easy as we’d hope it to be. Read more

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