Mon, 02/08/2016

A good herdsperson not only observes but takes action.

cow

By Maggie Seiler, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

In college, I fielded many questions about my agricultural communications degree that went something like this, “So you’re studying to be a cow whisperer?” My quipped remark was often some type of dig at the individual’s chosen major, but what I wanted to tell those people was that I was actually studying the art of talking to the real cow whisperers. As a dairy farmer’s daughter, I spent many childhood hours following around my father who is a talented cowman and who for many years I believed was a genuine cow whisperer.

Fri, 02/05/2016

Have a plan for what you want to see and do.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

trade showWinter – the season when not a lot happens in the fields. And for this reason, trade shows are scheduled to entice busy farmers to attend.

With World Ag Expo next week in California, I’ll be working in the Hoard’s Dairyman booth. Acres of diversified ag products will be on display to serve all types of attendees from grape growers to cattle ranchers to nut processors. Fortunately for dairy producers, the majority of dairy businesses are in one building.

There are plenty of suggestions for booth workers to maximize their exposure at these events. That being said, attendees should also be planning to get the most of their time at a trade show. Here are a few tips for optimizing your time spent at an agriculture trade show.

Wed, 02/03/2016

Farms with more cows prove that animal welfare is still a priority.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

dairy barnThe average herd size for dairy farms in the United States keeps growing while the number of farms continues to decline. This trend is unlikely to change.

Take a look at the Upper Midwest. From 2000 to 2012, the percent of state milk production coming from farms with more than 500 head grew nearly threefold. According to USDA data, the percentage of milk produced by farms with more than 500 cows in Iowa grew from 5.0 percent to 44.1 percent; in Minnesota, from 8.5 to 32.6 percent; in South Dakota, from 26.0 to 75.2 percent; and in Wisconsin, from 9.0 to 38.1 percent.

Mon, 02/01/2016

Young calves demand much care and patience.

calf

By Maggie Seiler, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

My two siblings and I grew up showing Holsteins, and from the time I was pretty young, I seemed to be the one who always ended up showing the flighty animals. About the time I reached middle school, I had developed a plan to end this particularly unfortunate habit of mine for selecting the “crazy heifers.” My strategy was straightforward. If any of my cows calved, I would pet the calf and sweet talk it every day to make sure it would remember me. My siblings had more of a hands-off strategy, leaving the calf alone to its own devices.

Fri, 01/29/2016

Jim Baird, gifted Hoard’s Dairyman Art Director, passes on

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

Jim BairdWe would consider ourselves lucky to be really good at one thing – something that truly symbolized the essence of our being. But to be skilled in many disciplines, is rare.

Longtime Hoard’s Dairyman Art Director Jim Baird shared his talents with readers of the magazine, the dairy industry and the public. His body of work, including his etchings, painting and photos, is a beautiful legacy to such a talented gentleman.

Baird joined the staff in 1948 and saw many changes in the publication and dairy industry. During his tenure, Hoard’s Dairyman went from black and white to color photos, letterpress to computers, and he personally saw the advancements in dairy farming in 37 states.

Wed, 01/27/2016

An array of factors help this Illinois dairy farm maintain a below average somatic cell count month after month.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Bill DeutschWhen it comes to milk quality, Sycamore, Ill., dairyman Bill Deutsch focuses both inside and outside the udder. With that philosophy in mind, Deutsch Dairy Farm maintains an average somatic cell count between 100,000 and 150,000, often dipping below 100,000 for several months in a row.

Deutsch, who spoke at the 2016 Dairy Summit in Freeport, Ill., is quick to state that he’s “just an average kind of dairyman,” but he’s certainly found ways to get top-quality milk from his 150-cow Holstein and Brown Swiss herd. What strategies does he use use?

Mon, 01/25/2016

The Holstein breed would look different without the influence of Roy Ormiston.

By Maggie Seiler, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Roy OrmistonAs dairy producers, we can all appreciate the power of a single generation or a single cow to alter the course of genetic advancement. No one may have understood this power better than the late Roy Ormiston, whose Roybrook herd shaped the reproduction landscape of the Holstein breed from the 1950s on. Following his passing in December 2015 at the age of 100, it is easy to say he impacted not only the Holstein breed, but also the people he interacted with and the neighbors he left behind in his hometown of Brooklin, Ontario, Canada.

Fri, 01/22/2016

One million children have already learned safer living

Progressive Ag Day An ounce of prevention . . .

When the idea to host events to teach children about farm safety began in 1995, I doubt the Progressive Agriculture Foundation organizers thought they would impact nearly 1.5 million lives. But, maybe their biggest success is the communication it opens between students and parents when they share what they learned at Ag Safety Day.

Those of us raised on a farm knew about dangers. But today, fewer children are raised in farming environments and common sense lessons we learned from dad and grandpa are not being shared with young people.

Wed, 01/20/2016

There are real benefits for herds that can achieve a 25 percent pregnancy rate.

cow ultrasound

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

One common goal all dairy producers share is getting cows bred in a timely fashion. What is a realistic target for which to aim?

“Our goal is to have herds reach a pregnancy rate of 25 percent,” said James Ferguson, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, during his presentation at the Purina Leading Dairy Producers Conference. “When you’re above a 20 to 25 percent pregnancy rate, losses per unit of pregnancy are very low.”

Ferguson explained that under a 20 percent pregnancy rate, you can’t maintain herd size. You will either need to purchase animals or extend calving interval dramatically (by 20 to 25 percent, depending on calf mortality, culling rate, age at first calving, and so forth) to sustain herd size.

Mon, 01/18/2016

Twice per day feedings may expand the time cows spend at the bunk, boost milk production and improve fat and protein content of milk.

feeding cows

By Maggie Seiler, Hoard's Dairyman Associate Editor

A cow’s time budget allows for three to five hours of eating per day during which time they consume nine to 14 meals. The rest of the cow’s budget is reserved for lying or resting (12 to 14 hours), traveling to the milking parlor or standing (2.5 to 3.5 hours) and drinking (30 minutes). This tight time budget means producers must deliver feed on time and focus on optimizing the opportunity to meet cows nutritional requirements. One way to cash in on this opportunity is to consider feeding twice per day.