HD Notebook

A fire in the barn

Tue, 03/29/2016

Electrical fire serves as wake-up call.

farm scene

by Sadie Frericks


There might not be another word so capable of quickly igniting fear in the hearts of farmers.

I’m sure you can imagine the level of panic we felt after smelling smoke during milking one night last week. Our cows are housed in a tie stall barn during the winter and our baby calves are housed in an auto-feeder pen in the front section of our barn . . . so a fire in the barn would put a lot of animals in danger.

Although it first smelled like the smoke was coming from our hayloft, an electrical transformer in our utility room was quickly identified as the source. The transformer’s steel box had confined the flames, but the fire left a mess of smoldering and melted wires inside the box. Read more

Weathering the new regular

Mon, 03/28/2016

Long-term growth and short-term fluctuation are the new norm for commodity markets.

By Maggie Seiler, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

graphIn Kansas this past weekend, my relatives woke up to a blanket of snow. Almost 3 inches fell there overnight and greeted early risers on Easter morning. Well past the months they are used to seeing a few inches of snow, it was an odd sight for my parents, but also not completely surprising. It is, after all, Kansas in spring, a season there that can see an 80°F day followed by snowfall making its weather patterns at least as variable as commodity markets over the last several years.

But just as my parents have grown accustomed to the ups and downs of Kansas weather, the dairy industry is adjusting to the new global standard of variability in markets. Read more

A beauty pageant for the smart females

Fri, 03/25/2016

A twist on pretty will debut at a Canadian cattle show in April.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

show ring sceneWhile no beauty pageant exists just for young ladies with IQs above 120, there is a pageant of sorts debuting in Canada next month for heifers with GLPIs over 2600 points.

At some point in our lives, we have watched or seen parts of a beauty pageant. The most impressive contestants combine an attractive appearance with an ability to speak eloquently on important matters.

The dairy industry has its version of beauty pageants – shows and expositions. It is a hobby for some, while a marketing opportunity for many. The critics of shows would argue that the “pretty cows” don’t milk as much as the “working girls” in their barn. Similar to human beauty and brains, this generality might be true in a few cases, but not all. Read more

Finding my way as a young woman in our industry

Thu, 03/24/2016

Having rejoined the family dairy business right out of college, I gained a new appreciation for working with coworkers.

women working on the farm

by Caitlin Rodgers

The ratio of women to men working in the dairy industry has become a whole lot closer to 50-50. If you were to go back just a few decades ago, or even just 10 years ago, women were next to none in the industry . . . much less having any type of management roles. Times have changed, my friends. Read more

Invest in these five employee “firsts”

Wed, 03/23/2016

Taking time upfront to bring new employees onboard can save farms time and money in the long run.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

“You’re making an investment when you hire someone,” said Trevina Broussard, an associate trainer with Humetrics, during her presentation at the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin’s annual meeting held in Madison, Wis.

Broussard doesn’t work specifically with agricultural clients, but her advice can certainly carry over to a dairy farm setting. One area she discussed was what she dubbed the “Five Firsts”- five times employers should check in with their new employees. Read more

Step up to the plate

Tue, 03/22/2016

What other ways can you find to serve the dairy industry?

Darleen Sichley

by Darleen Sichley

Last week, March 13 to 19, was National Agriculture Week. I had the chance to represent the Oregon dairy industry in a video commercial for a local TV station. The commercial was played on their morning show during ag week.

I don’t think this opportunity was one I would have willingly volunteered for in the past, but I took a moment to look at the bigger picture — doing a service for the industry that matters the most to me. That gave me the drive to step up to the plate.

I’m not a fan of public speaking, luckily the commercial was short and scripted, and I got a couple days to rehearse. The filming went great and was a very fun experience, I walked away very glad I had agreed. Read more

Seven keys to automated calf feeding success

Mon, 03/21/2016

Attentiveness and observation are still important to success in automated calf feeding systems.


By Maggie Seiler, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Just like many management areas on the farm, calf feeding requires careful attentiveness in order to be successful. According to Jim Salfer, University of Minnesota extension educator, this is true for any type of calf feeding setup but especially for automated calf feeding systems.

“If your number one goal of putting automated calf feeding systems in is to save labor, you will probably be disappointed,” he told a large crowd during a recent presentation at the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin annual meeting. “Observation is really the key to this system. Calf managers have to go out of their way to look at the calves every day.” Read more

Summer’s coming! Are you and your cows ready?

Fri, 03/18/2016

Strategize for ways to minimize heat stress.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

Hoard's Dairyman webinarEven though we are not ready for sunglasses and shorts, warm weather will be here soon. Mike Brouk, Kansas State University, presented “The latest on beating the heat” during the monthly webinar.

Each region of the country has its own reaction to summer weather, depending on the temperature and the humidity. However, losses of 10 to 15 pounds of milk per cow are not unusual across the country. Unfortunately, states like Texas can see a loss of $700 per cow per year due to heat stress. That number amplifies as herd size grows.

Heat stress has several detrimental impacts:

  • Drop in milk production
  • Reduced fertility and extended days open
Read more

Farming offers a competitive edge to scholarship applicants

Thu, 03/17/2016

Students who grow up on dairies stand out on scholarship applications.

scholarship image

By Taylor Leach, 2016 Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern

College, as we all know, can certainly cause financial stress on a family. Especially to those who grew up on a small dairy farm such as myself. However, there are ways to make this financial burden more affordable. Scholarships can play a key role when it comes to financing one’s education, and the list of dairy scholarships that are available for students to utilize continues to grow. Read more

Speak the language cattle understand

Wed, 03/16/2016

Our actions need to speak louder than words when working with livestock.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Cows may not speak like we do, but that does not mean that we cannot communicate with them. We must simply interact in ways they understand.

Ron Gill, Texas A&M“Cattle prefer to communicate through sight,” said Ron Gill from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension during his presentation at the Wisconsin Dairy and Beef Well-Being Conference held in Platteville, Wis. His demonstration involved beef animals, but his advice pertained to cattle of any breed.

He explained that to accomplish good stockmanship and low-stress handling, we must understand how prey animals like cows see the world. Gill shared that while cattle have excellent peripheral vision, they have a large blind spot directly behind them and a smaller blind spot in front. Read more

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