HD Notebook

Are your calves parched?

Wed, 06/15/2016

Help your calves withstand the intense summer heat.

newborn calf

By Taylor Leach, Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern

It’s hot, it’s humid, and it’s only the beginning of summer. And there is still a long way to go before we start to see the anticipated cooler temperatures of fall. While some might be enjoying the warmer weather, our calves, most likely, are not. How do we make sure that they remain comfortable during the intense summer heat?

Water is the most essential nutrient of them all. Without it, we cannot survive. Calves receive much of their water needs through milk consumption. Yet, they must still have enough clean water to replenish daily water loss through urine, feces, skin, and respiratory secretions. Within a few days of birth, calves should be provided with a clean, fresh water supply to encourage water consumption. Read more

Ode to the middle cows

Tue, 06/14/2016

Spend some time analyzing your most valuable group of cows — those that are so problem-free you almost forget they are present.

healthy cows

By Darleen Sichley, Oregon dairy farmer

We are all intimately familiar with our top cows — those special ones that outrank their herdmates in production or type. We form a special bond or attachment with those animals and celebrate their accomplishments in the showring and parlor. They are the real reason we get out of bed every morning, and it is an honor to work with them.

At the same time, we all also know our bottom cows. Those ones that, for whatever reason, struggle. They just don’t meet their genetic potential or seem to find all the problems. We spend most of our time keeping this group sound and healthy.

What about those cows that make up the middle?

Our favorite group of cows should be those we can almost forget about. Read more

The “others” of feed efficiency

Mon, 06/13/2016

Some feed efficiency factors are easy to overlook.

By Maggie Seiler, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

cows at feedbunkFeed management, bunker or silo care, labor efficiencies, and more. Farmers are some of the most economically aware workers in the country, and it’s easy to understand why. Perhaps the place on the farm that receives the most attention when it comes to economics and efficiencies is the feeding program.

A recent DaireXnet article dove into a few of the feed efficiency factors that have an impact on farm economics, but are not always top of the mind – the “others” of feeding program efficiency, if you will.

“Reproductive efficiency, cow comfort, and replacement management practices impact the efficiency of feed resources used on a dairy operation,” shared Donna Amaral-Phillips in the article. Read more

Take the farm to the city

Fri, 06/10/2016

It’s about the experience, regardless of location

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

Take the farm to the people, instead of taking the people to the farm.

ScoopieJune Dairy month brings excitement as the public sets foot on real dairies during dairy breakfasts and tours. They introduce, or reintroduce, consumers to modern dairy farming. However, consumers need to travel to those events. What if logistics in your farming community are not suited for these events? Read more

Our story doesn’t exist unless we tell it

Thu, 06/09/2016

Consumers will not hear what we have to say about the dairy industry unless we take the initiative and find ways to tell them.

By Hannah Thompson, communications director for Animal Agriculture Alliance

“To the consumer, our story doesn’t exist unless we tell it.”

Andrew Campbell
Dairy farmers always say the wisest things, don’t they? The quote above was shared by Canadian dairy farmer Andrew Campbell when he spoke at the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s Stakeholders Summit in early May. Andrew told our audience about his own experience with telling his story when he decided to post one photo a day from his farm on social media using the hashtag #Farm365. Read more

Kids aren’t the only ones who enjoy playing in the sprinklers

Wed, 06/08/2016

Why evaporative cooling methods fit well on our farm.

by Taylor Leach, Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern

barn sprinklersGrowing up in the hot Kansas heat made it difficult to keep cows cool during the warmer summer months. When we decided to make modifications to our freestall barn, a sprinkler system became a must have for our cows.

Kansas summers are notorious for being extremely hot; not only during June, July, and August, but also throughout late spring and early fall as well. When it came time to remodel our freestall barn, we looked into evaporative cooling methods and decided that it would be an excellent fit for our operation. Read more

Working smarter, not harder

Tue, 06/07/2016

Custom hire is a smart business decision for our farm.

by Sadie Frericks, Minnesota dairy farmer


While my husband and I milked our cows last night, a swather zipped through our fields, mowing down our first crop of alfalfa, along with the triticale and rye we planted as cover crops.

Swathing is one of the many jobs we hire others to do for us. We are lucky to have several dairy farms in our neighborhood that regularly do custom work for other farms. Our list of custom hire jobs also includes merging and chopping haylage; raking, baling, and wrapping baleage; baling dry hay; planting and chopping corn.

corn chopper

There are several reasons why custom hire is a smart business decision for our farm:

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

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