HD Notebook

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.

One Small Farm: Photos tell a family farm story anyone can relate to

Thu, 12/26/2013

One Small Farm

“People’s lives are written on the fields of old farms.”

by Ali Enerson, Hoard’s Dairyman Special Publications Editor

You know that moment when you bump into another farmer and he starts in on a story illustrating the love of what he does? The farmer says he could “keep-up with the times” and have bigger, newer equipment but what he has parked back home in the shed does the job just fine. A farmer who has spent his entire life milking his cows twice a day every day, is a good steward of his land, carries great pride in every task he tackles, yet remains humble and grounded knowing he’s ultimately at the mercy of Mother Nature. Read more

Merry Christmas to all our readers

Wed, 12/25/2013

Our blog today comes from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2, verses 8 through 12

Christmas Day

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

Is your bedding working for your cows?

Tue, 12/24/2013

Make sure your bedding is doing its job by evaluating cow cleanliness and comfort.

by Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

cow in bedded stall
Cost and ease of handling are often the first considerations when it comes to bedding for dairy cattle. Ideally, bedding selection should really focus on what works best for the cow.

“The function of bedding is to keep cows clean and comfortable,” said David Wolfgang, a field study coordinator and extension veterinarian at Penn State, during a Penn State Extension Tech Tuesday webinar earlier this month. “Look at cow comfort as the driver for bedding selection.” Read more

Speak up for the good of our industry

Mon, 12/23/2013

news van

When the call comes from the popular press, we must be prepared to answer it.

by Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

There are a number of people we willingly let on our dairies each day. Most, the breeder, vet or nutritionist, are readily welcomed as they offer much needed services. And oftentimes, we don’t hesitate to spend a few minutes chatting, updating them on our herds and homes.

The media though is often a less welcome visitor, especially in the light of disheartening industry news. Yet, when the time comes, we need to remove our humble hats, open our doors and be strong advocates for our industry. Read more

A cow numbers disaster for China’s dairy industry

Fri, 12/20/2013

The country’s milk cow population has dropped 20 percent this year.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

China, with the world’s biggest population, is gradually developing a taste for dairy products, particularly because parents want to feed their babies high-protein formula.

The surge in demand that goes with it has far exceeded the ability of Chinese dairies to keep up, on the order of about 21 billion pounds per year on a fluid milk basis. The gap is expected to widen as older children and adults increase their consumption of dairy products, and it is what makes China the biggest sales opportunity for exporters around the world.

That opportunity grew even larger in 2013 due to a massive decline in dairy cow numbers on Chinese farms. Read more

Tis the season for giving or taking (advantage)

Thu, 12/19/2013

New HumaneWatch.org report reveals continued inaction by HSUS when it comes to aiding animals by funding shelters.

by Patti Hurtgen, Hoard's Dairyman Online Media Manager

kittenAds for dogs and cats in undesirable conditions make many of us uncomfortable. They are followed by requests for pledges of money to help stop the cycle of neglect. Our heart wants to help, but are we really helping if we contribute? How much is actually going to help those sick animals if you contribute to Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)? – Less than 1 percent of all money raised by HSUS! The rest goes to employee pensions, to the tune of $2.4 million just last year, advertising, fundraising, salaries, lobbying and other nonpet-shelter-related budget priorities. One dollar of every $100 you donate. Read more

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