Thu, 12/18/2014

There’s a fine line between ensuring cows have adequate feed for milk production and minimizing the cost associated with what’s left in the bunk.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

FeedingDairymen balance their feed budgets on pennies. Ingredients are often pulled from a ration based on the perceived cents per cow it could save the bottom line. Feed refusals, too, fall victim to this mindset. In an effort to reduce the amount of feed that is “wasted” on a daily basis, some producers have chosen to feed to a slick bunk. This choice isn’t always advantageous, though.

Providing dairy cattle with unlimited access to high-quality feed over the course of the day is the best way to promote maximum feed intake and improve milk production, noted Alanna Kmicikewycz, a Ph.D. candidate at Penn State University.

Wed, 12/17/2014

Select the best person for the position

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

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On NFL draft night, the team with the worst record picks first. They are, in theory, in need of the best talent. It used to surprise me that the most touted college players, like Heisman Trophy finalists, didn’t get selected first, second and third. Now, I understand it is more about how that player would fit into the current organizations team dynamics.

Tue, 12/16/2014

Just like a lactation curve peaks and then tapers over time, so should your calf feeding program.

by Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

calfToday’s dairy producers use the lactation curve to schedule milk harvest from a cow. Her milk production level dictates ration changes, housing group and may push up or move back her dry-off date.

“The original purpose of the lactation curve, though, was to feed calves,” says Trevor DeVries from the University of Guelph. DeVries discussed the need to apply concepts of natural behavior to modern calf rearing practices during his presentation at the Calf and Heifer Congress in Rochester, New York.

Mon, 12/15/2014

Don’t overlook lighting options for heifers and dry cows.

by Ali Enerson, Hoard’s Dairyman Special Publications Editor

cowsYour lighting decisions affect animals at all ages, not just lactating dairy cows. A recent Kentucky Cooperative Extension paper reminds us of the importance of both long-day and short-day photoperiods throughout the cow’s life cycle.

While long-day lighting is commonly touted for up to a 10 percent boost in milk production, lighting strategy in both heifers and dry cows seems to take a backseat.

Fri, 12/12/2014

National average SCC set a new record low in 2013.

somatic cell count averages by state

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Slowly but surely, the average quality of U.S. milk is becoming amazingly good.

In 2013, for the 12th year in a row, the nationwide average somatic cell count (SCC) for all cows on Dairy Herd Improvement testing dropped to another new all-time low — this time to 199,000, according to the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding.

Just 10 years earlier, national average SCC was 319,000.

Twenty-six states had lower SCC averages in 2013 than in 2012, while 20 states had higher averages.

Thu, 12/11/2014

The December Young Dairymen Quiz has been posted online. Enter your answers there for a chance to win a Foster Mothers of the Human Race print.

by Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Young Dairymen quizIn December 1974, Hoard’s Dairyman published, “How do you score in dairy knowledge?” on its Young Dairymen page. The quiz featured 51 questions based on articles that had appeared in the magazine during that calendar year. Since that first quiz, the December Young Dairymen tradition has remained strong.

Wed, 12/10/2014

Minimizing temperature changes preserves teat health.

by Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

December 2014 webinar slide Keeping teats soft and healthy is the goal of every producer, but becomes more challenging during winter’s cold temperatures. Leo Timms, Iowa State University, discussed this topic during the Hoard’s Dairyman monthly webinar.

Cold temperatures cause cellular stress on teats. In as quick as 12 hours, teats react. They’re exposed to the elements and have little protection. To compound the problem, cows that move from warm to cold temperatures, like from a parlor or stall barn, to an outdoor feed bunk, are at greater risk for teat damage. The degree of change is the problem.

Tue, 12/09/2014

A recently released USDA study predicts that climate change could cost the dairy industry between $79 and $199 million in 2030.

by Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

dairyGlobal warming or not, the world’s climate is changing. In the United States, greater variability in precipitation patterns, more pronounced differences in weather between regions, and rising average temperatures are all signs that climate is not standing still.

More hot days mean more stress for our livestock. Dairy cattle are particularly sensitive because of their high metabolic heat production from rumen fermentation and lactation. Hot weather reduces milk output and lowers fat, solids, lactose and protein. Heat stress also negatively affects fertility.

Mon, 12/08/2014

Research sheds additional light on the specific effects of mastitis on reproductive efficiencies.

by Maggie Seiler, Hoard's Dairyman Editorial Intern

The dairy cow’s internal balance can often be a fragile thing, and it is never more apparent than when producers are trying to get a stubborn breeder to conceive. The list of causes of reproductive failure goes on and on, but a recent study has provided more answers about the connection between clinical mastitis near breeding and unsuccessful services.

Fri, 12/05/2014

Producer seminars are an early part of a five-year, $3 million grant from USDA.

Joe Santos, University of Florida

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

The best description of genomics I have ever heard came this week from Dale Moore, Director of Veterinary Medicine Extension at Washington State University, during a series of four producer workshops across the U.S. that continues next week: “Genetics is the cards you are dealt; genomics is how you play them.”

And isn’t it a game that is all about winning?

Genomics is information – wildly more information about animals than dairy producers have ever had before. It’s information that helps them guess less and win more when it comes to herd improvement, which ultimately results in greater profitability.