HD Notebook

Working through the weaning commotion

Mon, 06/06/2016

As one of the biggest variables in calf care, the proper timing for weaning can be widely inconstant from calf to calf.

automated calf feeding

By Maggie Seiler, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Weaning is definitely not a one-size-fits-all activity. In fact, there are almost as many weaning strategies out there as there are dairy farms, and many of them are quite successful.

Weaning doesn’t just vary from farm to farm. A recent study at the University of British Columbia showed a great amount of variation also exists from calf to calf. The study specifically compared early and late weaning strategies to weaning based on starter intake measuring body weights, intake, and hunger behaviors. Read more

Taking the class to the farm

Fri, 06/03/2016

Nothing enhances learning more than a field trip.

field trip

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

When it’s June is Dairy Month, we want to tell consumers how proud we are to be dairy producers. But, not all of us are articulate or feel comfortable speaking to crowds. Hosting visitors takes time and resources to ensure everything is picture-perfect, from painted fences, planted flowers, swept floors, and a spit-shined pipeline.

Those producers who host tours represent all of us. For the past eight years, fourth grade students in Wisconsin’s Jefferson County have toured a working dairy to learn about agriculture.

The Kutz family opens their farm to over 700 special guests with the help of the local Farm Bureau and Agri-Business Club. These organizations also sponsor the students’ lunches, including a ham and cheese sandwich, vegetables, milk, and ice cream. Read more

Batter up!

Thu, 06/02/2016

Farmers are a lot like baseball team managers, working hard to keep their top performers healthy and “on the field.”

cow groups

By Mark Rodgers, Georgia dairy farmer

I like to think of my milking herd groups like baseball teams and myself as the team manager. Just like any good team manager, I monitor player (cow) statistics and work to keep the team in top physical condition.

We have four milking groups in our herd, plus the “TLC” or hospital group, housed in our freestall barn. The teams are grouped in the following manner:

Group 1 is made up of fresh first-calf heifers. I think of them as the young players that finally made it to the big league. They need a little extra coaching and training. We follow their stats closely through 65 days to see if we want to keep them, market them to another dairy, or go ahead and cull them if we are overstocked in the barn. Read more

Showmanship: A dance between animal and leadsman

Wed, 06/01/2016

PDCA showmanship guidelines are designed to help showmen prepare for the big dance.

by Taylor Leach, Hoard’s Dairyman editorial intern

showmanshipStepping in unison, circling the ring. One partner wears white, while the other wears spots. Heads are up, tails are fluffed, and all eyes are on the judge.

Although I was kicked out of dance school at the young age of three (I had this excessive need to do summersaults instead of dance), I would still consider myself to be a professional dancer. I’ve always had a love for this special dance they called showmanship. It was something that I took pride in, something that I could train for instead of breed for. I did not need to own a first place quality animal to win showmanship. It was all about who presented, or danced, with their animal the best. Read more

Stepping up to June Dairy Month

Tue, 05/31/2016

This June Dairy Month, share the steps you take to ensure a delicious and nutritious product.

counting steps

By Darleen Sichley, Oregon dairy farmer

As we say goodbye to May and hello to June, it signals the time to celebrate June Dairy Month. Personally, I think it is pretty awesome that for a whole month every year we have the opportunity to acknowledge and honor the dairy industry. From cow to gallon, there are so many reasons to celebrate.

It gives us a great reason to share and connect with consumers about dairy. We are taking so many steps to ensure a healthy, nutritious, and delicious product. From cow care to nutrition to milking procedures, the list goes on and on with everything we do daily for that end result. And behind all those steps, are the literal steps that we put in to make it all happen. Read more

It’s time to say cheese

Fri, 05/27/2016

Block, curd, or shredded, put it on your plate.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

“A can a week is all we ask.”

girl eating cheeseThat was a very successful marketing campaign for Blue Diamond Almonds decades ago. I saw plenty of those commercials and almond trees while living in the Central Valley of California. It was a simple message from a nut grower, standing in the middle of my television screen, holding a small can of almonds and inviting everyone to eat just one can a week. Read more

Pulling back the blanket on dry cow treatment

Thu, 05/26/2016

A small study showed that selective dry cow therapy can maintain udder health while reducing antibiotic use in some cows.

dry cows

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

One topic of conversation at the Minnesota Herd Health Conference held in Bloomington, Minn., last week was blanket versus selective dry cow therapy.

“Blanket dry cow therapy has been preached since the 1960s,” said Erin Royster of the University of Minnesota. While treating every cow with antibiotics at dry-off has become a norm, a recent push to reduce antibiotic use on farms has led some to wonder if treating all cows is necessary.

The goals of dry cow therapy are to treat existing infections and prevent new ones. Royster explained that if a farm chooses to use selective dry cow therapy and only treat some cows, they must be able to determine infection status at dry-off. Read more

Not one, not two, but three!

Wed, 05/25/2016

Are you ready to handle triplets on your farm?

by Taylor Leach, Hoard’s Dairyman editorial intern

triplet calves
As farmers, we learn to always expect the unexpected. But when triplets arrive on the dairy, it is understandable to be in shock.

Surprised was my reaction when I received the news that triplets had been born at the Oklahoma State University (OSU) Ferguson Family Dairy Center. My fellow student employee, Leanne Van Der Laan, an OSU animal science and agribusiness junior, informed me of her eventful, yet rewarding day spent at the vets office delivering three healthy Holstein calves. Read more

Temple Grandin visits Wisconsin dairy farm

Tue, 05/24/2016

Top animal welfare expert praises animal care, impressed with newest lameness research

by Sadie Frericks, Minnesota dairy farmer

Temple Grandin at Vir-Clar Farm
Temple Grandin visits Vir-Clar Farm in Fond du Lac, Wis.

“I saw dairy cows who have a wonderful life today.”

That’s what Dr. Temple Grandin told an audience of over 700 people during her lecture on autism at Marian University last Friday night in Fond du Lac, Wis. The dairy cows she saw were those at Vir-Clar Farm, which Temple and I toured together on Friday morning.

It all starts at the top

Mon, 05/23/2016

The standard of excellence begins with the boss when it comes to animal welfare.

training and development

By Maggie Seiler, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

What’s the hardest part of initiating a training program for animal welfare on today’s dairies?

If you ask Luís Mendonça, who conducts many employee trainings every year, the greatest challenge is company culture.

“It starts with the top management, but if the middle managers and supervisors don’t buy in, we fail,” the Kansas State University dairy extension specialist explained. On farms with good leadership that build strong culture, positive attitudes, and employee morale, animal welfare can come as second nature.

“I’m a strong believer that employee training needs to be a systematic approach,” Mendonça shared at the recent Dairy Cattle Welfare Symposium in Columbus, Ohio. Read more

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