HD Notebook

Learning linear gets a second wind

Thu, 01/09/2014

Five days and a dozen people helped revamp our educational offerings.

by Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

The first five issues of the year of Hoard’s Dairyman are best known for their covers, launching yet another round of the annual cow judging contest. For the 84th contest, we are supplementing this longstanding tradition with revamped educational material. Take another look at the Young Dairymen page in your January 10, 2014, issue (page 28).

A once popular item in our editorial department, Focus on Linear Scoring, sold out a few years back. Corey Geiger, with help from then interns Shelly Lammers and Kim Koepke, hatched the idea for that guide 15 years ago. With a group of 82 pictures taken by the late Rick Miller, a series of five articles was run in 1998. These articles were the foundation for the guide that was later printed highlighting each breakdown on the PDCA scorecard. Read more

Dairy showmanship: Some things do change

Wed, 01/08/2014

Fall 2011 PDCA showmanship scorecard changes are slow to be adopted.

by Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

Old habits are hard to break. Forming new habits helps reinforce positive actions, but breaking old ones, can be challenging. In the Fall of 2011, a group of individuals gathered to revamp the PDCA showmanship scorecard to make it more accurately reflect current practices. (Hoard’s Dairyman printed the updated scorecard in three of its Spring 2012 issues.)

dairy show lineup

However, not all shows, whether county fairs or state breed shows, have completely adopted the new guidelines. Many may not even be aware of the changes. The judge has the final say on the day, but participants rarely know if the judge is using the previous or current rules, which is a disadvantage to participants. Read more

Animal needs surge in frigid temperatures

Tue, 01/07/2014

Harsh winter temperatures raise the needs of all animals, especially young stock, on the farm.

by Abby Bauer, Hoard's Dairyman Associate Editor

Amy StantonAnother harsh, cold day is upon many of us across the country. Amy Stanton, animal well-being specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, shared some guidelines for caring for animals when temperatures are especially frigid.

In general, Stanton reminds us that all animals must have shelter from the wind. Because animals are spending a lot of energy to stay warm, provide extra access to food. Also, be sure fresh water is available to all animals at all times. A lactating cow needs to drink at least 15 gallons of water a day, and a weaned heifer needs at least 5 gallons. Snow is not an alternative to water. Read more

Over 100 Guernsey 2-year-olds now classified

Mon, 01/06/2014

A number of young Guernsey bulls, without official proofs, have daughters classified at the Hoard’s Dairyman Farm. Average age at first calving is 23.5 months.

by Corey Geiger, Hoard's Dairyman Managing Editor

The Hoard Farm team headed up by Jason Yurs continues to be pleased with the performance of young sires’ daughters. On December 13, a number of young bulls had daughters either scored for the first time . . . or very early in the evaluation process.

Ripley Farms Aaron Cordell, a young bull with 11 daughters in his production proof, has four appraised at the Hoard’s Dairyman Farm: 85, 81, 77 and 76, respectively. Cordell’s daughters ranged from 86 to 77 on feet and legs scores, from 86 to 76 in the udder. Read more

What influences a producer’s decision to relocate a dairy

Fri, 01/03/2014

Of the 110 factors studied, 13 ranked as the most important factors at locating a new dairy. For many years, the West ranked high on many of them.

by Margaret Seiler

It is no secret to those involved in the dairy industry that the cows are moving West. According to Normand St-Pierre, professor of dairy management at The Ohio State University, the movement of cows is evident in the raw numbers.

"The West and Southwest now account for 42 percent of the national milk production, which is up from 17 percent in 1970," said St-Pierre during his presentation at Kansas State University's Dairy Symposium on October 23. Symposium attendees heard St-Pierre present the findings of an Ohio State University research study that identified factors influencing where new dairies are located. Read more

Ethical treatment contracts are becoming more commonplace

Thu, 01/02/2014

By outlining animal care expectations with all staff, dairy farmers can ensure the best cow care possible.

by Mary-Elizabeth Foote

After the dairy industry made national headlines earlier this month due to mistreatment of farm animals, some consumers questioned all practices that take place on a farm. While the grand majority of dairy producers have always taken exceptional care of their animals, dairymen have found new ways to go out of their way to ensure that ethical practices are taking place. More owners and operators across the nation are designing ethical animal treatment contracts and are requiring employees to understand and sign them before being able to work. Read more

Seven ways to extend your good fortune in 2014

Wed, 01/01/2014

Caring for others starts by caring for yourself.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

I recently received a newsletter from a charity that helps parents cope with children with Niemann-Pick Disease, a terminal illness. It listed 12 ways to care for the caregiver (parent) during the holidays. With a few tweaks, some of the suggestions apply to dairy producers, too, who are year-round care givers to animals, family and land. So here are a few ways to care for the caregiver:

1. Take care of yourself physically. Farmers are notorious for shrugging off discomfort or illness and continue working. If you think that pain might be more serious, get it checked before it becomes more serious.

2. Don’t overload your daily to-do list and be realistic. I am a list-maker and I fill up the whole page, but knowing that I will only get a few done at a time and not trying to get them all done maintains my sanity. Read more

Three ways we can boost heifer preg rates

Tue, 12/31/2013

By improving heat detection efficiency, reducing heat detection errors and honing our inseminating skills, we can get more heifers bred.

by Macy Sarbacker

When it comes to heifer fertility, reproductive experts say to focus your efforts on factors that you can control. Katie Ballard on behalf of the Farm Report for the William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute suggests looking at the following heifer fertility factors that we can control:

  • Heat detection efficiency
  • Heat detection errors
  • Skill of the inseminator

Heat detection efficiency is defined as the percentage of cows displaying estrus that are identified as being in heat. Unfortunately, in many cases, heifers are housed away from the main farm operations which results in less time spent observing for heat activity. Read more

Western returns hovering near breakeven

Mon, 12/30/2013

Through June, cash flow on milking cows ranged from minus 59 to positive 80 cents per hundredweight.

by Corey Geiger, Hoard’s Dairyman Managing Editor

cows milkingNet farm incomes in the West have been varied, according to mid-year reports assembled by Frazer, LLP. On a per hundredweight basis, the highest farm income at 80 cents per hundredweight (cwt.) occurred in Idaho. That was followed by the Pacific Northwest (Oregon and Washington) at 57 cents per cwt. In California, returns ranged from Kern County’s 73 cents; Southern California’s 38 cents; and the San Joaquin Valley’s 1 cent.

Meanwhile, record losses were highest in Arizona at 59 cents per cwt. That was followed by the Texas Panhandle’s 54 cents, while New Mexico experienced a setback of 33 cents per cwt., reported the accounting firm which conducts business in seven states. Read more

Ten tips for preventing hay fires

Fri, 12/27/2013

Taking the time and effort to prevent hay fires has never made more sense.


by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Dairy hay has never been more expensive than in recent years, making it vital to make sure that hay fires don’t happen. University of Idaho extension forage specialist Glenn Shewmaker offers these 10 helpful tips:

  1. Record hay cutting and drying conditions in a journal.
  2. Monitor hay moisture before raking, tedding and baling.
  3. Record the day of raking, tedding and inversion, as well as baling and drying conditions.
  4. Test the first three bales from a field with an electronic moisture probe in two places on each side and ends of the bale (12 total readings). Note the high, low and average. If average moisture is below the maximum for the type of bale and forage, continue baling.
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