HD Notebook

The right group size for group-housed calves

Date: 
Tue, 11/04/2014

Group housing offers many advantages to calves, but when groups get too big, problems can arise.

group calve housing

by Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Automatic feeders and group housing are very trendy topics in calf raising today, and for good reason. The opportunity to feed more milk and provide social interaction appears to deliver great benefits to calves, in both the short and long term.

But when it comes to group size, there is a point where things can go south in a hurry. Many autofeeders are sized for 25 to 30 calves per station, but using these feeders at maximum capacity can introduce problems, explained Sandra Godden, University of Minnesota, at a PDPW Calf Care Connection workshop last week. Read more

Kentucky takes blue in grand fashion

Date: 
Mon, 11/03/2014

Spencer County FFA wins 5th National FFA Dairy Judging title in 10 years

by Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

When you say you’ve won the National FFA Dairy Judging Contest, you have done more than just judged cows. The two-day contest encompasses four phases of dairy cattle management. And, technically the name of the contest is a mouthful, National FFA Dairy Cattle Evaluation and Management Career Development Event (CDE).

Kentucky’s Spencer County FFA

Winning Team: Spencer County FFA: FFA Advisor Bland Baird, Rachel Sibert, Tyler Nichols, Jacob Barnett and Daniel Cooper.
Read more

Another labor headache in California

Date: 
Fri, 10/31/2014

Mandatory paid sick time off becomes law on July 1, 2015.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

An estimated 6.5 million fulltime employees in California – including those who work on dairies – will begin earning three days per year of paid sick time off from their employers under the “Healthy Families Act” that was signed by Governor Jerry Brown in September.

In doing so, California becomes only the second state in the country requiring that employers provide such a benefit. Connecticut was the first in 2011. But don’t be surprised if other states follow.

On the day the bill was signed, U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), posted a statement on her website saying, “Now it is time for Congress to follow California’s lead and guarantee paid sick leave for workers across the entire country.” Read more

Silently robbing your bottom line

Date: 
Thu, 10/30/2014

Unlike its clinical counterpart, subclinical hypocalcemia isn’t readily detected. Yet, afflicted cows are at a greater risk for metritis, displaced abomasums and culling.

by Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

transition cow A cow that’s come down with milk fever is easily recognizable. Oftentimes, the cow, unable to stand, has its head against its side, and its ears are cold to the touch. This metabolic disease has long plagued our transition cows, but, over time, we have developed and implemented strategies to lessen its prevalence.

While the cow exhibiting clinical signs of disease clearly requires our intervention, a more serious threat may lurk among its seemingly normal herdmates. Subclinical hypocalcemia lies below our visual detection threshold. But, there may be opportunities to intervene here, as well. Read more

Seven new millionaires

Date: 
Wed, 10/29/2014

Holstein million-unit fraternity hits 50

by Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

sires listBreeding and then marketing an elite bull is a tough undertaking, and only a few have been successful. Bulls need to appeal to a wide audience of producers, but also possess the conformation and health to withstand years of aggressive semen collection. Making the million unit list is a testament to their longevity . . . both in the bull barn and the marketplace. Read more

No child immune to low levels of vitamin D

Date: 
Tue, 10/28/2014

Even well-educated parents with access to healthy foods struggle to meet the nutritional needs of their children.

girl drinking milk

by Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

The groundwork for a healthy life is built during childhood. Unfortunately, financial limitations, a lack of knowledge or other social barriers may prevent some parents from providing their children with a wholesome, nutritious diet. However, researchers from Oregon State University have found that even children with well-educated parents in communities with access to healthful foods are falling short in the nutrients they need. Read more

The balancing act

Date: 
Mon, 10/27/2014

Evaluating body condition throughout lactation and the dry period can be an important health indicator.

cow

by Maggie Seiler, Hoard's Dairyman Editorial Intern

This semester I decided to take a beef science course with the intention of comparing that industry’s standard practices with the dairy industry. I have found that, although the cow-calf and feedlot systems have different goals than dairy, many of the management tools are similar. Last week, I was sitting in lecture and my teacher began discussing body condition scoring. The lecture became an in-depth conversation about monitoring weight to balance daily gain and feed costs to allow for economic success. Read more

Let’s imagine a worst case MPP scenario

Date: 
Fri, 10/24/2014

Dairying would be in profound trouble if the government had to make full payments.

dairy economist Scott Brown

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Thousands of pages have been written about what the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP) is and how it will work. This isn’t another one.

Instead, it’s a highly unlikely, but still reality-based, look at what it might take for every dairy that signs up for MPP to collect maximum payments during 2015 – payments that, frankly, would mean the dairy industry was in dire trouble if they occurred.

The short version: imagine 2009 all over again.

The long version is serious food for thought from dairy economist Scott Brown (pictured above) at the University of Missouri, who helped USDA design the program. Read more

Clinical mastitis reduces cows’ fertility

Date: 
Thu, 10/23/2014

When mastitis was detected in the week after insemination, the likelihood of the cow carrying a calf was greatly diminished.

by Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

A.I. sceneA dairy’s success or failure hinges on a number of variables, one of which is a successful reproductive program. When cows fail to conceive, time, labor and capital expenses are incurred by the operation. To minimize these disruptions and irregularities, many farms will employ a timed A.I. program. Read more

The cost of just living keeps escalating

Date: 
Wed, 10/22/2014

Living and childrearing expenses continue to climb.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

Family living costs are up for urban and rural residents alike. In a survey of over 1,300 farm families, Illinois farmers reported that their cost of living for 2012 was $85,012, which was a $4,000 jump over the previous year.

How are farm families continuing to survive?

Off-farm income. Nonfarm income averaged over $38,000 per family per year. How does this impact the family? Spouses or other family members are contributing financially to the operation.

When looking at the population as a whole, the United States Department of Agriculture publishes its annual report, “Cost of raising a child.” It looks at geographical locations, income levels, and number of parents raising the child or children. Read more

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