HD Notebook

Speak the language cattle understand

Wed, 03/16/2016

Our actions need to speak louder than words when working with livestock.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Cows may not speak like we do, but that does not mean that we cannot communicate with them. We must simply interact in ways they understand.

Ron Gill, Texas A&M“Cattle prefer to communicate through sight,” said Ron Gill from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension during his presentation at the Wisconsin Dairy and Beef Well-Being Conference held in Platteville, Wis. His demonstration involved beef animals, but his advice pertained to cattle of any breed.

He explained that to accomplish good stockmanship and low-stress handling, we must understand how prey animals like cows see the world. Gill shared that while cattle have excellent peripheral vision, they have a large blind spot directly behind them and a smaller blind spot in front. Read more

Our first roll and toggle

Tue, 03/15/2016

Turning adversity into opportunity.

Wiggle, the cow

by Sadie Frericks

Like other dairy farmers who enjoy showing cows, we develop special relationships with our show cows. They’re the ones who always want their heads scratched or come find us in the pen or the pasture. We give all of our cows the same love and attention, but show cows get a little more affection.

So I didn’t take it well when Glen, my husband, told me that Wiggle had pinged with a displaced abomasum. Wiggle has done better in the showring than any other cow we’ve bred. She also comes from one of the top production families in our herd.

“Oh no,” I said out loud, as my heart sank.

“No, this is OK,” Glen replied.

For a second, I thought my hubby wasn’t thinking straight. “When is a DA ever OK?” I thought to myself.

Before I could question his soundness of mind, he explained: Read more

The perfect feed center

Mon, 03/14/2016

There is no one-size-fits-all in feed centers, but all farms can benefit from reduced feed costs realized by measuring and managing inefficiencies.

By Maggie Seiler, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

feed center on a dairy

It’s no secret that feed costs make up a significant portion of expenses on the farm, and in tight financial seasons, we all look to this area. What things can be reduced? What can be cut? How can we lose fewer nutrients before they make it in front of the cows?

Speaking at the Northeast Dairy Producer’s Conference last week, Dave Greene, technical field specialist with Diamond V, suggested that the greatest feed center inefficiencies exist in management and shrink. The key Greene says is understanding your specific operation’s strengths and weaknesses and playing to the strengths while reducing the inefficiencies. Read more

National Ag Day – for ourselves or others?

Fri, 03/11/2016

Event celebrates the value of food production in our world.

Ag Day poster

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

Tuesday, March 15 is National Agriculture Day, which marks the 43rd year of celebrating the ways agriculture impacts everyone. This year’s theme is “Celebrating Safe and Healthy Ag Workers.”

The National Agriculture Day program encourages every American to:

  • Understand how food and fiber products are produced.
  • Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.
  • Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.
  • Acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber industry.
Read more

The Rx for sharing our dairy life

Thu, 03/10/2016

Place yourself in a consumer mindset. In doing so, you’ll develop a much clearer dairy conversation.

farm scene

by Mark Rodgers

When dairy farmers speak to each other, we often toss around terms such as TMR, DA, fresh, dry, lactation, milk fever, and hundredweight of milk like we learned those terms back in the first grade. That’s because we understand dairy terminology, it’s second nature for us to use, and it works fine in conversations with peers. However, when we share our dairy stories to those outside industry circles, that technical jargon does not work to convey our message. Read more

It’s a different world without GMOs

Wed, 03/09/2016

Adverse economic and environmental impacts would result if genetically modified organisms were eliminated from farming.


By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Technology has given our agricultural industry legs to grow, opportunities to be more productive, and methods to become more efficient.

One such technology is genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. The use of GMOs has elevated food production for both humans and animals to new levels.

Yet, some people have taken a firm stance against the use of GMOs. They would prefer use of this technology be limited or not used at all. Read more

Farming in pajamas

Tue, 03/08/2016

While city cousins may think we just rolled out of bed, nothing could be further from the truth on the farm.

by Darleen Sichley

little farmersI think we can all agree that dairy farming goes beyond being just an occupation. It’s a lifestyle choice that trickles all the way down to the tiny details that are just unique and normal to this way of life. When we step outside of the industry, I’m often reminded of just how different our normal really is.

I was running late for preschool pick up. We’ve entered the school age with our oldest son, who his daddy and I have dubbed “Little Farmer.” This new time in our lives comes with a whole other shake up in the schedule. So far we’ve managed it well, and the 10-minute drive into town is actually a nice change of scenery from the farm setting. My real wake up to that change came the day I was running late. Read more

The farm meeting

Mon, 03/07/2016

Approach farm meetings prepared and with a goal in mind.

informal farm meeting

By Maggie Seiler, Hoard's Dairyman Associate Editor

Growing up, my favorite farm meetings occurred around the breakfast table. Specifically, I remember chowing down on some bacon prepared by my grandfather while he and my dad drank coffee and planned the day. Food aside, there were some days when these meetings were productive, quick and to the point. Other days they would drag on and on.

As I got older, I witnessed these same trends in meetings I attended for clubs and group meetings in college. Sometimes people came prepared, we discussed pertinent information and we moved on. Sometimes I sat through frustratingly long conversations that had little to do with making decisions and executing plans. Read more

Five things dairy farmers can learn from wrestlers

Fri, 03/04/2016

Keep your focus so you don’t get pinned or pushed out of the ring.


By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

Wrestling can be a bit like dairy farming. Farmers must be scrappy to stay mobile and not get taken down. While I have only watched a few high school wrestling matches, I understand the premise and appreciate the mental toughness and focus young athletes endure for those intense minutes.

A few weeks ago I was talking to a dairy farmer whose son wrestled in high school. His daughter is the wrestling team manager. He was telling me about two local wrestlers. Read more

Stepping out of the classroom

Thu, 03/03/2016

Dairy Challenge competitions combine book learning with real-life situations.

Dairy Challenge

By Taylor Leach, Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern

It’s the same old routine. You’re sitting in a classroom listening to lecture after lecture while thinking to yourself, “Am I really going to use this someday?” If you’re in Philosophy 101, then probably not, but you may want to pay closer attention in that dairy science course of yours. Read more

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