Wed, 02/18/2015

Complimentary professional services for dairymen are available to Wisconsin farmers

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

When things get tough for dairy producers, they look for help. A family member, friend or trusted confidant can be to whom they turn. While they may provide emotional support, some may not have the expertise to help with a business problem.

Wisconsin dairy producers are fortunate to have a small army of agricultural experts who assist with professional and personal issues. The Wisconsin Farm Center’s goal is to “keep farmers farming whenever possible.”

The Wisconsin Farm Center is part of the Division of Agricultural Development, which is part of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). The division provides guidance to three sectors in our industry: producer level, processor level and international trade.

Tue, 02/17/2015

Watch the cows to be sure your facility provides the resting space they need.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

cow laying in freestall

Cows are busy creatures, and one of the most important activities they do is rest.

“We want to see high-producing cows lying down 10 to 14 hours per day,” said Dan McFarland from Penn State University. “I am confident with good stall design and management we can achieve this resting time on dairies.”

A good stall should encourage use, provide comfort and confident footing, and promote cleanliness and udder health, McFarland noted. In a Dairy eXtension webinar, he gave producers several measurements that determine if stalls are doing their job.

Mon, 02/16/2015

By Maggie, Seiler, Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern

Dairy Challenge
Photo credit: Photo courtesy of the Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge.

Dairy challenge competition allows students to connect the dots between classes, experiences and instinct.

I was the buzzer beater in junior dairy bowl. I studied and studied the questions, and on many of them, I could buzz in after only a few words. At the time, I thought I had a pretty fantastic grasp on the dairy industry. As I got older, I memorized fewer answers, and then I began to truly learn about dairy production.

Fri, 02/13/2015

Format that attaches at every stall attracted many lookers at World Ag Expo this week.

rotary parlor

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

Goodbye milkers.

One of the busiest dairy exhibits at World Ag Expo this week in Tulare, Calif., gave an up-close look at what is the inevitable future for many large herd farms — a fully automated rotary milking parlor.

The DairyProQ from GEA Farm Technologies is the second robotic rotary configuration to be introduced so far, but the first to provide udder prep, unit attachment, postdipping, and unit back flushing at each individual stall. This allows the platform to stay in constant motion as cows load and exit, like nonrobotic rotaries do.

Thu, 02/12/2015

While forage procurement and feeding play a huge role in the success of high-producing herds, they aren’t the only factors. Reproduction and milk quality are critical elements, too.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Each winter, 24 of the nation’s dairy herds provide a detailed look at a particular sector of their dairy operation for our Round Table series. In our most recent issue (February 10, 2015), four herds, from Washington, New Mexico, Wisconsin and Iowa, shared their strategies for obtaining the next pound of milk. While the majority of the printed responses focused on the dairies’ feeding strategies, they also shared information on reproduction and their milk quality efforts.

Round Table Farms

Below, these four high-producing herds share a bit more:

How does the dairy’s reproductive program play into production?

Wed, 02/11/2015

Volatility and opportunities exist in the peaks and valleys.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

February webinar slideProducing milk is full of peaks and valleys. We love the highs and dread the lows. Understanding your financial status can help your herd maximize profits in good years and mitigate losses the slim years. Greg Bethard, the chief financial officer for two Wisconsin dairies, Pagel’s Ponderosa and Dairy Dreams, presented the Hoard’s Dairyman webinar and shared his vast experience to guide producers to “Nail the big-dollar decisions.”

Tue, 02/10/2015

Two new apps are now available to help producers evaluate calves’ respiratory health.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Calf Health Scorecard AppRespiratory disease can be a devastating issue for the calf caretakers on your farm. According to Terry Ollivett from the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, pneumonia is the second leading cause of death in pre-weaned calves on dairy farms, following only scours. It is the number one reason for death in post-weaned young stock.

The losses from respiratory disease impact the whole farm. “For some herds, respiratory disease is a large cost, both financially and to animal welfare,” Ollivett explained.

Mon, 02/09/2015

The Big Fat Surprise book turns society’s view of fat upside down.

By Ali Enerson, Hoard’s Dairyman Special Publications Editor

The Big Fat Surprise BookA new book has taken the nation by storm, and it bodes well for both the dairy industry and agriculture as a whole. The Big Fat Surprise is a 336-page book about how high, saturated fat foods may actually be good for us!

Fri, 02/06/2015

Record-dry January kicked off what looks to be a fourth straight year.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

It’s raining today in big parts of California.

A series of storms began pounding the northern half of the state earlier this week and is expected to last into Monday. But this good news, even when combined with a wet December and a 22 percent cutback in water consumption by California residents, is expected to do little to prevent the state’s fourth consecutive year of drought.

That’s because January was an awful reminder of how serious its water situation still is: In many parts of the state, last month was the driest January in history.

A stunning example was San Francisco, where, for the first time since records began being kept during the Gold Rush in 1849, zero rainfall was recorded in January. Sacramento got 0.01 inch, the lowest since records began in 1877.

Thu, 02/05/2015

A PCR assay can enhance your milk quality diagnostics.

By Amanda Smith, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

The incorporation of a robust diagnostic strategy has been promoted heavily in recent years as a way to identify the predominant pathogens causing mastitis in a herd. Such a program is critical to support treatment, management and culling decisions.

Yet, when you’re trying to determine the best course of treatment, a negative mastitis culture result can be quite frustrating. “If we don’t know what pathogen we are dealing with, it’s like driving blindfolded,” noted Nicole Steele, with New Zealand’s DairyNZ. In these situations, PCR testing can shed some light.