Mon, 04/18/2016

Tightly correlated, managing SCC is an important step in limiting antibiotic use.

By Maggie Seiler, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

milking cowsMastitis remains the most prevalent health problem in dairy herds according to the USDA’s Dairy 2014, and it’s not one that is going away. The study found 24.1 percent of cows are affected by the disease. That number is up from the 16.5 percent reported in the 2007 National Animal Health Monitoring System survey.

Phil Cardoso, D.V.M., reminded farmers that as the mastitis rate goes up, so does the need for antibiotics. In a recent Dairy Focus at Illinois Newsletter, the assistant professor of animal sciences recommended dairies work to lower somatic cell counts (SCC) as a way of reducing antibiotic use and thus minimizing the chance for antibiotic residue in meat or milk.

Fri, 04/15/2016

Ration strategies for groups of dairy cows summarized.

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

Maximize production, but don't waste resources. That sums up the art and science of formulating rations for milking groups. The challenge is that rations are seldom balanced for just one cow; they are balanced for a pen of cows with similar characteristics – age, days in milk, reproductive status, and even breed.

Bill Weiss from The Ohio State University presented our April webinar, “Target rations for your milking groups.” He addressed basic principles and some misconceptions in balancing rations for lactating cows.

Thu, 04/14/2016

Science shows that “farm kids” are less likely to have allergies, but what about those of us who do?

By Taylor Leach, Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern

allergy medicineScience has proven over the years that children who grow up on dairy farms run a lower risk of developing allergies or asthma problems. Apparently, I am an exception to this scientific data.

From a young age, it was clear that I had a pretty significant allergy problem. I was not able to shake out straw for calf hutches or even feed heifers hay without sneezing. As time went on, we hoped that my symptoms would improve, but my health declined and I was becoming more dependent on my medication.

Wed, 04/13/2016

The Peterson Farm Bros. put their agriculture advocacy efforts to music in a string of parody videos.

By Abby Bauer, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

With one YouTube video, the Peterson Farm Bros. became an overnight sensation. Before bursting into the spotlight, though, it took some careful thought and planning by the trio of brothers from Assaria, Kan., to prepare their agriculture advocacy efforts.

Greg Peterson, the oldest of the Peterson Farm Bros., shared a behind the scenes look at the making of their first video and their journey since then at the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association (DCHA) annual meeting held this week in Middleton, Wis.

Tue, 04/12/2016

We can change our attitudes by changing our thoughts.

Sadie Frericks

by Sadie Frericks

Without a doubt, I am an optimistic person. My glass isn’t just half-full — it’s overflowing.

I think dairy farmers, in general, are optimistic people. A positive outlook is almost a necessity for this way of life. As the famous quote from Brian Brett so eloquently states: “Farming is a profession of hope.”

But there are times when our optimism is tested.

For me, February and March are the months when my smile turns upside down.

For several reasons, we schedule breeding so that none of our cows calve in December and January. That means over a third of our herd freshens in February and March. This flood of fresh cows and newborn calves overwhelms our system, including both facilities and labor.

Mon, 04/11/2016

Behavioral changes and bacterial cultures both show early promise in identifying metritis cases.

cow in freestall

By Maggie Seiler, Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor

Characterized by discolored vaginal discharge and an offensive odor, metritis is a top health and reproductive concern in fresh cows. As such, researchers have focused on early detection and treatment options that return cows to reproductive health as effectively and quickly as possible.

Fri, 04/08/2016

Who do consumers trust?

By Patti Hurtgen, Hoard’s Dairyman Online Media Manager

Farmer trust image

Some days we think people are so naïve to believe everything they read. Other times, they are so skeptical of even the most logical and safe practices. I laughed when I read a post on Facebook on April Fool’s Day. The post poked fun at those who only question what they read on the first of April, assuming all other information is 100 percent truthful the other 364 days.

Thu, 04/07/2016

Hillcrest Dairy uses a two-pronged approach to reach out to the public.

farm tour

by Mark Rodgers

At Hillcrest, we believe it is important to share what we do on our family farm. However, like most farms, there are only so many hours in the day. That is why we provide tours to select groups but not the general public.

We enjoy touring some international guests, typically chaperoned by a third-party agribusiness such as Genex, DeLaval or Farm Bureau. We also tour student ag groups like FFA, young farmers, collegiate ag groups and dairy contest teams. We also take the time to interact with elected officials and use tours as an opportunity to educate these leaders on pending ag legislation and policies.

Wed, 04/06/2016

Living in a rural community is no guarantee that your neighbors understand farming and where food comes from.

farm scene

By Hannah Thompson

When you’re engaged to a large animal veterinarian and your job is tracking and responding to the campaigns of animal rights activists, you get used to receiving pretty strange text messages. This one from last week might just take the cake, though: “I delivered breakfast today to someone who told me she can’t drink any milk because the hormones make her breasts swell and she starts lactating.”

Yes, this is a real conversation that happened. And it took place in a rural area — a county with more than 50 cows per square mile.

Tue, 04/05/2016

While a new barn and robots may not be the answer for every dairy, this new era will improve our future lifestyle, overall business consistency and cow care.

breaking ground

by Darleen Sichley

This week was very exciting on our farm as we broke ground for our new robotic facility. As our already busy schedules become even crazier, I am looking at the end goal and why we even chose to take our farm this route. I think these are all things that people looking at the future should consider when they examine if robotics might be the right fit for their dairy farm.

“What are you going to do with all your free time?” is the number one question I get asked about our decisions to install robots on our farm.