Dairy St r Central Plains Dairy Expo Preview
Special Edition 1st Section
March 13, 2010
Sipiorski, Dickrell team up to answer the big questions By Sadie Frericks Staff Writer
Sioux Falls, S.D. – For many dairy farmers, 2009 was like an amusement park ride that finds you asking, as you step off at the end, “Whoa! What just happened?” Now that the ride is over, many dairy producers are asking, “What do we do now?” A team of speakers at the Central Plains Dairy Expo will answer those questions. Gary Sipiorski, business development manager for Vita Plus Corporation and Hoard’s Dairyman columnist, and Jim Dickrell, editor and associate publisher of Dairy Today, are joining forces for two presen-
tations on March 31: “How the Economic Tsunami Got to My Milking Parlor” at 9:30 a.m. and “Moving On, Milking On in a New Economy” at 2:15 p.m. A f t e r hearing Sipiorski and Dickrell, dairy producers will have Gary Sipiorski better Vita Plus Corporation a understanding of what happened during the 2009 dairy price collapse and why. “A lot of people are blam-
A chance to reflect
ing a lot of factors for last year’s crash and slow recovery – the CME (Chicago Mercantile Exchange), milk protein concentrates, dairy leaders who were slow to react, sexed semen, etc. The list is endless. While all Jim Dickrell of these Editor, associate might have publisher of impacted Dairy Today things on the edges, it was the global recession and the precipitous drop in dairy exports that
caused this price crash,” Dickrell said. “Last year was a very financially rough year for all producers in the dairy industry. They were smacked with the lowest inflation-adjusted price on record. Producers need to understand what caused the U.S. and world recessions. They also need to understand how a one- to two-percent swing in consumption of a perishable product like milk can have huge ramifications,” Sipiorski said. During the presentations, Sipiorski will explain the world export and domestic consumer markets. Dickrell will help producers understand the micro-economics of what
is happening at the farm level. “The combination between us should give the audience a current and real perspective of what is happening in the industry and what they need to do to make intelligent decisions,” Sipiorski said. Dickrell will also discuss the dairy industry’s new policy options – everything from the National Milk Producers Federation’s multi-pronged proposal to the prospects of a national supply management program. He’ll also answer the question, “What should I, as a dairy farmer, be doing as these policy options are debated?” Turn to Big questions/ Page 3
10th Annual Central Plains Dairy Expo, March 31-April 1
Smith brings admiration, humor to expo By Sadie Frericks Staff Writer
Sioux Falls, S.D. – Although he didn't grow up on a farm, author and speaker V.J. Smith has always admired people with farm backgrounds. As a student at South Dakota State University, Smith had an opportunity to get to know students who grew up on farms. "They have a great work ethic, they respect the land and they can fix stuff. I'm serious about that last one," Smith said. Smith will bring his admiration – and his sense of humor – with him to the Central Plains Dairy Expo when he presents "Simple Choices, Big Rewards" (11 a.m.) and "The Richest Man in Town" (4 p.m.) on April 1. "In our personal lives and our business lives, we are faced with simple choices on V.J. Smith how we interact with the people around us," Motivational speaker Smith said. Using humor and reflection, "Simple Choices, Big Rewards" will focus on the five major choices we face each day. "The Richest Man in Town" is a story about much more than financial riches. Smith will show what happens when you take the time to be kind and compassionate and help audience memTurn to Smith/ Page 3
Dairy star File photo by Krista M. Sheehan
Shane Fey (middle) and his dad, Doug Fey (right), both of Woodstock, Minn., visited the Central Plains Dairy Expo last year. They walked through exhibitor booths and stopped to talk to Tom Barron (left) of Ruthton, Minn., about his handcrafted feeders.
Central Plains Dairy Expo
Dairy March 19-20, 2008Expo
S i o uMarch x F a31-April l l s , S1, D 2010 C oSioux n v eFalls, n t i oSD n •CConvention enter Center
Page 2 • Dairy Star Special Edition • Saturday, March 13, 2010
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Dairy Star Special Edition • Saturday, March 13, 2010 • Page 3
Continued from Big questions/ Page 1
“This recovery is going to be slow,” Dickrell said. “Until the world economy starts revving back up to pre-2009 levels, dairy markets are going to remain tepid and dicey. But, hopefully dairy producers will leave these presentations with a better understanding of the cause of the collapse and the prospects for recovery.” As a former ag lender and member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Ag and Industry Advisory Committee, Sipiorski will offer his perspective on what dairy farmers’ lenders are thinking about during a recovery year like 2010. “We’ll talk about how other dairy producers in other regions of the United States are dealing with the last 18 months and what could be over the horizon, how the industry and the markets will respond to seeing 49.7 heifers per 100 milk cows in inventory, and what producers should be thinking about regarding milk futures and managing their margins,” Sipiorski said. Following their presentations, Sipiorski and Dickrell will also host a discussion to gather feedback from producers. “Every time I give a presentation, I learn a lot from the discussion. In the end, everyone has a better understanding of what the issues are and what the prospects for change really are,” Dickrell said. Sipiorski grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, was a state FFA officer and graduated from the University of Wisconsin – River Falls with a degree in animal science. He worked in the
dairy nutrition business for 18 years before joining the Citizens State Bank of Loyola in 1991 as an agricultural loan officer. He served at president and CEO of the bank during his last four years. In 2008, Sipiorski joined Vita Plus Corporation as its business development manager. In this role, Sipiorski works closely with dairy producers on financial issues and speaks frequently about dairy finances and markets to agricultural audiences across the United States and internationally. He also writes a dairy finances column for Hoard’s Dairyman. Dickrell, too, grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin – River Falls. He operated his family’s dairy farm for three years after college. In 1989, Dickrell was named editor of Dairy Today. He travels extensively throughout the United States covering dairy industry news and has visited Europe, Canada and Mexico on numerous assignments. His daily connection to the dairy industry, reporting on news and markets and writing feature articles and columns, keeps him on top of industry happenings. Drawing from their upbringings on dairy farms and their combined 60plus years of experience working in the dairy industry, Sipiorski and Dickrell bring unparalleled knowledge and wisdom of dairy finances, policy and markets to the Central Plains Dairy Expo. If you’re still trying to figure out what ride you were on in 2009, you won’t want to miss their presentations!
Continued from Smith/ Page 1
bers see that "all that you give, you get back, and more." "Both presentations will give audience members a chance to reflect on relationships in their lives and to take a moment to think about what is truly important in life," Smith said. Before founding Life's Greatest Moments, his speaking business, Smith worked as a bill collector, salesman, and as a fundraiser. His experience also includes serving as Assistant Athletic Director of the SDSU athletic program and Executive Director of the SDSU Alumni Association. “Being a child of the early ‘70s, it took me a little while to figure out what I wanted to do with my life,” Smith said. Smith's ability to reach audiences started at an early age. "Growing up with three brothers and four sisters, you had to learn to talk loud and fast or you didn’t get much to eat," Smith said. Smith's audiences in the past ten years have included Cenex/Harvest States, National 4-H Leaders, National Women in Agriculture, Pfizer, Citibank, US Bank, Wells Fargo and hundreds of other groups. He travels throughout the United States and Canada with his messages. Spend two hours with Smith at Expo and you'll be sure to laugh, learn and leave with a renewed outlook on life.
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Page 4 • Dairy Star Special Edition • Saturday, March 13, 2010
The future of feeding dairy cattle
Welch talks forages at Central Plains Dairy Expo By Jennifer Burggraff Staff writer SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Forages are an instrumental part of all dairy cattle diets. Ongoing research will make feeding these ingredients more efficient for both the animal nutrition and the producer economics. On March 31 and April 1, Randy Welch, alfalfa and forage specialist with CROPLAN GENETICS, will present the latest in forage research during his presentations at the Central Plains Dairy Expo in Sioux Falls, S.D. His presentations, titled “Future Forages,” will take place at 1 p.m. both days of the Expo. While there are many different forages fed in dairy diets, the speaker’s focal point will be on alfalfa, and more specifically on one certain type of alfalfa – reduced/low lignin alfalfa, a product that is currently being evaluated in actual feeding trials. “When talking about ‘Future Forages’ and what producers feed their cows, the goal is to help producers think about how feed will change in the future years,” Welch said. One of the changes concerning alfalfa will be the development of a reduced/low lignin alfalfa product. Lignin is a complex compound found in the vascular systems of all plants. It is a non-digestible portion of the alfalfa plant, Welch said, comparable – as an example – to the stringy portion of celery. While, in theory, lignin helps support alfalfa as it grows, it is not required in animal diets. The bottom line, Welch said, is that lignin reduces
overall forage digestibility and provides no nutritional value. “What I want people to think about is we grow lignin, we feed lignin, cows eat lignin but lignin is not digested by the rumen microbes. Rumen microbes simply work around lignin, leaving the lignin behind. In addition, a portion of the digestible dry matter is lost with the lignin,” Welch said. “Essentially, the plant is manufacturing something the aniRandy Welch mal cannot digest Alfalfa and forage and ties up digestspecialist ible nutrients.” For the last several years, researchers have been working on developing genetically modified strains of alfalfa containing less lignin. The benefits of feeding these types of alfalfa to dairy cattle would be three-fold for producers, Welch said. Not only would they (1) increase feed efficiency by improving the digestibility of the fiber fed to the animals and (2) decrease the amount of end waste product so manure production per pound of milk produced would be reduced, they would (3) reduce harvest frequency of alfalfa as well. It is generally recommended producers cut alfalfa every 28 days to keep lignin production within the plant to a minimum. By planting reduced/low lignin alfalfa, producers could add on a few days between cuttings with no loss
in feed quality. “This is an exciting concept,” Welch said. “In many regions of the country this would potentially shift our four-cut system back to a three-cut system.” “A lot of dairy farm activity is cutting hay and manure disposal, which can be huge expenses to dairy producers,” Welch said. “Reducing cutting frequency may be a cost reduction strategy. Also, a large percentage of manure is lignin, so if we can reduce the amount of lignin [being fed], we can reduce the amount of manure being produced.”
lic and private agencies that have made this research possible, such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Noble Foundation (an independent, nonprofit institute) and Forage Genetics International (FGI), a subsidiary of Land O Lakes Inc. “The bottom line is, lignin modification and other plant traits will be important to meeting future feed efficiency requirements in high producing dairy cattle,” Welch said. “I believe the future of dairy nutrition will be greatly influenced with understanding plant growth
“The bottom line is, lignin modification and other plant traits will be important to meeting future feed efficiency requirements in high producing dairy cattle.” - Randy Welch, alfalfa and forage specialist with CROPLAN GENETICS What plant developers are doing, Welch said, is changing or modifying the way plants produce lignin, resulting in low lignin strains of alfalfa. The hope is that these products will be ready to market in 2015-2016. “Reduced/low lignin alfalfa is an additional tool that potentially will be available to dairy and hay producers,” Welch said. “It will eventually potentially reduce the cost of feeding animals and will help producers plan for future feeding programs.” Welch’s session is geared towards all dairy and hay producers. While the bulk of it will focus on low lignin alfalfa, Welch will recognize some pub-
and development.” In addition to the reduced/low lignin alfalfa topic, Welch will discuss additional alfalfa products under development: bypass protein (tannin) alfalfa, delayed flowering alfalfa and drought gene development.
Randy Welch Randy Welch has been working with CROPLAN GENETICS for the last 10 years as an alfalfa and forage product specialist and alfalfa agronomist. Prior to joining Croplan Genetics, Welch spent 10 years at a crop scouting and consulting service and 10 years in the seed industry.
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Dairy Star Special Edition • Saturday, March 13, 2010 • Page 5
Page 6 • Dairy Star Special Edition • Saturday, March 13, 2010
How many years have you attended the Central Plains Dairy Expo? Four years.
What do you enjoy most about attending the Central Plains Dairy Expo? Socializing with our colleagues.
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What seminars or booths are you especially interested in seeing this year? Gary Sipiorski and Jim Dickrell and V.J. Smith.
What have you learned from a previous CPDE that you've taken back and incorporated into your farm? We’ve learned a lot. For example, we purchased an ultrasound-scan-device for our herdsmen.
Tell us about your farm. Hilltop Dairy was started in 1997. We moved to South Dakota from The Netherlands and purchased the farm in 2006, with 1,400 milking cows. Currently we’re milking around 2,100 registered Holsteins and raise 1,600 heifers. We grow about 1,400 acres of BMR-corn and 1,200 acres of alfalfa. Herd health is our main focus at CPDE.
Dairy Star asks: What have you learned from previous Central Plains Dairy Expos?
“...about vendors and what they have to offer.” Jeremy VanEss
Sanborn, Iowa, 3,400 cows How many years have you attended the Central Plains Dairy Expo? I have gone every year since I have lived here, which is the last two years. What do you enjoy most about attending the Central Plains Dairy Expo? I enjoy seeing and visiting with all the different vendors and looking at the machinery. How do you spend your time while at the CPDE? I have spent all my time looking and talking with people at the booths and looking at the machinery. What seminars or booths are you especially interested in seeing this year? I am mostly looking forward to checking out the booths and trying to find something new or improved that we could use or get ideas for our dairy. I am also planning on going to some of the seminars this year. What have you learned from a previous CPDE that you've taken back and incorporated into your farm? Being new to the area, I have used the CPDE to meet vendors and learn about them and what they have to offer. Tell us about your farm. Our family relocated our dairy from Idaho to Iowa in 2007. My mom, Lisa, dad, Harvey and my four brothers, Josh, Chad, Tyler and Todd are all involved in the dairy. We milk 3,400 total cows in a double-50 parallel. The cows are housed in a cross ventilated freestall barn. We own 360 acres, of which 260 is corn silage. The rest of our feed needs are purchased.
Dairy Star Special Edition • Saturday, March 13, 2010 • Page 7
Dairy Star asks: How do you spend your time at the Central Plains Dairy Expo?
“Attending the breakout sessions and visiting vendors.” Gary and Barb Schlauderaff Detroit Lakes, Minn., 550 cows
How many years have you attended the Central Plains Dairy Expo? Three years. Last year we didn't make it because of snow. What do you enjoy most about attending the Central Plains Dairy Expo? We enjoy mingling with other dairy producers. How do you spend your time while at the CPDE? Our time is spent attending the breakout sessions and visiting the vendors. What seminars or booths are you especially interested in seeing this year? We haven't studied the flyer yet for this year's Expo, but usually all the sessions are good. What have you learned from a previous CPDE that you've taken back and incorporated into your farm? We have enjoyed the motivational speakers and the positive outlooks they present, and we share this with our family. Tell us about your farm. We farm with our four grown sons: Chad, Casey, Kelly and Kory. Our farm is located on two sites, one in Detroit Lakes, Minn., where we have all our heifers, and the second is in Vergas, Minn., where the 550 Holsteins are housed and milked three times daily. We also grow 1,700 acres of corn, corn silage and hay for feed.
Page 8 • Dairy Star Special Edition • Saturday, March 13, 2010
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Dairy Star Special Edition • Saturday, March 13, 2010 • Page 9
Dairy Star asks: What have you learned from a previous Central Plains Dairy Expo?
“We learned a lot from the hoof health seminar last year.” Remiger Dairy, Steve and Jane, Pat, Becky, Cole and Tate Remiger From left: Becky, Pat with Tate (19 months old), Steve and Cole (3) on plow, and Jane Wood Lake, Minn., 150 cows How many years have you attended the Central Plains Dairy Expo? Six years. What do you enjoy most about attending the Central Plains Dairy Expo? Mainly the booths to learn what is new and up and coming, and networking with other farmers. How do you spend your time while at the CPDE? Away from the kids and attending seminars. What seminars or booths are you especially interested in seeing this year? We started an LLC to slowly hand over the operation, so the estate planning seminar will be good to learn a few more tricks, also the calf raising and reproduction seminars always help improve an operation. What have you learned from a previous CPDE that you've taken back and incorporated into your farm? We learned a lot from the hoof health seminar last year and have incorporated many aspects of what we learned there; also there are many new gadgets and feed additives we got samples of that have made a difference in saving time or improving animal health. Tell us about your farm. We milk 150 head of Holsteins in a swing-six parlor retrofitted into our old tiestall barn. We have four sand-bedded freestall barns for the milking cows, and loose housing for the dry cows and heifers. We raise our own calves and heifers and sell the steers at 500 pounds to a few neighbors. It is a family-run farm with one full-time employee, and everyone has their certain areas of expertise.
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Page 10 • Dairy Star Special Edition • Saturday, March 13, 2010
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Dairy Star Special Edition • Saturday, March 13, 2010 • Page 11
Page 12 • Dairy Star Special Edition • Saturday, March 13, 2010
Omega fatty acids: A bovine perspective
Murphy reveals benefits of fatty acids as a supplement By Jennifer Burggraff Staff writer SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – For years, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to benefit human health by reducing the risk of various chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis. They have also been shown to be vital in the normal function and growth of the human brain. But what about in other species? What about for dairy cows? Do omega fatty acids benefit animals as they do humans? According to University research supported by Virtus Nutrition, a technology leader and marketer of Strategic Fatty Acid products, omega-3 fatty acids do benefit cows in both production and reproduction. On March 31 and April 1 at the Central Plains Dairy Expo in Sioux Falls, S.D., Kevin Murphy of Virtus Nutrition will discuss the findings on adding omega-3 fatty acid as a supplement in the bovine diet. “How to Use Omega Fatty Acids to Make More Money” will be presented at 1 p.m. both days. Kevin Murphy “The whole concept [of omega fatty acids] is extremeVirtus Nutrition ly confusing,” Murphy said. “But what I am trying to do is get producers back on the topic of omega fatty acids.” The two omega fatty acids Murphy will refer to during his sessions are omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. On a basic level, one – omega-6 fatty acids – promotes inflammation, among other things, while the other – omega-3 fatty acid – helps reduce inflammation. “On the human side, omega-3 fatty acids are very prominent,” Murphy said. “Everything has omega-3 fatty acids in it. Nobody knows what it does, but everything has it in it.” On the bovine side, Murphy said omega-3 fatty acids can take cows to a level of nutrition that they never knew before. “When you put a diet into balance, it improves the productivity in cattle,” he said. Throughout his sessions, Murphy will discuss how adding omega-3 fatty acids will affect a cow’s health and production, and how it will balance the omega status – the equilibrium between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids – in the animal.
“Balancing for omega fatty acids can improve production and increase pregnancy in your herd,” Murphy said his main message to producers will be. One way omega-3 fatty acids increase pregnancy rate in dairy cows is by reducing the number of early embryonic losses, he said. “Producers used to think their cows were just not pregnant. Now [with the use of ultrasound technology] we can see the dead embryos,” Murphy said. “This becomes a big issue for producers.” Much of the decline in conception and pregnancy rates within dairy cattle has come from years of breeding for higher production traits. “Nobody has ever selected for pregnancy hormones, just production. Everything we do is anti-selecting for pregnancy at the hormonal level for the cow,” Murphy said. “The bottom line is the cows are not getting pregnant.” Balancing a cow’s diet with omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to improve pregnancy rate by increasing the initial conception rate through better fertility and by preparing the uterus to accept the embryo. Initially, Murphy said the impact of adding an omega-3 fatty acids supplement to a dairy herd’s diet may be hard to see, especially in small herds. “In a 100-cow herd, you can’t see the [shift] so you have to rely on good research. In larger dairies, however, you will notice a shift in the records,” Murphy said. “[Adding omega-3 fatty acids] changes cow flow [by improving pregnancy rate]. It really works.” Murphy said producers who attend his session will get a better understanding about a part of the bovine diet many have not heard of before. “People look at fat but not fatty acids,” he said. “They need to realize that under fat is a fatty acid.”
Kevin Murphy Kevin Murphy obtained his BS, MS and PhD in dairy nutrition from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. While he currently lives in Pennsylvania, Murphy travels from coast to coast as a global technical director for Virtus Nutrition, based out of Corcoran, Calif. For nearly nine years, Murphy and his team have been researching omega fatty acids, from both a nutritional standpoint for dairy cattle and from a manufacturing standpoint. Currently, they are working on a process to make calcium salts out of omega-3 fatty acids, which could be fed to dairy cattle as a dry supplement under the name Strata G.
Dairy Star Special Edition • Saturday, March 13, 2010 • Page 13
Dairy Star asks: What booths are you interested in seeing at the Central Plains Dairy Expo?
“We will be talking with vendors about variable speed vacuum pumps.”
Corey and Laura Rasmussen, shown with children, Cassie and Ryle Harlan, Iowa, 300 cows
How many years have you attended the Central Plains Dairy Expo? We have attended the expo off and on for seven years.
What do you enjoy most about attending the Central Plains Dairy Expo? We enjoy looking at the new products the vendors have on display. We also enjoy getting to talk to other people who we don't see very often.
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How do you spend your time while at the CPDE? We spend our time with the vendors instead of the breakout sessions. We have to go there and back the same day, so we try to make the most of our time at the expo. What seminars or booths are you especially interested in seeing this year? One thing we will be talking with vendors about is variable speed vacuum pumps. We are looking at putting a new pump in and using our current one for a back up. What have you learned from a previous CPDE that you've taken back and incorporated into your farm? Udder Comfort. We found this product a few years ago and we really like it. Tell us about your farm. We started with nine cows seven years ago on a rented facility. We quickly added 40 cows milking in a single-three parlor. We had the chance to buy the farm in 2004, so we did and started plans to expand. We first built a double-18 parallel parlor. It took us almost a year to build it as we did almost all of the work ourselves. We milked 40 cows on one side of the parlor for a year. The next year we added a freestall barn, holding area and installed the equipment on the other half of the parlor. We increased our herd at that time to the current size.
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301 W. 1st Ave. Flandreau, SD 57028
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Page 14 • Dairy Star Special Edition • Saturday, March 13, 2010
Would you like to showcase your dairy to your neighbors and community? “We were really surprised when over 600 people attended. Our neighbors and community were able to see how well the cows are cared for. Ag United did a great job making it a successful event.” - Olga and Wilfried Reuvekamp Hilltop Dairy, Elkton, SD
Elrod pieces together the complexities of reproduction By Andrea Borgerding Staff Writer
To learn more about how you could host an event at your farm, visit the Ag United booth while at the Central Plains Dairy Expo located near registration. Ph: 605-336-3622 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
“It’s not a wonder that reproduction sometimes fails but rather a miracle that so many pregnancies result in the birth of a live calf.” To this day, Dr. Charlie Elrod is driven by this quote that appeared in a college textbook many years ago. Reproduction is a complex process that requires many things to be coordinated to result in the birth of a calf. This complexity has many farm managers searching for the key component to fix all of the problems that come with dairy reproduction. Instead of focusing on which specific programs are best for successful reproduction, Elrod emphasizes the overall management of the dairy cow. “As humans, we grasp at that silver bullet that will fix everything,” Elrod said. “But when we are talking about reproduction, we need to think about all the potential pitfalls of the system, both the biology and the management, and prevent those things from going wrong.” Elrod will discuss all of the factors affecting reproduction during his presentation at the Central Plains Dairy Expo, “Piecing Together Reproduction,” at 11 a.m. on March 31.
Elrod has been working within the dairy industry for 30 years as a dairy operator, herdsman, nutritionist, extension educator, consultant and a faculty member and researcher at Cornell University. He has degrees in dairy science from Berry College in Rome, Ga. and Cornell University. Elrod has been working for Vi-Cor for the past two months as a technology deployment manager. Working with Dr. Charlie Elrod reproduction for Vi-Cor many years, Elrod wants farm managers to focus on the dry cow – nutritionally, metabolically, immunologically and environmentally. “Is the dry cow well fed, vaccinated and provided access to a clean calving environment?” Elrod said. Since there are so many factors to consider for reproduction to be successful, Elrod suggests that producers consider the overall management system that fosters healthy reproduction. The factors that can be controlled – the calvTurn to Reproduction / Page 15
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Dairy Star Special Edition • Saturday, March 13, 2010 • Page 15
Continued from Reproduction / Page 14
ing facility, dry and fresh cow nutrition, the heat detection system, a low stress environment and vaccinations – will all contribute to a successful reproduction program. “I won’t be addressing specific programs,” Elrod said. “But I will be talking about the overall management and how reproduction components such as heat detection, breeding and nutrition best fit into the farm manager’s system.” A successful system can be achieved with the right management.“If you think of the reproductive program as a symphony, the dairy farm manager has to be a great conductor to achieve that goal of successful reproduction,” Elrod said.
So many records, so little time Dairy producers are deluged with data. Daily, weekly, monthly and annual reports flood desks and offices but often times the data included in the reports is not used to the benefit of the dairy operation. Elrod plans to inform producers on how they can best utilize data and focus on the information that will prevent problems later on. “Not a lot of information comes to producers in a usable form, or there’s just too much of it” Elrod said. “I want to help producers understand how to look at reports and records and find the key components. What can we look at to make improvements or prevent train wrecks?” Elrod will present, “Using Records to Best Advantage on the Dairy,” at 2:30 p.m. on April 1. The presentation will help producers focus on key indicators within production, herd health, udder health and reproduction, to develop benchmarks for controlling the dairy operation.
“By using their records, producers can select a manageable range of indicators that when they glance at them, they know if the range is acceptable,” Elrod said. “Taking just four to five measures a week will allow a producer to determine if he is operating within an acceptable range to achieve their goals.” A plan should be developed to address a problem if records show operations are below or above the acceptable range of numbers. “Focusing on that set of numbers and knowing you are within the norms you’ve selected allows you to focus on other parts of a dairy operation,” Elrod said. Elrod calls his records monitoring a dashboard perspective. For example, if weekly heat detection reports are within a set range – 60 to 80 percent – a quick glance will show whether a farm manager can move on or address a situation immediately. “The goal here is to distill all of this incoming data down to a manageable level that the manager can use to keep the dairy on track”.
“Focusing on that set of numbers and knowing you are within the norms you’ve selected allows you to focus on other parts of a dairy operation.”
- Dr. Charlie Elrod, Vi-Cor
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Page 16 • Dairy Star Special Edition • Saturday, March 13, 2010
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