PDPW Dairy's Bottom Line -- January 2019

Page 1

Volume 21: Issue 1 January 2019

BOTTOM LINE Sharing ideas, solutions, resources and experiences that help dairy producers succeed.


Page 4 Don’t cut corners when establishing alfalfa

Page 6 Use tools to monitor calf microclimate

Page 10 Be aware of corn silage issues

Page 12 Increase herd resiliency against clostridia

Choose thankfulness Hank Wagner

The year 2018 is in the history books — even if we still have financial records and year-end business numbers to sort through. While it’s certainly important to understand how our businesses performed, there are other parts of life and business that are equally — if not more — significant. As we look Hank Wagner back at this past year, all family and team members should think about and answer reflective questions. • What lessons did we learn in 2018? • What went right? • What victories did we have? • What did 2018 bring to us that we’re thankful for? As we begin a new year, it’s important to determine our hopes and expectations as well as to consider how we can use what we learned in 2018 to bring improvement in the new year. Consider what priorities, expectations and goals we should set for ourselves as individuals and also for our families, marriages, business and teams. And once

again, remember what you’re thankful for. It’s important as we assess a year gone by and cast a vision for the year ahead to fo c u s o n t h a n k f u l n e ss because the things we are intentionally thankful for grow and multiply; things we’re not thankful for decrease or exit our lives. That powerful truth is at work in our lives every day, even if we don’t realize it or make a conscious choice to apply it. Those of us who are dairy producers are thankful for our animals. We understand they are our livelihood; we care for

them to the best of our abilities. We hire nutritionists, veterinarians, reproductive specialists and other consultants so we can give excellent care to our animals. Many of us consider our cattle extensions of family. Our crops also receive fo c u se d a t te n t i o n . We assemble experts, develop plans, purchase quality seed, apply necessary nutrients, prepare suitable seedbeds and g ive d e l i b e ra te c a re throughout the growing season. That approach is also See WAGNER, page 2

Professional Dairy Producers™ I 1-800-947-7379 I www.pdpw.org


January 2019 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

PDPW Board of Directors President Jay Heeg Colby, Wis. 715-507-0030 jcheeg@yahoo.com Vice President Katy Schultz Fox Lake, Wis. 920-210-9661 katylschultz@gmail.com Secretary Dan Scheider Freeport, Ill. 815-821-4012 dnscheider@gmail.com Treasurer Brian Forrest Stratford, Wis. 715-650-0267 bforrest70@gmail.com Directors Andy Buttles Lancaster, Wis. 608-723-4712 stonefront@tds.net Marty Hallock Mondovi, Wis. 715-495-2812 marbec@nelson-tel.net Steven Orth Cleveland, Wis. 920-905-2575 orthlanddairy@gmail.com Mitch Breunig Sauk City, Wis. 608-643-6818 mysticvalley336@gmail.com Janet Clark Rosendale, Wis. 608-341-6709 vafarmsllc@hotmail.com

PDPW Advisers Mark Binversie Investors Community Bank Manitowoc, Wis. mbinversie@investors communitybank.com Eric Cooley UW-Discovery Farms Sturgeon Bay, Wis. etcooley@wisc.edu Dr. Randy Shaver UW-Madison Dairy Science Madison, Wis. rdshaver@wisc.edu Chad Staudinger Dairyland Seed St. Nazianz, Wis. cstaudinger@dairylandseed.com

Six factors drive financial success STEVE BODART Compeer Financial

Results of a large ongoing study of Midwest dairy operations show six factors separate top-financial performance herds from their peers. C o m p e e r F i n a n c i a l ’s dairy-consulting team joined forces with Zoetis to statistically analyze financial and production data from dairies across the Midwest. The study analyzed variables on 489 farms using year-long records from herds in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota during an 11-year period, beginning in 2006. Operation size varied from 500 cows to 4,700 cows with an average of 1,087 lactating cows. On average each

Wagner Continued from page 1

true with our equipment. When we follow a preventative maintenance plan and care for our equipment, we’re rewarded with fewer breakdowns, longerlasting equipment and a greater value when it’s time to sell or trade. The things we’re thankful for inherently attract more attention and care. That’s great news because giving more attention to things we’re thankful for becomes part of our subconscious behaviors. The part that’s not so easy is that we must consciously choose what we’re thankful for. While that may not feel natural, it’s important we’re always

Most profitable

Least profitable

Somatic cell count



Energy-corrected milk

88 pounds per cow per day

77.5 pounds per cow per day

Net herd-turnover cost

$1.99 per hundredweight

$0.91 per hundredweight

Death loss

4.3 percent

10 percent

Pregancy rate

27.4 percent

18.1 percent

Heifer-survival rate

95 percent

91 percent

fa r m h a d f ive yea r- e n d records. The six factors account for 85 percent of the variation in profitability when “calendar year” is removed from the variables. •S o m a t i c ce l l co u n t

— The difference between the most profitable third and the least profitable third was a somatic cell count of 152,000, with a 132,000 average versus a 284,000 average. The big differences were that energy-corrected milk averaged 88

thinking about and verbalizing what we’re thankful for. It’s a habit we should practice not just at the end of a year or the beginning of a new year, but throughout the whole year. Just like taking care of cows, crops and equipment, choosing thankfulness should be an important part of every day. Thankfulness has nothing to do with current trends or circumstances; it’s an important choice that sets essential things into motion. Choosing thankfulness changes our attitudes. As a result our actions and behaviors automatically begin protecting and multiplying the things we’re thankful for. In an industry where so many things are outside of our control, the important things continue to be yours for the

choosing. This year, choose thankfulness – every day. Make it a priority to evaluate your “thankful list.” Be sure the right people are on it, including yourself. Proclaim things you are thankful for regularly with the significant people in your life; make it a habit. When you do, you can expect growth and success in 2019 — and not just with cows, crops and equipment. Hank Wagner is a dairy producer and a John Maxwell Team teacher, mentor, speaker and coach. To learn more about nurturing thankfulness, consider reading Hank’s book “Teachable Moments: Lessons from Africa.” It’s available online at amazon.com and at most book stores. Contact hwagner@frontiernet.net for more information.

January 2019 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line pounds per cow per day in the most profitable group compared to 77.5 pounds per cow per day in the least profitable group — a difference of 10.5 pounds per cow per day. • Energy-corrected milk — The difference between the most profitable third and the least profitable third was $192 per lactating cow annually. A Holstein herd needs to be p ro d u c i n g m o re t h a n 6 pounds of combined butterfat and protein per cow per day; a Jersey herd should produce more than 5.25 pounds combined pounds. High energy-corrected-milk herds had an improved 21-day pregnancy rate, lower feed cost per hundredweight of milk, fewer days open, lower death loss and reduced somatic cell counts. • Net herd-turnover cost — In the category of net herd-turnover cost, the difference between the most and least profitable operations

was $1.08 per hundredweight energy-corrected milk — $0.91 compared to $1.99. Herds with lower net herd-turnover cost had lower cull and death rates, which allowed them to have a greater proportion of the herd in third lactation and beyond. That’s i m p o r ta n t b e ca u se se c ond-lactation animals produce 15 percent more milk than first-lactation heifers. Third-lactation cows produce 10 percent more milk than second-lactation cows. Herds with low net herd-turnover cost also tend to have lower somatic cell counts. The diffe re n c e i n p ro f i ta b i l i t y between those two groups was $376 per lactating cow annually. • Death loss — The difference between the most profitable and least profitable herds for death loss was 5.7 percent or 4.3 percent death loss as compared to 10 percent death loss. A large majority of death

loss occurs in early lactation. During the transition period — from dry off until 60 days in milk — there’s a significant amount of cash outlay with minimal revenue. So reducing early-lactation death loss is crucial to improving profitability. The difference in profitability between the topthird and bottom-third was $138 per lactating cow annually. • Pregnancy rate — The most profitable herds have pregnancy rates averaging 27.4 percent, whereas the least profitable herds have pregnancy rates of 18.1 percent. The higher profit dairies spend more on semen as a result of seeing higher conception rates and the advantages continue perpetuating into future generations of the herd. • Heifer-survival rate — While all the herds within the analysis were doing a good job with heifer-survival rates, the

analysis showed the highp ro f i t h e rd s we re d o i n g slightly better with heifer-survival rates at 95 percent. The low profitability herds averaged a heifer-survival rate of 91 percent. • Whether a producer is looking to improve one or all six of the factors to maximize profitability, the basics of excellent animal husbandry need to be in place. When health and production metr i c s a re w i t h i n o p t i m a l parameters, producers are in position to maximize energy-corrected milk along with pregnancy and heifer-survival rates while minimizing n e t h e rd t u r n ove r cos t , somatic cell counts and death loss. Steve Bodart is a senior dairy consultant at Compeer Financial, which is a vision sponsor of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin.

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January 2019 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Don’t cut corners when establishing alfalfa DON MILLER Alforex Seeds‌

Establishing a new alfalfa stand sets the stage for years to come. The economic ramifications are directly correlated with several factors apart from the up-front purchase price of seed.

In today’s economy, farmers are continually analyzing their operations to see where they can reduce costs. When it comes to identifying cost savings in regards to planting alfalfa, producers should be aware of two key factors. First, a cost-saving decision that negatively impacts stand establishment may cost the producer significantly more over time than the expected savings. Because an alfalfa stand lasts longer than annual crops such as corn or soybeans, impeding establishment of an alfalfa stand can limit a field’s potential for the next three to five years. Second, performance of an alfalfa stand is highly influenced by the variety planted and involves more decisions than a mere seed-cost-per-bag choice. Consider some agronomic and management practices for the upper Midwest that have proven to be effective in establishing a productive and profitable alfalfa stand. • Field selection — Alfalfa can be grown in a wide range of soil types, though fields with good surface and internal drainage are generally the most productive. Understand what planting restrictions may exist based on prior crop-herbicide applications. • Soil test — A soil test should be conducted at least six months prior to planting to address any fertility or soil-related challenges. The most productive fields are those with

January 2019 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line good fertility and a pH in the range of 6.5 to 7.5. Amend soil with a pH less than 6 or more than 8.4 before planting alfalfa. Dollars spent correcting pH before establishing alfalfa can be the highest cropping return on investment. • Fertility — For many upper-Midwest alfalfa growers, alfalfa follows corn, where liquid manure is a primary nitrogen source, and delivers residual levels of potassium for the coming alfalfa crop. Liquid manure is a valuable source of nutrients but be sure to stay within the farm-nutrient plan. • Weed control — The best weed-control measure for a new alfalfa planting is ensuring the stand begins as a thick dense stand. Several good preand post-planting herbicides, including glyphosate, are available for alfalfa and can be beneficial in eliminating weed competition during stand establishment. • Seedbed preparation — The importance of preparing a good seedbed before planting alfalfa cannot be over-emphasized. A seedbed needs to be firm, not cloddy or powdery. A firm seedbed enhances the ability to place the seed at the proper seed depth and provides good seed-to-soil contact for optimal germination. A

More often than not, when establishing an alfalfa stand, taking the time to do it right is the number one key to success. proper seed bed not only impacts germination, but also the speed of haymaking operations after establishment. A rough field can impact ash content. • Va r i e ty se l e c t i o n — Avoid selecting an inferior alfalfa variety or blend based solely on price per bag. While a $50 per acre difference in up-front seed cost is tempting, that difference is usually recouped quickly via additional yield or forage quality from the top varieties. New high-yielding varieties are available with significant improvements in fiber digestibility, harvest flexibility and animal performance. Consult with a seed dealer for advice and recommendations. • N urse crops — Direct seeding of alfalfa generally results in the most productive stands. A nurse crop is essentially a weed competing with the new alfalfa seedling for water, nutrients and light. If the field slope or crop plan calls for a nurse crop, use a low planting rate for the nurse crop; harvest the small grain

crop at the early boot stage. If a nurse crop for establishment isn’t needed, don’t use one. • Seed treatments — Most alfalfa seed is sold pre-inoculated and carries fungicide treatments such as Apron XL and Stamina to enhance seedling survival during establishment. Seed coated with those additives is becoming more popular and is generally less expensive per pound than raw seed. Despite having less seeds per bag due to the 34 percent coating, the enhanced seedling survival of coated seed when planted pound-to-pound provides equal or superior stands at season end. • T iming of planting — Though alfalfa can be planted in spring or fall, ground moisture and the ability to work the ground in a timely manner before planting needs to be considered. • P lanting rate — Plant enough seed to ensure a topnotch initial stand. Recommended rates are 15 to 20 pounds per acre. Thin stands are difficult to thicken up later in the season.

• S eed depth — Optimal planting depth for alfalfa is a quarter-inch to a half-inch. Most failures are the result of the seed not planted in a firm seedbed and planting the seed too deep for proper emergence. Monitor the seed depth during planting. • Planting equipment — A wide range of planters can be used to plant alfalfa successfully, including grain drills, precision drills, Brillion packer types, airflow spreaders and no-till drills. If planting in rows, use the planter press wheels to ensure good soil-toseed contact. Keep the spacing relatively narrow to discourage competition from weeds. Broadcast plantings may need to be rolled or packed before and after planting to provide better soil-to-seed contact. The key to a successful stand, regardless of the planting method, is seed placement in a firm seedbed with good soilto-seed contact. More often than not, when establishing an alfalfa stand, taking the time to do it right is the number one key to success. Don Miller, PhD, is director of product development with Alforex Seeds, which is a corporate sponsor of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin.

ACE meeting to bring leaders together Those who share a desire to build stronger Wisconsin communities, from local government and community leaders to conservation officials, educators, and dairy and livestock producers, should make plans to attend the upcoming Agricultural Community Engagement® Regional Meeting. The meeting will be held Jan. 29 at the Sheraton Hotel in Madison, Wisconsin. This yea r ’s m e e t i n g t h e m e i s

“Forward ... change, challenge and opportunity.” The program will feature some of Gov.-elect Tony Evers’ newly appointed cabinet members as well as university partners, conservation officials and dairy farmers. They’ll present updates and solutions in regards to transportation, protecting our state’s natural resources and managing agricultural practices. A collaboration between the

Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Counties Association and the Wisconsin Towns Association, the ACE Regional Meeting will present solutions that strengthen communities while building partnerships between local agricultural leaders, elected officials and rural community leaders and Wisconsin citizens. Visit www.pdpw.org or call 800-947-7379 for more information.



January 2019 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Use tools to monitor calf microclimate PETER ZIEGER Diamond V‌

Lung problems are one of the most critical health issues for dairy calves, affecting almost a third of young calves. Of those calves, 15 percent to 20 percent show lung lesions, or consolidation, when scored by ultrasound. As those calves mature and enter the milking

herd, their first-lactation milk production is typically more than 1,100 pounds less than herd mates that grew up healthy. Monitoring calf microclimate is an approach that can improve all the facets of raising calves. It allows for factbased assessments of current barn conditions. Measure several factors when assessing.

• bedding quality and space • wind speed and air change • temperature and humidity • bacterial air count The University of Wisconsin developed a grading scale for nesting to describe quality of bedding for calves. The scale ranges from 1 to 3, where 1 indicates poor and 3 indicates excellent. When good quality straw or hay is used as

bedding material, calves are able to sink or nestle into the bedding rather than merely lying on top of it. Such bedding has a nesting score of 3. Good bedding quality is crucial to creating a healthy microclimate for the calf. Not only does it lead to maintaining a constant body temperature, but also it helps air to flow more easily above the

Scoring bedding quality is a management tool that can help producers evaluate calf-raising protocols. The University of Wisconsin developed a scoring scale for nesting to describe quality of bedding for calves. The scale ranges from 1 to 3, where 1 indicates poor and 3 indicates excellent.

January 2019 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line calf, diluting dust and total bacterial air count. Another important factor in calf environment is lying space in the stall. Recommendations call for at least 27 square feet per calf; the smaller the space, the greater the bacterial air count. Wind effects vary by housing system. Many tools are available to precisely measure wind speed and air movement, including anemometers and fog-producing devices. Air movement less than 8 inches per second is regarded as “still air.” Air speeds of more than 20 inches per second is fast enough to cause drafts and chill calves. Calves exposed to a wind chill are less likely to reach their genetic potentials and are more vulnerable to health challenges. An anemometer can be used to accurately measure wind speed. In practice, still air is more

common than a natural constant flow of air. In severe cases air velocity can be too high. Fog-producing devices quantify how long it takes for an induced fog to fade out of the barn. In the winter fog should dissipate within 15 minutes. In hotter months a calf barn should completely dissipate the fog in less than one minute. To monitor temperature and humidity, climate data loggers are useful for assessing conditions inside a calf barn. For optimum performance install and begin operating the logger at least two weeks in advance of data collection and analysis. Position the device in the middle of the barn to measure interior climate and communicate the data via a smartphone application. Temperature and humidity fluctuations cause more lung

problems than consistent weather conditions. When the dew point is low — indicating higher air-to-water condensation — calves are at a greater risk of acquiring lung challenges. The cleaner the calf microclimate, the less lung problems. In a University of Wisconsin study calf pens in naturally ventilated calf barns had bacterial air counts ranging from 25,000 to more than 300,000 colony forming units per cubic meter of air or about 700 to 8,500 colony forming units per cubic foot. The researchers described a nearly linear relationship between increasing bacteria concentration and proportion of calves with respiratory disease. The research further suggested there was a lower probability of lung problems in microclimates with total

Blend Uniform Rations

bacterial air counts of less than 15,000 colony forming units per cubic meter of air or about 425 colony forming units per cubic foot. A close look at calf microclimate includes air samples, regardless of housing type, using a device specifically calibrated to sample low air volumes. That approach provides a precise count of total bacteria, which can then be cultured to yield an accurate bacterial air count estimate. Monitoring a calf’s microclimate complements sound calf care and overall herd-health protocols. It offers another set of tools to use in a comprehensive calf-raising system. Peter Zieger, DVM, is a dairy adviser for Diamond V in Germany, which is a corporate sponsor of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin.

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January 2019 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Financial literacy of utmost importance Professional Dairy Producers Foundation

Today’s dairy farmers aren’t generally in business only because it’s what their parents and grandparents did. Mostly they genuinely love working with cows. While it’s not difficult to find producers who are highly educated on a number of topics — from agronomy, animal reproduction and nutrition, to technology, m i l k m a rketing and h u m a n resources — many farmers would admit their understanding of dairy-business financials could stand some bolstering. Thanks to the vision of several dairy producers and agri-finance consultants with a desire to strengthen the dairy economy, Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin worked in close partnership with leading experts to create a world-class financial curriculum specifically targeted to dairy producers. The experts included David Kohl, renowned agricultural economist and professor emeritus in the agricultural and applied economics department at Virginia Tech. Launched in the fall of 2017 and taught by tenured experts in dairy finance, Financial Literacy for Dairy ® is a multilevel multi-session curriculum that builds on financial basics and equips attendees with practical skills. As part of their coursework, participants are

given assignments to complete using their own dairy’s financial reports. Instructor Steve Schwoerer, senior dairy lending specialist with Compeer Financial, explains one of the hallmarks that differentiate the program from others. “This curriculum is different than other courses because students need to complete an assessment test ahead of time,” Schwoerer said. “This places them in the correct level so they get a thorough understanding of the material

before they advance to the next level.” Gary Sipiorski, instructor and dairy development manager for Vita Plus said, “This allows the curriculum to be covered thoroughly so all in attendance can ask questions and receive a complete understanding of the topics being covered.” While Financial Literacy for Dairy was being developed, Kohl wrote the curriculum so students could learn at successive levels to first establish core principals and later build

on those levels with more-advanced concepts. “After finishing level one, students need to pass an exit test to determine if they have grasped the financial concepts before going to the next level,” Schwoerer said. Collectively Schwoerer and Sipiorski have more than 50 years of dairy-financial experience working directly with dairy farmers. A third trainer, David Olsen, formerly president of AgriFamily Consulting and now with Compeer Financial, rounds out the team of

experts who facilitate the classes. Cory Brown, participant and a Belleville, Wisconsin, dairy producer said, “I believe to make it in farming today you need to be more than good with cows — you must be business savvy as well. With this philosophy I’ve attended financial workshops in the past. But until this program I wasn’t able to find anything in-depth enough to make a difference to my business.” David Trimner, an Athens, Wisconsin, dairy producer said, “The most valuable content I received was the realworld examples given by the moderators during the discussion. As we talked about things such as cash flows, balance sheets, succession planning and working with your banker, we were given some poor examples as well as good ones in order to better connect the

January 2019 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

With the continued volatility in the business to produce milk, if one wants a future in the business of milking cows, thorough financial understanding is a must.” concepts to the application on the dairy.” While basics such as cash flow, key performance ratios and cost-center tracking are discussed in class, students are expected to put the principles to use on their farms, set financial goals and complete assignments before returning for the follow-up sessions. Tom Brenner of Durand, Wisconsin, said, “I started to discover many things back at the farm. Tax reporting was the first ‘ah-ha’ moment. I could hold a much more productive conversation with my accountant. When I tried

using financial ratios in the past I had no confidence in the process of finding the correct numbers to plug into the formulas. Financial Literacy for Dairy changed this for me.” Kevin Krentz, a Berlin, Wisconsin, dairy producer said, “One of the biggest impacts was having our goals in writing and sharing our vision with our team. This helped everyone understand the direction of our farm.” Financial Literacy for Dairy instructors have seen firsthand the benefits to producers already. Sipiorski said, “It’s like

watching light bulbs blinking on as material is covered. All of a sudden attendees start seeing what is important and why they need to know it.” Schwoerer agreed producers find value in the program from the start. He said, “A number of participants have told me they’re required to submit financial statements to their lender on an annual basis, and now they have the ability and confidence to provide a quality statement to their lender.” Sipiorski said, “With the continued volatility in the business to produce milk, if one wants a future in the business of milking cows, thorough financial understanding is a must.” The Professional Dairy Producers Foundation is a mission sponsor of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin.

Wherever your path leads,

WE’RE WITH YOU. Agriculture isn’t just a market we serve. It’s what we’re founded on. It’s who we are. Our mission goes far beyond farm loans and insurance offerings. We are passionate about the hopes and dreams of rural America and are always evolving to meet the needs of the communities we serve to build for the future. Let’s get started today.

We wish you a safe and bountiful harvest.

Learn more at compeer.com. #CHAMPIONRURAL | (844) 426-6733 Compeer Financial, ACA is an Equal Credit Opportunity Lender and Equal Opportunity Provider. ©2018 All rights reserved.



January 2019 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

The most recent corn silage crop faces several weather challenges in widespread areas but producers can mitigate problems with a few proactive measures.

Be aware of corn silage issues SARA HENDRICKSON Dairyland Seed‌

Record-setting rainfall throughout much of Wisconsin delayed the 2018 corn silage harvest because of saturated ground and the inability of equipment to access fields. Corn silage harvested outside the ideal range of 68 percent to 64 percent whole-plant moisture requires attentive management to reduce decreases in animal performance, additional dry-matter shrink and lost profit potential. Let’s focus on what can be done to adequately manage forage already in the bunker and how to prepare for a successful 2019. It’s important to understand the potential issues compromised forage can cause.

Preventing catastrophes caused by sub-par forage starts with analyzing samples for pathogen counts and type. Don’t rely on observable signs — the presence of mold, yeast, mycotoxins or fungi can’t always be seen. At a time when finances are already stretched, the cost will pay for itself if microorganisms are found and appropriate actions are taken. Ensure the most valuable and vulnerable assets on the farm continue to perform at optimal health by allocating the cleanest forage to cows in the high-producing, dry and transition groups. Because of variable moisture in the 2018 corn silage crop, other additional challenges may present themselves. Be on

the lookout for several situations. • Corn silage that was harvested too wet may cause seepage, which can lead to storage-facility damage in addition to the loss of valuable nutrients to animals. • Forage that continued to dry down in the field was prone to lodging, which increases the risk for soil contamination during harvest. Previously flooded fields may also face increased risk of dirt pollution if chopping height wasn’t increased to avoid it. • D rier corn silage has a reduced packing density that exposes more of the forage to oxygen. That can result in incomplete fermentation and additional forage shrink, which

can lead to ideal conditions for microorganisms. It’s recommended to complete a comprehensive fermentation analysis and evaluate feed-out practices. The goal of fermenting a forage is to quickly acidify it by creating an anaerobic environment and allowing good bacteria to metabolize sugars and reduce pH levels. Excess or inadequate moisture severely impedes that process. Analyzing fermentation metrics will help determine overall quality of the forage, so it can be allocated to the appropriate animal groups. But even a forage that undergoes the perfect fermentation process can be ruined by poor storage and feed-out conditions. Limiting exposure to

January 2019 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line oxygen and pathogens is essential to maintaining storage stability and excellent feed hygiene. Follow several steps to limit oxygen exposure to feed. • Use a defacer to create a sleek profile on a bunker or pile to reduce contact to air. That equipment is preferred to using loader-bucket attachments, which leave additional surfaces open for oxygen exposure and subsequent dry-matter losses. • Cut away excess plastic on bunkers, piles and bags to eliminate potential contamination from bacteria-harboring surfaces. • Clean dirty equipment that’s used during all phases of the feeding program. Tracking mud or manure through the feed alley from tires and boots can introduce inoculate pathogens to the ration. Analyze forages physically and chemically to determine energy availability. Use laboratory analysis to recognize scenarios in which a forage might perform better or worse than predicted. Corn silage with less than optimal moisture will have drier grain with harder kernels, leading to reduced starch and sugar digestibility and reductions in potentially digestible fiber. To determine energy availability, it’s important to understand an animal’s requirements are met in the order of maintenance first, growth second and performance third. Knowing that enables a producer to determine the extent of energy deficiency by assessing the signs associated with performance and growth before maintenance. Take various steps to avoid the negative effects on health and profitability caused by energy deficiency. • Identify causes and solutions for decreases in milk production, changes in dry-matter intake, loss of body condition and reduced reproductive efficiency. Perform a total mixed ration audit, evaluate standard

SAVE the


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Register today. www.pdpw.org operating procedures and ensure all protocols are being followed to eliminate non-nutritional factors. • Regularly monitor height


and weight in growing heifers; reference established benchmarks to compare their progress. Producers should set goals for development based on


age-appropriate percentages of mature cow size in their individual herds, instead of common breed standards that don’t factor in differences in genetic selection and breeding programs. • Reduce stress factors that increase energy demands such as exposure to extreme weather, overcrowding, inadequate cow comfort, excessive manure in bedding packs and vaccination timing. As the 2018 crop is fed out and planning for 2019 is underway, consider some factors in regards to corn silage. • Select corn hybrids with known fiber and starch digestibility advantages to increase the value and profitability of the entire operation. Advancements in genetics and trait selections make it possible to plant separate hybrids for g ra i n - c o r n y i e l d a n d silage-specific benefits to provide the most comprehensive feeding program without sacrificing animal or agronomic performance. • Calculate a cost-benefit analysis for an operation on additional foliar fungicide treatments for corn. Research shows improved plant health and yields along with increased feed efficiency and production during the feed-out stage. • Consider employing management practices such as lining bunker walls with plastic and using products such as oxygen barriers, inoculants and preservatives. Those protocols offer cheap assurance to avoid potential catastrophes, while also allowing forage to perform at its greatest potential. It’s easier to over-manage marginal feed than it is to overfeed marginal management. Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves. Sara Hendrickson is a forage leader with Dairyland Seed, which is a corporate sponsor of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin.


January 2019 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Increase herd resiliency against clostridia NEIL MICHAEL Arm & Hammer‌

Clostridial diseases can be frustrating to deal with on dairies. In addition to the volatility of markets, weather and labor shortages, producers must also be vigilant against decreased productivity and poor health caused by clostridia. Clostridial diseases are almost impossible to treat and can occur rapidly without warning. The harmful bacteria are extremely common. Clostridia organisms have been found in 99 percent of fecal samples and in 73 percent of total mixed rations samples across the country. The bacteria flourishes in almost every environment. To date, more than 69,000 different clostridial isolates, or strains, have been harvested from feed and manure samples. More than half of those strains — 53.9 percent — comprise a well-known toxigenic species, Clostridium perfringens, which can negatively impact gut health and lead to serious digestive issues such as hemorrhagic bowel syndrome. The other strains — 46.1 percent — include Clostridium that produce metabolic end products that have a negative impact on rumen efficiency. Instances of “off-feed” cows or stomach upsets can often be tied to the secondary effects of clostridia. Samples collected from across the United States indicate that both species of

One of the challenges in dealing with clostridial diseases is that clostridia bacteria live in the soil, making them readily available.”

Clostridium and the level of diversity differ across regions. Some species are more common in Wisconsin than in Idaho; some regions have more clostridial strains than others. Those regional differences can be attributed to differences in soil types, environments, weather events, feed stuffs, animals and even

management styles. Those elements collectively form the Microbial Terroir™, or unique microbial composition of a region or individual farm. The differences in the microbial composition help explain why some health challenges are m o re p reva l e n t i n so m e regions than others. To test clostridial risk in

Wisconsin, researchers collected fecal samples from 650 cows. Based on clostridial content, animals were placed in one of three categories. • h igh risk or those with more than 1,000 colony forming units per gram • m oderate risk or those with 100 to 1,000 colony forming units per gram • low risk or those with less than 100 colony forming units per gram. Results from those samples showed a surprising number of animals — almost 40 percent — in the high-risk category for both C. perfringens and clostridia. One of the challenges in dealing with clostridial diseases is that clostridia

January 2019 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line


Clostridial type


C. tetani C. novyi type B C. perfringens type A

Lock jaw, spastic paralysis Black disease, malignant edema, gas gangrene Jejunal hemorrhage syndrome, abomasal ulcers and tympany, gas gangrene, sudden death Necrotic enteritis Enterotoxemia Malignant edema, gas gangrene, enterotoxemia Blackleg, black quarter, malignant edema Enterotoxemia (sudden death syndrome), malignant edema Red water disease

C. perfringens type C C. perfringens type D C. septicum C. chauvoei C. sordellii C. hemolyticum

Information from University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine

bacteria live in the soil, making them readily available. A n i m a l s a re c o n s ta n t l y exposed to the bacteria, primarily through feed. Clostridia are transferred easily to feedstuffs during harvest, especially when crops lodge. The level of clostridia can increase when dirt is incorporated into the harvested crop. That includes during silage packing when using tractors with muddy tires or harvesting the crop in extremely wet conditions — such as Wisconsin farmers experienced this year. While fermentation slows clostridial growth it doesn’t kill the bacteria. Poorly managed bunkers and improper feeding procedures, along with dirty water and substandard facility hyg i e n e , co n t r i b u te to increased clostridial prevalence. The cycle is perpetuated as clostridia-contaminated manure is applied to the field and the pathogen is returned to the soil. Da i ry cows co n s ta n t ly ingest low levels of clostridia due to its widespread presence. As bacterial loads rise, cattle become increasingly vulnerable to high-stress events, creating a tipping point for disease and performance deficiencies.

Build a resilient herd Though reducing the presence of clostridia isn’t easy, steps can be taken. The resiliency of a herd depends on decreasing the bacterial pressure. When the clostridial pressure on a farm is high even the smallest change can have a large impact on performance and productivity, causing labor and veterinary costs to increase. A farm can reduce the load and perpetuation of clostridia by first assessing the extent at which clostridial prevalence exists. Then implement protocols to lessen the effects. On-farm testing and analysis can identify specific microbial and environmental challenges and determine solutions to address those challenges. Focus on strategies that will proactively lessen the clostridial load. Pay attention to crop hygiene; implement clean feeding procedures. Consider feeding products containing carefully selected species of Bacillus to combat harmful clostridia pathogens. By incorporating a few strategic protocols, dairies can target loads and replication of clostridia, which achieves more consistent feed intakes, smoother transitions, and increased rumination with

more consistent manure. It decreases off-feed events and ga s t ro i n te s t i n a l - re l a te d deaths. A more resilient herd affords dairy producers greater flexibility with ration choices and maintains consistent production and intakes, in addition to

realizing increased revenue. Neil Michael is a ruminant technical services manager for animal-food production with Arm & Hammer, which is a corporate sponsor of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin.

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January 2019 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Automated milking systems offer more choices STEVE PRETZ GEA‌

Building a new milking facility is a major decision. It involves a lot of time, research, management considerations, financial assessments and a look into the future to ensure the next generation is set up for success. It’s important for dairy producers to find the milking solution that best fits how they want to manage their herds and employees, while maximizing quality of life and financial investment. That could mean a fully robotic rotary-milking parlor, a boxstyle robotic-milking barn or a conventional rotary with some automated components. There isn’t one perfect solution for every farm. By knowing the options available and management considerations for each type of facility, producers can make the best decision to take their farms to the next level. Every dairy can benefit from the labor reduction, process control and constant monitoring available with automation solutions. Skilled and reliable labor is a key element in establishing the industrial methods needed in management and operation of a modern dairy. That labor force is becoming increasingly difficult to source. Increased wages continue to be difficult to sustain. Automation can help solve labor issues by locking in certain costs and replacing everyday tasks with robotic technology. In some cases automated solutions allow producers to take a step back from physically intensive tasks and dedicate more time


to cow and farm management. The ability to completely control the process of harvesting milk from the cow in a consistent manner is a primary benefit to automating any portion of the milking routine. Process control is a way to improve cow health and milk quality while reducing animal stress. For cows, the good life is

the boring life when everything happens the same way every day. Au to m a t i o n s u cce ss i s driven by data. With automation technology, cows are constantly monitored for variations in their normal behaviors to signal when they are sick or ready to be bred. It improves accuracy and provides earlier

detection than human monitoring. Some common misconceptions are that robots are only available in box-style configurations for smaller herds and that robots designed for milking are the only choice to reduce labor and improve efficiency for a future milking system. The reality is producers

January 2019 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

GEA Farm Technologies Inc.

GEA cow scrubbers are automated teat-prep systems, bringing consistency and efficiency to the preparation process for a wide range of herd sizes.

have more possibilities than ever. Contrary to popular belief, box-style robots can be a viable option for large herds. More and more 20-plus box systems are installed in operations everyday across North America. Fully automated robotic rotaries can have the same throughput potential as conventional rotaries with only one operator. A conventional rotary can be fitted with automated detachers and post-dipping milking units, so only two or three operators are needed for preparation and attachment. The rest of the milking procedures behave like a robotic-milking system. It’s essential to consider all options with management preferences in mind to ensure long-term success. If a producer wants to pursue complete robotic-milking to reduce labor, but prefers to continue managing and feeding cows traditionally in a co nve n t i o n a l pa ra l l e l o r rotary system, the robotic rotary parlor may be the best choice because most h e rd - m a n a ge m e n t ta s k s would be performed in the same manner. Some producers are looking

for more flexibility with no scheduled milking times. Others want to change their management styles to allow for a more individualized approach to cow care in which cows can move through the barn as they want. In that c a s e a b ox- s tyl e ro b o t ic-milking system may be the right option. For those who aren’t ready to jump into full-scale milking automation but who still want to minimize labor and maximize throughput, a conventional rotary with automated teat prep and an automated post-dipping system could be an ideal fit. When selecting any level of automation, it’s important to consider the main profit drivers and how automation will potentially impact any current farm practices. • how cows are bred • how cows are fed • h ow to provide optimum cow comfort in the freestalls • how to manage manure • how to ensure using automation results in cleaner healthier cows Robotic milking is like any other business decision made for a dairy. The management changes need to be a net positive for the producer and the


GEA’s DairyProQ robotic rotary milking parlor is capable of milking as many as 400 cows per hour with one operator.

cows. Anything that impacts lifestyle, cow health and welfare, and labor availability are all considerations. Providing for future generations and the ability to enjoy the dairy business are other important factors. Choosing the next milking system for a dairy is no small task. It’s important to take time to tour all styles of barns

and parlors and work closely with a local dealer, who can offer counsel and guidance every step of the way. Steve Pretz is director of large project sales for GEA North America, which is a corporate sponsor of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin.

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January 2019 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Prevention has always been and will always be key. A cow that was healthy as a calf will produce more milk and milk components, give birth to more calves and require fewer treatments than if she needed treatment for bovine respiratory disease as a calf.

Protect against heifer respiratory disease CURT VLIETSTRA Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health‌

Starting calves off on the right hoof can set the stage for a lifetime of health and productivity. Diseases such as bovine respiratory disease greatly reduce heifer-raising success. Affected calves don’t grow as

fast as their herd mates, are older at first calving and have an increased risk of being culled before the end of their first lactations. Most primary causes of bovine respiratory disease, particularly bovine viral diarrhea, infectious bovine rhino-

tracheitis and bovine respiratory syncytial virus, can also suppress the immune system, making the calf more susceptible to other diseases. Contrary to enteric diseases such as diarrhea, bovine respiratory disease is less likely to cause immediate mortality. But

it’s a double-edged sword. Though a calf that’s treated for bovine respiratory disease is more likely to live, the producer will likely spend more money rearing her. The overall impact on a producer’s bottom line is typically greater from bovine respiratory disease because of

January 2019 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line decreased feed conversion, which leads to delayed breeding, increased breeding costs, and — primarily — decreased production. Producers are encouraged to consider the six pillars of management to avoid bovine respiratory disease and effectively raise high-quality animals. Pillar One: Nutrition — Calves should receive 4 quarts of colostrum immediately after birth as well as a second feeding eight hours later. Calf health starts with good colostrum before anything else. It’s excellent bovine respiratory disease insurance. A structured feeding schedule that includes feeding calves at the same time everyday reduces stress, which leads to improved average daily gain. Keeping track of calf average daily gain helps producers ensure calves are healthy and on schedule to be bred on time. Pillar Two: Housing — Calves can be raised successfully in a variety of housing situations. Much of that success comes down to good management. But some common housing strategies are considered risky. Group housing is a known risk because calves share the same air and often a feeding nipple. That’s particularly the case in automated calf-feeding systems. So special attention needs to be paid to control the environment and increase immunity through the use of vaccines in those situations. Bedding, air quality and stocking density also play major roles. An ample supply of dry clean bedding promotes calf comfort and also decreases the risk of disease. Maintaining proper ventilation and optimal air quality so calves aren’t inhaling dust and bovine respiratory disease-causing pathogens also decreases the risk of disease. It’s imperative to provide calves enough space to eat; avoid overcrowding them. Wea t h e r p ro te c t i o n i s

another primary factor in that management category. Though arid regions have a lower incidence of calf bovine respiratory disease than regions with higher humidity, a calf ’s immune system can still be compromised when exposed to dramatic weather fluctuations. Ensure facilities keep calves protected from the elements and temperature changes, regardless of humidity levels. Pillar Three: Hygiene — Proper hygiene is essential to keep bacteria concentrations at bay. If employees are managing calves, be sure to clearly post protocols and ensure they are well-trained. Individual pens should always be sanitized before a new calf enters the pen. Milk, dry feed and water sources should be cleaned routinely. Protein-residue swabs and an adenosine triphosphate test luminometer are helpful tools to monitor cleanliness of feeding equipment such as bottles, nipples and tube feeders. Pillar Four: Diagnostics — Early diagnosis of bovine respiratory disease can be challenging for producers but it’s essential to stop the spread. A scoring chart can be used to identify bovine respiratory disease and its severity while also helping producers decide if action should be taken. It’s also recommended to test calves. A transtracheal wash or a pharyngeal swab is relatively noninvasive and helps producers detect pathogens early. It’s better than the alternative of submitting tissue from already dead calves. Pillar Five: Record keeping — Treatment records can help producers keep track of disease incidence and make culling decisions. Any animal that’s been treated multiple times for respiratory disease before breeding age would be a good candidate to be culled. Ideally producers would be recording cases of bovine respiratory

disease on a computer as soon as the event occurs.

modified-live vaccine gives calves the opportunity for their immune systems to work at optimum levels and can help keep calves protected. Stressors like shipping, extreme weather changes and dehorning can weaken the immune system, allowing bovine respiratory disease to trigger a respiratory infection. When calves are faced with an upcoming stressful situation, it’s recommended to use a single-dose antibiotic treatment. Be sure vaccines aren’t being used as a temporary fix for a larger issue. No vaccine can replace good management practices. Producers should work with their veterinarians to develop a vaccination program tailored to their environmental conditions and herd goals.

Pillar Six: Vaccination — Before birth, producers can protect the calf by vaccinating the dam. Certain vaccines given to cows later in gestation are going to stimulate an immune response that will provide pathogen protection in the colostrum. If the colostrum is harvested and fed correctly, some of that protection can be passed on to the calf. Weaning is the highest-risk period for bovine respiratory disease. Calves are likely experiencing stress from diet changes while learning to commingle with other animals. At the same time, pathogen protection from the colostrum is declining. A recent survey found that almost 30 percent of producers wait to vaccinate until weaning. But that may be too late. Vaccinating calves against respiratory disease b e f o r e we a n i n g w i t h a

Curt Vlietstra, DVM, is a professional services veterinarian with Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, which is a mission sponsor of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin.

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January 2019 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Market-proof the farm KATIE HOLEWINSKI Animart‌

Agriculturally minded people stick together, especially in trying times. Currently, uncertainty and anxiety about the economy of farming, the effects of ever-increasing regulations, new and changing trade agreements, and anti-ag activists aiming to devalue agricultural products and skew animal-husbandry standards in the eyes of consumers, combine to create tough times. Folks in farming know there’s nothing like a difficult reality to clarify what’s important and inspire a way forward. Sticking together isn’t a new concept. Farmers have always had each other’s backs. It’s a community in which neighbors help one another through difficult times, sicknesses and accidents. It’s also an extended family sharing good times and contributing to their communities through school programs, church dinners, community gatherings and more. Heart-warming stories about neighbors who help fellow farmers abound. A few months ago a community came together for a farmer’s final harvest. Mike – a sixth-generation farmer in Sauk Prairie, Wisconsin – was killed in an accident while doing evening chores. None of his corn or soybean fields had been harvested. His friends and fellow farmers came together to harvest his fields. Combines and trucks converged on the fields that crisp October morning with one single goal — complete the harvest for Mike and his family. It was an uplifting moment in the midst of a sad situation and a true testament to one fact — when things are difficult, farmers stick together. Though there’s nothing new about farmers working together,

Vicky Lauer, right, veterinarian, and Rick Shultz, herdsman for Tag Lane Dairy, work together to ensure calves are off to a healthy start.

there’s something that might be new — market dynamics of milk and meat prices don’t dictate farm profitability. There are six key operating factors, which directly impact financial success. Not a single factor is related to milk or meat prices. After 100-plus years of veterinary practice experience we’ve found producers who consistently better manage those six factors outperform industry standards. The factors include reproduction, transition cow, milk quality, production, hoof health and calf health. Once producers have focused on the six factors, they can follow several steps to market-proof their farms. • Find a strategic partner to help achieve long-range financial goals. The partner should be someone with on-farm experience and unbiased perspective in addition to fulfilling

the veterinary-client-patient relationship and forging a strategic partnership with the producer. • Enhance utilization of data to increase awareness and drive decisions. On-farm diagnostics or lab tests can be useful in determining the presence of health problems and choosing effective treatment. Detailed record-keeping and thorough dairy data-management systems provide useful information for monitoring herd health. Use that information to gain historical views of disease incidence, treatment rates and drug usage, which helps in the next step of establishing production benchmarks. • E s ta b l i s h p ro d u c t i o n benchmarks beyond pounds per cow per day. In partnership with a herd-health consultant, a producer should measure performance of metrics on the farm and then compare that to

industry standards. • Leverage outside resources to expand the vision for the farm. Seek out industry professionals who can come in with a fresh set of eyes. They may see issues management teams are overlooking because of familiarity. A strategic partner can work with the herd veterinarian as a facilitator and filter to help achieve financial goals. Sticking together is the key to accomplishing the job. Through proper diagnosis, using the six key operating factors, establishing production goals and leveraging industry resources as strategic partners, producers will be able to improve herd performance, enhance bottom lines and ultimately market-proof farms. Katie Holewinski is marketing manager at ANIMART LLC, which is a corporate sponsor of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin.

January 2019 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line


Milk, commodity prices lead to buyer’s market for Wisconsin farmland PAT STERNITZKY US AgNet‌

Now may be the time to consider purchasing farmland. A recent survey of agricultural bankers indicates Wisconsin’s agricultural property values began to decrease during the second half of 2018. Though Wisconsin outpaced its neighbors when it came to the increasing value of farmland during the past year as a whole, the Chicago-based Seventh Federal Reserve District’s third-quarter survey of farm lenders found that ag-property values were 1 percent less between the months of July through September when compared to the previous quarter. For Wisconsin specifically survey respondents noted that properties increased by 4 percent from this past year, though they did decrease 1 percent from the second quarter. Farmland in Iowa and Indiana also increased 1 percent for the year, while Illinois farmers saw a slight decrease in the values of their agricultural properties. David Oppedahl, an economist for the reserve, said it was the first quarterly decline for district agricultural land values since the fourth quarter of 2016. He further noted that agricultural credit conditions in the district continued to deteriorate because the availability of funds for lending by agricultural banks decreased for the fifth-consecutive quarter. Bankers who represent dairy farmers particularly noticed that cash flow remained tight for their constituents, which led to fewer farmland transactions and lower prices for that land in the final months of the past year. Mea nwh i l e t h e U. S.

A recent survey of agricultural bankers indicates Wisconsin’s agricultural property values began to decrease during the second half of 2018.

Department of Agriculture’s annual assessment of agricultural land sales in Wisconsin reflected similar findings. For 2017, which is the most current government data available, there was a decrease in both the number of sales transactions and number of acres that changed hands. The agency blames the weaker farm economy for the lower number of transactions made. There were 1,527 filings fo r fa r m l a n d - ow n e rs h i p changes in 2017 in the Badger State. That’s 34 less than the year before. The total number of acres sold decreased by 10 percent to 90,872 acres. By comparison, there were 245 more sales of forestland in 2017 than in 2016, and 46,826 more acres sold. Pat Sternitzky is president of US AgNet, which is a corporate sponsor of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin.


January 2019 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Energy-efficient upgrades increase farm value Focus on Energy

Though the U.S. dairy industry spends more than $1.4 billion annually on energy use, according to the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, energy efficiency occasionally takes a back seat during initial construction. Fortunately many improvements can be made to existing buildings to increase energy efficiency without sacrificing comfort. Whether retrofitting a parlor from an old tie stall, properly sizing cooling equipment or performing regular equipment maintenance, much can be done to increase a farm’s bottom line. For farmers looking to make the milking process easier and more efficient, milking parlors are an excellent area to find energy and money savings. Many farmers invest in lowcost remodels of old tie-stall barns by transforming the space into milking parlors. While the labor savings from that type of remodel is often significant, reducing the number of operating hours of milking equipment and vacuum pumps can provide further savings. Remodeling an existing facility has a much less initial cost than building a new parlor — and it can lead to labor and energy savings. Investing in an adequately sized plate cooler is another way to save. As herd sizes increase, the increase in milk volume demands a larger plate cooler. Rather than planning to eventually upgrade to a larger plate cooler, a proactive approach will allow a dairy to realize greater energy savings and a healthier end product. In addition to replacing

Rather than planning to eventually upgrade to a larger plate cooler as necessary, invest in an adequately sized plate cooler, which affords a dairy greater energy savings and a healthier end product.

equipment, dairy farmers should also practice ongoing preventative-maintenance measures. • Clean fixtures, bulbs and lenses by wiping off the dirt with a moist cloth at least every two years to extend the usable life and reduce the need to replace bulbs as frequently. Poorly maintained lighting systems cost far more in lost productivity than energy wasted. • Keep plate coolers clean and free from milk scale build-up and bacterial growth. • Check scroll compressors during refrigeration tune-ups. Many companies offer annual tune-up services to keep refrigeration systems running at peak performance. Those tune-ups can uncover potential issues

before they arise and can increase the operating efficiency of the compressor. • Install valves on refrigeration heat-recovery units to reduce sediment buildup in the storage tank. • Keep fans clean and properly lubricated to ensure maximum performance and minimal energy use. Additional maintenance of fans should include tightening loose belts, cleaning air inlets and removing debris caught in the screens. As current facilities begin to wear out, farmers have the opportunity to plan for new construction or to remodel. In that situation, farmers should compare initial and annual operating costs associated with both options. The cost to

remodel is often less than building new. Farmers also need to consider if the restraints and trade-offs of remodeling will lead to larger annual operating costs. When considering expansion or replacing equipment, having firsthand experience and technical expertise available is of the utmost importance. Call 888947-7828 or visit focusonenergy.com/agribusiness for more information. Focus on Energy, a mission sponsor with the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin, is a Wisconsin program that offers information, services and financial incentives to help residents and businesses select and install costeffective solutions that save energy and money.



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January 2019 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Developing dairy solutions at home ADAM BROCK Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin‌

Here in Wisconsin, dairy is everything. Cooperatives and farms that span the countryside play a vital role in dairy’s $43.4 billion contribution to Wisconsin’s economy – almost half of the state’s $88.3 billion agricultural industry. Despite that massive figure, the fact that Wisconsin is also home to the premier full-service dairyfoods center in the United States is often overlooked. Founded in 1986, the Center for Dairy Research is a globally recognized leader that offers Wisconsin dairy manufacturers the best in technical support, product development, training and consultation. That storehouse of knowledge and resources has helped Wisconsin remain the top cheese-producing state in the country, from both a quantity and quality standpoint. Wisconsin accounted for 26 percent of U.S. cheese production in 2017, at 3.37 billion pounds. T h e C e n te r fo r Da i r y Research’s efforts to expand U.S. dairy exports are at the heart of its solution-based approach. While 15 percent of U.S. milk and 5 percent of U.S. cheese are currently sent overseas, the Center for Dairy Research and partner organizations such as Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin and Dairy Management Inc. seek opportunities to take large strides in the arena. Scientists at the Center for Dairy Research are working with cheesemakers to develop

Center for Dairy Research

Andy Johnson, left, the Center for Dairy Research cheese coordinator, makes Colby cheese with Hailey Orsted, a student intern at the center.

technologies to improve shelf stability that will encourage foreign countries to continue buying Wisconsin cheese, while also increasing exports of Wisconsin dairy products worldwide. Specialty cheese is a segment that has seen significant growth during the more than 30 years since the Center for Dairy Research was founded. Specialty cheese has grown from a once-small category to representing almost a quarter of all Wisconsin cheese production.

Wisconsin now produces 50 percent of all specialty cheese in the United States – a total of almost 800 million pounds per year. Based on growing consumer trends, the Center for Dairy Research has intentionally focused its research expertise in that category because it benefits Wisconsin farmers by utilizing more milk to create more varieties of cheese. Wisconsin dairy farmers have proven they believe in what the Center for Dairy Research does. The center receives 70 percent

of its funding from dairy farmers via the state and national checkoff programs — a mutual relationship that helps dairy farmers and the industry. “Without dairy-farmer funding and support for what we do here, there would not be a Center for Dairy Research,” said John Lucey, director of the Center for Dairy Research and professor of food science at the University of Wisconsin Madison. “We don’t take that for granted and strive to ensure our efforts help companies provide

January 2019 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line high-quality, safe and innovative dairy products to the consumer to continue to drive demand for Wisconsin milk.” Empowered by the support, the Center for Dairy Research has flourished. Its success as a cultivator of cheese champions is evident. During the most recent World Championship Cheese Contest, six of the 20 finalists had trained at the Center for Dairy Research, along w i t h 5 0 p e rc e n t o f a l l cheese-category winners and 62 percent of all yogurt winners. Initiatives like guided student-research projects and the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker program — a Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin and Center for Dairy Research initiative — have helped propel the work at the Center for Dairy Research to the forefront of the global dairy industry. Supported by contributions from dairy farmers, the Center for Dairy Research is bolstered by a staff whose members boast


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an extensive industry background. Lucey was raised on a small dairy farm. Dean Sommer, cheese and food technologist, worked at a dairy cooperative prior to joining the Center for Dairy Research. Debra Wendorf Boyke, communications coordinator, brings more than 30 years of experience in dairy and agricultural communications. Those examples just scratch the surface. In total one-third of employees have experience in either the food or dairy industry, which helps the center develop more informed solutions. The Center for Dairy Research supports Wisconsin through its educational and research endeavors, and the state reciprocates. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation awarded the Center for Dairy Research a $200,000 grant to be applied toward the Tech Transfer, University,

Research and Business Opportunity program, which leverages business and economic-development partnerships to support entrepreneurship and startups in the dairy and food industry. During the past three years, the program has created more than 50 jobs in small dairy plants around the state. Numerous companies, associations and team members have also come together to help the Center for Dairy Research succeed. More than $18 million has been secured from more than 100 companies – including Cargill, CocaCola, Hormel and Swiss Valley. Those national and international companies have utilized the Center for Dairy Research to develop new brands or transition existing products to meet the demands of international trade. “With everything we do (at the Center for Dairy Research) we ask, ‘How does this help increase demand for dairy?’”

Lucey said. “‘And how does that help the Wisconsin dairy industry grow?’” Currently the Center for Dairy Research is focusing on research themes such as sustainability, specialty cheese, food safety, advanced manufacturing and dairy foods for health as well as helping Wisconsin dairy companies develop products for international markets. With construction underway for state-of-the-art renovations and additions to its Madison, Wisconsin, headquarters, the Center for Dairy Research is ready to make even greater strides down the road – all with a focus on helping farmers by driving consumer and business demand of Wisconsin cheese and other dairy products. Adam Brock is director of technical services with Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, which is a mission sponsor of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin.


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