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ED ITION U .S. V O LU M E 4 N O 6 DE CE MBE R 2012



How should you transfer your business to the next generation? FEED IN G

Reduce colostrum bacterial load via heat treatment H ERD REPO RT

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5 9 13 25 29 35

Cow talk Lely information Trouw Nutrition news CRV breeding information Barenbrug grass news Vet practice: Stick to the basics FARM REPORTS

6 Dyecrest Dairy 36 Dutch dairy producer Kortleve FEEDING

14 Modern grasses 30 Feed pusher saves labor MANAGEMENT

22 Training the right people 32 Information management C O W H E A LT H

18 Reproduction conference

Terry Dye: “Milkers are the highest paid workers on the dairy” 12

Amy Ryan It’s all about people


eople are the strongest asset to the dairy business and play a big part in making operations successful. This issue highlights how people affect a dairy’s bottom line. At Dyecrest Dairy in Colorado, the Dye family understands the importance of good people and has built an atmosphere of employee excellence. Their practice of three days on, one day off has increased herd and employee longevity. Most of the 30 dairy employees are 10 year veterans, with three people working there more than 20 years. This standard leads to higher milk quality and more profitability. The story is on page 10. Placing the right people at all levels of a dairy operation can play a vital role in helping achieve business goals. Understanding the best fit for your employees and developing on-farm training can help maximize their potential contributions. “Training the right people” on page 22 discusses how to capitalize on

employee strengths, offer the best training and evaluate results. Utilizing a management team and bringing the right people to the table during those meetings is another area where people resources are important. Empowering the individuals on this team with the right information to make informed decisions to assist your business in achieving its set objectives is of utmost importance. This is a challenge in today’s world of information overload, but Robert Goodling, Jr. with Penn State has some guidelines to bringing the right information to the table and getting the most from your meetings. Along with focusing on people, this issue offers management articles on transitioning farm assets, the economics of improving reproduction and heat treating colostrum. Happy Holidays from the Cow Management team. We look forward to bringing you more information in 2013!

Management Farm transfers

Feeding Colostrum heating

Management Round table




Succession and estate plans help transfer the farm business.

Consider heat treatment to protect immunoglobulin G in colostrum.

Dairy producers turn to business partners for assistance.


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Antibiotic use, resistance calls for ‘One Health’ approach The message emerging from the ‘A One Health Approach to Antimicrobial Use & Resistance: A Dialogue for a Common Purpose’ symposium, Nov. 13-15, in Columbus, Ohio, was clear: antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance are the responsibility of all communities – human health, animal health and environmental health – and solutions will require collaboration of these health communities. At the end of the three-day symposium, which was coordinated by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture, presenters and participants agreed on numerous points: •A  ntibiotics dramatically improve human, animal and plant health, and increase life expectancy. •A  ntimicrobial resistance is not

Beekman Holsteins wins Lely Cow Brush Jay Beekman of Beekman Holsteins, Huntington, Indiana, was chosen as the winner of the CowManagement competition during the World Dairy Expo. Last month, he received the Lely Cow Brush as the contest prize. Beekman Holsteins has 140 milk cows with a rolling herd average around 23.000 pounds. They have plans to build a new set-up where they will put the cow brush to good use. Congratulations to Jay Beekman.

going to go away. A historical look at antimicrobial resistance shows antimicrobial resistance is not a new phenomenon but existed before mankind. • The topic of antimicrobial resistance can be subtle, complex, difficult and polarizing. It is more than science and evidence. It’s about politics, behavior, economics and conflicting opinions. • Antimicrobial resistance is not merely a consequence of use; it’s a consequence of use and misuse – and each community – animal health, human health or environmental health – is responsible for antibiotic stewardship. • The finger pointing and blame for antimicrobial resistance need to end. The time has come to work together. Source:

USDA study shows trends in public and private agricultural R&D Analysis published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) in the most recent issue of the journal Science examine the relationship between public and private investments in research and development (R&D) and their importance in agricultural input industries. The article provides new details on the rapid growth and changing composition of private investments in global agricultural R&D and traces the implications for agriculture. Research discussed in the article notes that globally, most of the increase in agricultural production over the past 50 years can largely be attributed to rising crop and livestock yields rather than to the expansion of acreage devoted to farming. As private sector investments comprise a greater and growing share of overall R&D spending, the findings from

this study will help trace their influence on future productivity gains. The article also discusses how growth in private R&D helped to offset the sluggish growth in public R&D, describes how public research has provided many of the fundamental discoveries, and highlights overlooked research areas that consequently attract private R&D. While previous studies have established strong links between these investments and the long-term growth of the productivity of American agriculture, the ERS study is the first of its kind to provide comprehensive estimates and analyses of private sector R&D for agricultural input industries, For more specific findings reported in the Science article visit: content/338/6110/1031.full Source:


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m a i n

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Succession and estate plans help transfer the far

Farm transfer s: You may want to treat your children equally when passing along your farm business. But the difference between fair and equal can put you on a narrow ledge for a successful business transfer. by JoDee Sattler


ow should farm owners transfer their business to the next generation? With so many factors to consider, such as on-farm heirs, off-farm heirs, transfer of ownership, future managerial roles and income for the retiring generation, it’s a complicated question to answer. Set goals of how you would like to see your property (real, personal, tangible, intangible) transferred – during your lifetime and after death. Also, consider the legacy you would like to leave within your family and community. Developing and implementing a plan can help smoothly and equitably transfer the farm business from one generation to the next, says Elizabeth R. Rumley, National Agricultural Law Center staff attorney. An estate plan involves answering some difficult questions. Careful consideration will provide for an orderly transfer of assets at time of death.

First, determine if you want to transfer the farm as a working business or as a monetary amount (asset value). If you want the farm to remain as a business, you will need a transition plan and estate plan. You only need an estate plan if you transfer the business as assets only. “Estate planning generally involves the drafting of a portfolio of legal documents intended to accomplish a variety of goals,” says Melissa O’Rourke, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach farm and business management specialist. “Your estate plan should not be standardized, but individualized – based on your unique goals and circumstances.”

Tax implications When transferring assets, the considerations include taxes such as federal estate, state estate and federal gift, and fairness versus equity. When transferring a business, the main considerations shift to include goals, succession plan and financial viability. Rumley concurs with O’Rourke that there’s no “cookie cutter” plan for transferring a business or assets. Only estates that are larger than the unified credit pay federal estate tax. State estate taxes vary. Twenty-three states and Washington, D.C., have some sort of estate tax – in addition to federal estate taxes.

Asset transfer tools Will • Transfers assets upon death • Usually put through probate process


Trust • Transfers assets into trust upon creation of trust (usually before death) • No probate required for trust assets

Business organization • May transfer business assets into the organization that “survives” the deceased family member • Typically used together with a will or trust for personal assets



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the farm business from one generation to the next

er s: fair or equal Gifting property and/or money is an option for sharing wealth. However, if you give a lot of money and/or property to people, you might find yourself paying a federal gift tax. With careful planning, you may be able to avoid this tax. Currently, you can gift up to $13,000 (known as the annual exclusion) annually to as many people as you desire. Admittedly, it takes time and money to create and develop transition and estate plans. But without plans, your state (via intestate succession) will determine how your assets are distributed. Rumley offers some tools to consider for transferring assets (see colored box).

Challenging questions Talk to an attorney before you start working on your estate plan. Rumley says, “If you already have an attorney that you work with, check and see if the attorney handles estate planning. If not, another resource is to contact your state bar association to see if they have a list of attorneys who are members of that state’s estate planning section and focus their practice on that law area.” Be prepared to answer some challenging questions. To save some time and attorney fee charges, do your homework outside the attorney’s office. The web links on the next page provide workbooks that contain questions you should answer, or at least consider, as you are preparing your estate

and/or transition plan. Additionally, be prepared to divulge personal information, such as finances and personal relationships, including ex-spouses and children born out of wedlock. Give your attorney a list of all assets, and their estimated values, which includes property, bank and retirement accounts, insurance policies, vehicles, equipment, leases, livestock and household and personal items.

Developing a transition plan Life is not static, so when major life events occur, make sure you update your plans and will. These major events include marriage, divorce, birth of child or grandchild, death, move residence to a different state, significant financial change and start or end of a business. Also, keep an eye on tax, probate and trust laws. O’Rourke says tax laws can change frequently, so update your estate plan, as needed, to reflect tax law changes. One of the biggest soul-searching moments in developing a transition plan is when you consider how to treat on-farm and off-farm heirs. Do you want to divide farm business assets “equally”, so that all heirs receive the same dollar value? Or, do you want to divide assets “fairly”, which considers an heir’s contributions and commitment to the farm business? When a farm business is divided equally, it may no


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longer be a sustainable business. O’Rourke says an estate plan must be based on sound business reasoning, such as keeping the business viable in the long run and limiting potential liability. Initially, the farming operation should remain relatively intact for the business to continue. There are good options for sharing wealth with off-farm heirs. Rumley suggests a bequest of life insurance, family corporation shares (with right of first refusal), cash and/or other liquid assets.



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While it’s nice to provide for the next generation, don’t forget about yourself (and spouse) as you think about gifting money and/or transferring the business. What kind of lifestyle do you want in retirement? How much money do you need for living expenses?

Protect your future The same goes for the younger generation. What lifestyle (living expenses) do they envision? Does the farm business have opportunity for growth to meet those expectations and be sustainable in the future? “Farm/ ranch size and asset requirements have increased,” says Rumley. “Consider what changes could be made for the farming operation to continue and succeed.” When contemplating a succession plan, parents must determine if they’re ready for a business partner. Rumley asks, “Can you look at your child as a ‘partner’ (‘equal’)?” Do you have a common vision for the farm business? Is this child committed to farming and managing and operating a small business? Can you live and work together? In general, it’s best to transition business management and ownership gradually. “You can’t just drop your child into the ‘driver’s seat’,” says Rumley. “Prepare the next generation for taking over farm business management.” Also, the retiree needs to determine if he is ready (willing) to give up management responsibilities to a younger person. Rumley emphasizes the importance of a timeline for transferring ownership, management, income and labor. Put dates with milestones on the timeline. Look at financing options (for example, bank and self-financing) and long-term land contracts to aid in a smooth transition. “Don’t sell all your property at once. Spreading out the sale of assets will help minimize your tax burden.” Just like ownership transition, management responsibilities should change gradually. Include management transition milestones in the succession timeline. Management transition could be divided by enterprise (for example, cropping or livestock) or farm activity (marketing or production). Or, you

may want to work jointly on all aspects of the business. “Transitioning management roles helps the younger generation (for example, son, daughterin-law and their children) determine if this is what they want to do in the future. Does owning and managing a business that operates 24/7 fit their lifestyle, attitude toward debt, income goals and/or family time? In the succession plan timeline, detail how income and labor will be divided. Options include: enterprise, shares, wage or a combination of these three. Also, write (and follow) a job description for the business partners (older and younger generations).

Communication If there’s a moral to the story in estate and succession planning, it’s “communication.” John Baker, administrator at Iowa State University’s Beginning Farmer Center, shares some vital steps in succession planning communications. “Hold regular business meetings. Talk about succession planning and record decisions. Share the plan with nonfarm family members. Update business agreements as needed. Do not make assumptions. Make agreements that fit your family and business.” l

More information • Elizabeth R. Rumley, National Agricultural Law Center staff attorney, phone: 479-387-2331, e-mail:, web site: www.nationalaglawcenter. org • Melissa O’Rourke, phone: 712737-4230, e-mail: morourke@ • Beginning Farm Center: www. • National Farm Transition Network: www.farmtransition. org • The American Agricultural Law Association is a group of attorneys who focus on agricultural law. Check out their web site at: for a list of members to see if there is one in your area.

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Preparing for winter With temperatures falling, issues with retaining body temperature, compost bedding and frozen water troughs can occur. Prepare your farm for winter with these useful tips.

Caring for your calves Adapt your cow management to colder weather conditions. Calves need more energy to help retain body temperature. Give a calf its colostrum as soon as possible and, if necessary, install a heat-lamp to dry off its coat. Do not expose calves to cold winds or drafts. Ensure bedding is clean and dry by kneeling down on the bedding for three minutes, then check if your knees are still warm at the end of the

three minutes. If so, you’ll know your calf will remain warm and dry.

Ensuring cow comfort Large water troughs do not freeze over as easily as individual water troughs of separated/sick cows. Make an additional round trough available in the barn and check water troughs often to prevent them from freezing. Pay extra attention to sick cows lying down as their body temperatures will drop more easily. A cow blanket will help prevent this and can stimulate the recovery of the specific cow. Cows or calves housed on straw or compost bedding may need extra dry material to prevent moisture from gathering on the top layer.

Maintain good hoof health Moisture and manure on slatted barn floors are often a major source of infection for serious hoof ailments. By offering the Discovery mobile barn cleaner Lely provides an intelligent solution to the quick disposal of manure. The Discovery ensures the cow housing floor is kept as clean as possible to guarantee the walking comfort of the cows as well as hygiene. To learn more, visit

Increase robot visits with I-flow Thanks to its innovative walkthrough design, called the I-flow, the Astronaut A4 robotic milking system minimizes stress by allowing cows to feel part of the herd while being milked. The I-flow concept eliminates unnecessary obstacles by allowing cows to walk straight in and out of the box. Feedback from farmers around the world indicates cows visit the A4 more readily and quickly after installation than with previous Lely Astronaut models. Forex Farm, Japan, translated the effects of I-flow into concrete figures

using data provided by Lely’s T4C management program. Reports indicate the number of cow visits has increased and the number of cows to collect has decreased. “I strongly feel that a large part of the success of good cow flow is due to the I-flow,” said owner Yoshitsugu

Mori. “Thanks to this concept, the cows get used to the robot very quickly. When milking with the A2, it seemed there was always a cow in the robot.” Scan this QR code to learn about robot performance of the Forex Farm’s Astronaut A4.

For more information on LELY products and services, call 1-866-LELY USA. LELY web address:, LELY email address: COW MAN AG E ME N T

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The milker schedule at Dyecrest Dairy fosters longevity among its milking team

Amanda and Terry Dye Most of the 30 employees at Dyecrest have spent more than 10 years working on the dairy.

Tips to build employee tenure Fort Collins, Colorado

Number of cows: 1,603 Herd average: 30,117 lbs. milk Somatic cell count: 90,000 Number of employees: 30


erry Dye, owner of Dyecrest Dairy LLC, located near Fort Collins, Colo., likes longevity in his dairy cows and employees. Most of his 30 employees have spent more than 10 years working on the dairy, with three employed for more than 20 years. What’s his secret? Terry says it’s the work schedule he established many years ago. Milkers work eight-hour shifts for three days and then have one day off. “I hate employee turnover and that essentially ended when we went to this work cycle. I want them to work hard for the eight hours they are here. Work should be separate from play and family time.” Relief milkers cover days off for the regular milkers. Those covering the days off have at least 24 hours between milking shifts. Terry adds, “My milkers work less than most other dairies’ milkers. Plus, I pay milkers 20 to 30% better than most others in the area.” Except for managers, milkers are the highest paid employees on the dairy. “The milker will always be making more money than the guy cleaning pens or driving a loader. I want everyone to know that we really value our milkers.” Terry says he doesn’t buy into the philosophy that Hispanic milkers want


Dyecrest Dairy creates an environment of employee excellence, resulting in high quality milk, cattle longevity and profitability. Milkers work eight-hour shifts for three days and then have one day off, and women take care of the calves. by JoDee Sattler

to work as many hours as possible. “With every fourth day off, they can take care of their personal matters on days off – and they know their scheduled days off. I never hear, ‘Can I take tomorrow off because I have a doctor appointment’?”

Consistent milkers The predictable work schedule supports milking routine consistency. And a sound, consistent milking routine leads to high quality milk. Dyecrest Dairy’s somatic cell count consistently hovers in the 88,000 to 90,000 range. Terry credits and rewards his milkers for harvesting high quality milk. If the dairy receives a milk quality premium from its processor, all 12 milkers receive a 6-cent per hundredweight bonus. That bonus, usually about $200 per milker per month, is paid as a separate check. “If this was rolled into the regular paycheck, milkers wouldn’t notice the ‘bonus’.” For vacation, employees receive one week paid after one year of employment, two weeks after two years of employment, three weeks after 10 years of employment, and four weeks after 20 years of employment. Just like milking cows, Terry expects excellence in rearing calves. His

daughter Amanda manages the dairy’s heifer enterprise, along with breeding and genetics. Her three main calf feeders have been with the dairy for more than six years each. Amanda only hires women to feed calves because they have such a maternal instinct. “I especially like women who have had babies,” says Amanda. “They’re The consistent milking routine at Dyecrest Dairy fosters quality milk production


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Precisely measured and monitored ration ingredients keep feed waste to a minimum and optimize milk yield

more compassionate; they take better care of the calves (than males).” Currently, all calf feeders are moms and thus have “lives” off the farm. “I try to be really flexible,” says Amanda. “If they need to make appointments, they schedule them mid-day – not during either of the feeding times.” With calves in 400 hutches, two calf feeders work each feeding shift.

Distributor offers ‘second eyes’ In addition to the calf care providers’ motherly instinct and keen observation, Amanda relies heavily on the dairy’s calf milk replacer distributor. “When he comes each week, he walks the calves with the calf feeders – looking for anything abnormal or just not quite right.” Based on what he’s seeing and hearing on other dairies or calf ranches, he may suggest tweaking a supplement or vitamin pack. The herd’s veterinarian also relies on the distributor’s experience. “Both the distributor and veterinarian do a very

good job listening to my calf feeders,” says Amanda. The dialogue and mutual respect support effective calf health management, which contributes to the 1% to 1.5% calf mortality rate. In addition to excellent calf raisers, Amanda credits pasteurizing waste milk as one of the best things they do to maintain the low calf mortality rate. Every calf born at Dyecrest is raised. Females go back to the milking herd as replacements. Bulls from the top 20% of cows are sold as breeding stock and the rest become steers and sold as light feeders. Employees with a ‘watchful eye’ also play a key role in breeding and maternity care. Every two hours, designated people walk milking cow and maternity pens. Each morning, an employee tail chalks heifers and cows. Visual observation serves as the primary heat detection method, with 90% of cattle being bred off natural heats. With well-grown heifers, Dyecrest breeds heifers so they calve at 22 months

of age. “Our fresh heifers peak at 100 pounds of milk – before they even reach 2 years old,” says Terry. “This is one of our keys to making money.”

Decisions on key numbers While Terry and Amanda empower their key employees to make diagnosis and treatment decisions as necessary, some of their direction comes from the “number crunching” Terry does every morning. Terry says, “I look at key numbers for 15 to 20 minutes and take the information to the ‘powers to be.’ I quickly take a glance at the reports and I have the information I need to make management decisions.” Key figures include daily production per cow and daily dry matter intake – as a whole herd for the past day and past five days. “The ‘beauty’ in today’s world is that it doesn’t take much time to review the numbers,” says Terry. “I’m a numbers guy; I’ve used computers forever.” His computer days date back to 1978 when


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H E R d

re p o r t

A sound calf program coupled with caring employees yields healthy calves

he was still dairying in New York. The new dairy barn included milk meters and a computer. “I knew the amount of milk every cow was producing. Knowing these numbers contributes to good milk production. It’s easy to figure out if a cow isn’t carrying her weight.” Terry adds, “I just couldn’t manage a business without computer technology. It really helps me keep track of what’s going on.” He relies heavily on EZ Feed, a computerized feeding program. It gives the feeder the exact amount of all ingredients in a ration and monitors where the rations are fed. This system helps ensure that every mouthful eaten contains all the energy, protein, minerals and amino acids (for each animal group) needed for maximum milk production, growth and health.

The progression of Dyecrest Dyecrest Dairy started April 28, 1970, on a leased farm in West Edmeston, N.Y., with 50, mostly grade, cows. Terry spent the next two years building a registered Holstein herd and purchased the leased



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farm. He sold that farm in 1974 and bought a larger dairy in Hubbardsville, N.Y., and increased the herd size to 450 milking cows and 450 heifers. Ten years later, he purchased the Fort Collins farm and built a new dairy in 1985. He moved 1,000 head of cattle from New York to Colorado. To diversify some of the dairy’s risk, Dyecrest Dairy LLC started buying cropland in the Torrington, Wy. area (about 125 miles from Fort Collins). Previously, Terry bought most of the dairy’s hay from that area. The small valley in southeastern Wyoming has great soils, plentiful water and a 4,000foot elevation, which produces excellent alfalfa. Today, Dyecrest Farms LLC owns 1,743 acres in Wyoming, with 1,509 acres being irrigated. Custom operators, who own the needed farm machinery, carry out the necessary cropping procedures, such as planting, crop input applications and harvesting. In 2011, Terry bought another dairy, called Dyelands Dairy LLC, which is named after the little dairy Terry grew

up on south of West Winfield, N.Y. Dyelands is located just 4 miles southeast of Dyecrest. Dyelands is strictly a cow milking operation. All dry cows are moved to Dyecrest when they are dried off. They calve at Dyecrest and are returned to Dyelands when they are milking well. All calves and heifers are raised by Dyecrest.

Compassion to employees Dyecrest Dairy, Dyecrest Farms and Dyelands Dairy all operate as separate businesses. Terry is the sole owner, chief executive officer and chief financial officer of the two dairy operations; Dyecrest Farms, a separate entity, owns the various Wyoming farms. Each business has its own line of credit and accounting system. Each business pays full market price when selling items to another business. In addition to offering a lot of compassion to employees and cattle, Terry says he has one ultimate goal – to make money. “We don’t do this (own and operate farms) for entertainment.” l

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Trouw Nutrition sponsors the 85th National FFA Convention and Expo The National FFA just concluded its 85th annual convention and expo. The expo took place in Indianapolis, Indian on October 24th – 27th. The National FFA Convention and Expo hosts more than 400 top-tier businesses, corporations, non-profit associations, retailers and fundraisers from across the nation. Trouw Nutrition was eager to sponsor this event and the FFA organization because this event is different from any other industry event. The FFA organization focuses on the people that matter the most, the younger generation that will be guiding our future. The goal of the event is to help steer high school student’s paths and future careers by showing them the endless possibilities. More than 2,400 booths were present representing colleges, agriculturerelated companies, fundraising companies, U.S. Armed Services, auto truck manufacturers and retailers. This event draws in a diverse crowd adding to the overall dynamics of the event.

About the FFA Since 1928, the National FFA Organization has become an integral part of agricultural science education by helping make classroom instruction come to life

through realistic, hands-on applications. FFA members embrace the concepts taught in agricultural science classrooms nationwide, build valuable skills through hands-on experiential learning, and each year demonstrate their proficiency in competitions based on real-world agricultural skills. Each FFA member, in addition to being a member of an agriculture education class, is expected to have a Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) program. This program represents the third strand of the agriculture education model and offers real world experience based learning that sets their members apart from much of the education process. Best practices are developed and records are kept. Practical learning by doing is accomplished. Trouw Nutrition is giving back to the industry by sponsoring SAE Grants and is contributing to the FFA Leadership Fund. One in six U.S. jobs are ag-related, making agriculture our country’s largest and most prominent employer. The agriculture industry is the way of the future. It is a sustainable path for people and the planet. With so many different possibilities in this field, Trouw Nutrition and the FFA Organization are working to help lead our kids into a sustainable career.

Dale Carnegie: “You never achieve success unless you like what you are doing.” Survey: 26 percent is interested in Veterinary Science Trouw Nutrition would like to take this time to thank everyone that participated in the Trouw Nutrition’s survey at the FFA event. We asked the attendees a few questions to see what areas of agriculture were the most interesting to them. Trouw found that 26% of the attendees

were interested in Veterinary Science. We also asked why they choose agriculture for their future and 55% said because of their strong interest or passion. Agriculture will not be successful without passionate people driving for success.

For more information on products and services of Trouw Nutrition International: Tel. 800.328.8942. COW MAN AG E ME N T

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The rate of genetic improvement in forage yield in cool season forages, has been estimated between 0.2 and 1.5 percent per year

It’s not your grandfather’s grass... Today’s modern grasses offer greater ranges in maturity dates, improved disease resistance, and better fiber digestibility than the old “standards”. Today’s cow needs today‘s grasses. by Peter Ballerstedt


ixty years. Two generations. For those who have experienced the changes in dairy farming since the early



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1950s, it may be hard to remember what it used to be like. For those of us who did not, it may be impossible.

A lot has changed in the United States since then. Imagine gasoline at about 27 cents a gallon. Or first class postage at 3 cents. Or milk at 92 cents a gallon. Profound changes have taken place in the US dairy industry, too. While robots were still the stuff of science fiction, inventors had developed the tanks, pumps and machinery that made it possible for dairy producers to handle milk in bulk. No more one-legged stools and open buckets. Milk cans and cream

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separators were fast becoming antiques. The first commercial automatic milking systems were sold in 1948, and within seven years or so, dairy producers found it virtually impossible to have milk picked up by the creameries if it was in a can.

Cool season grass varieties In the 1950’s, scientists discovered that sperm could be frozen and then thawed to fertilize eggs and develop normal, healthy calves. This technology has permitted genetic improvement that was unthinkable previously. The increase in milk production per cow is one indication of this impact. In 1950, the average production per cow was just over 5,300 pounds, little changed from the level in 1925. In 2011, average production was estimated to be just over 21,000 lb per head. Can you imagine a modern dairyman using a 1950s bull or breeding for cows of that era? Hardly. But that’s exactly the

situation when it comes to several common cool season grass varieties. Potomac orchardgrass, Kentucky 31 tall fescue, and Linn perennial ryegrass were all released prior to 1940. Climax timothy was released in 1947, and Gulf annual ryegrass was released in 1958. The fact that these varieties are still being planted today is not a testament to their strength. It is, instead, evidence of the lack of attention paid to cool season grasses in American agriculture in general and the US dairy industry in particular.

Genetic improvement The rate of genetic improvement in forage yield in cool season forages, and animal performance from them, has been estimated between 0.2 and 1.5 percent per year. This represents an enormous yield “opportunity cost” incurred by planting these old varieties. Today’s modern grasses offer greater ranges in maturity dates, improved

disease resistance, and better fiber digestibility than the old “standards.” They were good varieties in their day. Our grandfathers’ grass for our grandfathers’ cows. But we aren’t dairying with our grandfather’s cows. What will our grandchildren’s dairy industry look like in 2070? Prudence suggests caution in making too many specific predictions, given the unknowns of societal shifts, world events, and technological disrupters. Could our grandfathers have predicted where we’d be today? What is certain, though, is that controlling the cost of production, and feed costs in particular are critical to surviving until the future arrives. Nutrient management and environmental issues, likewise, are critical. Today’s grasses address these issues. Regardless of what the future holds, today’s modern grasses will help us get there. Hopefully our grandchildren won’t still be planting our grandfathers’ grasses… l


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Dairy producers turn to business partners for assistance

Same industry, different challenges to work on Dairy farmers today are facing many challenges no matter their location; whether it is decreasing land availability, increasing taxes, decreasing labor, or dealing with a persistent drought. Three producers share their ideas and challenges. by Kayla Dolan


any AI companies offer management and reproductive solutions and consultancy services that are available to farmers all over the United States. Many of these programs help farmers in addressing the challenges they are currently facing on their farms. With this in mind, CRV decided to take the opportunity to learn more about these challenges and how AI companies can better help dairymen in addressing them. CRV spoke with three farmers from the New York area and asked them a series of questions. First off was Paul Tillotson from Wyoming, NY. Paul and his son Jason are currently milking 320 cows and raise all of their own young stock on an organic grazing operation. They have been utilizing New Zealand genetics for 10 years in their breeding program. Next was Andrew Moser, a 4th generation farmer, of Moserdale Farm in Copenhagen, NY. Andrew is one of three partners in the farm’s LLC. Moserdale Farm is currently milking 550 Holstein cows, three times a day in a parlor. They breed for a well-rounded, long lasting animal, and put a lot of weight on production and components. Lastly, was Mike Burger from Deer Run Dairy in Adams, NY. Mike is currently milking 700 cows and raising 700 heifers with 2600 acres of cropland. The cows, composed of mostly Holsteins, with a few Jerseys and crossbreds, are milked in a double-8 parallel parlor. The cows are bred to have solid feet and legs, udders, and components. They are currently utilizing CRV breeding service.

What challenges are you currently facing on your farm? Paul: “We had dry weather this summer. Like anyone, we have high grain costs, especially with the fluctuation of the organic market. This year was the first time we have planted corn in 10 years which was a good decision because of the drought and we saw good yields.” Andrew: “One of our major issues is too many heifers. We need to decide with limited land if we want to expand or sell some animals, we have been working with our CRV sales



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Jason and Paul Tillotson: “High grain costs in the organic market“

representative, Tim Fargo, to rank the cows; both heifer and adult, based on their genetic potential without genomic testing and also looking at production.” Mike: “We are dealing with high feed and input costs and escalating land values. We grow a lot of our own shell corn, so we are able to avoid some of those affects.” How have you adapted/changed your farming style to meet social and economic demands? Paul: “We were a confinement herd until the late 1990’s and were milking three times a day for 22 years straight. In 1999, we decided to put our low group out on pasture. We saw an increase in milk, and by 2000 we had everything out on pasture. We have seen good results. Our feet and leg problems went away by getting the cows off the concrete and our cull

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rate decreased, and our cattle turnover rate is less than 20%.” Andrew: “We expanded to make room for three families in the business. We are trying to be transparent to the public with what we are doing, and we have an open door policy. We work a lot with Cornell University. We want to help present a positive image of what the dairy industry is like.” Mike: “We try to grow most of our shell corn. We want to utilize the latest nutrition to maintain over 6 lb of components per day. We also strive to be an employer of choice and a good neighbor of the community. We want to have a positive public outlook and do things right and what is best for the cow.”

immigration goes. Service also could be a challenge as agriculture goes to technology; having people at your disposal to help with equipment.” Mike: “Maintaining strong export levels for dairy products. Also, the ever changing weather can be an issue. Land values also continue to rise due to high commodity prices.”

What technology are you currently utilizing? Paul: “We compost our manure, and use it for bedding in our new heifer shed. We built a new calf barn and we are using a robotic calf feeder. We also have meters in the parlor, and all of our records are computerized.” Andrew: “We are currently using genomic bulls, sexed semen, breeding programs such as ovsynch and presynch, and custom

What are your goals for the future? Paul: “For me, I am getting close to retirement. My son and I are on a 50/50 operating partnership and I am looking to transition my son into total management. He currently manages all of the labor and crops, and I manage the cows. To make the transition, my son is going to take over the cows, and hopefully step back on equipment and have someone hired to make those decisions.” Andrew: “Embracing technology and growth; whether that means more cows, or better managing the cows we have with more technology. Our size depends on the needs of the industry, we will add cows if there is a need for more milk

Andrew and Doug Moser: “One of our issues is too many heifers”

Mike Burger and family: “Provide a comfortable workplace”

fit them to the farm. We have also started utilizing data that is already there; heifer weights and calving weights, and then evaluate the data for our use.” Mike: “We use the AFI milk system for heat detection, daily milk weights and health of the dairy. Also we utilize the best of today’s genetics through CRV an their team of professionals. We have automatic feeders in our new calf facility.”

production. We also want to utilize the resources we have.” Mike: “I want to provide a profitable and comfortable workplace for employees, as well as a happy business for my children to work into if they choose. We are also looking at possibly doing a little expansion in the future.” From listening to these dairymen, all with very different operations, many of the challenges they are facing and see for the future are the same. Many AI companies, such as CRV, have begun offering products that help farmers address these issues, such as farm records consultation, heifer consultation programs, grazing consultations, all while offering quality genetics and reproductive services. Furthermore, continued innovation and research by companies like CRV also provides a strong foundation for the future to help dairymen address these challenges, be efficient and profitable. l

What challenges do you foresee for the long term? Paul: “A local issue for us; taxes as we are taxed very heavily. We own most of our land and rent some, and for the land we rent, we don’t pay high rent. We are very conservative in the way we operate.” Andrew: “For the long term: government regulations, limited resources. Labor is also a big question mark for us as far as


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High producing herds and older cows represent biggest opportunity to benefit from improved reproductive performance

The economics of herd reproduction Improving overall reproductive performance can increase profitability. One way to discover the financial value of improved reproduction is to evaluate its influence on the income statement as it pertains to operating expenses. by Amy Ryan


recent comparison of the effect of improved reproduction using herds chosen based on differing lactation distributions and reproductive performance was discussed at the 2012 Dairy Cattle Reproductive Council Annual Meeting. More specifically, Greg Bethard with Dairy Records Management Systems and owner of G&R Dairy Consulting of Virginia, presented an analysis of reproductive performance on the income statement. According to Bethard, there are some main areas on the profit and loss statement that can affect improved reproductive performance. “In our scenarios, breeding and labor costs didn’t change much with improved reproduction,” says Bethard. “Feed costs and milk are impacted most, while replacement costs would also be affected.” To illustrate the benefit of improved reproduction on profitability, Bethard



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chose four herds from his consulting database representing different demographics. The four herds were categorized by pregnancy rate (PR) and days in milk (DIM). They were also chosen based on their consistent reproductive performance over a two year period. Herd 1 demonstrated “excellent” reproduction with a 21-day PR of 33 percent and on average 151 DIM; Herd 2 represented “good” reproduction with 25 percent PR and 175 average DIM; Herd 3 had “average” reproduction with 14 percent PR and 191 DIM; and finally herd 4 showed “poor” reproduction with 12 percent PR and 215 DIM.

Optimizing feed efficiency As feed costs continue their upward climb, getting cows bred earlier in the lactation to maximize feed efficiency is of growing importance. In other words, producing more milk with less feed is always a priority.

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Better reproductive performance improves feed efficiency

Bethard says that improving reproduction to get cows pregnant more quickly and optimize production in early lactation makes a large difference in feed costs. He adds that improved reproduction and the resulting better lactation distribution represent more milk and better income over feed costs (IOFC). Albert De Vries, associate professor at the University of Florida, who specializes in economics of reproductive strategies, states that when IOFC is higher, improved reproduction is more valuable as feed efficiency becomes more important. In poorer reproductive herds, a one percent increase in pregnancy rate (PR) from say 15 to 16 percent, has a larger affect on IOFC, while in great reproductive herds, raising PR from 25 to 26 percent will have less impact on IOFC. “When feed is more expensive, getting the most milk from the feed your cows eat becomes a higher priority,” he says. “However, it is also critical to remember that feed costs and milk prices vary, while improving reproduction is more a slow, steady increase and results may not be seen as quickly.” For this reason, De Vries emphasizes the importance of maintaining the same amount of cows in the milking herd to optimize milk production and feed efficiency.

Increased milk income Improved reproduction and improved milk production also go hand in hand. “It is no secret that as cows move through their lactation, milk production decreases,” says Bethard. “Getting cows pregnant more quickly eliminates the lower producing cows from the end of the lactation curve, while maintaining peak performance longer on higher producing cows.”

With current feed prices, improved reproduction is worth more than ever

In fact, Bethard says in his scenario, adult cows (greater than one lactation) and high producing herds benefited the most of improved reproductive performance. “Improving reproduction across all herd scenarios showed a net benefit of $222485/milk cow/year,” says Bethard. “This combined with better feed conversion equated to more income, going from “poor” reproduction to “great” reproduction improved daily IOFC $1.41/cow or $515/cow/year for high producing herds and improved daily IOFC $1.06/ cow or $387/cow/year for low producing herds.”

be calculated considering herd constraints. “Cull rates should be optimized by considering constraints in the herd,” he continues. “For instance, if the herd constraint is the milking parlor, then the replacement cost should be expressed per milking cow per day, while in herds with overall herd size as the constraint, replacement costs should be expressed as per total number of cows in herd.” He adds that herd managers need to define whether maintaining their overall herd size of both milking and dry cows or maintaining a constant number of lactating cows is their limiting factor.

Replacement costs

With current feed and milk prices, both Bethard and De Vries agree that better reproduction is worth more than ever. Better reproduction equals more cows earlier in lactation which equals better feed efficiency. It also equates to more milk and more milk sales. “While feeding good forages and feed efficiency is the number one driver of herd profitability, improved reproduction is not far behind,” says De Vries. “The good news is that the two go hand in hand and if you have a good feeding program and good forages, your reproductive performance is probably good as well. With today’s rising feed costs, improving reproduction to help maximize feed efficiency will have a positive impact no matter how you measure it.” Bethard concludes, “The best economic opportunity is to improve reproduction in adult cows or cows beyond the first lactation. Overall, our exercise showed the herds with good, average and poor reproduction all stand to improve profitability by improving their reproductive performance.” l

Lower replacement costs present the opportunity to cull more cows as more heifers are available to fill those spots in the herd. On a cash basis, replacement costs are expressed as a cost per hundredweight of milk sold. Namely, the specific equation to calculate this cost is of cost of replacements minus cull income divided by hundredweight of milk sold. Bethard says that improved reproductive performance can have a positive effect on all three of the categories in this equation. “When looking at cost of replacements, the impact of improved reproduction is multifaceted; good reproduction means surplus heifers, which allows culling of below average heifers and difficult breeders,” Bethard says. “Replacement feed costs are reduced as heifers get pregnant more quickly, meaning fewer days on feed.” Cull income can also be increased as reproduction improves as an abundance of heifers allows for heaving culling of more or higher value animals. De Vries advises that replacement costs

More milk, less feed


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Milking time in New Zealand. Pasture based cows are waiting in the open air to enter the milking parlor.

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Good employees needed for successful dairy business

Employee training: how are you doing on your dairy? Leaders are the ones who communicate the philosophy and principles of the owners and management to the rest of the workers. One of the keys to success is putting the right people in the correct positions in the dairy operation. by Richard L. Ernsberger, DVM


ow effective is your employee training program? Such things as the somatic cell count (SCC), clinical mastitis, calf scours, respiratory



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infections, morbidity and mortality rates can indicate how well your employees are doing their jobs. Look at milk production, health standards and the

efficiency of your dairy to further learn how the workforce is faring. If you’re coming up a bit short on your business goals, perhaps it’s time to review your employee management. Dr. Tom Fuhrmann, a leader in developing training and management programs for dairy farms, starts by organizing a dairy into a clear, concise, manageable business. An organizational diagram is set up for the dairy, with each position on the diagram described in detail such as: what the duties are (physical work required and personnel management responsibilities), who they

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Quick tips for employee management

report to (include what positions will be filled by bilingual employees), and a pay scale for each position.

Correct positions One of the keys to success is putting the right people in the correct positions. Herdsperson, middle managers, assistant herdspersons, supervisors or shift boss are leadership positions, like a coach for a team. Leaders are the ones who communicate the philosophy and principles of the owners and management to the rest of the workers. A working coach is expected to: • Understand all aspects of the workplace at a much greater level than the rest of the crew • Explain and show employees how to do the job • Be sure the employees are doing the tasks correctly • Review and monitor employee performance for each task and achieving management goals • Provide employees with feedback

During a recent meeting, Dr. Gordie Jones, partner in Central Sands Dairy, LLC and a consultant around the world, shared a few insights about professional employees on his dairy. A sample: •“My employees have fun at work, because they know their jobs” •All Dairy personal are certified in their position •Every person understands their job •Every person that is certified, has

passed an exam (oral or written) about their job •T  he employees know how their job is done and why things are done the way they have been trained (how cows let milk down, why calves are fed colostrum and when, and proper stockmanship) •P  eople get everything done To quote Dr. Jones: “A cow problem is because of people; every problem has a first and last name”.

Break every job on the dairy down into all of its specific tasks. Breaking each job down is a good time to seek the assistance of industry professionals working with your dairy. Such specialists can assist in determining the best methods for performing each job and producing clearly written, accurate instructions with flow charts to go along with the proper instructions. Many professionals can help teach the technical instructions they’ve helped create. Some dairies use teaching videos of the professionals in action as a visual aid in training other employees. Training works best if it’s done in the native language of the employee with simple, easy to understand wording. Many people learn best when they hear, see and do. Cow-side demonstrations and hands on experience are effective training techniques. Keep all written procedures on file at the dairy, and give a copy to each employee for their job in their native language.

I am asked to do as well as I can for the hours I work”. Agree on a pay scale when hiring and make sure the employee understands how pay increases occur and how promotions or job changes are awarded. Respect your employee and allow for differences of opinion but make sure each individual remembers who they work for and that they are expected to do the job as trained.

Three weeks reinforcing Work is a habit and it takes about two weeks to learn a routine to the point that it becomes automatic. Many workers arrive with previous training and experience. In case you must retrain an employee, expect to invest about three weeks reinforcing how to do the job your way. Likewise, if you make a change in procedure, expect it to take three weeks of working closely with a supervisor to successfully accomplish the adjustment. The correct attitude for an employee is, “I am here to earn money by doing what

Monitor what is taking place Employee performance on a dairy can be monitored in various ways. For example, look at SSC levels, number of clinical mastitis cases, dirty teats, dirty filter socks, and milking routine times including milk per minute. With calf care, check colostrum quality with a refractometer, culture colostrum for total plate count and coliform counts, look at calf total proteins and morbidity and mortality rates. Evaluate reproduction on such criteria as services per conception and days open. Review nutrition based on production and TMR mixing, analysis of ration, and fresh cow health. It is every employee’s responsibility to work as a team, with management providing the information needed properly do each job. Management provides the leadership so employees can maintain a good attitude and do what is expected of them. Every dairy brings some variations in how things are done, but well trained employees lead to success. I would like to thank Dr. Tom Fuhrmann for his assistance with this article. l


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Dairy farms using quality AI technicians see positive results It is common knowledge that having a good and reliable AI service technician can help increase the reproductive performance of dairy cattle. However, recent research from the DCRC has also shown that having a good technician can further increase the profit per cow, as well as decrease the breeding cost per cow; which means increased overall profit on the farm. Researchers from Ohio State and

the University of Florida have recently conducted a study using computer simulation to estimate the effect on overall profitability using three different technician conception rates. Based on the results from the study a positive correlation was found between conception rate and profit; for every 1% increase in conception rate, a $6 increase in profit per cow per year was seen. From their results, it is easy to conclude by investing in AI training for employees, or using a certified technician from a company such as CRV, a farm can increase their profit, manage their time better, and further impact their bottom line. CRV continues to grow their AI and breeding service teams to better serve farms all around the U.S. and world to meet the demands and needs of our customers.

CRV service CRV has knowledgeable and reliable breeding teams and AI service technicians to help dairy farmers in reaching their goals. These teams aid in providing dairy and beef cattle genetics, AI breeding, reproductive consulting, mating advice, and solutions that benefit cow fertility, herd profitability, and time. CRV offers a wide portfolio of cattle improvement solutions. For more information or to start utilizing CRV service, contact Tim Fargo (315.405.5157) in the New York area, or Dan Hushon (717.309.7886) in the Pennsylvania area.

CRV offers reliable AI service CRV offers breeding services to its customers in the New York and Pennsylvania areas with reliable genetics, quality service, and great people to work with. Henry Yoder, herdsman at Maplehoff Dairy Farm in Quaryville, PA has been utilizing CRV service since February 2012. At Maplehoff Dairy Farm, breeding for shape and size is a priority for their 101 Holstein cows that are milked in a stanchion barn. Henry likes the service he is provided through his breeding team and sales representative, Dan Hushon. “It is better service than I had before, and I would recommend CRV to anyone as far as service goes,� says Henry. Although there are not any cows from CRV milking yet, Henry says they are happy with the results they are seeing. New York Service Team: Greg, Tim, Jesse, Doug and Jim


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If you’re looking to lower the bacterial load in colostrum, consider heat treatment to protect immunoglobulin G and reduce disease pathogens

Reduce colostrum bacterial load via heat treatment Quality colostrum is worth its weight in gold. But if it’s loaded with bacteria, calves can get sick, even if you’re feeding adequate colostrum with high antibody levels immediately after birth. by JoDee Sattler


ay back in the mid-1800s, Louis Pasteur discovered that the growth of micro-organisms caused beverages, such as milk, wine and beer, to spoil. To prevent food spoilage and sickness, Pasteur invented pasteurization, which kills most bacteria and molds in beverages. Fast forward to the 1990s and pasteurization takes on a new role –

pasteurizing on-farm milk (usually waste milk) for feeding young calves. While only 3% of U.S. dairies feed pasteurized waste milk to their calves (2007 National Animal Health Monitoring System Dairy Study), these dairies represent 15% of the nation’s dairy calves. With on-farm pasteurization gaining popularity as dairy producers realized

the importance of reducing/eliminating pathogens via pasteurization, the question was asked, “Can we ‘pasteurize’ colostrum?” Quality colostrum is loaded with nutrients and passively absorbed maternal antibodies, particularly immunoglobulin G (IgG), but all too often it’s also loaded with Escherichia coli, Salmonella enteritidis, Mycoplasma spp. and/or Mycobacterium avium, subspecies paratuberculosis (causative agent of Johne’s disease). Research shows that high bacteria counts reduce colostrum immunity benefits. Bacterial contamination of colostrum is a concern because pathogenic bacteria can act directly to cause diseases, such as scours or septicemia. Bacteria in

Feeding heat-treated colostrum helps boost IgG absorption



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colostrum may also interfere with passive absorption of colostral antibodies into the circulation, reducing passive transfer of immunity in the calf. “Heat treatment is a proven method for reducing pathogens in colostrum,” says Sandra Godden, University of Minnesota Veterinary Population Medicine professor.

Fixing pasteurization challenges Early attempts at pasteurizing colostrum caused colostrum to gel and reduced the amount of antibodies present, particularly IgG, in the resulting colostrum. The thick, denatured product clogged pasteurization equipment and was unacceptable for feeding. That’s because the same process used to pasteurize milk was used to pasteurize colostrum. Two commonly used milk pasteurization methods are high temperature short time – 161ºF (71 ºC) for 15 seconds and Holder Method – 145ºF (63 ºC) for 30 minutes. University of Minnesota researchers, led by Godden, experimented with refining the colostrum pasteurization process by varying the length of heat treatment and lowering the temperature in an attempt to eliminate Raising the heat treatment temperature just 1 degree F. will turn colostrum to pudding

Heat-treated colostrum tips • Routinely monitor times and temperatures. At temperatures >141°F, IgG denaturation occurs. •P  eriodically culture raw and heattreated colostrum samples to monitor efficacy of the heattreatment process. Strive for <20,000 colony forming units per milliliter. •P  roperly clean and sanitize pasteurizer, colostrum storage and colostrum feeding equipment. • Properly handle, store and refrigerate/ freeze colostrum to prevent bacterial contamination and growth in the raw product and recontamination in heat-treated colostrum.

gelling, maintain antibodies and still significantly reduce the pathogen load. They concluded that 140°F (60°C) for 60 minutes is an effective heat treatment process. This process does not cause colostrum to gel and significantly lowers rates of bacterial contamination (compared to fresh/raw colostrum). The method decreases pathogens in colostrum and retains the concentration of antibodies in colostrum. Early trials, conducted by university researchers under tightly controlled conditions, showed promising results. So, Godden’s team took the colostrum heat treatment process out to the real world. On-farm staff at six Minnesota and Wisconsin dairies followed processing and handling protocols designed by the researchers.

Taking heat treatment to farms The on-farm trials showed that heat treatment markedly reduced total bacterial plate count and total coliform count. Serum IgG concentrations were significantly higher in calves fed heattreated colostrum compared with calves fed fresh colostrum. The study reported a significant increase in risk for a treatment event (any cause) in calves fed fresh colostrum compared with calves fed heat-treated colostrum. In addition, researchers saw a significant increase in risk for scours treatment in calves fed fresh colostrum

•R  outinely monitor health records and passive transfer rates in calves by using a refractometer to monitor serum total proteins. More than 90% of calves tested between 24 hours and 7 days of age should have a serum total protein value >5.0 grams per deciliter. •U  se a batch pasteurizer. •T  reat small batches (15 gallon maximum). •A  gitate constantly during heat-up, pasteurization and cool-down phases. •R  apidly heat and cool colostrum.

compared with calves fed heat-treated colostrum. The calves from the heattreated colostrum group were also less likely to suffer from scours or to be treated for any other disease condition. Furthermore, calves experienced significantly improved efficiency of absorption of colostral antibodies and had significantly higher serum IgG concentrations at 24 hours after birth, as compared to calves fed raw colostrum. Researchers believe this benefit is due to significantly fewer bacteria present in the heat-treated colostrum to interfere with antibody absorption across the gut. “Based on these trials, batch heat treatment of colostrum (140°F for 60 minutes) can be successfully used on commercial dairies to decrease colostrum microbial counts while maintaining colostral IgG concentrations,” says Godden. “The ultimate measure of this research was to find out if calves fed the heat-treated colostrum were healthier.”

Jon-De Farm’s experience One of the Upper Midwest dairies participating in the on-farm trials is Jon-De Farm Inc. (1,500 milking cows, 180 dry cows, 500 breeding age heifers and 560 heifer calves), Baldwin, Wis., where Sarah Kreft, calf manager, started heat treating colostrum about five years ago. Kreft says they go to a lot of trouble to enable their cows to


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provide high quality colostrum. So, heat treating colostrum was a logical next step to boost newborn calf health. “I want to make sure we do everything we can to ensure our calves receive that colostrum as high quality as when it came out of the cow.” To help cows produce high quality colostrum, extra fans in the dry cow barn cool cows during warm weather, cattle lie on sand-bedded stalls and cows eat a well-formulated dry cow diet. Also, their foot trimmer tends to all cows before dry off. However, it’s their sound vaccination program, developed with their veterinarian’s assistance, that really helps their cows produce colostrum with a high concentration of antibodies.

Separate colostrum Almost all of the colostrum on Jon-De Farm Inc. is heat-treated. Kreft says they separate colostrum from first lactation and two-plus lactation cows. Jon-De’s milkers refrigerate colostrum in buckets and every morning a member of the calf feeding team uses a digital refractometer to test the colostrum. “Everything less than 22.5% (Brix score) is dumped in with our waste milk,” says Kreft. (Research by Bielmann, established a cut point of 22% on the Brix, which most accurately predicts an IgG value of 50 grams per liter or higher). “Heifer colostrum that tests more than 22.5% is used for bull calves and cow colostrum is used for heifer calves.” Colostrum is pooled after it has been tested. Kreft says the main reason they separate first lactation colostrum is because it is not feasible to give heifers the ScourGuard vaccine. They only receive J-Vac and Vision 7  before calving.  The time when pregnant heifers would need to get their first ScourGuard is when they are on pasture. Kreft says they’ve seen several improvements in colostrum quality and calf health. They realized increased IgG levels, lower bacteria counts and better young calf health.  “It (heat treating colostrum) also increases shelf life so we can ensure that every calf gets 1 gallon of colostrum within an hour after birth and another 0.5 gallon within 8 to 10 hours after that.” Heat-



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Calf manager Sarah Kreft likes the cleanliness that feeding bags offer, compared to plastic containers

treated colostrum maintains low bacteria counts for up to five days under refrigeration, compared to 24 hours (if not heat-treated).

Plastic gallon containers With such a sound colostrum program, Jon-De often has extra colostrum so they freeze a fair amount for use during times when cows just don’t give as much colostrum, like when it’s extremely warm. “I would much rather use colostrum from our farm than colostrum replacer,” says Kreft. Since implementing heat treatment of colostrum, Kreft says they’ve done some tweaking to their standard

operating procedures. The biggest change they’ve made is going from plastic gallon containers for storing heat-treated colostrum to using Perfect Udder bags. “We now have fewer problems with cleanliness and can store more containers in our refrigerator and freezer.” The biggest lesson they’ve learned is, “You can’t raise the temperature of the pasteurizer – even a degree – from 140°F or you will have pudding – not colostrum,” says Kreft. “Make sure you have only one or two key employees in charge of testing, pasteurizing and cleaning up the pasteurizer to ensure protocols are being followed.” l

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Barenbrug USA is pleased to offer Barduro red clover. Barduro was developed by Dr. Qusenberry at the University of Florida. His work has paid off in this persistent and durable red clover for the south. In the hay cutting trial at the Auburn Extension Research Center in Crossville, Alabama, during their worst drought in 25 years, Barduro was the only experimental clover to survive. The trial continued the following year and the drought became the worse recorded in 100 years. Barduro survived this trial as well. It is extremely drought and heat tolerant, making it a perfect choice for dry or sloped pastures. Additional trials have proven that Barduro establishes rapidly and is

competitive in stands of tall fescue, orchardgrass and bermudagrass, making it an excellent choice for overseeding pastures. While its persistent nature and durability makes Barduro well-suited for grazing, research data from trial locations in Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and Louisiana also show high yield potential under cutting management, making Barduro an excellent choice for hay production as well.

Optimum pH is 6.0 to 7.6 Barduro its protein quality and NDF digestibility make it valuable to all livestock producers, including dairymen. Red clovers out-produce crimson and arrowleaf clovers, and Barduro is the most widely adapted red

Table 1: Nematode resistance response of red clover varieties to Meloidogyne arenaria (peanut root knot), M. incognita (cotton root knot), and M. javanica (Javanese root knot)

entry Kenstar Southern belle FL 4X Barduro

m. arenaria galls eggs 5.0 a 3.3 b 3.0 b 2.3 b

5.0 a 3.3 b 2.8 b 1.9 b

m. incognita m. javanica galls eggs galls eggs 3.9 a 2.3 b 2.4 b 2.3 b

3.9 a 2.2 b 2.3 b 1.9 b

4.7 a 0.7 c 1.8 bc 2.2 b

4.6 a 0.3 c 1.4 bc 2.1 b

tons per acre

New red clover for the south 5,0 4,5 4,0 3,5 3,0 2,5 2,0 1,5 1,0

Barduro Kenland Start

Lucky Mammoth

Figure 1: Red clover dry matter yield under drought conditions (tons per acre), southeast U.S. forage trials

clover on the market today. Barduro survived as a biennial in northern Florida trials. Barduro is a medium dormancy red clover bred for the mid-south. Barduro is adapted to moderately drained to well-drained soils. Optimum pH for production of Barduro is 6.0 to 7.6; however, it performs better than alfalfa in wet, acidic soils (pH 5.5-6.5). Adequate levels of calcium, phosphorus and potassium are important. Barduro also shows resistance to peanut, cotton and Javanese root knot nematodes, making it a valuable option where these pests are present.

For more information on BARENBRUG products and services contact customer services: Tel. 800.547.4101 BARENBRUG web address: â&#x20AC;˘ BARENBRUG email address: COW MAN AG E ME N T

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Save on labor costs with automatic feed pushers

Feed more, work less Continuous availability of fresh feed increases dry matter intake, encourages milk production and improves animal health. Labor is oftentimes a limiting factor in making fresh feed available to cows around-the-clock. Thanks to new technology, this problem is a thing of the past.

Dan Schultz: ”Pushing feed was never handy because you always had to go get something”


an Schultz wanted feed pushed in a timely fashion on his Taylor, Wis., farm without anyone having to be in the barn. What may have seemed impossible to some, Dan knew there had to be a solution to the common struggle of breaking up the workday to push feed with a skid steer or tractor. It’s always good to have feed in front of the cows, the trouble is getting workers

by Ben Smink

Combined with a milking robot, automatic feed pushers increase the visiting rate to the robot



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to actually do it. “Pushing feed was never handy because you always had to go get something,” says Dan. “You could waste 10-15 minutes just getting things ready.” Aside from the time spent, the physical expense of pushing feed multiple times a day begins to add up fast. Having installed eight robotic milkers on his farm in August 2009, Dan was well-acquainted with the concept of automation and looked into purchasing an automatic feed pusher for his 560 cow herd. One year later, the Lely Juno, a battery-powered automatic feed pusher, became a permanent fixture on his operation.

Constant feed with less labor With its 24-hour operation, the Juno pushes as often as Dan likes, is totally automated and travels the feed alley based on pre-determined routings. Programmed to run eight times each day, the automatic feed pusher is crucial when it comes to labor savings. Assuming each “push” is worth five dollars in labor, Dan saves $40 per day, or $14,600 per year, in labor. Based on eight 10-minute feed rounds each day, the automatic feed pusher saves Dan at least 486 hours, or 60 eight-hour working days a year. Dan aptly named his Juno “Rosie” for its resemblance to Rosie’s spinning skirt on the Jetsons. Much like Rosie did for her family, the Juno kick starts the day for his herd. Dan programmed Rosie to take different routes at night to keep feed closer to the bunk for cows to reach and to help keep mangers cleaner in the mornings. “A cow wants to eat the most first thing in the morning,” according to Dan. “Fresh feed is right there waiting for

With its 24-hour operation, the Juno pushes the feed as often as Dan likes

them now because Rosie is constantly pushing.”

Increased feed intake Constant availability of feed stimulates cow traffic to the milk robots and increases dry matter intake (+3.5%), especially at night, resulting in less waste feed. Cows are given no opportunity to be selective since an equal quantity of roughage is available day and night. “Timid animals can quickly become costly if they can’t access feed,” says Dan. “Every pound of

Feed pusher recommended by farmers Research was conducted by a student of Hogeschool Schoevers in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, to gain insight into customer satisfaction among users of the Juno feed pusher. Fifty users were questioned as to the reasons for recommending the Juno to other farmers, such as installation,

use and appreciation of the Juno in practice. More than 90 per cent of users noted that they appreciate the Juno as a reliable and good feed pusher. On scale of 1 (very poor) to 5 (very good), more than 90 per cent of farmers questioned gave the Juno a score of 4 or 5.

dry matter is worth two to three pounds of milk. The numbers start to mean a lot in a hurry.” When asked about ROI, Dan takes into account the following conservative calculation. Two pounds more milk equals 40 cents, and subtract an average feed cost of 16.7 cents, and that will give you a net of 23.3 cents per cow. Then, multiply 23.3 cents by your herd size and you can quickly estimate your operation’s total savings per day. Combined with a milking robot, as it is on Dan’s farm, the Juno increases the visiting rate to the robot. When cows get up to eat, they have a chance to go to the robot. “There’s value in that,” Dan says. “I’ve seen about 7 per cent more robot visits since installing the Juno.” Dan acknowledges Rosie as one of the most appreciated and self-explanatory additions to his farm. “It’s one of those ‘no brainers’ of dairy,” he says. “Every farmer knows that it’s not the time it takes to push feed, it’s that it doesn’t get done.” l


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Success of management teams hinges on information

Making the most “informed” decisions With an abundance of data gathering systems available in today’s industry, it is easy to get information overload. The opportunity to have a wealth of information during decision making in team meetings is invaluable, but it is crucial to know which information is most important to achieve the objectives of the operation. by Amy Ryan



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anagement teams are becoming a more common practice on today’s dairy operations and often times, play a key role in their success. Dairy managers must offer these teams the information they need to make the best decisions for the operation and help it reach its full potential. Dairy management teams may include, but are not limited to operation and herd managers, veterinarians, herd reproduction leaders, lenders, agronomists and nutritionists. The team should also include a facilitator, whose main objective is to keep the group on task and discussing topics that warrant attention. Team meetings should focus on ways to grow the operation’s profitability, while at the same time addressing issues that may be holding the business back. Robert Goodling, Jr. is an Extension Associate with Pennsylvania State University who specializes in data and records management and currently works with four management teams or Dairy Profit Teams in his area. According to Goodling, bringing the right people together and the right information to the table during team meetings is critical to profitability and sustainability. “These teams serve as an information discussion group for the dairy and should be formed based on the dairy manager’s goal for the team,” Goodling says. “It is also important to have a good facilitator in these meetings, whether it be the producer, an industry professional or an extension specialist, to keep topics flowing.”

Find the best tools While there are many data collection tools available for producers, Goodling states that they must assess their needs and usability of the data collected. Once a data collection system is chosen, it must be adapted to be most efficient for whoever is collecting data and using the information. “The sky is the limit when it comes to data collection tools; from computerbased systems to test day records to milk recording systems to the simple, yet trustworthy, paper tablet and calendar,” he says. “Dairy producers must start by utilizing whichever

method of collection is best suited to capture the information that they want and what is going to make it the most usable for their teams.” Goodling expands on this point by saying that information can be collected to assess multiple areas of the operation including production, finance, crops and feed, nutrient management, labor, animal health and breeding/genetics. He acknowledges that while these areas all represent important aspects of herd management, each operation has different information needs based on herd goals and the manager decides the top priorities in the herd. Understanding what metrics are most important to the operation and what information is available to identify those priorities is critical.

An accurate assessment Another challenge to consider is that the data collected in the aforementioned areas may not be presenting an accurate picture. When sorting through data, Goodling emphasizes that teams consider the quality, consistency and standardization of the data collection process. First is quality. Good information cannot be gleaned from sub-par data, so it is important to minimize errors when collecting data. Next is ensuring that data collected is offering a consistent comparison of what is going on in the herd. For example, use the same source of information when comparing metrics in the herd. Comparing milk production reports from DHIA and milk weights collected from the parlor does not offer a good comparison as they are sampled differently. Standardization or ensuring that data is captured in the same manner among a moderate (not too large or too small) population sample, is another important aspect of data analyzation. “Data is the driving force behind getting good information,” he says. “Good data must be collected, that data must then be used to build knowledge and understanding of the circumstances and finally the management teams should analyze the information garnered from that data to drive sensible actions.”

After data is accurately collected, valuable information can be generated from that collection. That is where tools like Penn State’s Monthly Monitor come into play. It allows the consolidation of metrics from different sources to track key production and financial indicators for management teams. “We all need to keep in mind that the data gathered doesn’t necessarily equal information,” he says. “It is the interpretation of the data presented and how you related them to knowledge that really offers solutions.” Monthly Monitor is one tool that assists with interpretation as it tracks data from different sources into one spreadsheet which can then provide historical trend data including where the herd is currently and where it is headed in the future. Along with putting all the data on a level playing field, Monthly Monitor can generate graphics to assist with analyzing information. It specifically includes fields where producers can enter herd data for production, reproduction, milk quality, feed efficiency, parlor efficiency and hoof health. A notes section in the program also allows producers to enter specific management changes (new silage, new milker gloves, etc.) that may impact the information generated.

Adjust as needed There is much data to be analyzed during dairy management team meetings and getting the most out of those meetings starts with good data collecting and analyzing. “The amount of data available on a dairy can be overwhelming,” says Goodling. “Having the right people in your meetings, knowing what metrics give you the most usable information for your goals and providing that information to attendees before the meeting can help make the most efficient use of time.” He suggests these tactics along with periodic reassessment of areas tracked and discussed can assist in getting the most valuable information from data in the herd and in turn reduce information overload. l


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D R .




Dr. Rich Veeman from Veterinary Services of Oregon discusses the importance of maintaining the procedures and protocols in specific areas of on-farm management, namely hoof health, mastitis prevention and reproduction.

In the face of high feed costs and expensive labor, donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t cut corners

Stick to the basics T

he basics of dairying: clean, dry, comfortable bedding, proper milking procedures, early lameness detection and proper hoof trimming, good heat detection and breeding, high quality forages, a properly balanced ration, a balanced close-up ration, comfortable dry period, and a well thought out vaccination program. These basics are still vital to the business in good times and in bad times. If you need to save money, make sure that you do not cut the basics from the Big 3: hoof trimming, milking (mastitis prevention), and reproduction. Regular hoof trimming is still the most cost effective thing you can do in most operations. While care should be taken to prevent foot rot, hairy warts and ulcers, a good hoof trimmer will give you a better return on your investment than about anything you can do. If caught early, the hoof trimmer can turn a lame, barely milking cow into a productive and normal walking cow in a very short time. The key is early detection and treatment. I have seen operations that started doing their own hoof trimming to save money. Without dedicated personnel that are trained to properly trim hooves and an adequate trim chute, such plans will fail miserably costing much more than it ever would cost to use a paid, professional trimmer. Proper milking procedures and prevention of mastitis is vital

for any dairy to survive in this day and age. Getting good oxytocin release, proper milk letdown, and putting a machine on a clean, dry teat does more to prevent mastitis than about anything you can do. Getting the milking machine on clean, dry teats can compensate for some less than desirable bedding situations. On the other hand, poor milking procedures and dirty teats also can reverse the benefits of perfect housing and bedding. Never underestimate the value of a clean, dry teat and a consistent milking procedure with good milk letdown. Having routine milker training schools is a great idea to remind people of the importance of proper routine and reasons that things are done the way they are. Mind your dry cow areas as well. If dry pens are dirty and overcrowded and you decide to stop dry tubes and Orbeseal youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll have issues. Getting cows pregnant is the only way they will have calves and produce milk again. Dedication to heat detection and breeding is critical for any dairy to survive. It is the source of your replacements and your future milk. A good reproductive program will give you extra heifers for replacements in times of trouble or an opportunity to sell extras for added revenue. Focus on the basics: hoof health, milking (mastitis) and reproduction and you will be happier and healthier in the long run. Best wishes and hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s to good forage!


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Longevity is a hot topic in The Netherlands and also for dairy producer Kees Kortleve

Kees en Hermy Kortleve The lifetime production for the culled cows of Kortleve in The Netherlands is extremely high. He gives his cows an extra chance to get in calf. Number of cows: Amount of land: Rolling herd average: Calving interval:

“I don’t pamper my cows” Dutch dairy producer Kees Kortleve is keen on longevity and Noordeloos

The Netherlands

102 110 acres 21,000 lb 3,9% f 3,5% p 450 days


or three consecutive years the name of Kees Kortleve (44) from Noordeloos has appeared in the top ten for lifetime production for culled cows. Last year his cows produced 74,701kg (164,688 lb), in 6.4 lactations before they went to the slaughter, the highest lifetime records in The Netherlands. Longevity is a hot topic in the Netherlands. The average lifetime production for culled cows in The Netherlands is 30,546kg (67,342 lb) with 4,37% fat and 3,51% protein with 3.4 lactations. Why do Kortleve’s cows last much longer, twice as high as the nation’s average? “I continue with trying to get a cow bred, longer than most other producers,” says Kortleve. “I give the cow an extra chance to get in calf. That results in a high intercalving period, around 450 days, but that doesn’t bother me at all. I hate getting rid of cows because of fertility problems although, ultimately, that is one of the most

takes extra care with his older cows. In the last year, his aged cows produced an average 74,701kg (164,688 lb), the highest lifetime production in The Netherlands. by Ivonne Stienezen

important reasons for culling. It is cheaper to inseminate an older cow more often than raise a new heifer.”

Simple form of management Kees Kortleve milks twice a day and is not focused on the last drop. In the past, production per cow was higher. “But for a higher production, you need to milk three times a day. I am pleased if a fresh cow produces between 40 to 50kg (88 to 110 lb) a day. That is a production where she can stay healthy and gives her the opportunity to get old.” Kortleve likes to keep his dairy management simple. “I am not so keen on ‘technology’. I just like to spend my time and attention on the cows – I think that’s important. But I don’t pamper them (either), they must really do it all themselves. I do try to create good conditions for them like a good ration and good housing.” The simple form of management can clearly be seen in the

Table 1: Lifetime production at culling on the basis of kilograms of fat and protein for Kees Kortleve herd from 2009 to 2012




number of lactations


fat %

protein %

kg milk/ day

2009 2010 2011

10 15 11

5.6 6.1 6.4

67,657 kg (149,158 lb) 64,726 kg (142,696 lb) 74,701 kg (164,687 lb)

3.94 4.12 4.10

3.36 3.40 3.35

30.2 kg (66.58 lb) 29.1 kg (64.15 lb) 30.0 kg (66.14 lb)

barns. The 100 cows are housed in two, over thirty year-old freestall barns. The milking parlour is a 2 x 4 open tandem stall from 1990. Being careful with costs is also important in Kortleve’s management. He gives cows a moderate amount of concentrates amounting to about 23kg (51 lb) of concentrates per 100kg (220 lb) of milk. He is also a fan of grazing; it is a very cost effective way of feeding according to Kortleve. “I try to leave the cows outside as long as possible in the autumn. If they graze enough protein during the daytime with the fresh grass, I need to feed them less soya.”

Dip dry cows daily Kortleve is careful with feeding protein, and usually provides less than the standard amount. Protein affects the contents of the milk. According Dutch standards 4.10% fat and 3.35% protein is not high. The winter ration is simple: grass- and corn silage, brewer’s grain and soya and concentrates, and fed with a cheap feed wagon. “I don’t mix the ration, that is too expensive. It doesn’t bother me too much that cows can choose their own ration,” he says. Kortleve’s farm has produced a total of seventeen cows with production more than 100,000kg (220,462 lb) of milk,


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most of them in the last seven years. The eighteenth such cow is underway and he thinks it will take about another month. “Of course I am extra careful with such an older cow, but I don’t go over the top. I did once get rid of a cow that had a production of 97,000kg (213,848 lb), because she was really not in calf. It naturally remains an economic consideration,” he says. Kortleve is very focussed on his dry cows. “The dry period is the period when you can really make a mess of things or not,” he says. The dry cows are in two groups: the animals that have just become dry and the animals that will soon calve. Twice a day, Kortleve cleans out the cubicles and he dips all the teats of the dry cows. He also dips the heifers starting about six weeks before calving. “It is time-consuming, but nothing else. Many cases of mastitis can be traced to the dry period, so in this way I keep the risk of infection for the dry cows as low as possible”, Kortleve says. Kortleve believes it is important to manage somatic cell count, particularly with the older cows. “When the milk test comes in, the cell count is the first thing I look at. Particularly with older cows you have to take care. I then discuss with the vet what the best time is to intervene,” he adds.

Straight walking cows Udder health is not the most important thing that Kortleve considers in his choice of bulls, but instead he considers external aspects as the most important factor. He now uses bulls such as Improver, Cricket, Sunrise and Ormsby. “I go for well-built cows that walk nice and straight. I pay a lot of attention to their back legs and make no concessions,” he explains. Kortleve does the hoof trimming himself and there is rarely a reason for culling cows because of hoof problems. Will his herd on the top list for lifetime yield next year? Kortleve smiles: “I will work on that, but you need to have luck as well. If one young cow breaks her leg, your herd average lifetime production will drop dramatically.” l Two young Kortleve cows in a typical Dutch landscape


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SHOWS AND EVENTS 2013 January 14: Potential and Pitfalls for Genomic Selection. DAIReXNET Webinars January 16-17: 2013 Pro-Dairy Operations Managers Conference, Henrietta, NY January 27-29: National Mastitis Council Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA February 12: Better Milk Quality from Better Mastitis Therapy Decisions. DAIReXNET Webinars February 12-14: World Ag Expo, Tulare, CA February 20-22: 2013 – VSFA Nutritional Management & Cow College, Roanoke, VA February 21-22: 28th Annual Southwest Nutrition and Management Conference, Tempe Mission Palms Hotel & Conference Center, Tempe, AZ February 27-28: 8th Annual I-29 Dairy Conference, Best Western Ramkota, Sioux Falls, SD March 6-8: Western Dairy Management Conference, John Ascuaga’s Nugget, Reno, NV March 11-13: 2013 Annual Meeting of the ASAS Midwestern Section and the ADSA Midwestern Branch, Hy-Vee Hall, Veterans Memorial area in Des Moines, IA March 12-14: 48th NDHIA Annual Meeting, TradeWinds Island Grand Resort, St. Pete Beach, FL March 12-13: Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin Annual Business Conference, Madison, WI March 18: Far Off to Fresh Cow – Opportunities to Improve Transition Performance. DAIReXNET Webinars April 4-5: Dairy Calf and Heifer Association Annual Conference, Lancaster, PA

Feeding time. Picture: Rick Mooney

C O N TA C T S Cow Management is published six times per year by CRV Publishing

Editorial team

Chief editor Jaap van der Knaap Contributing writers Peter Ballerstedt, Kayla Dolan, Richard Ernsberger, Amy Ryan, JoDee Sattler, Ben Smink, Ivonne Stienezen Editing, design and production CRV Publishing


Roughage and A2 milk

Chief editor’s address

P.O. Box 454, 6800 AL Arnhem The Netherlands Phone 0031 26 38 98 829 Fax 0031 26 38 98 839 E-mail

In our first issue of 2013 we focus on roughage. What did we learn from the dry period this year and is it possible to avoid low field productions? We will also have an article about A2 milk, a milk variation which is popular in Australia and United Kingdom.


Cow Management is available free of charge to customers of CRV, 2324 American Lane, Madison, WI 53704. If you want to ask for a subscription or to cancel a subscription send an e-mail to


Bock & Associates, Inc.: Tom Bock, Lindsay Boelter and Alison Johnson Phone 952-905-3210 E-mail


Photographs by CRV Publishing Photography Rick Mooney (6-8), Dyecrest Dairy (10-12) and Dairy Tech (27).


CowManagement does not necessarily share the views expressed by contributors. No responsibility is accepted for the claims made by advertisers. No responsibility can be accepted by CRV Holding BV for the opinions expressed by contributors. Whilst every effort is made to obtain reliable and accurate information, liability cannot be accepted for errors. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system without the express prior written consent of the publisher. Printer Schumann Printers Inc.



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CowManagement december 2012  

CowManagement december 2012

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