Dairy Herd Management

Packer Insight — Immigration bill and Walmart e-commerce

2 days 1 hour ago
Packer Insight — Immigration bill and Walmart e-commerce

National editor Tom Karst and staff writer Ashley Nickle discuss why Western Growers opposes the latest Goodlatte guest worker bill and why the slowing of Walmart's e-commerce growth does not necessarily portend anything bad for online grocery.

Highlights of the conversation include the following:

1:10 — Tom describes his conversation with Western Growers CEO Tom Nassif about the organization's feelings about the latest Goodlatte bill.

3:27 — Ashley details her expectation that the slowing of Walmart's e-commerce growth does not mean people are losing interest in online grocery.

5:01 — A big advantage of online grocery for shoppers might be one of the biggest disadvantages for retailers.

MORE: Western Growers opposes latest Goodlatte guest worker bill

MORE: Walmart discusses e-commerce plans as growth slows

Ashley NickleFri, 02/23/2018 - 14:14 Category Produce (General) Immigration Retail Comments Immigration Retail Videos Article Packer Insight - Immigration bill and Walmart e-commerce Image Caption Tom Karst and Ashley Nickle. Image Credit The Packer
Ashley Nickle

Is It Safe To Spread Manure This Winter?

2 days 3 hours ago
Is It Safe To Spread Manure This Winter?

Vermont, Iowa, Maryland, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin: what do all these states have in common? These states all have winter manure application bans established (different conditions exist within each state). So, “Is winter manure spreading allowed in Michigan?” Yes, and Michigan State University Extension recognizes that the proper timing of manure spreading as well as the rate of application allows for maximum nutrient retention within soils all while protecting water quality resources via limiting nutrient losses during runoff events.

Spreading manure in the winter can be quite beneficial (and necessary in some scenarios) for livestock and cropping operations, but this practice is not without its environmental risks, especially if manure is not properly managed.

According to the literature review article Winter Manure Application: Management Practices and Environmental Impact from the North Central Region Soil Health Nexus, associated risks of winter manure application include:

  • Increased runoff of manure nutrients and contaminants due to the spring thaw if manure is applied in late winter
  • Soil productivity decrease and local water bodies are impacted as these manure nutrients and contaminants runoff

Risks aside, when properly applied, manure that is spread in the winter can:

  • Decrease the size and number of manure storages needed on the farmstead
  • Allow farmers to spread manure when logistics make sense for them
  • Reduce the amount of compaction on the soil due to the spreading equipment running over compressible soil

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (MDARD) Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) have developed a helpful information guide to help farmers determine if their manure spreading habits are a risk to environmental quality.

There are five questions in this guide that look specifically at:

  1. Manure storage capacity
  2. Slope and drainage of fields
  3. Weather forecasts and seasonal conditions
  4. Amount of snow on the field
  5. Type of manure being applied

Each question has a “risk-o-meter” that is color coded from green to red allowing farmers to visualize whether their spreading habits are at a high or low risk.

Winter Manure: A Hot Topic in Cold Weather

Additional resources and tools that are available to help farmers evaluate (on a field-by-field basis) the risk of winter manure spreading include:

More information on these resources can be found at the Michigan State University Extension News article “Resources available on winter spreading.”

With a good understanding of the benefits and risks associated with winter manure applications and access to available resources from Michigan State University Extension and the MAEAP Program, farmers are better equipped to make decisions on the right source of manure, rate and timing of application, and correct placement. This also allows farmers to meet their cropping system goals of increased production, increased profitability and enhanced environmental protection of Michigan’s waters and approved sustainability.

Sara BrownFri, 02/23/2018 - 12:53 Category Beef (General) Dairy (General) Hogs (General) Governmental Regulations Vermont Michigan Iowa Wisconsin Maryland Indiana Minnesota Comments News Article Image Caption Winter manure applications can be very beneficial for farmers and the environment if managed to reduce risk of runoff.

Image Credit Photo: Michigan State University Extension
Sara Brown

5 Steps to a Succession Plan

2 days 3 hours ago
5 Steps to a Succession Plan

Transferring the farm business from one generation to the next is one of the most important processes a business will go through. And it’s not easy—when transitioning a family business, emotions get in the way.

“Owners often get stuck and avoid action when it comes to succession planning because of the uncomfortable decisions they need to make and the issues they must confront in this impending process,” says Chris Yonker, executive performance coach. “Fear is the main driver here. Often we fear what people will think and say, we fear the impact on the business itself, we fear how the culture of the company will be affected and we fear how people may behave.”

Beyond fear, Yonker identifies two additional reasons that cause challenges while developing a family succession plan: avoidance and a lack of vision and value alignment. “Without making a decision, owners of family businesses often end up reacting to an event or situation and are forced to have to do something,” he says.

Families can take action with a three step process, Yonker says. First, create a common vision. Next, dismantle family paradigms. “Improve and protect the integrity of the family by removing obstacles and healing where needed,” Yonker says.

The third stage is building a plan for the future.

“Whatever the succession plan, the most important part is to actually write it down in a formal document,” says Nicole Bettinger, a consultant with the Family Business Consulting Group. “Once it’s developed, have an adviser look at it and have all family members review.”

When starting your plan, Bettinger says owners should ask these questions to build a basis for the plan contents:

  • What do we think the future of our business looks like?
  • Would we like our children to work here?”
  • Ideally, what/who do we see as a possible future ownership group?
  • What effect would continued family ownership have on the health and harmony of our family?

“Answering these questions, and more, will help you think about your succession plan and what is important to you,” Bettinger says. Here are five essential topics of a succession plan:

1. Business planning
  • Parts of the business plan should include the specific revenue and expense aspects of the operation. This should also look at the future of the business, including how it could potentially evolve over time. Outline the corporate culture as well. If a company culture isn’t defined, Bettinger says to document what you feel the culture is today and how you would want it to evolve over time.
2. Personal finance
  • This should outline what the owner needs for retirement. Exiting owners should track financials for a period to see what they are spending so they know how much they will need after retirement. “It will be easier for owners to let go of the operation if they know they are able to maintain a certain lifestyle they desire,” Bettinger says. “Owners have to ask the question, ‘Who do you want to be after farming?’ They need to see themselves as independent from the farm once they leave.”
3. Management succession
  • How the farm business will continue operating smoothly should be in this portion of the plan. This should outline subjects such as who makes day to day decisions on the farm, how communication channels work, who reports to whom and so forth. “The detail in this portion of the plan is important, even if the owners are still going to be around,” Bettinger says. “It’s as much for the owners as it is for employees so they know how to work once the transition takes place.”
4. Ownership succession 
  • This includes who owns which parts of the operation and details the requirements of ownership. Should owners have work experience outside the farm? Is a formal education a requirement? Should they have worked on the farm previously? “One part often forgotten in this part of the plan is how owners can exit the business if they want to leave,” Bettinger says. “This is especially important if multiple siblings are part of the ownership group.”
5. Estate planning
  • Bettinger says to write up an estate plan well in advance of anything happening to the owners, so it doesn’t delay the transition process if something unfortunate does happen. “It can be easy to let the estate planning process take over (the succession planning process) in the haste of just getting the forms filled out,” Bettinger says. “Take your time and make sure this is done right.”

While the current tax code raises the estate tax exemption level to $11 million per married couple, it could change in the future. Bettinger says farmers should have a plan to address the possibility estate tax laws could change with a new administration.

Taking emotion out of the planning process is a critical step, Bettinger says. “Succession planning is a process, not a one-time event,” she emphasizes. “Make decisions based on principles, not emotion.”

 

Note: This story appears in the February 2018 magazine issue of Dairy Herd Management.

Wyatt BechtelFri, 02/23/2018 - 12:37 Category Profit Tips Hogs (General) Hog Management Comments Succession Planning News Article Image Caption Owners have to ask the question, ‘Who do you want to be after farming?' Image Credit Farm Journal
Wyatt Bechtel

Plan Ahead To Survive This Downturn

2 days 3 hours ago
Plan Ahead To Survive This Downturn

Do you have a plan to make it through the end of this downturn? If not, you need to make one.

Roland Fumasi, vice president and senior analyst at RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness, says they are working with clients to ensure they are positioned to withstand the current market.

“We recognize this is a tough market environment but we also realize the dairy industry has been through this before,” he says.

Curt Covington, senior vice president of agricultural finance for Farmer Mac, says farmers should look at reducing expenses.

“Can you trim cost of production while maintaining herd health and milk quality?” he asks. Fumasi says their price forecast shows a market bottom in February and then a gradual recovery as the year progresses. Still, the average over-base price Rabobank is forecasting for California in 2018 is $14.05 per cwt.

“What’s your plan? Based on the numbers, it’s highly likely some dairy farmers will struggle to be profitable in 2018,” Covington says. “But the really good borrowers have already built a solid financial plan around these scenarios, and will live to farm another day.”

Listen to how a handful of farmers plan to cut back expenses on the episode of AgriTalk below.

Anna-Lisa LacaFri, 02/23/2018 - 12:05 Category Finance/Accounting Dairy (General) Comments News Article Image Caption Do you have a plan to make it through the end of this downturn? If not, you need to make one. Image Credit Farm Journal
Anna-Lisa Laca

Murphy: An UnFortune-ate Assessment

2 days 5 hours ago
Murphy: An UnFortune-ate Assessment

It’s easy to click on more than a dozen different web stories ripping the livestock and meat industry as the leading culprits in a host of eco- and health-related ills affecting the world in 2018.

Most of those posts appear on pro-vegetarian, consumer activist and/or “lifestyle” websites devoted to being hip, trendy and oh-so au courant.

That’s to be expected.

It’s worrisome, however, when a pro-business pub like Fortune magazine offers its brand and its audience to a columnist to launch a flat-out anti-industry rant that regurgitates the worst of the mantras activists love to flog: cattle are causing climate change and meat-eating is crippling the public sector with healthcare costs associated with heart diseases, obesity and diabetes.

If only we’d all just stop buying and consuming beef and pork, all would be right with the world, the writer asserted in an article titled, “Why It’s Time for America to Tax Meat.”

“According to data provided over email by research firm Technomic,” the article noted, “the average fast food cheeseburger costs $4.02, but that price tag doesn’t take into account a number of invisible external costs, also known as externalities.”

Can you guess what those might be? How about “poisonous methane emissions from cows” and “higher healthcare costs” associated with “unhealthy diets?”

The solution? Heavy-duty taxation on meat, similar to what has been imposed on cigarettes in the United States.

Other than ultimately providing another bonanza for any number of Indian reservations, which could use their sovereignty to market tax-free meat, the idea that a meat tax would drive us to vegetarianism is highly suspect. For one thing, meat is a product of choice, and going cold turkey (literally) with meat-eating doesn’t end anyone’s desire for a steak, a burger or a ham sandwich, the way that tobacco cessation curtails the urge to smoke.

Second, “meat” doesn’t come in a neat, pocket-size package sold almost exclusively at retail. To deal with that fact, it’s likely that a tax would be imposed on each head of livestock. However, that would hugely incentivize not a cessation in meat-eating, but rather a tremendous growth in imported meat, which would be damaging to American agriculture, as well as the entire food industry.

Hard to believe a business-first magazine such as Fortune is in favor of such a scenario.

Suspect Sources
Moreover, the so-called evidence in favor of a meat tax is itself suspect.

As sources, the Fortune writer cited the American Institute for Cancer Research, an organization that calls itself non-partisan but in fact is committed to a no-meat agenda, and which received a one-star rating from Charity Navigator because an audit showed that more than 50% of its revenues went to fund-raising, instead of research and education.

It’s an activist org, not a research institution.

In addition, the article relied heavily on a study conducted at the University of Oxford in England, which alleged that, “If Americans switched to vegetarianism en masse, we could reduce our healthcare costs by up to $223.6 billion each year by 2050, as vegetarians typically have lower rates of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain forms of cancer.”

With the exception of “Americans,” practically every word in that sentence is fictional.

We’re not going to make some wholesale changeover to a veggie diet; the $223 billion is a made-up figure based on an aspirational reduction in hospitalization and treatment costs of the aforementioned diseases; and it’s not at all conclusive that giving up meat-eating would reduce the incidence of chronic diseases such as cardiac events, cancer or diabetes.

All three of those conditions are caused by a cluster of “lifestyle” factors that include (but are not limited to) sedentary lifestyles, exposure to environmental pollutants and toxins, high-stress occupations, excess tobacco and alcohol use, and overconsumption of high-carb, high-sugar foods and beverages.

Eating minimally processed, high-protein meat and dairy foods would help, not hurt effective management of those diseases.

Finally, and this cannot be stressed enough — I know I’ve repeated it some ten thousand times in my career—every study that purports to calculate a cost-benefit of conventional animal foods versus vegetarian alternatives must account for the added crops, processing and packaging required to substitute the trillions of calories needed to replace meat and dairy with plants.

Folks, there isn’t enough arable land on Earth to grow enough crops to feed nine billion people if every acre of grassland is taken out of production and every food animal in existence were somehow removed from the planet.

No study, no paradigm, no master plan to turn the world vegetarian has a shred of credibility until its authors include a calculation of the actual impact of eliminating animal agriculture and replacing it with a massive increase in non-meat food production.

And that includes even business organizations, such as Fortune, that pride themselves on not pursuing an agenda.

Because the people pushing that alternative future definitely have one.

Editor’s Note: The opinions in this commentary are those of Dan Murphy, a veteran journalist and commentator.

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News Article Image Caption Teach your children about the importance of saving money at an early age.
JoAnn Alumbaugh

MSU: Tell Us About the Impact of VFD Rules on Your Herd

2 days 6 hours ago
MSU: Tell Us About the Impact of VFD Rules on Your Herd

Phillip Durst, Michigan State University Extension

Managing the health of your herd is a primary responsibility of all farmers. The Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) rules that went into effect January 1, 2017 may have impacted how you manage herd health. The rules limited the use of medically important antibiotics to disease prevention, control or treatment and only when a veterinarian writes a VFD for their use.

We would like to learn how those rules have affected your management as well as the health of your animals. Michigan State University Extension, in partnership with Land-Grant Universities nationwide, is conducting a survey of farmers who raise and manage dairy or beef cattle, pigs, sheep or goats. We want to learn about changes that have occurred, in response to the VFD, in terms of your use of antibiotics, health of your herd, and in your relationship with your veterinarian.

The survey is open from now until April. All responses are confidential and your participation is voluntary. Click to take the survey: VFD Survey.

We anticipate that it will take 10-15 minutes to complete. Your thoughtful answers, with examples, will provide good information used by Land-Grant Extension professionals to design educational programs that help food-animal producers.

This survey is only for farmers over the age of 18 who raise food-animals impacted by the VFD rules. Farmers in every state are invited to respond to the survey. The findings will be analyzed by specie type (that is, for beef producers, swine producers, etc.) and by region of the country and will be shared with Extension professionals in your state.

FDA implemented the VFD policy changes with the goals of:

  • Promoting the judicious use of antibiotics
  • Protecting public health
  • Helping to limit the development of antimicrobial resistance.

This policy change was in response to widespread concerns about the rate of development of resistance to common antimicrobials by disease pathogens for both humans and food animals.

Visit this MSU website to complete the survey.

John MadayFri, 02/23/2018 - 09:27 Category Antibiotic Resistance Beef (General) Dairy (General) Hogs (General) Comments News Article Image Caption Researchers would like to learn how VFD rules have affected your management as well as the health of your animals. Image Credit John Maday
John Maday

Glanbia Faces Dollar Headwind as Earnings Growth Slows

2 days 9 hours ago
Glanbia Faces Dollar Headwind as Earnings Growth Slows

Irish nutrition supplement and ingredient firm Glanbia said its earnings growth would slow in the coming year on weak dairy prices and increased investment and said dollar weakness was set to hit euro-denominated earnings.

Shares in the firm, a leading supplier of “performance nutrition” protein supplements for body builders, were down 4.8 percent at 0900 GMT despite plans to pay out more in dividends.

The firm’s earnings per share rose 10.2 percent in 2017, on a constant currency basis, which strips out currency volatility. This will slow to between 5 and 8 percent in 2018, it said.

Weak dairy prices and investments affect performance in the first half of 2018, the firm said in a statement.

The company will focus on volume driven growth and invest in new acquisitions in 2018 to “secure the firm for the longer term,” Finance Director Mark Garvey told Reuters in an interview.

The performance nutrition market is likely to experience pricing and promotion pressure due to falling prices of whey, a key ingredient in the supplements, he added.

If the euro remains at it current high level against the dollar, the firm, which generates over 80 percent of its earnings in U.S. dollars, faces a translational headwind of around 8 percent, it said.

The firm on Wednesday also announced plans to “materially increase” its dividend policy with a target of paying between 25 and 35 percent of adjusted earnings per share in what Garvey described as a sign of the strength of its balance sheet.

The company plans to pay out 22 cents per share for 2017, an increase of 65 percent on the previous year, the company said in a statement.

Wyatt BechtelFri, 02/23/2018 - 06:57 Category Processors Comments Processors Cheese News Article Image Caption Glanbia's partnership Southwest Cheese Co. processing plant in Clovis, New Mexico.
Image Credit Glanbia
Wyatt Bechtel

USDA Secretary Wants Separate Immigration Program for Agriculture

3 days 3 hours ago
USDA Secretary Wants Separate Immigration Program for Agriculture

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said on Thursday the government wants a separate immigration program for agricultural workers.

Speaking on the first day of the annual USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum, he said agriculture is caught in the crossfire of the immigration debate. “The people who come to America to work on farms and ranches are not taking jobs from Americans,” Perdue said. “They are not the ones putting a burden on criminal justice system or welfare system.”

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Submitted by John Smith on Fri, 02/23/2018 - 08:57

Sure secretary Perdue, illegal farm workers are the vast majority of illegal immigrants, so you are just catering to your base. Just admit that America can’t operate without the illegal slave labor and that your boss is reneging in his promises to deport illegals.

Submitted by 'Ole Macdonald on Fri, 02/23/2018 - 22:01

It has always been against the law to employ illegal immigrants. Those that do are breaking the law and should be held accountable, before any immigration "reform". Their employment of illegals has been a major contributor to the dismal milk prices today. In effect they have stolen prosperity from those who abide by the law....

In reply to by John Smith (not verified)

USDA Immigration News Article Image Caption U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue speaks at an event to celebrate the re-introduction of American beef imports to China, in Beijing, China June 30, 2017.
Image Credit REUTERS/Mark Schiefelbein
Wyatt Bechtel

Denmark's Arla gets Sales Boost from Higher Dairy Prices

3 days 3 hours ago
Denmark's Arla gets Sales Boost from Higher Dairy Prices

Arla Foods, one of the world’s biggest dairy companies, said higher milk prices lifted sales last year, enabling the co-operative to increase payments to its farmer-owners.

Arla, headquartered in Denmark, said it delivered a 27.4 percent increase in the pre-paid milk price to its owners last year.

“We delivered a strong performance built on the good balance of brands, categories, and geographies,” said Chief Executive Peder Tuborgh.

“Most importantly, this enabled us to pay out significantly higher milk prices to our farmer owners.”

Last year was a volatile one for global milk prices characterised by significant shifts in market prices, which supported an increase in sales prices of 1 billion euros ($1.23 billion), it said.

The GlobalDairyTrade (GDT) benchmark milk index showed prices are up around 65 percent since February last year.

This year’s sales are expected to be in the range of 10-10.5 billion euros compared with the 10.3 billion euros achieved in 2017 - an 8 percent increase from 2016.

Last month, Arla said it aims to increase its investments this year by almost 60 percent to meet growing global demand for dairy products and consumers’ shift to healthier options.

The firm - owned by 11,200 farmers in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Britain, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Belgium -is competing with food giants such as Danone and Nestle . ($1 = 0.8118 euros)

Wyatt BechtelThu, 02/22/2018 - 12:10 Category Processors Comments Processors News Article Image Caption Arla Foods, one of the world’s biggest dairy companies, said higher milk prices lifted sales last year, enabling the co-operative to increase payments to its farmer-owners. Image Credit Arla
Wyatt Bechtel

Dairy Promotion Directors Elect Board Officers

3 days 4 hours ago
Dairy Promotion Directors Elect Board Officers

Leaders of Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board (NDB) and the United Dairy Industry Association (UDIA) announce the following dairy farmers as new officers.

The DMI and NDB elections were held during the February board meeting of DMI.

DMI officers:

  • Chair – Marilyn Hershey, Cochranville, Pa.
  • Vice Chair – Steve Maddox, Riverdale, Calif.
  • Secretary – David “Skip” Hardie, Lansing, N.Y.
  • Treasurer – Larry Hancock, Muleshoe, Texas

DMI, which manages the national dairy checkoff program, is funded by the NDB and United Dairy Industry Association (UDIA), which serves as the federation of state and regional dairy checkoff-funded promotion organizations.

NDB officers:

  • Chair – Brad Scott, San Jacinto, Calif.
  • Vice Chair – Connie Seefeldt, Coleman, Wis.
  • Secretary – Steve Ballard, Gooding, Idaho
  • Treasurer – Carol Ahlem, Hilmar, Calif.

The 37-member NDB, formed in May 1984 under the authority of the Dairy Production Stabilization Act of 1983, carries out coordinated promotion and research programs to help build demand, and expand domestic and international markets for dairy products.

UDIA officers, elected in October, are:

  • Chair – Neil Hoff, Windthorst, Texas
  • 1st Vice Chair – Allen Merrill, Parker, S.D.
  • 2nd Vice Chair, American Dairy Association (ADA) – Tom Woods, Gage, Okla.
  • 2nd Vice Chair, National Dairy Council (NDC) – Audrey Donahoe, Frankfort, N.Y.
  • 2nd Vice Chair, UDIA Member Relations – Rick Podtburg, Greeley, Colo.
  • Secretary – Jim Reid, Jeddo, Mich.
  • Treasurer – John Brubaker, Buhl, Idaho

The UDIA is a federation of state and regional dairy farmer-funded promotion organizations that provide marketing programs that are developed and implemented in coordination with its members. The UDIA is overseen by a board comprised of dairy farmers elected by their respective boards of their member organizations.

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News Article Image Caption Left to right: NDB Chair Brad Scott (San Jacinto, Calif.), DMI Chair Marilyn Hershey (Cochranville, Pa.) and UDIA Chair Neil Hoff (Windthorst, Texas).
Image Credit Dairy Management Inc.
Wyatt Bechtel

Yogurt Trade Secrets in Court

3 days 5 hours ago
Yogurt Trade Secrets in Court

(Bloomberg) -- The war between established yogurt makers and upstarts intensified when Dannon Co. sued a former senior vice president for allegedly taking confidential information and trade secrets to his new job at Chobani LLC.

Federico Muyshondt is accused of stealing details of Dannon’s business strategies, plans for future products and customer lists before resigning in January to take a position with Chobani, according to a complaint filed Wednesday in federal court in White Plains, New York.

The suit illustrates how competitive the yogurt business has become and highlights the proliferation in the corporate world of non-compete clauses in workers’ contracts that restrain them from going to work for rival employers. Just last week, International Business Machines Corp. called foul on Microsoft Corp.’s hiring of its former chief diversity officer in a case that elevated the recruiting and promotion of a diverse workforce to the level of protecting proprietary technology.

Muyshondt started working in 2010 for Dannon, a unit of Paris-based Danone SA, as a manager in the sales department and was promoted last year to senior vice president in charge of sales for the eastern U.S. and Kroger supermarkets, according to the suit. Dannon says he began forwarding documents to his personal email account starting in August 2017 and downloaded thousands of files containing trade secrets and confidential information, including details on the salaries of sales employees and their non-competition agreements.

"The only logical explanation for why Muyshondt would have obtained the latter information is that he wanted to assist his new employer in luring away Dannon’s other valued members of its sales teams," Dannon said in the complaint.

Chobani, which wasn’t named as a defendant in the suit, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Muyshondt couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

 

Copyright 2018, Bloomberg

Wes MillsThu, 02/22/2018 - 10:25 Category Dairy (General) Processors Data Security Comments News Article Image Caption Danone SA is the parent company of Dannon yogurt. Image Credit Farm Journal
Wes Mills

Fat is Back; Butter Benefits

3 days 6 hours ago
Fat is Back; Butter Benefits

(Bloomberg) -- Consumers aren’t just eating more butter, they are willing to pay more for it, a boon that’s giving outsize gains to makers of premium brands.

Global retail butter sales will expand 2.9 percent to $19.4 billion in 2018, outpacing the 1.9 percent growth in sales volumes, according to Euromonitor International. The trend is fanning the expansion of international brands benefiting from a consumer shift to more natural fats, according to Raphael Moreau, a senior research analyst with the research firm in London.

Demand for butter, cream and other commodities rich in butterfat has increased after consumer perceptions were swayed by studies indicating lower health risks from consuming dairy-fat and the detrimental effects of alternative trans fats, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a Feb. 14 report. That’s underpinning prices, which reached a record last September amid shortages in Europe.

“Consumers are increasingly demanding dairy products that are richer in fat as they are allowing fat, and thus also butter, back into their diets,” Hanne Soendergaard, Arla Foods amba’s executive vice president of marketing and innovation, said in an email.

Read More: Is This Butter Really Worth $50 a Pound? Top Chefs Argue Yes

Stronger demand for high quality premium brands is supporting sales of Arla’s Lurpak butter, which “consumers are willing to pay a higher price for,” she said. Lurpak revenue jumped 8.3 percent in 2017 even though sales volumes declined 2.7 percent, Aarhus, Denmark-based Arla said Wednesday in its annual earnings report.

Retail butter sales in North America posted a 7 percent compound annual growth rate from 2012 to 2017 in value terms at fixed exchange rates, Euromonitor’s Moreau said. That compares with 2 percent growth in Western Europe.

Land O’ Lakes

“The global sales of U.S. companies benefited strongly from this rise in butter consumption in their domestic market,” he said. This was particularly the case for Land O’ Lakes Inc., an Arden Hills, Minnesota-based cooperative owned by farmers and ranchers, whose namesake butter brand is the world’s most-valuable, according to Euromonitor.

European-style butters are also selling particularly well through higher-end retail stores, said Michael McCully, owner of the McCully Group LLC, a U.S. food and dairy consultancy.

“There is a bigger differentiation in the U.S. market as the domestically produced butter is 80 percent fat, while the global standard is 82 percent fat,” McCully said. More fat often means more flavor. “You can also find slow-churned butter with higher fat, cultured butter, and other more specialty butters that, while small in volume, are increasing in share.”

Raw milk is processed to make butter and skim milk powder -- an ingredient used in everything from infant formula and dough nuts to ice cream and sausages. An oversupply of skim milk powder, or SMP -- and corresponding low prices -- have made dairy processors reluctant to increase production, effectively limiting butter supplies.

From a 2-million-ton butter stockpile in the mid 1980s, global inventories have dwindled to less than 12 days’ supply, an analysis of USDA data show. Coupled with strong demand in many markets, that should keep prices high.

“Looking forward to 2018, butter pricing, while significantly lower, is likely to remain high historically as stocks will take time to replenish with SMP pricing so weak,” said Ciaran Aylward, an economist at Dublin-based Ornua Co-operative Ltd., which makes Kerrygold, the world’s third most-valuable butter brand.

European butter prices rocketed to 6,500 euros ($8,000) a metric ton last September from 2,350 euros/ton in March 2016, Aylward said in a Jan. 4 statement. While prices fell in the fourth quarter of 2017, so far in 2018 they have gained about 19 percent for exporters in New Zealand, the world’s largest butter exporter.

In the longer term, prices will strengthen in 2018 and dip over the next few years before reaching new highs within a decade, the USDA predicted this month.

Currently, major butter-buyers are likely to delay orders until European milk production picks up in the spring, when higher supplies are expected to soften prices, according to Steve Spencer, director of Fresh Agenda, a Melbourne-based food researcher and advisory firm. Spencer said he was surprised at how resilient more-affluent butter markets in Southeast Asia were amid the soaring prices.

“When prices rose sharply around the world, some markets didn’t flinch, still demand held up,” he said in an interview. “The world industry has done a good job convincing consumers that this is ‘good’ fat and better, and there’s nothing like testing how loyal they are by hiking prices.”

It’s not just butter that’s benefiting from consumers’ renewed taste for animal-fats. Danone, the world’s largest yogurt maker, has started selling a full fat version of its Activia brand in the Nordic region, “which nobody would’ve expected to exist a few years ago,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel Faber said last week.

“There is a very segmented approach to what consumers consider as healthy or not,” Faber told analysts and investors on a Feb. 16 conference call to discuss fourth-quarter earnings. “Sugar is clearly not what they want to see, but fat, including animal fat, is a trend that’s back.”

 

Copyright 2018, Bloomberg News

Wes MillsThu, 02/22/2018 - 09:39 Category Dairy (General) Milk Prices Europe Trade Comments News Article Image Caption Fat is back and premium butter makers are taking the cream. Image Credit Farm Journal
Wes Mills

Murphy: Fighting for Animal Foods

3 days 6 hours ago
Murphy: Fighting for Animal Foods

You probably haven’t heard of Professor Tim Noakes. I’d vaguely heard the name somewhere, but I wasn’t aware of the controversy now swirling around him.

Now I am, and you should be, too. Here’s why.

Prof. Noakes is a high-profile researcher and professor emeritus of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. His contribution to nutrition science is his discovery that a low-carb diet proved to be highly effective for the treatment of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other nutrition-related diseases.

Noakes is famous in South Africa for promoting that diet, which as most folks in animal agriculture are well aware, runs directly counter to the low-fat/no-meat mantra that so many legitimate and pseudo-scientific authorities argue is essential to stave off the “lifestyle” diseases: obesity, type 2 diabetes and other nutrition-related diseases — ironically, the very health conditions the low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet has been proven to mitigate!

These days, opposition to so-called conventional wisdom often sparks retaliation, whether within political or scientific circles. In Noakes’ case, medical authorities at the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) have put him through a public hearing, threatening to revoke his medical license on the basis of an accusation that he tweeted a woman who was breastfeeding that she could safely wean her baby on the LCHF diet.

Noakes was charged with giving what was termed “unconventional advice” not based on scientific evidence.

To cut to the chase, Noakes was acquitted of those charges in April 2017; however, the South African medical board appealed its own decision and is revisiting the case.

In response, an online petition drive spearheaded by the U.S.-based Nutrition Coalition (www.nutritioncoalition.us) is underway, and this is where members of the livestock and meat industries need to weigh in.

Assessing the Science
The petition doesn’t address the ethical issues involving how Prof. Noakes has been treated by the HPCSA, but focuses instead on the charge that recommending a low-carb/high-fat diet is somehow not based on sound science.

The petition has already been signed by a stellar group of physicians, nutrition researchers and numerous health care providers (review the roster here).

These health professionals cited an impressive body of evidence supporting the efficacy of the LCHF diet, which relies heavily on wholesome, nutritious animal foods, versus various “low-fat” diets that have been promoted relentlessly by much of the academic and nutrition establishment.

Here’s some of that body of evidence supporting LCHF diets:

Low-carb diets have now been tested in more than 70 clinical trials involving nearly 7,000 people, both sick and healthy populations. In virtually every case, the low-carb/high-fat diets did as well or better than competing diets.

A significant accumulation of scientific, peer-reviewed studies demonstrate that low-carb diets are safe and effective for combating obesity, highly promising for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and result in improvements in most cardiovascular risk factors.

The best-available U.S. government data reveal that in 1965, Americans ate 39% of calories as carbohydrates and 41% as fat, percentages that nutrition researchers now identify as the optimal range for an LCHF diet. That diet was the norm before the epidemics of obesity and diabetes from which nearly every Western, developed nation — including ours — currently suffers.

One additional, and very significant, body of evidence is also available, and that’s the landmark book “The Big Fat Surprise,” by science journalist Nina Teicholz. If you haven’t read it, you need to buy it (log on here) and start browsing through it immediately, because she makes a compelling case in support of the science underlying the LCHF diet.

As is true of so many issues that divide the vegetarian and animal rights activists from the rest of us, in the case of the low-carb diet based on meat and dairy, science is on our side.

Editor’s Note: The opinions in this commentary are those of Dan Murphy, a veteran journalist and commentator.

JoAnn AlumbaughThu, 02/22/2018 - 09:03 Category Hogs (General) Beef (General) Dairy (General) Comments News Article Image Caption Take a stand and help defend meat consumption. Image Credit Farm Journal
JoAnn Alumbaugh

Licensed Dairy Farm Numbers Drop Nearly 4% in 2017

4 days ago
Licensed Dairy Farm Numbers Drop Nearly 4% in 2017

In its January milk production report released today, the United States Department of Agriculture reported that the number of licensed U.S. dairy farms dropped by 1,600 farms to 40,219. That’s a decline of 3.8%.

Over the past decade,  the U.S. has lost nearly 17,000 dairy farms, or a decline of about 30%.

With 9.4 million cows in the U.S. dairy herd in January of this year, the average herd size is now 234 cows. The average herd size in 2008 was about 163 cows.

Wisconsin still has the most licensed dairy farms, with 9,090 farms shipping milk. But it lost 430 farms in 2017. Pennsylvania came in second with 6,570 farms, down just 80 operations. New York reports 4,490 licensed operations, down 160 farms. And Minnesota has 3,210 dairy farms remaining, down 140 farms.

California, still the largest dairy producing state, was down 30 licensed farms, with just 1,390 continuing to operate. But based on January 2018 cow numbers, the average herd in California is milking 1,250 cows. In Wisconsin, the Number 2 dairy state, the average herd size is 140 cows.

To see your state’s licensed dairy farm numbers, click here and scroll to page 18.

 

Jim DickrellWed, 02/21/2018 - 15:03 Category Dairy (General) Comments Dairy USDA News Article Image Caption Dairy cows in milking parlor. Image Credit Farm Journal, Inc.
Jim Dickrell

Murphy: Fighting for Animal Foods

4 days 1 hour ago
Murphy: Fighting for Animal Foods

You probably haven’t heard of Professor Tim Noakes. I’d vaguely heard the name somewhere, but I wasn’t aware of the controversy now swirling around him.

Now I am, and you should be, too. Here’s why.

Noakes is a high-profile researcher and professor emeritus of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. His contribution to nutrition science is his discovery that a low-carb diet proved to be highly effective for the treatment of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other nutrition-related diseases.

Noakes is famous in South Africa for promoting that diet, which as most folks in animal agriculture are well aware, runs directly counter to the low-fat/no-meat mantra that so many legitimate and pseudo-scientific authorities argue is essential to stave off the “lifestyle” diseases: obesity, type 2 diabetes and other nutrition-related diseases — ironically, the very health conditions the low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet has been proven to mitigate!

These days, opposition to so-called conventional wisdom often sparks retaliation, whether within political or scientific circles. In Noakes’ case, medical authorities at the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) have put him through a public hearing, threatening to revoke his medical license on the basis of an accusation that he tweeted a woman who was breastfeeding that she could safely wean her baby on the LCHF diet.

Noakes was charged with giving what was termed “unconventional advice” not based on scientific evidence.

To cut to the chase, Noakes was acquitted of those charges in April 2017; however, the South African medical board appealed its own decision and is revisiting the case.

In response, an online petition drive spearheaded by the U.S.-based Nutrition Coalition (www.nutritioncoalition.us) is underway, and this is where members of the livestock and meat industries need to weigh in.

Assessing the Science
The petition doesn’t address the ethical issues involving how Prof. Noakes has been treated by the HPCSA, but focuses instead on the charge that recommending a low-carb/high-fat diet is somehow not based on sound science.

The petition has already been signed by a stellar group of physicians, nutrition researchers and numerous health care providers (review the roster here).

These health professionals cited an impressive body of evidence supporting the efficacy of the LCHF diet, which relies heavily on wholesome, nutritious animal foods, versus various “low-fat” diets that have been promoted relentlessly by much of the academic and nutrition establishment.

Here’s some of that body of evidence supporting LCHF diets:

Low-carb diets have now been tested in more than 70 clinical trials involving nearly 7,000 people, both sick and healthy populations. In virtually every case, the low-carb/high-fat diets did as well or better than competing diets.

A significant accumulation of scientific, peer-reviewed studies demonstrate that low-carb diets are safe and effective for combating obesity, highly promising for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and result in improvements in most cardiovascular risk factors.

The best-available U.S. government data reveal that in 1965, Americans ate 39% of calories as carbohydrates and 41% as fat, percentages that nutrition researchers now identify as the optimal range for an LCHF diet. That diet was the norm before the epidemics of obesity and diabetes from which nearly every Western, developed nation — including ours — currently suffers.

Need more convincing? Here’s all you need to know.

Nina Teicholz, a science journalist, one of the founders of The Nutrition Council and author of the landmark book “The Big Fat Surprise” — which, if you haven’t read it, you need to buy it (log on here) and start browsing through it immediately — has taken the lead in making sure that the science behind the LCHF diet remains the focus of the Noakes controversy.

“We are asking you to join us in defense of sound science and Prof. Tim Noakes,” Teicholz wrote in an email. “We must not let officials defending the low-fat status quo shut down people who are promoting the science and practice of low-carb [diets], which are evidence based.”

If you are a serious social media user, Teicholz even suggested a text to share:

“This week, South African officials are appealing their own 2017 acquittal of Prof. Noakes, alleging that #LCHF is not ‘evidence-based.’ Medical professionals who signed an online petition say YES, there is science for LCHF. Sign and share the petition at http://chn.ge/2BATF8F.”

Do it. It will be the most productive two minutes of your entire day.

Editor’s Note: The opinions in this commentary are those of Dan Murphy, a veteran journalist and commentator.

JoAnn AlumbaughWed, 02/21/2018 - 14:48 Category Hogs (General) Beef (General) Dairy (General) South Africa Comments News Article Image Caption Here's a cause you can easily support. Image Credit Farm Journal
JoAnn Alumbaugh

New Zealand's a2 Milk Logs Record Profit Fueled by Chinese Demand

4 days 1 hour ago
New Zealand's a2 Milk Logs Record Profit Fueled by Chinese Demand

New Zealand’s a2 Milk Co Ltd booked record half-year profit on surging demand for its infant formula in China, beating market estimates and vindicating a two-pronged business strategy that has seen it succeed where others have stumbled.

Its shares shot up 26 percent to an all-time high as revenue from direct sales in China more than tripled, helped by the popularity of a milk powder product that does not contain the A1 casein protein - a protein a2 claims can cause upset stomachs.

Unlike rival Bellamy’s Australia and vitamin maker Blackmores Ltd, it also has benefited from maintaining strong relationships with big “diagou” customers, who buy domestically then export to China themselves.

Adding icing to the cake was a supply deal with the world’s biggest dairy producer, New Zealand’s Fonterra , to provide milk, powder and formula as well as distribution and sales support for new a2 markets in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

It said the relationship would initially give Fonterra an exclusive arrangement to supply A1 protein free milk products in bulk powder and consumer packaged form to a2 Milk.

Fonterra also entered a licensing agreement to produce, distribute, sell and market a2 Milk branded milk in New Zealand, a2 Milk said. 

“Smashes it out of the park...again!” ran the headline on a research note published by Citi analyst Sam Teeger, as the run-up in its shares lifted the NZ50 share index a hundred points higher.

Net profit for the six months to end-December more than doubled to NZ$98.5 million ($72.3 million), more than 20 percent higher than a consensus estimate from analysts. A2 added that unexpectedly high first-half margins will hold for the rest of the year.

“Today’s announcement was nothing short of spectacular, they just continue to power through with their strategy,” said Oyvinn Rimer, director at Harbour Asset Management, a2’s second-largest shareholder.

His fund bought in to a2 about a decade ago, when the shares were worth around 10 NZ cents. Rimer said he’s holding onto the stock and was upbeat about the Fonterra deal.

“That could potentially facilitate similar-type growth in other jurisdictions. You’d be pretty brave to get rid of it.”

One key thing that a2 has done differently to some competitors was to price its products consistently and not undercut diagou buyers - an important unpaid salesforce for the company although it does not disclose the proportion of Australia and New Zealand sales to diagou.

“We haven’t walked away from diagou, which has been one of the pitfalls of competitors who haven’t understood the channel,” said a2’s Asia-Pacific Chief Executive Peter Nathan.

The new deal with Fonterra sent shares in a2’s existing supplier Synlait Milk Ltd sliding 6 percent. Synlait’s agreement to provide a2 with products for its largest markets in Australia, New Zealand and China remains unchanged.

Wyatt BechtelWed, 02/21/2018 - 14:20 Category Processors Comments China New Zealand Dairy Processors News Article Image Caption Not only is a2 Milk making moves in China, the company also just partnered with Fonterra to boost distribution in other parts of Asia. Image Credit Wyatt Bechtel
Wyatt Bechtel

Celebrating National FFA Week

4 days 3 hours ago
Celebrating National FFA Week

FFA chapters across the country are taking part in National FFA Week activities.

Every years, members make it their goal to share with local, state and national audiences why FFA matters and how it impacts members.

Every day this week, there’s a specific theme or dress-up day. Throughout the week, if you visit your local Tractor Supply, you can donate $1 at checkout to support your local FFA chapters.

Friday Feb. 23 is National Wear Blue Day to show off your FFA pride.

Many ag leaders, including Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue have been in on the action. Perdue tweeted a photo which he calls is the most FFA-ers he’s had in a selfie.

After membership bottomed during the 1980s farm crisis, the National FFA says it’s membership numbers have been steadily growing since roughly 2010, and they hope the trend continues.

“Our number of chapters have grown, and we also have record high membership,” said Larry Gossen, local program success specialist with National FFA.”

The Neligh-Oakdale FFA Chapter in Neligh, Nebraska is one chapter recently restarted after being cut due to state funding. The program in rural Nebraska was out of the classroom for a decade.

AshleyWed, 02/21/2018 - 12:14 Category Beef (General) Hogs (General) North America Dairy (General) Comments Videos Article 2/22/18 National FFA Week Image Caption FFA emblem
Image Credit National FFA Organization
Ashley Davenport

Veterinary Students Win National DHIA Scholarships

4 days 6 hours ago
Veterinary Students Win National DHIA Scholarships

The National Dairy Herd Information Association (DHIA) Scholarship Committee selected two college of veterinary medicine students – Sara Davis, University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, and Jenna Hill, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine – as recipients of $1,500 scholarships. Selection committee members evaluated applicants on overall interest as a veterinarian planning to work in dairy, involvement in dairy medicine and extra-curricular activities, and interest in using dairy software and dairy records to aid in dairy management and in improving animal health. To be eligible for a National DHIA veterinary student scholarship, applicants must be third- or fourth-year college of veterinary medicine students, enrolled at a college that is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education.

Davis’ devotion to animal agriculture stems from a foundation built on her family’s dairy farm. She started by raising calves, which helped teach self-discipline and attention to detail. At the University of Minnesota, she was accepted into the VetFAST program – an early acceptance program to the College of Veterinary Medicine for those interested in food animal science.

As president of the Production Animal Medicine Club, Davis strives to create opportunities for students interested in food animals to help them gain knowledge and skills related to food production animals by hosting meetings with industry professionals, talks with university faculty and wet labs that help students enhance a specific skill, such as conducting ultrasounds.

Last summer, Davis completed a Zoetis bovine externship in central Wisconsin. This opportunity improved her palpation, ultrasound pregnancy detection and surgical skills.

Davis enjoys consulting work, which blossomed from her participation in the Dairy Challenge. This program introduced her to interpreting records, such as DHIA and DairyComp, and evaluating farms. “When presenting to the producer, the use of data and figures from these records really make a difference to show how they can further improve their operation,” she wrote.

Hill grew up on a dairy farm in Upstate New York, where she helped with milking, feeding calves, treating sick animals, calvings and monthly herd health checks. At Houghton College, where she did her undergraduate studies, Hill mentored children in the community and hosted high school science lab experience days. During the high school science days, she guided students in a laboratory environment and taught them basic concepts of biology, chemistry and physics.

At the Cornell Teaching Dairy Barn, Hill monitors the herd for heats and breeds eligible cows. Being part of the “Repro Team” taught her how to artificially inseminate cows and enter the relevant data into DairyComp 305. Additionally, Hill schedules milking shifts, updates protocols and standard operating procedures, and serves as a student-faculty liaison.

“As a veterinarian, I will use DHIA data to help producers make educated decisions,” Hill wrote. “Being able to make decisions based on current, accurate data allows farmers to do what is best for their herds. I will encourage my clients to use DHIA data to make management, treatment and culling decisions.”

Money generated from the annual National DHIA Scholarship Auction primarily funds the organization’s scholarship program. Investments and donations also help build the fund. To make a donation to the fund, contact Leslie Thoman at 608-848-6455 ext. 108 or lthoman@dhia.org.

National DHIA, a trade association for the dairy records industry, serves the best interests of its members and the dairy industry by maintaining the integrity of dairy records and advancing dairy information systems.

John MadayWed, 02/21/2018 - 09:58 Category Veterinary Education Dairy (General) Comments News Article Image Caption DHIA veterinary student scholarship applicants must be third- or fourth-year veterinary medicine students, enrolled at a college that is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education. Image Credit DHIA
John Maday

Taco Bell Pushes Past Burger King

4 days 6 hours ago
Taco Bell Pushes Past Burger King

(Bloomberg) -- Lovers of chalupas and crunch wraps have spoken: Taco Bell is now bigger than Burger King.

The Mexican-themed chain eclipsed its burger rival in U.S. sales last year, becoming the fourth-largest domestic restaurant brand, according to a preliminary report by research firm Technomic. McDonald’s Corp., Starbucks Corp. and Subway Restaurants held on to the top three spots.

Taco Bell’s systemwide sales -- the total sales of restaurants that carry the brand -- jumped 5 percent in the U.S. to about $9.8 billion in 2017. The company, owned by Yum! Brands Inc., has made inroads with indulgent fare, along with $1 items that appeal to budget-strapped millennials.

The ranking change also underscores the surging popularity of Mexican-inspired fare. Last year marked the first time that Taco Bell has overtaken Burger King, the data showed.

Though Burger King has fared better than many restaurants brands in recent years, it hasn’t kept pace with its biggest burger rivals -- McDonald’s and Wendy’s Co. -- or chains like Taco Bell. Its domestic sales rose just 1.5 percent in 2017, according to the Technomic report, which will be finalized in March.

Burger King faces a “resurgent McDonald’s,” David Henkes, senior principal at Technomic, said in an interview. Upscale burger chains, such as Shake Shack Inc., also are threatening its market share.

Taco Bell, meanwhile, has drawn customers with wacky new foods, including fried-chicken taco shells, and a marketing campaign dubbed Live Mas. In January, the chain introduced $1 nacho fries.

“They certainly continue to do pretty well, and bring out some interesting and new menu items,” Henkes said. “They’ve done a good job of connecting with the millennials and Gen Z.”

 

Copyright 2018, Bloomberg News

Wes MillsWed, 02/21/2018 - 09:44 Category Beef (General) Chicken Dairy (General) Hogs (General) Comments News Article Image Caption Feb 2018. Taco Bell becomes 4th largest chain in the U.S. behind McDonald’s Corp., Starbucks Corp. and Subway Restaurants. Image Credit MGN
Wes Mills

Zoetis Develops First Holstein Reference Genome

4 days 6 hours ago
Zoetis Develops First Holstein Reference Genome

Zoetis has developed the first complete Holstein de novo reference genome, giving geneticists the ability to map regions of the genome influencing a range of health and disease outcomes. This significant development will promote advancement of the dairy industry through healthier, more productive animals.

The genome was completed with several new technologies and three sequencing platforms to order the Holstein genome as accurately as possible. With this level of accuracy, scientists can more easily identify genes that advance herd health and productivity and, alternatively, those genes that impede the dairy industry’s progression.

“Sequencing a genome is the most important step toward fully understanding it,” said Sue DeNise, PhD, executive director, Zoetis Animal Genetics Global Research and Development. “In the future, discoveries made from the new Holstein reference genome will allow us to identify new targets for disease resistance and utilize natural selection processes to improve health and welfare of cattle,” DeNise said. “It’s like going from analog TV to high-definition TV. We’ll have even better insight into which genes reside to help animals resist and withstand diseases, such as pneumonia and mastitis.”

Until now, the dairy industry looked to the first reference genome assembled for cattle in 2009, which was derived from a beef cow named L1 Dominette 01449, a Hereford born in Montana. While Dominette’s genome assembly piloted the cattle genomics era, a single reference genome was not enough to demonstrate the full genetic differentiation of a species. Genetic makeup fundamentally differs from breed to breed due to genetic drift and selection due to breed divergence. Comparing a Hereford genetically with other breeds of cattle — such as Holsteins — was only the beginning.

Genome sequencing is often compared to decoding a software program. The process determines the order of DNA bases in a specific genome — the order of A’s, C’s, G’s and T’s that together make up an organism’s DNA. Cattle have 30 pairs of chromosomes and about three billion bases to put into order. To facilitate a highly accurate sequence, a single Holstein bull was utilized from straws of semen available commercially. These samples from a single animal contain the entire DNA blueprint for an animal, providing unique insights into the Holstein breed.

“By generating a complete Holstein reference genome, we can better understand the genetic basis of dairy cattle phenotypes,” said Mike Layfield, senior director, strategic marketing, Global Genetics at Zoetis. “Promoting the health and wellness of dairy cattle has long been a key aspect of the Zoetis portfolio. This development is a strong testament to the innovative spirit and industry dedication of those in Zoetis’ genetics business.”

This development comes at a time when dairy producers are focused on raising healthy cows to help maximize their productivity while improving efficiencies and sustainability. This new development could help optimize their investment in raising the right cattle for their operation. Producers can improve Dairy Wellness through genomic testing tools such as Clarifide® Plus, which offers producers detailed predictions for wellness traits and reliable assessments of genetic risk factors for diseases in Holstein cattle — including the two most costly diseases in dairy cattle, mastitis and lameness.1

Zoetis has a substantial portfolio devoted to the health and wellness of dairy cattle. This new genome sequence helps further Zoetis’ innovative products and services that are supported by industry-leading expertise and research, providing dairy producers the reliable, dependable information needed to achieve operational and herd goals. Learn more about the Zoetis commitment to the continuum of care of dairy cattle by visiting Dairy Wellness and ClarifidePlus.com.

 

John MadayWed, 02/21/2018 - 09:34 Category Dairy Cattle Dairy Genetics Comments News Article Image Caption The genome was completed with several new technologies and three sequencing platforms to order the Holstein genome as accurately as possible. Image Credit Zoetis
John Maday
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