HD Notebook

Milk has never been so valuable

Fri, 05/02/2014

Class III is at an all-time high. Enjoy it, but be careful.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Dairy producers are living a milk price dream right now, even though scars from the nightmare five years ago are not fully healed.

It’s a bust-to-boom turnaround of staggering proportions that producers have every right to enjoy. Go to your cows and thank them: $24 milk! Hug them. Savor the moment. Be grateful you are here to enjoy it.

Use the money wisely, but don’t get accustomed to it. Because it can’t last.

Milk producers knew that Wednesday’s announcement of April's record Class III milk price of $24.31 per hundredweight was coming; futures prices had pointed to it for a few months. Even so, it is a staggering number that should not be taken for granted. Read more

Avoid spring calf care slip-ups

Thu, 05/01/2014

With temperatures swing from high to low and back again, our calves need a little extra TLC.


by Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

When combined with the five slip-ups below, fluctuating temperatures and wet spring conditions can often lead to an uptick in the rate of scours and respiratory illness we see on farm, noted Sam Leadley of Attica Veterinary Associates in the April Calving Ease.

These slip-ups all too often include:

  • Calves not having enough to eat
  • Consuming an insufficient level of coccidiostat
  • A shortage of clean, dry bedding
  • Colostrum being chilled slowly
  • Subpar cleaning procedures

Feeding Read more

Consumer trust in food production growing

Wed, 04/30/2014

Still a long road ahead of us.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

Based on 2014 data, 29 percent of American food consumers think food companies are trustworthy. With 44 percent neutral on the subject, that leaves 25 percent who feel food companies are untrustworthy. That’s what the white paper “Emerging faith in food production” found after surveying over 2,000 U.S. consumers. It was conducted by Sullivan Higdon & Sink (SHS) FoodThink, a marketing agency with offices in the Midwest and Washington, D.C.

Unfortunately, the survey found only half of consumers are open-minded. According to the report, when a negative food news story appears, they are willing to listen to food producers give their side. The sad part . . . 46 percent would not.

farmer talking to consumers
Read more

Employ a people strategy

Tue, 04/29/2014

Create a working environment where good employees can be great.

milking parlor

by Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Most farms have a clear strategy in place for taking care of their cows: professionally balanced rations, written protocols for milking, well-designed facilities and so on. But do just as many have a people strategy?

“The best players have coaches,” says Tom Wall, president of Dairy Interactive, LLC and Language Links, LLC. “It should be your goal to keep everyone on the same path.”

In his presentation at the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association annual conference, he explained that good employees want order, respect and opportunity. “Good employees want opportunity. They want to know there’s something in it for them.”

“If you don’t have order, you have chaos. Bad people flourish when there isn’t order,” he said. Read more

We are a ground beef nation

Mon, 04/28/2014

Even though higher value cuts yield a higher return, Americans are asking for more ground beef.


by Corey Geiger, Hoard's Dairyman Managing Editor

Americans like their hamburgers. So much so that ground beef accounted for 62 percent of all beef sales in the United States last year. However, when looking at the current beef production model, you would not know that was the number one market category as those who focus solely on beef production continue to aim for high-end meals. Rabobanks’s Don Close suggested that the U.S. beef industry rethink its production model to produce more competitively priced proteins like those being produced in the poultry sector. Read more

Hay is over $300 in some Western states

Fri, 04/25/2014

Prices are great for sellers, but some worry that demand may fall.

hay stacking

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

It’s shaping up to be an expensive summer for hay in the West.

By mid-April, prices for supreme and premium quality alfalfa were already over $300 per ton in some of the region’s largest dairy states, according to USDA’s Ag Market News Service.

California – Prices in the nation’s biggest dairy state were highest of all in the central San Joaquin Valley, where supreme alfalfa averaged $340 delivered. Southern California prices were modestly lower at $314, and northern San Joaquin Valley prices were steady at $310. Supplies were described as very tight. Read more

Does milk do a body good?

Thu, 04/24/2014

Many studies demonstrate that milk consumption improves health and lowers an individual’s risk of chronic disease.

by Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

milkFor over 50 years, the concept of eating healthy has been synonymous with avoiding dietary fat, especially saturated fats,” noted Adam Lock, Michigan State University, at the 2014 Mid-South Ruminant Nutrition Conference. Naturally then, the public’s thought process leads them to conclude that milkfat, too, is bad for human health.

As an industry, there is a reality we must embrace: between 60 and 75 percent of the fat in milk is saturated fat. Milk and dairy foods, though, account for less than 15 percent of the nation’s dietary fat intake. Additionally, dairy supplies 75 percent of our calcium needs and a mere 10 percent of the nation’s total caloric intake. Read more

Dairy banquets not just for princesses

Wed, 04/23/2014

Attend agriculture events to recharge your own battery.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

chatting at a banquetSpring is a very popular time for banquets, including dairy princess contests, FFA award programs and fair royalty competitions. These contests and events display the speaking and presentation skills of young people.

But, the banquets are more than just for contestants in formal attire or youth in official dress. It is a time for dairy producers and those in agriculture to come together to celebrate the industry and be reinvigorated by the young people and their fresh perspectives. Read more

It’s a good time to be working in ag

Tue, 04/22/2014

Many companies are looking at ways to recruit and retain talented employees.

by Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Not everyone is a farmer, but a love for animals and people has drawn many to a career in agriculture. According to a recent survey, the agriculture industry is a pretty good place to make a living right now, too.

Eighty-five companies from an array of agricultural fields participated in the 2013-2024 AgCareers.com U.S. Agribusiness HR Review. Information was collected through direct communication with the agribusinesses by an online survey.

More than 90 percent of participating companies said their employee salaries had grown in the past 12 months. Almost all (98 percent) said that some or all of their employees would see a salary bump in the next year. According to the anticipated budgets, these companies expect salaries to go up an estimated 3.1 to 3.5 percent. Read more

Don’t let your feed control you

Mon, 04/21/2014

Taking feed inventory allows you to make informed, educated decisions.


by Ali Enerson, Hoard’s Dairyman Special Publications Editor

Tracking feed inventory is a valuable strategy for any size farm, especially with the growing unpredictability of Mother Nature and a more volatile commodity market. Plus, staying current with inventory calculations has never been easier or faster than with the technology available to dairy producers today.

A feed inventory program will be unique to each dairy. Some may choose to calculate it by hand, others will use slightly more sophisticated spreadsheets with built-in calculations and still others will use more advanced software programs. Each method works well, as long as you stay current on the option you choose and stay abreast of the information it generates for you. First, you may want to start with some basic calculations:

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