Thu, 09/03/2015

Circulating chilled water through a waterbed may be another avenue to alleviate heat stress.

cows lying down

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

As the latter half of the year looms, our thoughts have started to turn toward harvest and our winter checklists. While temperatures have begun to moderate from their summertime highs, our cows may still be feeling the early September heat.

When it comes to cooling, fans and misters or soakers have become the norm. Conductive cooling from below, though, could serve as a future heat stress solution.

Wed, 09/02/2015

Autumn is the perfect time to promote farm health and safety.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

National Farm Safety & Health Week, September 20 to 26, is the perfect time to reiterate why safety matters. Whether it’s your first or 51st harvest, we all need reminders about the dangers that can present themselves as a result of heightened machinery use and transportation. The event is hosted by the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS) at Northeast Iowa Community College.

Ag Safety logo

Tue, 09/01/2015

Computers and the internet are becoming an integral part of every day farm life.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

computerThe internet can provide a wealth of information for dairy producers . . . if they have access to it. A frustration across rural America of farmers and non-farmers alike is the lack of high-speed internet in parts of the country. Still, the options for connecting to the internet continue to grow, and computers and smart phones have become an almost constant presence in our lives.

Likewise, computer and internet usage and availability are on an upward trend among farmers. Every other year, USDA-NASS conducts a survey and releases a Farm Computer Usage and Ownership report. According to their most recent report revealed last month, 70 percent of farmers reported having access to the internet, up 3 percent from 2013.

Mon, 08/31/2015

As dairy and livestock producers, many of us consider our animals not just as a source of income, but a part of the family.

By Brittany Statz, 2015 Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern

describe pixt

My Aunt Lois – my dad’s youngest sister – had a very special friendship with one of the cows on our family’s farm. She was a big white Holstein named Creamy, and she was as mild as a lamb. Aunt Lois told me how, as a little girl, she would braid Creamy’s tail and tell the sweet, gentle bovine all her secrets. Creamy was more than just a cow to my aunt; she was a trusted friend.

Fri, 08/28/2015

Futures prices this far out already point to belt-tightening in the first half of 2016.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Plenty of change could still happen in the next few months – both good and bad – but right now the milk price picture for the first half of 2016 is not good.

After startlingly high prices in 2014, dairy producers knew 2015 had only one direction to go. They expected much lower prices, perhaps not much above break-even, and they’ve been right so far.

Profits and prepays have generally eased the pain of getting through 2015, but as the year now heads into its final months what should producers prepare for in the next one?

I hate to say it, but more belt-tightening looks likely.

Until we get to November, futures prices at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for 2016 won’t have much more significance for me than anyone else’s guess.

Thu, 08/27/2015

Illumination improvements yield energy and cost savings if you avoid common upgrade stumbling blocks.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

lighting

Incandescent. Compact fluorescent. Light emitting diode. Metal halide. From antiquated to efficient, on-farm lighting options span the energy-use gamut. Lighting is often one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to reduce energy use on a dairy.

As with anything in life, though, there are numerous ways to botch a lighting upgrade. In the Penn State Dairy Digest, Agricultural Engineer John Tyson and Research Associate Daniel Ciolkosz illuminated four common pitfalls to watch for when taking your lighting to the next level.

Wed, 08/26/2015

Are we teaching youth a variety of dairy skills?

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

As a 4-H member I remember attending monthly local 4-H dairy meetings. Held at a leader’s farm, all members, from first year to the very experienced, were expected to attend.

Meetings were a great opportunity to learn, but not necessarily compete – there would be contests later for implementing the skills learned.

Now, when I talk to youth or their parents, I find that very few have structured meetings anymore. They either do just dairy judging or have no meetings at all. Are we missing an opportunity to teach young dairy enthusiasts valuable skills?

teaching dairy youth

Sessions I remember well:

Tue, 08/25/2015

Genomic testing allows a dairy to be more selective about which heifers to keep as part of the future herd.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

calf

Our Hoard’s Dairyman Farm began genomic testing Jersey heifer calves last year. Those test results proved to be instrumental in clearing up a few misidentified sires and dams and tweaking protocols to prevent parent misidentification in the future.

Looking forward, how can genomic test results be of further value to the Hoard’s Dairyman Farm? That was the topic of discussion at a recent farm meeting with Richard Wallace, D.V.M., Dairy Technical Services Veterinarian, and Angela Zwald, Territory Business Manager, both from Zoetis.

The main value of genomic testing for commercial dairies, according Wallace, is to help make the three biggest decisions in a heifer’s life:

Mon, 08/24/2015

Blending my passions for words and cows led to one of the greatest formative experiences of my college career.

By Brittany Statz, 2015 Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern

Hoard's Dairyman editorial team

In eighth grade, I developed a sudden interest in becoming a dairy farmer. I hadn’t been around cows since I was 6, but I was determined to spend my life milking them. Since I wasn’t raised on a farm, my dad was confused and my teachers were confused, but my Spanish teacher – a former farm girl herself – visited home one weekend and thought it would be a good idea to bring back some issues of Hoard’s Dairyman for one particular student to check out on Monday morning. I remember turning back the cover, being absolutely transfixed with the content seeping its way into my brain . . . and thirsting for more knowledge on dairying.

Fri, 08/21/2015

Third biggest harvest in history is predicted for 2015.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

corn field

For the second year in a row and even with disappointing milk prices, dairy producers will probably be smiling as they shop for corn this fall.

If USDA’s latest crop estimate for 2015 – 13.7 billion bushels – pans out, it would be the third largest in history. It is a buyer’s market outlook that comes despite a second straight year of fewer total acres.

Much of the decline comes from the Southeast and four Plains States – North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. Minnesota acreage is also significantly lower.

Marginally fewer acres, however, are expected to be offset by an average yield of 168.8 bushels per acre, the second most ever.