HD Notebook

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

Watch water intake, especially in cold weather

Mon, 02/10/2014

Simple tweaks to water access may boost your farm’s milk check.

by Ali Enerson, Hoard’s Dairyman Special Publications Editor

Fresh, available drinking water is essential for healthy, high-producing dairy cows. A 1,500-pound lactating dairy cow consumes approximately 25 to 35 gallons of water per day. Drinking water meets 80 to 90 percent her total water needs. Of that percentage, 30 to 50 percent is consumed within an hour after milking.

Knowing that, ensuring that enough clean water is readily available in all weather conditions is critical. As we're in the midst of cold weather season, be sure to check your waterers regularly to make sure they are in working order. Upgrade a heating element, check for corroded valves or clogged pipes to be proactive and avoid unnecessary headaches. Read more

What do you think about genomics?

Fri, 02/07/2014

Researchers are eager to hear comments at two meetings in Tulare next week.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Dairy cows, particularly Holsteins, are slowly declining in conception rate. It’s a decades-old trend that robs profitability from milk producers and threatens the long-term viability of the dairy industry.

However, researchers think genetic screening tests — genomics — may hold promise in stopping or even reversing the decline. But they badly need producers’ help, and to seek it they will hold two open forum meetings next week in Tulare, Calif., during World Ag Expo.

The meetings will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, February 11 and Wednesday, February 12 at the U.C. Davis Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center, located about 1 mile south of the World Ag Expo show grounds. Identical meetings were held last October during World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis. Read more

Consider baleage when the sun isn’t shining

Thu, 02/06/2014

An excellent alternative, baleage works when forage moisture levels won’t drop low enough for dry hay.

by Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

While it’s not time to make hay just yet, it is time to get the wheels in motion for this year’s cropping season. The bane of growing crops lies in our inability to predict the weather. But, we may be able to limit its effect with a switch from dry hay to baleage.

“If you can’t make hay while the sun shines, consider baleage,” noted Kevin Shinners with the University of Wisconsin-Madison at the Midwest Forage Association’s annual meeting. The forage comes with several distinct advantages over its drier counterpart:

  • Shorter wilting period, better leaf retention
  • Low storage losses, greater weather protection
  • Uniform product, no taxable structure
Read more

Experience helps us prepare for challenges

Wed, 02/05/2014

But, solid research and effort can mimic experience.

by Patti Hurtgen, Hoard's Dairyman Online Media Manger

smiling juniorsWhen the Seattle Seahawks’ young quarterback took the field on Sunday, he was prepared. The familiarity of the opposing quarterback to high-pressure games far exceeded this second-year player’s resume. Yet, what was about to unfold surprised nearly every spectator.

The quarterback of the Seahawks, did not participate in the Super Bowl last year, but he attended because he knew that his team would get there and wanted to be ready when that time came. In his numerous interviews this week, he reiterated his reason for attending last year’s game… “just to observe pregame warmups, and see how long it was and what the feel was like, the rhythm of the pregame, the rhythm of halftime…” Read more

Create a “cow-friendly” robotic milking system environment

Tue, 02/04/2014

A Canadian consultant shares his four cornerstones to designing barns for robotic milkers.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Robotic milking systems can fit in a variety of barn layouts, but a focus on the cows is a must. Jack Rodenburg from DairyLogix Consulting in Ontario, Canada, shared his four main cornerstones for designing barns for robotic milkers last week at the Wisconsin Frame Builders Association annual conference.

cow being milked by a robot

According to Rodenburg, “Cow comfort is the primary cornerstone.” Besides well-designed and managed stalls and an inviting robot, overall barn layout is critical.

A producer must decide between free or forced traffic. In free-traffic barns, cows have access to feeding and resting areas with no restriction. In this setup, the farmer has to fetch more cows that don’t come up for milking on their own, said Rodenburg. Read more

Twas the night before a dairy judging contest

Mon, 02/03/2014

by Bonnie Ayars

Editor's note: The 84th annual Hoard’s Dairyman Cow Judging Contest is in full swing with the Guernseys set to appear on the February 10 cover. If your group or family would like free reprints of all five classes, send an email to judging@hoards.com.

In the meantime, we are publishing this well-written poem by Bonnie Ayars, an Ohio dairy farm wife and The Ohio State University judging coach. We hope the poem, written in the verse and rhythm of Twas the Night Before Christmas, gets you in the judging spirit.

Bonnie Ayars at Hoard Farm

Twas the night before a dairy judging contest
And contestants were preparing to do their best.
Not yet ready to rest and relax in their beds
Visions of hooks, pins, and udder cleft danced in their heads

Coaches were giving some last minute suggestions
Read more

Hot buttered sales

Fri, 01/31/2014

Trans fat fear is making butter a better choice for consumers.


by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

U.S. butter usage in 2013 hit its highest level in 40 years, due in great part to growing publicity about the negative effects of trans fats commonly used in margarines.

How yummy is that news?

According to the American Butter Institute, butter usage in 2013 was 5.6 pounds per person — the most since the early 1970s and an increase of 25 percent in just 11 years.

That’s great news for the dairy industry, but let’s put things into a more candid context. Butter usage bottomed out at 4.1 pounds per person in 1997. While the 2013 figure was 36 percent higher, the difference amounted to only 1.5 pounds per person. Before World War II, butter use averaged over 18 pounds per person, according to the Los Angeles Times. Read more

Walk a Mile in My Farm Boots

Thu, 01/30/2014

An 11-year-old Pennsylvanian author depicts the basics of dairying on his family’s farm in his first book.

by Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Walk a Mile in My Farm BootsFor many, the thought of writing a book of any length is overwhelming. Often times, the idea dies shortly after it is conceived. But one young man on a Pennsylvania dairy embraced the challenge and, with the help of his parents, produced a short book on the essentials of dairy faming.

Yet, the project wasn’t without its frustrations. “The hardest part was getting the picture for the front cover because the calf just didn’t want to cooperate. She was running around constantly for 10 minutes and then we finally got it right so that we could actually take the picture,” he adds. Read more

Youth farm injuries have declined, but there is still room for improvement

Wed, 01/29/2014

Every third day, a child dies in an agriculture-related incident.

by Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and SafetyWe try to safeguard our homes and farms from potentially dangerous situations, and for the great majority, we have been successful in lowering the total number and percentage of childhood (19 years and under) farm injuries. But, any injury or death that could be prevented is too many. Read more

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