HD Notebook

How they get their next pound of milk

Thu, 02/12/2015

While forage procurement and feeding play a huge role in the success of high-producing herds, they aren’t the only factors. Reproduction and milk quality are critical elements, too.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Each winter, 24 of the nation’s dairy herds provide a detailed look at a particular sector of their dairy operation for our Round Table series. In our most recent issue (February 10, 2015), four herds, from Washington, New Mexico, Wisconsin and Iowa, shared their strategies for obtaining the next pound of milk. While the majority of the printed responses focused on the dairies’ feeding strategies, they also shared information on reproduction and their milk quality efforts.

Round Table Farms

Below, these four high-producing herds share a bit more:

How does the dairy’s reproductive program play into production? Read more

Margins matter; manage for the cycles

Wed, 02/11/2015

Volatility and opportunities exist in the peaks and valleys.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

February webinar slideProducing milk is full of peaks and valleys. We love the highs and dread the lows. Understanding your financial status can help your herd maximize profits in good years and mitigate losses the slim years. Greg Bethard, the chief financial officer for two Wisconsin dairies, Pagel’s Ponderosa and Dairy Dreams, presented the Hoard’s Dairyman webinar and shared his vast experience to guide producers to “Nail the big-dollar decisions.” Read more

Calf health scorecard at your fingertips

Tue, 02/10/2015

Two new apps are now available to help producers evaluate calves’ respiratory health.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Calf Health Scorecard AppRespiratory disease can be a devastating issue for the calf caretakers on your farm. According to Terry Ollivett from the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, pneumonia is the second leading cause of death in pre-weaned calves on dairy farms, following only scours. It is the number one reason for death in post-weaned young stock.

The losses from respiratory disease impact the whole farm. “For some herds, respiratory disease is a large cost, both financially and to animal welfare,” Ollivett explained. Read more

Butter, meat and cheese belong in a healthy diet

Mon, 02/09/2015

The Big Fat Surprise book turns society’s view of fat upside down.

By Ali Enerson, Hoard’s Dairyman Special Publications Editor

The Big Fat Surprise BookA new book has taken the nation by storm, and it bodes well for both the dairy industry and agriculture as a whole. The Big Fat Surprise is a 336-page book about how high, saturated fat foods may actually be good for us! Read more

In California, the drought seems endless

Fri, 02/06/2015

Record-dry January kicked off what looks to be a fourth straight year.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

It’s raining today in big parts of California.

A series of storms began pounding the northern half of the state earlier this week and is expected to last into Monday. But this good news, even when combined with a wet December and a 22 percent cutback in water consumption by California residents, is expected to do little to prevent the state’s fourth consecutive year of drought.

That’s because January was an awful reminder of how serious its water situation still is: In many parts of the state, last month was the driest January in history.

A stunning example was San Francisco, where, for the first time since records began being kept during the Gold Rush in 1849, zero rainfall was recorded in January. Sacramento got 0.01 inch, the lowest since records began in 1877. Read more

Go beyond “no-growth”

Thu, 02/05/2015

A PCR assay can enhance your milk quality diagnostics.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

The incorporation of a robust diagnostic strategy has been promoted heavily in recent years as a way to identify the predominant pathogens causing mastitis in a herd. Such a program is critical to support treatment, management and culling decisions.

Yet, when you’re trying to determine the best course of treatment, a negative mastitis culture result can be quite frustrating. “If we don’t know what pathogen we are dealing with, it’s like driving blindfolded,” noted Nicole Steele, with New Zealand’s DairyNZ. In these situations, PCR testing can shed some light. Read more

Who wants to be a judge?

Wed, 02/04/2015

Judges not only evaluate cattle, they are communicators.

by Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

judging cattleYou had success in judging contests as a youth. Now, you’d like to move onto the next level and judge dairy shows. What should you know?

I spoke with someone who has handled the judge selection process for state and regional fairs for over 15 years. Some information they take into consideration:

  1. Requirement for the show (approved lists by PDCA or breed organizations)
  2. Past judging experience
  3. Judging reputation, attitude toward exhibitors, personal behavior, and so forth
Read more

Taste trumps healthfulness in people’s food choices

Tue, 02/03/2015

Research shows that healthy and unhealthy eaters alike select foods on taste over nutritional value.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

empty shopping cartAn apple is healthier, but why do we reach for the doughnut instead? Most likely because we know it tastes good. If the calorie count and fat content were listed right there in front of us, would we make a different decision? Not necessarily.

Researchers at the Kiel University in Germany found that, even with nutritional information available, people were more likely to use taste to drive eating decisions. Participants in their study were presented with an assortment of yogurts with varying levels of sugar and fat. When given information about the ingredients, participants were still not more likely to select the healthier product. Read more

How are your heifers’ hooves?

Mon, 02/02/2015

Digital dermatitis in heifers can change hoof shape without causing lameness.

By Maggie, Seiler, Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern

Hoof CareA good set of feet and legs is imperative for a cow to live a long and productive life. Many producers understand this and breed it, but without attentive management, the farm’s heifers may never have the opportunity to reach their full potential as lactating cows. Feet and leg issues, such as digital dermatitis, often go unnoticed in heifers because they don’t always cause lameness. Read more

A new, simpler test for ketosis

Fri, 01/30/2015

DHIA milk sample-based method is 91 percent accurate identifying herd prevalence.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor


Next to mastitis, perhaps no subclinical health problem is as common, as unseen (if not outright ignored) or as costly to dairy producers as ketosis.

But a new, inexpensive monitoring tool called KetoMonitor developed in less than a year by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers Gary Oetzel, Heather White and Tawny Chandler (seen above), in cooperation with AgSource Cooperative Resources, was introduced on Wednesday this week that can put thousands of those dollars back into producers’ pockets.

Researchers long ago peeled back the scary reality about ketosis, which is more common in mature cows than heifers and is caused when their postcalving energy needs are simply unable to be met through feed intake:

Read more

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