Dairy Herd Management

Nitrates and Prussic Acid are Drought Considerations for Forages

3 days 13 hours ago
Nitrates and Prussic Acid are Drought Considerations for Forages Be cautious when turning livestock into pastures with certain warm season grasses as toxic nitrate and prussic acid can accumulate in drought situations. "Any plant with the ability to grow quickly can develop buildup of nitrate and prussic acid, but some forages present a bigger threat than others," said Jill Scheidt, agronomy specialist with University of Missouri Extension. The sorghum family - including sorghum-Sudan hybrids, forage sorghum, Sudan grass and Johnson grass; and corn - can develop the most buildup of nitrates and prussic acid. "When there's a drought, warm-season annuals quit growing but still take up nitrogen from the soil and accumulate nitrates and prussic acid," Craig Roberts, state forage specialist with MU Extension said"Once the drought ends those plants start to grow again and look green and lush, but the'll be full of toxins." Nitrate According to Scheidt, nitrates tend to accumulate in the lower portion of the stem of warm season grasses such as, Johnson grass, sorghum, Sudan and corn. Other small grains, millet, soybean, oats, alfalfa, Bermudagrass and tall fescue have potential to develop harmful nitrate levels in their tissue. "When livestock eat tainted forages, nitrates convert to nitrites, which absorb into the bloodstream and stop the blood's ability to carry oxygen. Nitrate levels tend to be higher in stems, stalks and young leaves," said Scheidt. A simple nitrate presence test can be performed at a county University of Missouri Extension office. Cut the lower 8-12" of several randomly selected samples. Make sure the samples are fresh; a false nitrate reading can occur if the sample begins to dry out. "If the samples test positive for nitrate presence, send samples to a lab for a qualitative analysis," said Scheidt. Harvesting and Grazing Forages with Nitrate A sufficient rain can decrease nitrate levels. However, Scheidt says do not turn livestock in immediately, as nitrates temporarily spike following a rain; wait three to five days of active growth to allow nitrate levels to decrease. Dry baling preserves the nitrate level. If forage must be baled, leave ten to twelve inches of stubble to avoid baling the most toxic part of the plant. Ensiled forages can reduce nitrate levels twenty to fifty percent. Use caution when entering silo pits, as gases from forages with high levels of nitrate are toxic. If nitrate levels are higher 1.5% concentration, do not use for livestock feed or bedding. Prussic Acid Prussic acid accumulates more in leaves than stems. Plants that accumulate prussic acid include millets, Sudan and Sudan hybrids, sorghum, Johnson grass and cherry trees. Millets do not tend to accumulate high levels of prussic acid. "Prussic acid can develop in new growth after a prolonged drought or when plants are injured due to frost, hail and herbicide applications," said Scheidt. Chewing cud creates prussic acid when molecules containing sugar and cyanide in the leaf react with a plant enzyme, freeing up highly poisonous cyanide. Samples need to be sent to a lab for prussic acid analysis. Harvesting and Grazing Forages with Prussic Acid Wait two weeks or for two feet of growth before allowing livestock to graze. Prussic acid will break down and eliminate itself as a problem in harvested forages. "Dry baling or ensiling forages is an effective way to reduce prussic acid. If dry baling, sample forage before feeding until prussic acid is no longer detected," said Scheidt. Wyatt Bechtel Wed, 08/15/2018 - 11:12 Category Beef nutrition Pasture/Forage Dairy Nutrition Animal Nutrition Comments Pasture/Forage Beef nutrition Dairy Nutrition News Article Image Caption Sorghum-related plants, like cane, sudangrass, shattercane, and milo can be highly toxic during certain growing conditions. Image Credit Troy Walz, University of Nebraska
Wyatt Bechtel

From Barn to Biogas

3 days 14 hours ago
From Barn to Biogas Methane from cow manure is the very definition of “natural gas.” But getting that methane into a form of energy that can be readily used has been a long, frustrating and arduous journey—until, perhaps, now. Land O’Lakes, Inc. (LOL) and California Bioenergy LLC (CalBio) launched a first of its kind collaboration this summer to finance, build, operate and manage methane digesters on California dairy farms. The project is designed to capture methane from cow manure using on-farm digesters and then compress it into a natural gas pipeline where it can readily be used by commercial forms of transportation like city buses or heavy trucks in metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles. The project comes none too soon. By 2030, the state of California has mandated that dairy farms within its borders must reduce methane emissions from manure by 40%.   “The big challenge was the operation of these electrical generators, and it was as much art as it was science,” says Matt Carstens, senior vice president of LOL’s SUSTAIN, a business unit of Land O’Lakes focused on elevating sustainability and food production. Electricity projects generated with methane  release a small amount of nitrogen oxides (NOx), and California regulators and grant programs have been discouraging electricity generation. That’s where renewable compressed natural gas (R-CNG) comes in, which is somewhat easier to deal with. The methane from cow manure is about two-thirds methane, with the remainder comprised of hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide and water. These latter molecules must be scrubbed, resulting in nearly pure methane for injection into the utility’s pipeline. This bio-methane is then contracted for sale with a fleet which uses R-CNG as a vehicle fuel. In addition, the new commercially available natural gas trucks and buses emit 90% less NOx than diesel alternatives, and as a result help contribute to improving California air quality. No single farm can do all of this alone because of infrastructure requirements, costs and the complexity of such a project. However, if a cluster of nearby dairy farms can capture its methane at digesters on each of the farms, a central processing site can scrub, pressurize and send the gas via pipeline to Los Angeles where it can be used. Such a joint venture becomes much more viable and creates a potential and significant revenue stream for each farm. The partnership between LOL and CalBio is designed to facilitate just that. “LOL and CalBio are creating the end-to-end sustainability infrastructure that farmers need to make ‘barn-to-biogas’ a reality,” says Carstens. CalBio says its dairy digesters are proven in California, where it has many already in operation. “Our expertise and ongoing operational support will help dairy farmers make the most of a significant new revenue stream through biogas generation,” says Neil Black, CalBio president. CalBio will also manage the sales and marketing of the renewable energy credits that are available. “The biggest thing our collaboration does is unlock new income for farmers,” says Carstens. While neither he nor Black will say publicly what that potential revenue might be, they say it could be substantial. “Any revenue is better than the zero farmers are getting today [if they don’t operate a digester]. But we believe it will be a net positive,” says Carstens. Black acknowledges that the sale of biogas alone would not be sufficient to cash flow the project. “It wouldn’t be viable without renewable energy credits; it’s very dependent on those credits,” he says. But both state and federal credits are available, and California has an on-going commitment to the program.  The state credit is from California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). Dairies receive a particularly high LCFS value based on destroying methane which is currently released into the atmosphere. The federal program is the Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard. Dairy digester projects are eligible to receive a D-3 RIN, which is currently significantly more valuable than an ethanol credit. On the cost side, none of this comes cheap. Just the on-farm portion of the digesters and initial-phase gas scrubbing can range from $2 to $3 million per farm. And given economies of scale, the larger the dairy the better. They become most feasible at 2,000 cows on up, and a cluster of five to eight nearby dairies milking 10,000 to 15,000 cows make the final-phase scrubbing and gas pressurization the most viable. Once such a cluster is established, smaller dairies would be able to tap into it, says Black. “As developers, we will build, manage and pay for the project for the farm and for their neighbors,” says Black. “We can take the financial risk off the farm if they wish.” But if the farm puts in capital and takes on some of the risk, it will receive a greater share of the returns from the sale of gas and energy credits. That’s where the LOL financing comes in. LOL is allowing its farmer members to tap the equity they own in the co-op via Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN Innovation Financing. LOL will allow each farm to borrow up to $3 million to finance their project. Terms of the loan, including length and interest rates, are market based and vary, with loans available up to 65% of the member’s equity. Members using Innovation Financing must complete a Conservation Dairy assessment, show how the project meets or avoids the need for additional regulation, and demonstrate the project’s benefits to air, land or water. Carstens says the only eligibility requirements to explore use of a digester through the new LOL/CalBio collaboration are equity in the co-op, a good credit rating and a willingness to participate. The first targeted areas are Tulare and King Counties, which have a large number of LOL members dairies in relatively close proximity. For more information on California Bioenergy LLC, click here. For more on the Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN Environmental business unit, click here.             Mike Opperman Wed, 08/15/2018 - 10:10 Category Digesters Comments News Article Image Caption Membrane digesters will typically be used to collect methane, after which the gas will be scrubbed of hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide and water and then pressurized for movement into compressed natural gas pipelines. Image Credit California Bioenergy LLC
Mike Opperman

Using Bark Beds to Reduce Nitrogen Losses

4 days 9 hours ago
Using Bark Beds to Reduce Nitrogen Losses They’re called “denitrifying bioreactors” but in laymen’s terms, these “bark beds” are simply wide, shallow trenches filled with wood chips located at the end of field tiles lines. These simple structures can be amazingly efficient at removing nitrogen from field sub-surface flow from tile lines. The wood chips themselves serve as the medium for microbes that use carbon in the wood chips as their food source. And as the naturally occurring microbes grow and multiply, they convert nitrate nitrogen from subsurface flow primarily di-nitrogen gas and release it into the atmosphere, explains Matt Helmers, an Iowa State University a specialist in agricultural and bioengineering. The microbes will remove as much as 98% of the nitrogen from the runoff water. However, bark beds are designed to only take about 15% of the peak flow from the drainage system, and they treat about 60% of the long-term average annual flow. As a result, their over-all efficiency drops to about 25% to 40% nitrate-nitrogen removal, says Helmers. Lee Kinnard first learned about bark beds when he was asked to speak at a Nature Conservancy meeting a few years ago. Kinnard milks 7,000 cows and farms more than 10,000 acres with his family on Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan. The peninsula has one of the highest concentrations of cattle in the state and is environmentally sensitive because it naturally drains into Lake Michigan. Areas of the peninsula also can have very shallow depth to bedrock, which itself is fractured. That combination can lead to nitrogen contamination of wells. Kinnard has been working with the Nature Conservancy to show agriculture can play a part in solving these environmental issues. So this past year, he decided to install a 25’ X 55’ x 5’ bark bed at the end of a tile line that drains 160 acres. It took four semi-loads of bark to fill the bed. The bark bed was installed on land where his mother was born and raised, and it drains into the bay side of the peninsula. The site has anywhere from 200’ to 300’ of soil depth to bedrock, and it has a 4 ½ to 5% slope so that tile lines easily drain. “It’s a good way to sneak in a little wetland at the base of the tile line at very little loss of acreage,” he says. Because this is a demonstration project with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, monitoring wells were also installed to gather data on water flow and nitrogen reduction. Since the bark bed has just recently been installed, Kinnard has no data to share. Typically, a bark bed this size would cost about $15,000 to install, but the monitoring equipment and a small building to house that equipment pushed the cost up to $21,000. Kinnard is anxious for data to start rolling in. Because the drainage area is all one field, it is typically planted to one crop—either corn or alfalfa. “Alfalfa can put out a lot of nitrogen. We’ve been sampling tiles lines for the past decade for our own purposes, and we’ve seen spikes in nitrogen after alfalfa has been killed off at the end of its rotation,” he says. So he is curious to see what the actual levels of nitrogen are once the water is processed through the bark bed.   Scott Youse, a Caroline County, Md. dairy farmer, installed the first bark bed in his state in the fall of 2013. At that time, barks beds were still such a new concept bioengineers weren’t sure if they would work in Maryland’s more humid climate. Maryland is technically described as a humid, subtropical coastal plain. Farmers along the Chesapeake Bay have been under pressure for years to reduce nitrogen field losses. When the Midshore Riverkeepers Conservancy came to Youse and asked if he would be willing to install a bark bed, he instantly agreed.  “The Riverkeepers have been good to work with,” he says.  They offered a potential solution, he says, and he was willing to try it. Youse’s bed is 20’ X 100’ X 2’, and processes runoff from 180 acres and the main building site of the dairy. “The bed is located on a triangle of land where our center pivot doesn’t hit,” says Youse. “So it really cost us nothing in terms of taking land out of production.” Tim Rosen, a watershed scientist with ShoreRivers (previously known as the Midshore Riverkeepers), now says the bark bed installed at the Youse dairy is under-sized for the amount of land it processes. “We would need to double the width of the bed for that volume of water,” he says. The goal is to have six to eight hours of water retention time in the bioreactor to allow the microbes to do their work. The Delmarva Peninsula is also very flat, and most of the tile lines drain on the Peninsula into ditches. So bioengineers are now looking at ways to use bark beds to process water from ditches using ditch diversion bioreactors, sawdust denitrification walls and in-ditch bioreactors. While all three systems can be effective in reducing nitrogen, they typically have higher costs than conventional bark beds. Some states offer cost-share programs that cover some of the costs of bark beds. Maryland, for example, offers 87.5% cost share on piping and structures, but not on the construction and installation of the bioreactors themselves. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Services also has some cost share available through EQIP, though these are usually available only through a bid process. Research in Maryland and the Midwest has shown that bark beds, even in their many forms, can reduce nitrogen loads from agricultural drainage. “The biggest questions are cost, and do they take land out of production,” says Rosen. “We’re asking farmers to incur these costs when there might not be agronomic benefits. But if we can site them on the edge of fields or on buffer areas, we see it as a win-win when we put these practices in.” Adds Lee Kinnard: “It is incredibly cool that such a simple device can be so effective at protecting our water resources. This shows that animal agriculture can absolutely be part of the solution.”   Mike Opperman Tue, 08/14/2018 - 15:31 Category Nutrient Management Soil Health Comments News Article Image Caption Bark beds help slow nitrogen runoff Image Credit Mike Opperman
Mike Opperman

Drought Declaration Expanded in Eastern Kansas by Governor

4 days 10 hours ago
Drought Declaration Expanded in Eastern Kansas by Governor Drought conditions in the western half of Kansas have improved since the start of May when much of the area was experiencing widespread dryness. However, the eastern half of the state has continued struggling with moisture prompting Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer to add 22 counties into a drought emergency designation. The designation of drought emergency means counties are eligible for emergency use of water from certain state fishing lakes. They also become eligible for water in some Federal reservoirs. Reports of low feed supplies and declining water availability for livestock helped spur the decision. There are currently 72 counties in drought emergency, they are as follows (new counties added in bold): Anderson Atchison Barber Barton Bourbon Brown Butler Chase Cherokee Clark Clay Coffey Comanche  Cowley Crawford Dickinson Doniphan Douglas Edwards Ellsworth Finney Ford Franklin  Geary Grant Gray Greenwood Hamilton Harper Harvey Haskell Hodgeman Jackson Jefferson Johnson Kearny Kingman Kiowa Labette Leavenworth Lincoln Linn Lyon  Marion Marshall McPherson Meade Miami Montgomery Morris Morton Nemaha Neosho Osage Ottawa Pawnee Pottawatomie Pratt Reno Rice Riley Saline Sedgwick Seward Shawnee Stafford Stanton Stevens Sumner Wabaunsee Washington Wyandotte Kansas is one of eight states that is experiencing the highest ranking of drought known as “exceptional drought” by the Drought Monitor. The other states according to the Aug. 8 Drought Monitor are Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah. The following map shows the counties in Kansas that are listed in the drought declaration and counties that have improved: Wyatt Bechtel Tue, 08/14/2018 - 14:27 Category Kansas Dairy (General) Hogs (General) Beef (General) Drought Comments Drought Kansas News Article Image Caption Cows drinking from water tanks. Image Credit Wyatt Bechtel
Wyatt Bechtel

Checkoff Legal Battle May Expand to 13 New States

4 days 11 hours ago
Checkoff Legal Battle May Expand to 13 New States The beef checkoff faces new challenges in 13 states as opponents have expanded their legal campaign following a Montana injunction last year. The Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA) has asked District Court Judge Brian Morris, Great Falls, MT, to expand the injunction to include checkoff funds in Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont and Wisconsin. R-CALF’s latest action has heightened concern among state beef councils across the country, and brought further warnings from checkoff supporters who claim R-CALF’s efforts are supported by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). That claim is tied to the fact R-CALF is represented by Public Justice, an organization that has represented HSUS in the past. “It is very disappointing that R-CALF, supposedly an organization representing the interests of cattle producers, would team up with an activist group with close ties to the Humane Society of the United States, a sworn enemy of animal agriculture,” says Kansas Livestock Association president Lee Reeve, Garden City, Kan. “If successful, this lawsuit will silence producer voices and stifle the demand-building programs directed by cattlemen and cattlewomen who volunteer to serve on the Kansas Beef Council Executive Committee.” The current injunction against the checkoff was upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in April, and only applies to Montana. Under the injunction, the $1 beef checkoff is still collected, and the money is sent to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. Montana ranchers who wish for half of their dollar to go to the Montana Beef Council must complete a producer consent form, and the CBB then sends the money back to Montana. Montana Beef Council executive director Chaley Harney told Drovers the injunction has dramatically reduced the organization’s revenue this year. “We expected $1.7 million to be collected by the checkoff (in Montana),” Harney said. “Half of that, or about $850,000, would stay in Montana. Since the injunction we’ve received less than $200,000.” R-CALF and other opponents to the beef checkoff say they object to their money being used to “fund private speech with which they disagree and cannot influence.” In a statement, R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard says the “checkoff program has weakened the U.S. cattle industry,” and that his group’s objective is to stop “USDA from forcing (producers in the additional 13 states) to fund private speech that undermines their financial and economic interests.” The national Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), however, says it is fully committed to the Beef Checkoff Program and the “state beef councils who carry out necessary demand-building programs on behalf of the industry.” In a statement issued last week, NCBA said the “attack by R-CALF and its activist partners on 13 additional state beef councils is nothing more than an attempt to broaden the damage they have caused in Montana. There they have already weakened the producer-directed programs that support beef demand and divided neighbors in a manner that undermines the best interests of the entire beef community.” NCBA also said that while it is not a party to the litigation, “the association’s support for the Beef Checkoff is unwavering. We will stand with the state beef councils and help defend them against the attacks being orchestrated by R-CALF and its activist allies, who are aligned with the Humane Society of the United States and other anti-agriculture organizations.” Greg Henderson Tue, 08/14/2018 - 13:28 Category Beef (General) Dairy (General) Veterinary (General) Comments Beef Checkoff BEEF Montana Kansas Nevada North Carolina Nebraska Indiana Hawaii South Dakota South Carolina Texas Vermont Wisconsin Pennsylvania New York News Article Image Caption R-CALF seeks to add states to injunction while NCBA vows to defend checkoff against HSUS and other activists. Image Credit .
Greg Henderson

USDA FSA Designates 36 Counties As Primary Natural Disaster Areas

4 days 12 hours ago
USDA FSA Designates 36 Counties As Primary Natural Disaster Areas Tuesday, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced counties in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma will be available for FSA emergency loans due to losses from drought. Producers in primary disaster areas as well as contiguous disaster areas are eligible for loans. Loans are made available under the authority of Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue. Producers in any designated primary and contiguous counties have until April 1, 2019 to apply for emergency loans to help cover actual losses. In total, 36 counties have been declared primary disaster areas and another 36 contiguous disaster areas. Counties eligible for emergency loans: Iowa Primary Disaster Davis Kansas Primary Disaster Cherokee Douglas Franklin Johnson Labette Leavenworth Miami Wyandotte Missouri Primary Disaster Adair Andrew Buchanan Caldwell Carroll Chariton Clinton Daviess DeKalb Gentry Grundy Harrison Jpward Linn Livingston Macon Mercer Nodaway Putnam Randolph Ray Saline Schulyer Scotland Sullivan Oklahoma Primary Disaster Craig Ottawa Iowa Contiguous Appanoose Jefferson Monroe Van Buren Wapello Kansas Contiguous Anderson Atchison Coffey Crawford Jefferson Linn Montgomery Neosho Osage Shawnee Missouri Contiguous Andrew Atchison Boone Buchanan Clay Cooper Holt Howard Jackson Knox Lafayette Monroe Pettis Platte Putnam Shelby Worth Oklahoma Contiguous Delaware Mayes Nowata Rogers FSA considers each loan on its own merits, including extend of losses, security available and repayment ability. There are other programs that could help farmers and ranchers recover losses from disaster. Other FSA programs that can provide assistance, but do not require a disaster declaration, include: Operating and Farm Ownership Loans; the Emergency Conservation Program; Livestock Forage Disaster Program; Livestock Indemnity Program; Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program; and the Tree Assistance Program. Talk to local USDA agents for more information on loans or other programs. Sonja Begemann Tue, 08/14/2018 - 11:45 Category Corn Soybeans Beef (General) Dairy (General) Comments News Article Image Caption Drought Monitor updated to July 31, 2018 Image Credit Chris Fenimore NCEI/NESDIS/NOAA
Sonja Begemann

Farmers Helped Elect Trump, But Trade Wars Erode Their Support

4 days 13 hours ago
Farmers Helped Elect Trump, But Trade Wars Erode Their Support Almost 70% of farmers voted for President Donald Trump in 2016, yet the latest Farm Journal Research survey shows only 56% would vote for him again and 41% view him unfavorably, while 35%—whether judging him favorable or unfavorable overall—view him “less favorably” than they did before the trade wars. That’s because the trade wars strike the balance sheets of farmers who are already fighting through the fourth year of tough times—with no relief on the horizon. This research, which captured sentiments of 2,300 farmers, shines a bright light on facts that contradict mainstream reports that “farmers remain with Trump for now” as recently proclaimed by Bloomberg. That said, Farm Journal’s survey found that only 52% of farmer voters find Trump favorable. Another 5% have no opinion and the remaining 43% find him unfavorable. Similarly, 54% of the farmers surveyed would vote to re-elect him. All presidents take heat for their actions, although not since Jimmy Carter has a president challenged trade and eroded support with the same magnitude. Here’s a shocker: Young farmers are much more bullish on Trump than older farmers: 61% of farmers under 45 years old favor Trump versus only 40% of farmers 65+ years old. At the same time, 45% of farmers 65+ years old are even less favorable toward Trump since the trade wars started, compared to only 31% of young farmers less favorable.  The survey, conducted the week of Aug. 6, found only 43% of all farmers 65+ would vote for Trump in the next election, while 64% of farmers under 45 years old would still vote for Trump.  The comments submitted with the research were particularly interesting. Here’s a sample:  “Someone has to take on the leeches of the world,” one farmer respondent said. “Too bad farmers are the pawns on the chess board!” Another said, “A country cannot have a negative trade balance forever.” Related specifically to tariffs, one farmer said, “He is destroying markets for ag products that took decades to build and which we may never get back.” Many respondents made comments along the lines of, “He is doing what he said he would do.” Still others aren’t convinced.  “He has lost the confidence of the American farmer—no matter what party you are with,” one farmer said.  Another said, “Best president in modern history.” As you can imagine, feelings are strong coming from both sides.    Have your feelings about Trump changed? If so, let us know. Comment below, or send me an email at alaca@farmjournal.com.  Anna-Lisa Laca Tue, 08/14/2018 - 11:29 Category Beef (General) Hogs (General) Dairy (General) Trade Research Comments News Article Image Caption Farm Journal’s survey found that only 52% of farmer voters find Trump favorable. Another 5% have no opinion and the remaining 43% find him unfavorable. Image Credit Wikimedia
Anna-Lisa Laca

Cogent IVF Rebrands Itself as ‘Vytelle’

4 days 13 hours ago
Cogent IVF Rebrands Itself as ‘Vytelle’ Cogent IVF announced today it was rebranding itself as Vitelle, a combination of the words “vital” and “elle,” which is Greek for sunray. “This brand platform will allow us to continue to deliver a forward-focused promise to our technology licensees and their customers across the United States,” says Bruno Sanches, Chief Operating Officer of Vytelle. Vytelle is focused on bringing genetic advancement to commercial animals by implementing technology to produce more protein for the world, says Sanches. Vytelle uses a unique system for collecting oocytes without the use of hormonal stimulation from donor females, modified production protocols using serum-free culture media and unique freezing techniques that increase the success of post-thaw pregnancy initiation and sustained pregnancies. Cogent IVF was founded in 2015 as a subsidiary of Cogent Breeding Ltd. In the fall of 2017, Wheatsheaf® Group sold a majority interest in Cogent Breeding Ltd. to ST Genetics, based in Texas. Prior to the acquisition Cogent IVF was transferred into Wheatsheaf Group ownership and has operated as an independent Wheatsheaf company, representing a strategic investment by the group into the bovine sector. This name change reinforces Vytelle’s commitment to advancing genetics, business and life. “Even as we move forward as Vytelle, one thing that won’t change is the core of our business—the people, service and technology that is associated with Cogent IVF,” explains Sanches. “The team at Cogent IVF will remain the same under the Vytelle name with the same mission to Advance Genetics. Business. Life.”           Jim Dickrell Tue, 08/14/2018 - 10:44 Category Dairy Genetics Dairy (General) Comments Dairy Dairy Genetics News Article Image Caption Cow with her newborn calf. Image Credit Farm Journal, Inc.
Jim Dickrell

Why USDA Oversight Matters for Consumers and Producers

4 days 14 hours ago
Why USDA Oversight Matters for Consumers and Producers As the regulatory battle over fake meat heats up in Washington, D.C., the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is taking a strong stand for consumers and cattle producers. A few weeks ago, we appealed directly to President Trump, asking him to ensure that lab-grown fake meat products are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It is hardly a radical request. After all, existing federal laws give the USDA authority over all meat and poultry products and byproducts. But the manufacturers of lab-grown fake meat are pushing hard to circumvent the law and have the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulate their products instead. It would be easy to dismiss the USDA-FDA oversight debate as a battle reserved for public policy wonks. Indeed, some within the cattle industry have questioned NCBA’s relentless emphasis on securing USDA oversight. They claim the more important issue is determining how lab-grown fake meat will be labeled and marketed. Make no mistake: Ensuring the proper labeling of lab-grown fake meat is a top priority for NCBA and our affiliates. (It is also critical that fake meat products are safe for human consumption.) But to achieve the outcome that consumers and producers deserve, the question of regulatory oversight must be settled first. To understand why, consider the different approaches USDA and FDA take when regulating product labels. At USDA, all product labels must receive approval before they hit the marketplace. A public, transparent process guards against deceptive marketing claims and certifies that labels are based on sound science. Similar safeguards are not in place at the FDA. Instead of pre-approving labels, the FDA relies on a retroactive enforcement approach. The agency evaluates product labels after they hit store shelves and may take enforcement actions if the labels violate certain standards. Unfortunately, even when product labels clearly break the law, the FDA has failed to act. Federal regulations clearly define “milk” as coming from a cow. Nonetheless, the FDA has ignored calls to enforce labeling standards on imitation milk products for nearly three decades. Given the stark differences between USDA and FDA, jumping straight to the definition and labeling of lab-grown fake meat without clarifying the primary regulatory authority is a recipe for disaster. What good is a definition if the agency responsible cannot be trusted to enforce it? Solidifying USDA’s role as the primary regulatory authority over lab-grown fake meat is not a secondary issue. It is integral to ensuring that lab-grown fake meat is fairly and accurately labeled. Consumers and producers can trust USDA to oversee a transparent labeling process that is based on sound science, not deceptive marketing claims. Greg Henderson Tue, 08/14/2018 - 10:34 Category Beef (General) Hogs (General) Dairy (General) Veterinary (General) Comments Beef (General) News Article Image Caption USDA oversight is the critical first step in ensuring lab-grown protein is fairly and accurately labeled, says NCBA President Kevin Kester, Parkfield, Calif. Image Credit Wikipedia via Public Domain
Greg Henderson

World Dairy Expo to Host Inaugural Showmanship Judges Clinic

4 days 14 hours ago
World Dairy Expo to Host Inaugural Showmanship Judges Clinic MADISON, WIS. – World Dairy Expo is pleased to announce the addition of a Showmanship Judges Clinic to its educational programs. Open to showmanship judges of all skill levels and youth dairy project leaders, the clinic will take place from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Monday, October 1 in the Coliseum at the Alliant Energy Center. This international clinic will cover the showmanship guidelines developed by the Purebred Dairy Cattle Association to improve consistency in contests across North America. Led by 2017 WDE Showmanship Judge, David Crack of Richmond, Quebec, Canada, the workshop will include a mock contest. Free for all participants, clinic registration is available at www.surveymonkey.com/r/WDEShowmanshipJudgeWorkshop. “Showmanship is one of the most important dairy youth events that youth can participate in as it teaches life skills such as responsibility, poise, precision and learning. It is our responsibility, as youth leaders and judges, to know the guidelines and expectations, so that when we judge a show, we are giving youth the very best experience,” remarks Katie Coyne, WDE Youth Fitting & Showmanship Contest Superintendent. Meanwhile, four judges have been selected for the 2018 WDE Youth Fitting and Youth Showmanship Contests. These individuals will evaluate contestants from around the globe on Sunday, September 30 at 10:00 a.m. in the Sale Pavilion and Thursday, October 4 at 6:00 p.m. in the Coliseum, respectively. Judging the 2018 WDE Youth Fitting and Youth Showmanship Contests are: Youth Fitting Contest Tyler Reynolds, Feed Manager at Reyncrest Farms, Corfu, N.Y.  Youth Showmanship Contest             Junior Division: Curtis McNeil, Owner of Heather Holme Holsteins, Goderich, Ontario, Canada             Intermediate Division: Jamie Howard, EastGen Regional Sales Manager for Western Ontario,                                                     Burgessville, Ontario, Canada             Senior Division: Kelly Reynolds, New York Holstein Association Executive Manager, Corfu, N.Y. Open to any young dairy enthusiast ages 16-21 and 9-21, respectively, Expo Youth Fitting and Youth Showmanship Contest participants are not required to exhibit in one of the WDE breed shows to qualify. However, to be eligible, contestants must use an animal that will be shown or sold at Expo in 2018. Complete contest details and registration forms are available in the Expo Premium Book or on the WDE website. Serving as the meeting place of the global dairy industry, World Dairy Expo brings together the latest in dairy innovation and the best cattle in North America. Crowds of nearly 70,000 people, from 100 countries, will return to Madison, Wisconsin for the 52nd annual event, October 2-6, 2018, when the world’s largest dairy-focused trade show, dairy and forage seminars, a world-class dairy cattle show and more will be on display. Visit worlddairyexpo.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or YouTube for more information. Taylor Leach Tue, 08/14/2018 - 09:48 Category Dairy (General) Comments Dairy (General) World Dairy Expo News Article Image Caption World Dairy Expo announces first Showmanship Judges Clinic. Image Credit World Dairy Expo
Taylor Leach

Bye, Bye rBST

4 days 15 hours ago
Bye, Bye rBST The following commentary does not necessarily reflect the views of AgWeb or Farm Journal. The opinions expressed below are the author's own. It’s fitting that the most recent issue of MILK, which focuses on sustainability, hits mailboxes at a time when the industry may have seen the last of rBST. In early August it was announced that Elanco had sold the Posilac (brand name for rBST) business to a Brazilian company, including the manufacturing facility. Today, rBST is cleared for use in only a few pockets of the dairy industry. Of the many definitions around sustainability, the one that guides people the most is the ability to maximize inputs by creating as much output as possible. More bushels per acre of land. More pounds per cow from the same amount feed. It’s an important part of sustainability as we look toward feeding a growing global population from dwindling acres of tillable land. There are few products that improved milk production efficiency as easily as rBST. With the right management adjustments, that shot of rBST every two weeks could bring as much as 10 pounds more production. Producers, nutritionists and veterinarians quickly learned how to manage cows that were on rBST to maximize the response without impairing animal health. At its height, it’s estimated that as much as 20% of the U.S. dairy herd was on rBST. But the success, unfortunately, was short lived. Once consumers caught wind that dairy producers were giving cows growth hormones every two weeks just to drive up higher production, the tide turned. What was a useful production tool soon became the target of consumer backlash. The story of rBST is a case study of the dominance of consumer perception, and honestly the dairy industry never had a chance. Keep in mind that rBST was really the first product to have such negative press, and the dairy industry wasn’t prepared to respond. Consumer groups attacked the technology, and soon retailers banned the use of the product to appease consumer wishes. Pretty soon only a handful of producers could legally use the product. You could probably credit rBST with starting absence label marketing. As retailers realized the consumers wanted products without rBST, you started to see labels on dairy products like “hormone free” or “made from cows not administered rBST”. Now it’s hard to find any food label without some sort of absence claim.  As critical as rBST was to the growth in production here in the U.S., it’s gratifying to see how producers have adapted without the use of the technology. Most of the herds that were on rBST regained the production in a short period of time. It was easier for those that phased out over time rather than quitting cold turkey, but management changes allowed for the production to come back. Producers figured out how to improve production efficiency without the use of rBST. Now that’s sustainable. What are your thoughts on rBST? Are you concerned about what could happen to other production practices? Drop me a note at mopperman@farmjournal.com. Mike Opperman Tue, 08/14/2018 - 09:14 Category Editorial Blog Dairy (General) Comments Blog Article Image Caption Opperman Image Credit Farm Journal
Mike Opperman

Could Oat Milk Be The Next Milk Alternative Fad?

5 days 9 hours ago
Could Oat Milk Be The Next Milk Alternative Fad? First it was soy, then it was almond. Now, oat milk could overtake the milk alternative market, especially in coffee shops. Replacing traditional dairy creamer, soy milk was once the “go-to” milk alternative that thousands of Americans were pouring into their coffee cups. The dairy-free creamer was a hit for vegetarians, vegans and those with milk allergies, however, fears of soy causing “estrogen-like” activities in the body caused its popularity to take a hit. When almond milk entered the market, consumers were given a different dairy-free option to choose from. Suddenly, soy was out and almond was in. While “nut juice” creamers have grown in popularity significantly since 2013, consumers have become more sustainably aware of how their food is being produced. Almonds require large amounts of water to be grown, so some consumers are leaning away from this non-dairy drink, switching over to more sustainably grown oats. Now that the trend is starting to switch once again, oat milk may soon be replacing almond milk in coffee shops with companies like Oatly becoming the new ‘it’ milk alternative creamer. Available in over 2,200 coffee shops and 1,000 grocery stores across the country, Oatly, a Swedish based company has seen a “phenomenal growth” in sales in the U.S. In Europe, Starbucks has begun offering beverages including the oat ingredient, and consumers are drinking them up. However, the popular coffee chain has not yet brought the “milk” to America despite seeing the trend increase. In the states, Oatly has presented the ingredient to smaller coffee chains who are looking for an alternative to cow’s milk that is creamy, latte-art-capable, healthy and sustainable, according to USA Today. As more consumers become aware of this liquefied oat trend, could it soon be the next milk-alternative fad dairy producers need to watch out for? Taylor Leach Mon, 08/13/2018 - 15:34 Category Dairy (General) Milk (General) Comments Dairy (General) Milk (General) Oats Sweden News Article Image Caption Swedish company Oatly has seen ‘phenomenal growth’ in oat milk beverages. Image Credit Free Images
Taylor Leach

Researchers Develop Test for FMD in Bulk Milk

5 days 9 hours ago
Researchers Develop Test for FMD in Bulk Milk Testing of pooled milk samples could provide an efficient tool for foot and mouth disease (FMD) screening, and for facilitating movement of milk supplies during an FMD outbreak. Researchers at The Pirbright Institute, in collaboration with USDA/APHIS scientists at the Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory on Plum Island, New York, have shown that such testing is feasible and sensitive enough to detect the presence of one infected cow in a milking herd of up to 1,000 head. The researchers compared two high-throughput real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) protocols with different RT-PCR chemistries, and in both cases detected the FMD virus in in milk one to two days before the presentation of characteristic foot lesions. They also found: The rRT-PCR detection from milk was extended, up to 28 days post contact (dpc), compared to detection 14 dpc for virus isolation. Detection of FMDV in milk by rRT-PCR was possible for 18 days longer than detection by the same method in serum samples. Dilution studies using milk from the field and experimentally-infected animals showed the test could detect FMDV at 10-7, meaning the test could detect one acutely-infected milking cow in a typical-sized dairy herd of 100 to 1,000 individuals. The research report, titled “Detection of foot-and-mouth disease virus in milk samples by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction: optimisation and evaluation of a high-throughput screening method with potential for disease surveillance,” is published in the journal Veterinary Microbiology, and is available online. John Maday Mon, 08/13/2018 - 15:02 Category Diagnostics Dairy Cattle Herd Health Comments News Article Image Caption The new test could screen tankers or bulk tanks for evidence of the FMD virus. Image Credit Farm Journal
John Maday

Cargill Reports Canadian Beef Sustainability Pilot Progress

5 days 10 hours ago
Cargill Reports Canadian Beef Sustainability Pilot Progress Cargill announced more than 1 million pounds of beef was produced during the third quarter of its Canadian Beef Sustainability Pilot. In a statement, the company said the pilot’s volume nearly doubled from its first quarter to its third. “While much of this initial growth can be attributed to diligent efforts by the pilot’s partners as a result of updating systems, records and processes to ensure all beef that meets the standard is recorded and tracked, the program has also seen a steady increase in participation from cattle producers and foodservice partners,” said Mike Martin, Cargill director of communications. During the pilot’s third quarter, participating Canadian cattle producers earned credits of $18.52 per head. Martin said payments made by participating retailers and foodservice operators are funding credits given to cattle producers during the pilot in appreciation for their involvement in, and commitment to, Canadian beef sustainability. “The dollars-per-head credit varies each quarter of the pilot based on total number of qualifying animals, cattle weights and participating retailer and foodservice operator beef demand,” Martin said. “The goal of the pilot is to permanently deliver a consistent supply of beef from certified sustainable sources to our retail and foodservice customers and their Canadian consumers, according to standards recently developed by the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.” Cargill launched its Canadian Beef Sustainability Pilot in the fall of 2017. Quarterly pilot project credit payments to producers thus far are: 3rd Quarter, $18.52 per ehad; 2nd Quarter, $20.11 per head; 1st Quarter, $10.00 per head. Cargill’s multi-stakeholder Canadian Beef Sustainability Acceleration (CBSA) pilot traces beef from audited farms and ranches through the supply chain to consumers. This effort expands the project that ended in 2016, in which McDonald’s Canada collaborated with Cargill and other supply chain stakeholders to demonstrate the viability of such a program. Cargill says a growing number of Canadian beef cattle producers are completing the steps necessary to qualify for the pilot, with the overarching goal of enabling retail and foodservice participants to consistently offer a supply of beef from certified sustainable sources to consumers. Only Canadian  cattle are eligible to participate, and the cattle are processed at the Cargill High River, Alberta, facility. Greg Henderson Mon, 08/13/2018 - 13:44 Category Beef (General) Dairy (General) Veterinary (General) Canada Comments Sustainability Canada News Article Image Caption More than 1 million pounds of beef was produced during the third quarter of Cargill's Canadian Beef Sustainability Pilot, nearly double the amount produced during the previous quarter. Image Credit Cargill
Greg Henderson

FBI Agent Acquitted of Lying About Shots Fired At LaVoy Finicum

5 days 13 hours ago
FBI Agent Acquitted of Lying About Shots Fired At LaVoy Finicum A jury on Friday declared an FBI agent not guilty of obstructing an investigation into who fired two errant shots at rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum on Jan. 26, 2016, a key figure in a group that seized an Oregon wildlife refuge.   Agent W. Joseph Astarita, 41, was charged with making false statements and obstruction of justice after telling investigators he did not fire the shots that missed Finicum as he left his vehicle while authorities tried to arrest him at a roadblock. Oregon State Police fatally shot Finicum seconds later — a killing that was deemed legally justified. His attorneys, Robert Cary and David Angeli, stressed to jurors that no eyewitnesses saw Astarita fire his weapon, and there was no ballistic evidence linking a bullet to his rifle. "We are grateful to the men and women of the jury who saw through a case that should have never been brought," the lawyers said in a joint statement. "Joe Astarita is innocent and it was our privilege and honor to represent him." Ammon and Ryan Bundy and five other occupiers at the Maelhour National Wildlife Refuge were found not guilty of conspiracy and gun charges two years ago. Earlier this year, charges against Cliven Bundy stemming from a Nevada standoff in 2014 were dropped. At the roadblock where Finicum was killed, investigators say they identified those responsible for six of the eight rounds fired. No one claimed the other two. Based on FBI aerial surveillance videos and forensic analysis tracing a bullet back to his position, prosecutors believed Astarita was the only one who could have fired the shots. Finicum and other occupiers led by Ammon Bundy seized the refuge on Jan. 2, 2016, to protest the imprisonment of Oregon ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond, who were recently pardoned by President Trump. Greg Henderson Mon, 08/13/2018 - 11:08 Category Beef (General) Dairy (General) Hogs (General) Veterinary (General) Comments Policy News Article Image Caption Robert "LaVoy" Finicum during the occupation of the Maelhour National Wildlife Refuge in 2016. Image Credit .
Greg Henderson

World Dairy Expo 2018 Seminars Focus on the Future

5 days 14 hours ago
World Dairy Expo 2018 Seminars Focus on the Future World Dairy Expo will once again provide attendees additional educational value through its diverse series of Expo Seminars. Presented by industry leaders daily, these seminars address topics centered on policy, research, finances and the future. Each seminar is approved for one continuing education credit for members of both the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS) and the American Association of State Veterinary Boards – RACE Program (RACE). Sponsors of the 2018 Expo Seminars include Feed Supervisor Software; Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy; Micronutrients; Quality Liquid Feeds, Inc.; and Semex. Following is a schedule of 2018 Expo Seminars, which will be held in the Mendota 2 meeting room of the Alliant Energy Center’s Exhibition Hall: Tuesday, October 2, 1:00 p.m.Entering the Dairy Industry: How do Young People get Started into Dairying Gary Sipiorski, Dairy Development Manager, Vita Plus   Wednesday, October 3, 11:00 a.m.Large-Scale Robots: Is It Worth the Hype Brian Houin, Owner, Homestead Dairy, LLC Sponsored by: Quality Liquid Feeds, Inc.   Wednesday, October 3, 1:00 p.m.Will the Farm Bill Hurt or Help? Dr. Mark Stephenson, Director of Dairy Policy Analysis, University of Wisconsin-Madison   Thursday, October 4, 11:00 a.m.Are You Raising the Right Number of Heifers? Jason Karszes, Senior Extension Associate, PRO-DAIRY at Cornell University Sponsored by: Micronutrients   Thursday, October 4, 1:00 p.m.KPIs: Your Yardstick to Improve What Matters on Your Operation Dr. Tom Fuhrmann, Consultant, DairyWorks Management System Terry Battcher, Consultant, DairyWorks Management System Sponsored by: Feed Supervisor Software   Friday, October 5, 11:00 a.m.Improved Genomic Selection for Health and Other Traits Dr. Paul VanRaden, Research Geneticist, USDA-AGIL Sponsored by: Semex   Friday, October 5, 1:00 p.m.View from the top: How corporate restaurant and food retail sourcing policies are being developed and the implications to the farmer Panelists: Mike Brown, Director, Dairy Supply Chain, The Kroger Co. Sarah Hendren, Nutrition & Quality Assurance Manager, Culver Franchising System, LLC Moderator: Angela Anderson, Director, Customer Outreach, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy Sponsored by: Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy   Saturday, October 6, 11:00 a.m.Learning from the Future – Dairying in 2068 Dr. Jack H. Britt, Senior Consultant, Jack H. Britt Consulting   Serving as the meeting place of the global dairy industry, World Dairy Expo brings together the latest in dairy innovation and the best cattle in North America. Crowds of nearly 70,000 people, from 100 countries, will return to Madison, Wis. for the 52nd annual event, October 2-6, 2018. World Dairy Expo includes the world’s largest dairy-focused trade show, dairy and forage seminars, a world-class dairy cattle show and more. Visit worlddairyexpo.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or YouTube for more information. Wyatt Bechtel Mon, 08/13/2018 - 09:55 Category Dairy Calves Replacements World Dairy Expo Wisconsin Comments World Dairy Expo Dairy Wisconsin News Article Image Caption The internationally renowned event will take place October 2-6 in Madison, Wis. Image Credit World Dairy Expo
Wyatt Bechtel

Evaluating the True Cost of Raising Quality Heifers

5 days 14 hours ago
Evaluating the True Cost of Raising Quality Heifers When we look at heifer raising costs, there typically are two scenarios: we either raise our heifers ourselves or we outsource them to a custom grower. Weighing that decision, and evaluating how much we can pay a custom grower, really need to focus on the value of the heifer that we're building, rather than looking at the heifer as a cost or a commodity. “What does it cost to raise a heifer?” This is a question I get from a lot of producers I work with. Sometimes it's a little difficult to break out all the expenses that we have in our accounting books, but generally, this is the breakout: Feed and labor are generally our largest expenses. Feed comprises about 60% to 70% of the total cost. Labor is about 10% to 15%. Additional production costs: animal health, breeding, bedding, supplies, so on and so forth. Capital expense and overhead. Typically, we see anywhere from $2.35 all the way up to $3.20 per day. It's a broad range, as far as heifer-raising expenses go. Generally speaking, we see close to $1,500 to $2,000 for the total cost to raise a replacement heifer, and that's before the value of the heifer calf that she's carrying. When we look at heifer raising, one scenario we also pose is, “Which is a better deal?” In Case A, we have 705 days at the heifer grower versus 678. We would think a shorter term would be a better situation as far as cost goes, but what if we alter the rate per head per day? Going from $2.50 to $2.60, that's maybe not quite as clear. Are we willing to pay $0.10 more per head per day to get the number of days lower? It's actually kind of a trick question because, by adjusting the rates, the cost comes out to be exactly the same. A lot of times we focus on the cost per head per day, but that’s not necessarily the true cost. It's actually a combination of the cost and the duration that those heifers are at the grower. Obviously, the point that we're trying to make is that it's not just the cost per head per day that really matters. There are a lot of other factors that come into play: the duration that the heifer is at the grower, as well as potentially the value that we're getting of that heifer. What quality is she? In a second scenario, we're looking at a custom-heifer-raising situation where the heifer is at the grower for, again, 705 days for both growers. But what if the one grower is charging us $2.75 versus $2.60 per head per day? Are we willing to pay $0.15 more per head per day? The difference at the end of the 705 days is $1,940 versus almost $1,840, so we're paying just over $100 more to have that heifer raised over that same period of time. But what if we said there's the potential that she's going to give us five more pounds of peak milk in that first lactation? What is that value to us? Is it worth the additional cost? When we run the analysis, in this case we're using $20 milk. Given the situation right now, that's not the case. But certainly we can use it as a guide. In this case, the increased milk would add $225 of value, by having the additional peak milk of five pounds. Obviously, there's added feed cost to get her to produce that much milk. We subtract off about $65 for that relative feed cost, and we come, basically, to a cost of just over $0.22 per head per day on which we could effectively have a margin in terms of our heifer-growing situation. Now, we said we would be paying $0.15 more per head per day, but yet our margin is actually just over $0.22. In this particular scenario, it actually proves that we might be better off paying more to get a better-quality heifer producing more milk. Looking at it another way, what could a producer afford to pay a heifer grower for about 450 pounds more milk in that first lactation? Using a milk price of about $17.00 per hundredweight, that’s an extra gross profit of about $76.00. In the calculation, we used a 2.25 feed efficiency on those heifers with the feed cost right around 10.5 cents per pound of dry matter. With that cost, we're looking at about $56.00 in that first lactation that we gain just based on that scenario, with feed factored in. We used 705 days at the grower in the previous scenarios, so if we take that $56.00 divided over the entire time that heifer is at our grower, we could actually pay the grower $0.08 more per head per day. That may be an opportunity to negotiate with a grower to raise our heifers for more ultimate value and productivity. Obviously, this calculation is a constantly moving target. The outcome can change over time, based on fluctuations in feed costs, milk price, and other factors. But the upshot is to work with your nutritionist and your heifer grower or potential heifer grower to evaluate really looking at your heifers more from a value and margin proposition, rather than just a pure cost per head per day. Heifer-raising expense is more important now than ever before, with current market and industry conditions. The real opportunity to purchase heifers and springers for less than what it costs to raise them does exist. While there are certain considerations one has to make in purchasing versus raising a heifer, there are ample reasons for producers to truly assess their heifer-raising performance and investment. For more discussion of agricultural financial scenarios and services, visit www.compeerfinancial.com. Wyatt Bechtel Mon, 08/13/2018 - 09:43 Category Dairy Calves Replacements Profit Tips Comments Dairy Calves Replacements Profit Tips News Article Image Caption Matthew Lange, dairy consultant with Compeer Financial, walks through heifer-raising considerations to help make solid decisions, for today as well as into the future. Image Credit Maureen Hanson
Wyatt Bechtel

Calf-feeding Lessons from Autofed Farms

5 days 15 hours ago
Calf-feeding Lessons from Autofed Farms While the majority of U.S. dairy calves still are fed individually, there are now enough farms using autofeeders to create some critical mass that can be studied on a large scale. At the University of Minnesota, Professor of Dairy Cattle Production Marcia Endres has led a team of researchers that recently wrapped up an 18-month study of Midwestern farms using autofeeders. In total, they evaluated more than 10,000 calves on 38 farms. What did they learn that can be of help to other operations? Some important lessons: 1. Peak milk allowance matters Many hutch-housed calves still are fed 1.0 to 1.5 gallons of milk via bottle twice a day. One of the key advantages of autofeeders is that they allow a farm to more closely mimic natural consumption habits, feeding on milk or milk replacer several times around the clock. Most farms in the study started calves at about 5.5 liters of milk per day, similar to individual-calf-feeding systems. But by 10 to14 days, they were feeding an average of 8.2 liters per day for about 20 to 25 days, then stepping gradually down to weaning. A key finding regarding peak milk was that speed to achieving peak milk consumption was directly correlated to health challenges. Those farms that had higher numbers of health incidents also took longer to get calves to peak milk consumption. “It appears that in the group setting, that extra nutrition is important to supporting immunity and keeping calves thriving,” said Endres. 2. “Autofed” does not mean “autopilot” While the desire to spend less time doing menial, monotonous tasks was cited as the number-one reason why farms chose to switch to autofeeders, Endres cautioned that such systems are neither labor- nor maintenance-free. “While the computer information supplied by the feeders is very helpful, it must be reviewed regularly, and calves still have to be observed visually,” she said. “The most successful calf managers recognize subtleties in behavior before they show up on the computer. They can spot calves just starting to get sick, or those that haven’t quite figured out how to get to and use the feeding station.” Equipment sanitation also showed significant disparities between farms. The Minnesota researchers used a threshold of 100,000 cells/mL standard plate count (SPC) to indicate successful sanitation of key equipment pieces, including nipples, hoses and mixing vats on the machines. The top 5 farms had a mean SPC of 87,590 cells/mL, while the bottom 5 had a mean SPC of a whopping 21,140,625. “We’ve had farms report that their calves were doing great when they initially switched to the autofeeder, then gradually went downhill. This probably explains why,” said Endres. She noted that, regardless of model, autofeeders have automated wash cycles that must be run routinely; parts that must be cleaned manually; and hoses that need to be replaced regularly because they can be hard to clean effectively. “The farms with the lowest counts were changing and sanitizing nipples once or twice a day,” she added. 3. You don’t have to build a new barn While new construction might be everyone’s choice in a perfect world, 61% of the calves in the study actually were being reared in retrofitted barns. Endres said existing structures can be successfully converted to autofeeding pens, as long as standards for resting space; clean, dry bedding; excellent ventilation; and access to the autofeeder, starter grain and fresh water are met. “For both the physical environment and the feeding equipment, our three take-away tips for success are ‘Clean!, Clean!!, and Clean!!!’” concluded Endres. Wyatt Bechtel Mon, 08/13/2018 - 09:37 Category Dairy Calves Replacements Dairy Nutrition Dairy Cattle Comments Dairy Calves Replacements Dairy Nutrition News Article Image Caption A team of researchers led by Marcia Endres, Professor of Dairy Cattle Production at the University of Minnesota, recently concluded an 18-month study of 38 Midwestern farms regarding their experiences with autofeeders. The results can help guide others using them or considering the switch. Image Credit Maureen Hanson
Wyatt Bechtel

Deadline for World Forage Contest Just Weeks Away

5 days 15 hours ago
Deadline for World Forage Contest Just Weeks Away The deadline to submit forage samples for the 2018 World Forage Analysis Superbowl is August 30, just two and a half weeks from now. Samples of baleage, commercial hay, dairy hay, grass hay and alfalfa must be submitted by that time. Held in conjunction with World Dairy Expo(WDE), the World Forage Analysis Superbowl evaluates seven forage categories on visual and lab analysis - the five listed previously, as well as standard corn silage and brown midrib corn silage, which were submitted at an earlier date. Each winning entry will be displayed at WDE, October 2-6 in Madison, Wis., in the Alliant Energy Center’s Arena Building, adjacent to the Dairy Forage Seminar Stage. More than $22,000 in cash prizes will be awarded on Wednesday, October 3, at the Mycogen Seeds Forage Superbowl Luncheon. The cash award for each division winner is $1,500, with additional cash prizes presented to second through fourth place finishers. Cash awards will also be given to the Grand Champion Forage Producer, First-Time Entrant, Quality Counts Corn Silage and Quality Counts Hay/Haylage.   Cash prizes are made possible by Platinum Sponsor: Mycogen Seeds; Gold Sponsor: Protexia; Silver Sponsors: Passion Ag, Inc., Prairie Creek Seed and The National Hay Association; and Division Sponsors: Ag-Bag, Agri-King, Agrisure Traits, Barenbrug USA, CROPLAN By WinField United, Kemin, Kuhn, NEXGROW Alfalfa and W-L Research.   The World Forage Analysis Superbowl is organized in partnership between Dairyland Laboratories, Inc., Hay & Forage Grower, US Dairy Forage Research Center, University of Wisconsin and World Dairy Expo. Official contest rules and entry form can be found online at foragesuperbowl.org or by calling 920-336-4521.   Jim Dickrell Mon, 08/13/2018 - 08:50 Category Dairy Nutrition Dairy (General) Comments News Article Image Caption More than $22,000 in prized will be awarded at this year's World Forage Analysis Superbowl. Image Credit Farm Journal, Inc.
Jim Dickrell

Kroger Discusses Selling Off Turkey Hill Brand

1 week 1 day ago
Kroger Discusses Selling Off Turkey Hill Brand Taking over the plant more than 30 years ago, Turkey Hill’s parent company, Kroger, is now considering selling off its popular iced tea and ice cream company. This news comes as a result to Kroger slimming its nongrocery business as it makes investments to compete with Amazon and Walmart, according to CNBC. Hiring the investment bank Goldman Sachs & Co. to help it explore its options, Kroger has not announced when its decision will be made but said it will "do its due diligence" to determine what's right for the 800 employees located in Conestoga, Penn., its customers and the business. "Turkey Hill's successful and recognizable ice cream and beverage products have the potential for greater growth outside of our company,” said Erin Sharp, group vice president for Kroger Manufacturing. “We want to ensure Turkey Hill has every opportunity to meet its full potential.” Announcing the news on Tuesday, Turkey Hill commented on their Facebook page, “This is an opportunity for our company to continue to expand and grow into a national brand. Things are great on “The Hill!”’ This move follows Kroger’s $2.15 billion sale of Turkey Hill convenience stores, according to CNBC. Taylor Leach Fri, 08/10/2018 - 15:49 Category Dairy (General) Milk (General) Pennsylvania Comments Dairy (General) Milk (General) Pennsylvania News Article Image Caption The popular ice cream and iced tea brand, Turkey Hill, may soon be looking for a new business partner. Image Credit Turkey Hill
Taylor Leach
Checked
1 hour 2 minutes ago
Subscribe to Dairy Herd Management feed