HD Notebook

Learning Linear: More than choosing great dairy cows

Mon, 02/24/2014

New dairy cattle evaluation educational book contains over 90-plus color photos comparing each trait.

linear scoring

by Ali Enerson, Hoard’s Dairyman Special Publications Editor

Understanding linear evaluation enhances every dairy farmer’s ability to make better decisions for breeding and mating profitable, sound dairy cows. And for many others it means many lifelong skills that will serve them in personal and professional capacities.

It’s easy to talk about the skills youth gain by learning how to look at an animal, determine close pairs or a standout winner and give oral reasons. However, it’s sometimes overlooked that these same skills and benefits apply to adults who spend time learning these evaluation and observation techniques later in life. Read more

Make room for ice cream

Fri, 02/21/2014

It’s over half of the frozen desserts consumed

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

There was a time when ice cream was just for the affluent. With the advent of insulated ice houses in the early 1800s, it could stay cold.

Ice cream is a refreshing way to enjoy dairy, and the ingredients (protein, calcium, minerals and vitamins) add to its food value. To be called ice cream, it must contain 10 percent milkfat. Gourmet ice creams must contain at least 12 percent and often times are higher. Milkfat affects the palatability, smoothness, color and texture.

frozen yogurt shop in Dubai
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A current snapshot of dairying in China

Thu, 02/20/2014

The gap between milk demand and supply is widening in the world’s largest country.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Milk in ChinaThis is a great time to be a milk producer in China. It’s an even better time to be a high-quality producer. But it’s a spectacular time to be a foreign supplier of premium, high quality products.

China’s melamine adulteration crisis in 2008 destroyed consumers’ confidence in domestically produced milk and it isn’t coming back quickly. The legacy of the crisis is that quality is now everything to consumers, who view imports as safer and are flocking to premium offerings in particular.

It’s a perception that gives imports a huge advantage over domestic dairy products and it’s a standard that domestic producers are forced to meet. Read more

Animals often bring comfort and joy

Wed, 02/19/2014

While dairy cows aren’t always an option, dairy steers can be just as valuable as a 4-H project.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Megan McCoyEvery 4-H member has a unique story. Whether they’ve consistently bred show ring champions or have overcome obstacles to get where they are today, all of their tales are inspirational in some way.

Late last year, Megan McCoy’s story came across our desks after her mother, Christal, wrote to us. Embracing her love of animals, Megan’s father, who grew up on a dairy outside of Ashland, Ohio, was the driver behind her dairy steer 4-H projects. Below is the story we received from Megan’s family: Read more

Grazing heifers offers short and long term impacts

Tue, 02/18/2014

Heifers on pasture not only cost less to feed now, but they may also be healthier and more productive as cows.

Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor


“If you don’t want to graze your cows, at least consider rotationally grazing your heifers.” That was the advice given by Larry Tranel, Iowa State Extension Dairy Specialist, at an Iowa Dairy Days meeting this month. He shared several potential benefits to raising heifers on pasture.

For starters, grazing heifers can be a great cost savings. Cornell University research from a few years ago found that heifers grazed 1.5 seasons before calving cost $284 less to raise, 12 percent less than heifers raised in confinement. Feed and labor cost savings per day depended on the age of heifer and can be found in the chart below.

heifer growth and cost chart
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Best blogs of 2014: The night calves just kept coming

Mon, 02/17/2014

Hoard’s Dairyman editors not only write about the dairy industry, but live it each day. After giving his family farm’s herdsman off for the weekend, four cows in the herd of 65 calved from midnight to 6 a.m. Sunday morning.

by Corey Geiger, Hoard's Dairyman Managing Editor

Since 1899, the Hoard’s Dairyman Farm has played a pivotal role in keeping our editors grounded in the reality of reporting science and, at the same time, making it practical for our extremely busy dairy farm readers. While each of our editors have interactions with the Hoard’s Dairyman Farm manager and his staff, five of the six editorial staffers who write for our publication count themselves among the nation’s 50,000 dairy farm families. As a result, we not only write about the dairy industry but also live it each day. What follows is a lighthearted account of one editor’s experiences on his family’s dairy farm one weekend. — The Editors Read more

Water worries low at World Ag Expo

Fri, 02/14/2014

Despite California’s worst drought, dairy producers were far from frightened.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

World Ag Expo
Maybe it was the inch or so of rain that had fallen during the previous several days, or maybe the perpetual optimism that goes with being a farmer of any kind.

Either way, there was no panic about the worst drought to hit California in over 100 years among dairy producers I talked to this week at World Ag Expo in Tulare. Concern yes, but not fear.

There are huge reasons to be terrified if worst-case scenarios come to pass, but the producers I visited with didn’t have it. Yes, there are worries, but they are pretty much limited to the impact it could have on local forage supplies and prices. All said they have good wells and normal water tables. Read more

Every farm should culture

Thu, 02/13/2014

An unknown mastitis cause prevents us from making the best treatment decision.

by Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Pam Ruegg2“Bacteria must be kept away from the teat ends. Fundamentally, 99 percent of the time mastitis occurs when the ability of the teat end sphincter to control bacteria is exceeded. To control mastitis, the cause must be known,” noted Pam Ruegg, UW-Madison, at the Wisconsin Dairy Field Representatives Conference.

While we can detect mastitis, it is not at the moment of infection; we never know exactly when the infection occurred. We detect mastitis based on the results of the cow’s immune response. Yet, when detection occurs, are bacteria still present in the udder? We often use antibiotics, but if bacteria aren’t present, we don’t need to treat that case of mastitis. Read more

Farm Bill 101: The dairy component

Wed, 02/12/2014

Dairy portion outlined in Hoard’s Dairyman webinar.

By Patti Hurtgen, Online Media Manager

February 2014 cover slideOne of the earliest discussions on the farm bill took place on Monday, February 10, when Hoard’s Dairyman presented “What does the farm bill mean to dairy?” Farm bill adviser, Scott Brown with the University of Missouri presented the webinar. He’s no stranger to agricultural policy, as Brown has testified in front of both the House and the Senate on dairy issues.

Before the farm bill can be dissected, “forget all that you thought or heard about the farm prior to January 2014,” said Brown. Read more

Can old buildings house your herd’s future?

Tue, 02/11/2014

Remodeled buildings can work well for young stock, but put the hammer down and take a close look at the facility first.

young stock

by Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

As new farm buildings go up, older ones stand empty. When milking herds grow, there are more calves to raise. Does it make sense to repurpose empty buildings to house young stock? It depends, explained Dan Huyser, Iowa State Extension agricultural engineering field specialist, at an Iowa Dairy Days program last week.

Huyser said the very first question to ask is, “Why is this building available?” Perhaps it was simply vacated when another building was put up, but maybe there was a reason animals were relocated. Consider what must be changed before calves or heifers move in, including concrete, water and electrical sources. Read more

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