HD Notebook

Monitor manure, monitor health

Date: 
Tue, 06/17/2014

Want to know how your cows are feeling? Check out their manure.

By Maggie Seiler, Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern

manureCow activity, the amount of time spent eating and milk production are indicators of cow health, but another gauge of herd health is often overlooked and stepped over by producers.

I remember walking through my family’s herd with the vet when I was young. Often, he would stop and, with a sleeved hand, pick up some manure, look at it and give it a sniff. At the time, I thought it was weird and gross; it was not until many years later that I realized the practicality of paying attention to cow manure as a method for monitoring cow health. Read more

Hoard’s editorial team hit the pavement for a 340-mile photography road trip

Date: 
Mon, 06/16/2014

Two Iowa dairies provided striking photos and learning opportunities

By Ali Enerson, Hoard’s Dairyman Special Publications Editor

The Hoard’s Dairyman editorial team takes great pride in providing our readers with high-quality articles and photos reflective of the current dairy industry. An annual photography road trip allows our editorial team an opportunity to expand their skillset and capture scenic dairy images. The images are then added to our stock photography collection for future issues. The six-person team departed from Fort Atkinson, Wis., on June 2 at 6:15 a.m. and returned at 7:45 p.m. after touring and shooting pictures on two photogenic Iowa dairies. Read more

Brown is the color of money

Date: 
Fri, 06/13/2014

Financial summary says Jerseys don’t just compete, they excel.

Jersey cows

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Steady growth in the number of Jersey herds in the U.S., particularly among large dairy owners in the West, naturally leads to the question of how do they do financially?

It’s not an easy question to answer, because many individual farms have to be willing to share their precise financial information in order to form a clear picture. Fortunately, one such database does exist.

In addition to the annual dairy income and expense reports that Genske, Mulder & Co. LLC, the largest dairy accounting firm in the U.S., prepares summarizing all of its clients as a group, it also does a separate summary for its Jersey clients. Read more

China craves dairy knowledge

Date: 
Thu, 06/12/2014

Wisconsin researchers will develop training program for $400 million training center.

cows

by Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

China. It’s a population powerhouse on the tip of every dairyman’s tongue. Enter into a conversation regarding milk prices or dairy demand, and China will inevitably come up. The nation’s expanding middle class hungers for protein. This, coupled with its import demand, has buoyed world milk prices as of late.

After the melamine scandal rocked the country in 2008, citizens looked outward to meet their needs. Milk from a foreign supplier carried an added level of safety and trust, while domestic dairy was hindered by production problems and distrust. Read more

Improved starch digestion starts early

Date: 
Wed, 06/11/2014

Adjustments to rations can maximize efficiencies

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

June webinar slide slideRandy Shaver, University of Wisconsin-Madison, presented the monthly Hoard’s Dairyman webinar “Update on starch utilization by dairy cows” on Monday, June 9, a subject he’s extensively researched for the past decade.

It’s a growing area of interest as half to three-fourths of corn’s energy comes from starch. And starch is important for lactation as it provides carbohydrates that drive feed intake, milk production, components and feed efficiency. Read more

Computers are running our lives

Date: 
Tue, 06/10/2014

cow

Precision dairy technologies grow in number and popularity each year. The key to using them successfully is choosing the one that works for you.

by Maggie Seiler, Hoard's Dairyman Editorial Intern

I grew up listening to my grandpa talk about the “good ol’ days” when computers did not exist and cellphones were a figment of the imagination. For better or worse, I have never known agriculture without these technologies.

The first fully operational GPS was available when I was 3 years old, and my friends had cellphones by the time I was in sixth grade. I was only 9 years old when the first robotic milker was installed in the United States. I can now turn my dad’s irrigation sprinklers in Kansas on and off from my phone in Wisconsin. Read more

Strong fourth-quarter milk checks restored profitability

Date: 
Mon, 06/09/2014

Even with higher milk prices late in the game, many Western dairy farms had slim margins, as feed prices were higher in 2013 when compared to the previous year.

by Corey Geiger, Hoard's Dairyman Managing Editor

“Although corn prices dropped dramatically during the fourth quarter of 2013, most other feeds rose in price which kept more profitable bottom lines just out of reach,” reported the Frazer LLP certified public accountants and consultants in its annual analysis of its clients’ dairy farm financial records. As a result, even though Western dairy producers realized higher milk checks, feed costs continued to chip away at profitability. Read more

At last! – Dairies were profitable in 2013

Date: 
Fri, 06/06/2014

Accounting firm’s data says it was a decent year for a change. More of them are needed.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

dollar signsMilk producers made tangible progress last year in their uphill battle to recover from the financial disaster of 2008-09, according to summary data from the largest dairy accounting firm in the country. While it’s a start, most still have a long way to go to get back to premeltdown equity levels.

Average income and expense summaries just released by Genske, Mulder & Co. show that profitability was the broad norm for their clients in 2013 rather than the rare exception. Amounts varied widely between the seven Western states and two Plains states regions summarized by the firm, but all were in the positive column. Read more

In California, it paid to be organic

Date: 
Thu, 06/05/2014

When compared on herd size, income over feed cost was $4 greater for organic dairymen.

cows

by Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Across the industry, there is one struggle upon which we can unite. Regardless of your chosen production method or location in the country, margins have been tight as of late. Yet, when compared, California’s organic operations fared a bit better than their conventional Holstein counterparts this past year.

Annually, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) releases California Cost of Production data. In 2013, data was collected from 10 organic dairy herds, averaging 445 head. The CDFA also collected information from 29 conventional Holstein herds, averaging 397 cows. Based on herd size, these two data sets provide a reasonable cost of production comparison. Read more

Breakfast on the Farm events stimulate dairy consumption

Date: 
Wed, 06/04/2014

Dairy promotion gatherings enhance consumer sales

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

youth petting calfJune is an exciting time for the dairy industry . . . amiable weather, bustling activity and overall enthusiasm for milk and dairy products. The most obvious signs of dairy promotion are Breakfast on the Farm events, where rural and urban dwellers enjoy the morning meal showcasing agriculture and the dairy industry. Read more

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