HD Notebook

The average herd size is three cows

Date: 
Thu, 12/10/2015

121.5 million dairy farms exist on our planet.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

Yep! Those numbers are current. They are based on worldwide data. Initially, your reaction might be like several I shared the data with. “No way, I don't think so.”

We are familiar with reports that show that 1 to 2 percent of U.S. citizens live on farms. In America, we are the minority and our numbers are shrinking. However, there are over 7 billion people in the world and 1 billion live on dairy farms. That is over 14 percent of the world population that see and work with dairy cows every day.

The average herd size in the U.S. is just over 200. Canadian dairy herds average 80 cows. But, worldwide, it is just three cows. Farms with more than 100 cows make up just 0.3 percent of the total dairy farm population. Imagine three-cow dairies scattered across North America . . . it is not even within most of our comprehension to view the scale that small. Read more

Keep your cool around animals

Date: 
Wed, 12/09/2015

Whether you’re in the barn or the showring, you have to stay calm. You never know who’s watching.

showring

by Hannah Thompson

Earlier this year, I was in the crowd at a county fair’s dairy show for the supreme champion selection. As anyone who has exhibited dairy cattle can attest, the supreme champion selection is always the highlight of the show. It gives us the opportunity to showcase the best of the best for the judge — and the consumers watching in the stands.

My pride in watching the 4-H exhibitors pulling out all of the stops to impress the judge took a hit when one exhibitor lost his temper with his heifer, which had been fighting him with every step since they entered the ring. I cringed as the youth lost his patience and audibly hit his animal across the nose, eliciting a gasp from fairgoers watching in the stands. Read more

Rural employment sees turnaround

Date: 
Tue, 12/08/2015

The employment rate in rural America is slowly recovering after the recession.

farm scene

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Many of us working in agriculture, myself included, grew up in the country. I think most “country kids” would agree that small towns are great places to live.

The vitality of rural communities hinges on many factors, but opportunity for employment is certainly one of the most important. The recession that swept the nation from 2007 to 2009 left a mark on employment rates in both urban and rural counties, but the rural areas have had a harder time rebounding.

Fortunately, after years of little or even negative change, employment rates in rural areas grew more than 1 percent during the year that ended in the second quarter of 2015. This data comes from the USDA’s Rural America at a Glance: 2015 Edition. Read more

Farm kids are raised to be resilient

Date: 
Mon, 12/07/2015

College students can’t solve their own problems according to psychologists and professors, but farm kids are raised differently.

father and daughter on dairy

by Maggie Seiler, Special Publications Editor

I was 16 or 17 years old, and my dad sent me out with the John Deere tractor and hayforks to pick up straw bales sitting on the edge of a field. There were only six bales, but they had been rained on and were in less than ideal condition. I fought those bales for 30 or 45 minutes going from mildly irritated to irate to tears. Read more

Dairy outlook for 2016 is “bah humbug”

Date: 
Fri, 12/04/2015

Disappointing milk price situation likely to get worse before it gets better.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

calendarSince they became a key part of the worldwide dairy export pipeline, American milk producers have seen these “dots” before and know how they connect:

  • Strong global supplies
  • Weak global demand
  • Shaky economies

So it’s no surprise that the U.S. milk price outlook for 2016 is worse than in 2015 — disappointing news that is already seen in Class III futures and is supported by analysts at the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC).

As bad as prices have been for all of 2015 ($15.98 per hundredweight average through October) and as bad as they’ve been lately (declines every month since June), producers should brace themselves for much worse prices in 2016, especially early in the year. Read more

A hairy hoof problem

Date: 
Thu, 12/03/2015

A clean environment, adequate cow comfort and footbath use all bolster your ability to prevent digital dermatitis.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

cow hoovesLameness affects everything a cow does. Feed intake, fertility, milk production and, in the end, profitability are all depressed when an animal has sore feet. Digital dermatitis is a prevalent and sometimes painful hoof lesion that develops when the hoof skin barrier weakens and Treponema species are able to invade it.

According to Dörte Döpfer, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, digital dermatitis is characterized by a raw, bright red or black circular erosion and inflammation of the skin above the heel bulbs. The edges of the lesion develop a white margin and overlong hairs that surround the sores or are adjacent to thick, hairy wart-like growths. Read more

The world’s foremost genetics exporter passes

Date: 
Wed, 12/02/2015

It was a full 85 years for World Wide Sires’ Willard “Bill” Clark.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

A cowman, businessman and art collector, World Wide Sires Founder, Bill Clark was unafraid to pursue his passions. Born in the Central Valley of California, Bill’s impact reached far beyond his hometown farming community of Hanford. His education included the University of California-Davis and the Harvard Business School. He also served his country for four years in the U.S. Naval Air Force.

Bill Clark, World Wide Sires

Bill Clark (seated center) at the 1983 World Dairy Expo International Party with some of the World Wide Sires employees.
Read more

Put calves in the hot seat

Date: 
Tue, 12/01/2015

A warming box can save young calves born during the frigid cold.

calves in heating box

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

There’s definitely a chill in the air, and for those of us in Northern climates, that chill is not going away any time soon.

Falling temperatures add to the challenges newborn calves face. With wet hair and just 2 to 4 percent body fat, these young animals are susceptible to frostbite, illness and even death when temperatures drop below freezing.

Some of these risks can be minimized if calves are dried quickly and thoroughly shortly after birth. This process can be sped up by placing calves in a warm environment. Commercially made warming boxes are available for farms to purchase, while other dairies have designed their own warming rooms or boxes. Read more

Climate change adding challenge to farming

Date: 
Mon, 11/30/2015

New research shows the predicted warming of the climate could spell a decline in Wisconsin dairies’ economic productivity between 2020 and 2039.

cow grazing

By Maggie Seiler, Special Publications Editor

Farmers have one guarantee: change. Farming, more than almost any other profession, is at the mercy of Mother Nature’s musings. As we enter what is expected to be a warmer than average winter for the northern part of the country, we are reminded of the ups and downs of the climate and its effects on farms’ pocketbooks. Read more

Floods shrink cotton crop even more

Date: 
Fri, 11/27/2015

Cottonseed availability was going to be lower even before Hurricane Joaquin flooded major growing areas.

cottonseed

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Even with milk prices down, whole cottonseed prices were on track to be up this year – and then Hurricane Joaquin slammed the Carolinas in early October just prior to harvest.

Called a “once in a thousand years” storm, Joaquin was blamed for a dozen deaths as it flooded parts of the Carolinas with up to 20 inches of rain, prompting President Obama to declare a state of emergency in South Carolina.

Those rains drenched a 500-mile wide swath that included the important Mid-South cotton growing area, “decimating a significant portion of that region’s 2015 crop,” according to Cotton Incorporated. Read more

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