Wed, 11/25/2015

That creamy spread hasn’t changed, but its public perception has.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

butter on toast Butter is back! On family tables and restaurant menus, our old friend is asking consumers to rethink this dairy staple.

Dairy Management Inc., the group that manages the dairy checkoff, recently shared the back story on how butter replaced margarine at over 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the United States.

For over 25 years, DMI has led milkfat research through the National Dairy Council. The results show that dairy fat is different than other fats. Because of the science, consumers now have "permission" to add dairy fat to their diet. Without the milk fat research, it is doubtful that butter would have replaced margarine at McDonald’s in 2015.

Tue, 11/24/2015

Action can be taken to reduce feed losses during the TMR mixing process.

TMR mixer

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Now you see it . . . and now you don’t. Just like that, feed that was once available for your herd can be lost due to mold, pests, weather conditions and human error.

Feed losses, known as shrink, often happen slowly over time. We may not notice the impact shrink has on feed inventories on a daily basis, but that does not mean these losses should be ignored.

“We cannot forget shrink,” said David Greene, a Dairy Field Technical Specialist with Diamond V. “That’s money spent that you don’t get value from.”

Some measurable losses can occur during the TMR mixing process. At the 2015 GPS Dairy Forum, Greene shared the following recommendations to maximize efficiency and minimize shrink when mixing feed:

Mon, 11/23/2015

Subclinical hypocalcemia management is important, but it remains hard to monitor the successfulness of treatments.

fresh cows

By Maggie Seiler, Special Publications Editor

Drink your milk so you can have strong bones and healthy teeth was probably the first nutrition lesson I remember receiving. As I grew up, I learned more about calcium and the many other functions it serves in the body.

Fri, 11/20/2015

Producers who are most ahead are those who didn’t sign up at all.

MPP-Dairy payment calculations

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

No matter what kind of insurance a dairy owner has, not needing to use it means nothing bad has happened, which is exactly what they hope for.

On the other hand, not using it means it was an overhead cost that generated no income, which no business can afford.

According to official feed cost and margin calculations done by USDA for the first nine months of 2015, the only Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) insurance payments made so far have been to the 269 producers nationwide who bought optional coverage at the maximum $8 per hundredweight level.

Thu, 11/19/2015

When cows’ light exposure is limited during the dry period, a milk production boost in the next lactation is likely.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

dry cowWhen light hits the eye, a cascade of hormonal events is triggered in the brain’s pineal gland. This cascade begins with a signal to suppress the release of the hormone melatonin. As darkness falls, the inhibitory impact of light is dampened, and melatonin secretion rises.

Animals use the daily fluxes in the duration of elevated melatonin concentrations to set their internal clock, which influences the secretion of a number of hormones.

“Consequently, days with greater light exposure are associated with a shorter duration of high concentrations of melatonin,” noted Geoff Dahl, University of Florida, when speaking at the Penn State Dairy Cattle Nutrition Workshop.

Wed, 11/18/2015

Introducing heifers to the milking barn or parlor before calving may be the ticket to reducing stress.

heifers in milking parlor

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

When a dairy heifer has its first calf, its world changes dramatically. A first-lactation heifer is likely to face different housing, a new social environment, more human interaction and an unfamiliar ration.

Perhaps the biggest change of all is adjusting to the milking routine. The sights, sounds and physical act of milking can be a stressful experience for a recently fresh heifer.

To help ease this transition, some farms introduce heifers to the milking barn or parlor prior to calving. Does this help reduce the nervous behaviors associated with milking time stress?

Tue, 11/17/2015

When we throw away food, we are tossing more than just nutrients into the trash.

by Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

waterNo doubt, water is a valuable resource. We use it every single day in a multitude of ways.

When water supplies get tight, food production often comes under scrutiny. Why? Because water is a huge part of the food making process. We wrote an article a few months ago titled “Today you’ll ingest 1,000 gallons of water.” A study led by the California Rice Commission revealed it takes 1,326 gallons of water to grow the food an average American eats each day. In fact, nine out of 10 gallons of water used by Americans are connected to the consumption of food.

Mon, 11/16/2015

Managing corral conditions year round in open-lot dairies is important for cow health, comfort and production in the rainy season.

tractor in field

By Maggie Seiler, Special Publications Editor

In the areas of the country where open-lot dairies are popular, the onset of winter means a welcome chance of rain, particularly with El Niño predictions this year. However, along with that rain comes a not so welcome problem, mud. Unlike pigs, dogs and the occasional human child who enjoy a well-placed mud puddle, cows are likely to avoid mud. According to Michael Payne, director of the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program, muddy corrals can lead to reduced dry matter intake, lower milk production and more disease potential.

Fri, 11/13/2015

Expansion at Southwest Cheese in Clovis is expected to take two years.

Southwest Cheese

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Already one of the biggest single site cheese and whey protein powder processing plants in the world, a $140 million expansion of the Southwest Cheese facility in Clovis, N.M., was announced last week that will increase capacity by 30 percent. The project is expected to take two years.

Southwest Cheese is a 50:50 joint venture between Glanbia Plc and the Greater Southwest Agency, which consists of Dairy Farmers of America Inc. and Select Milk Producers Inc.

Construction of the original $200 million facility began in 2004. The first few loads of milk were received in October 2005, and the plant ramped up to begin full-scale operation in October 2006.

Thu, 11/12/2015

Delaying a herd’s age at first calving to 25 months has the potential to cost $45 to $90 per heifer.

heifers grazing in field

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Age? Weight? Height? If you ask three dairy producers what criteria they use to breed heifers, each will likely give you a different answer. One thing we can all agree on: pushing the age at first calving out too far comes with a hefty price tag.

In addition to being the most fertile group of animals, heifers should represent the best genetics on the farm. Breeding heifers at the right time enables producers to take full advantage of this valuable resource, noted Emily Wilmes, an extension educator with the University of Minnesota.