Volume 18: Issue 5 July 2016
BOTTOM LINE Sharing ideas, solutions, resources and experiences that help dairy producers succeed.
FOCUS ON WHAT MATTERS
Keep air moving in dairy barns
Vet-client relationship important
DR. KATIE MRDUTT
Page 8 Precision dairy technology: which device to choose?
People Perspective: change habits, change life
Page 14 Coming soon – On-the-Farm Twilight Meetings
With the U.S. Food and Drug Admini s t ra t i o n ’s Ve te r i n a r y Feed Directive final rule Katie Mrdutt go i n g i n to effect Jan. 1, 2017, a healthy veterinarian-client-patient relationship is receiving renewed attention. The agreement between a veterinarian and a dairy producer requires the veterinarian to be familiar with the dairy farmer and his or her cattle. It assumes the producer will follow instructions of the veterinarian for the well-being and health of the patients – the dairy cattle in the herd. A veterinarian-client-patient relationship is more than a set of instructions, prescriptions and recommendations. It’s the basis for a healthy business relationship and requires open lines of communication between all parties. The Veterinary Feed Directive final rule will outline the process for authorizing animal drugs intended for use in
Sue Cubly, left, of Williams Bedrock Bovines in Brodhead, Wisconsin, and Dr. Ray Pawlisch of Brodhead Veterinary Medical Center discuss animal care. The veterinarian-client-patient relationship is one of many relationships successful dairy producers need to have. Relationships are ever-changing and require work to maintain; they need communication and trust on all sides.
or on feed – drugs that require a licensed veterinarian’s supervision. The final rule also provides veterinarians a framework for authorizing use of antimicrobials in feed as necessary for animal-health purposes. “Veterinarians are well equipped to be an important asset to the farm business,” said Dr. Jon Garber of Valley Veterinary Clinic in Seymour, Wisconsin. “These professionals have extensive training in animal health and use that training to be helpful in so many areas on a dairy farm. Not only do they manage sick animals, perform reproductive exams and attend to emergency situations, they also play a critical role in maintaining the health of the entire herd by implementing herd-health
protocols and standard operating procedures, troubleshooting milk-quality problems, analyzing records, (and performing) nutrition consulting and employee training. Don’t underestimate t h e i r va l u e i n t h e se non-medical areas.” A strong veterinarian-client-patient relationship is in place if a veterinarian knows how a producer’s operation works, what drugs are used, which conditions are treated and what generally happens on a day-to-day basis on the farm. Regardless of the veterinary services used, dairy farmers and veterinarians work best together when expectations are clearly defined and each party communicates well with the See RELATIONSHIP, on page 3
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Prepare for animalwelfare assessment KATY PROUDFOOT
By now producers have likely heard of at least one animal-welfare assessment or audit, whether it’s the National Dairy Fa r m e rs A s s u r i n g Responsible Management Program, Validus, Certified Humane or another. Those programs have become more commonplace during the Katy past decade due to Proudfoot increasing interest from consumers and citizens about how food animals are cared for. When a producer enrolls in one of these programs, an assessor will visit the herd to evaluate the animals and the management system as a whole. Regardless of which program a producer is enrolled in, there are a few basic steps to take to prepare for such a visit. • Develop and show evidence of a veterinarian-client-patient relationship All animal welfare assessment programs require evidence of a veterinarian-client-patient relationship. The easiest way to show that a relationship exists is to have a veterinarian sign a form confirming he or she provides veterinary care to the herd. Visit www.nationaldairyfarm.com for an example form. Once there, click on “Producer Resources/ Manual and Farm Library” and scroll down to click on and print the form. • Update protocols with the help of a veterinarian and write them all down. There are many aspects of management that an assessor will not see during a short visit, so he or she will ask to see the protocols and standard operating procedures, on paper. Now is also a good time to write and review farm protocols with a veterinarian to ensure they’re up-to-date. Plan to review these annually. Although written protocols are not always followed, it’s encouraged to make them more accessible to employees by creating a handbook in English and Spanish, or by displaying posters in obvious locations such as the milking parlor or office.
• Develop a culture of good stockmanship, including a zero-tolerance policy for animal abuse. Many animal-welfare assessments, including Farmers Assuring Responsible Management Program, require evidence that new employees are trained in good stockmanship, and that there is a strict, written policy against animal abuse. All employees should sign a form assuring they will not abuse cattle, and will report when they see abuse. The real difference is made when a producer can create a culture of good animal handling, which starts with the producer, and is instilled in employees beginning on the first day of work. There are a number of stockmanship training programs available online. Visit www.dairycare365.com for Merck’s DairyCare 365. • Stop tail docking today Due to the abundance of research showing that tail docking is not beneficial to cows, the practice is no longer allowed – or soon will not be allowed – by any animal-welfare assessment. If tail docking is still a practice in a herd, now is the time to replace it with an alternative practice such as switch trimming. Although the change may seem daunting, many producers have already transitioned away from tail docking and have good stories to tell. Producers become part of animal-welfare-assessment programs for various reasons – some choose to enroll in programs to show off their exceptional animal care, whereas others are being asked to do so by their co-ops, processors or retailers. There is no reason to fear these programs or the assessors because they are a great way to show that a herd is doing well, and to help identify and prioritize improvements in animal care that will make it even better. Katy Proudfoot is an assistant professor and The Ohio State University-Extension specialist in animal welfare and behavior with the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine. Contact her at proudfoot.18@osu. edu for more information.
July 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 3 Dairy and livestock producers are encouraged to not wait to discuss with their veterinarians the Food and Drug Administration’s Veterinary Feed Directive, which will take effect at the end of the year. contributed
Relationship Continued from page 1
other as changes develop. If deviations from established protocols arise, that’s the time for each side to come together to find solutions that won’t sacrifice the well-being of the animal or the integrity of the food product. Sometimes that means re-training on certain protocols, correcting behaviors of employees, or reviewing previous agreements to put things back
on track. There’s always room for improvement. A close working relationship between dairy farmers and veterinarians ensures to the consuming public and regulatory agencies that food safety, and cow health and welfare, are of top priority. Dr. Katie Mrdutt is a Food Armor Outreach Specialist with the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association. Contact her at mrdutt@ wvma.org for more information.
4 July 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line
Tunnel ventilation fans help keep a hot barn cooler in summer. The ventilation options are plentiful, each with advantages and obstacles.
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Barn ventilation has many options DR. NIGEL COOK
When it comes to optimal dairy-cow barn ventilation, there are no cut-and-dried answers. With so many options available, it’s hard to have across-the-board agreement. Today’s typical options include natural, cross and tunnel ventilation. Add to the list positive-pressure delivery systems and any number of hybrids. Of course the variation of designs within a system can be as great as between systems, making the matter all the more complex. In any case, it’s important to prioritize the factors that will lead to cost-effective cow comfort. • Provide fresh air to the cow-lying space. Fre s h a i r n e e d s to b e fast-moving air in the summer
and a gentle breeze in the winter. The two main methods – baffles and fans – have their differences. Baffles are ideally suited to cross vents, because a single baffle can redirect the air below it over the stalls for the entire length of the barn. Problematically, in the winter they serve to
July 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 5 trap stale air between them, reducing the efficiency of winter ventilation in cross-vent barns. Tunnels pose a greater challenge for baffles, because air is always drawn to the feed and stall alleys, away from the cows. That means baffles only impact the few cows lying below them. Fans over the stalls are necessary whatever the means of ve n t i l a t i o n , to p ro v i d e fast-moving air where the cows are located. To maximize the number of cows exposed to cooling air, with speeds of 400 feet per minute – or 4.5 miles per hour, most 48-inch to 50-inch panel fans need to be spaced 20 feet to 24 feet apart. Alternatively, 72-inch cyclone fans need to be positioned 60 feet apart. Once fast-moving air has been provided to the lying space, natural or mechanical ventilation can be used in “resting spaces” to bring fresh air into the barn to displace stale and contaminated air. Resting-space fans can also be used
UW-Madison Dairyland Initiative
Designed and built following a consultation with Dr. Nigel Cook of The Dairyland Initiative, a new barn includes numerous modifications that promote cow comfort and welfare, and help improve milk quality and production. Included among these enhancements are sand-bedded stalls with Pack-Mat bases; ergonomic stalls that allow cows to move more naturally; larger alleys that help cows easily access feed, water and resting space; and better ventilation.
in winter at low speed to move air across or along the barn. • The system should work as well in the winter as it does in the summer Most mechanically ventilated barns are designed to optimize
summer ventilation. Little thought goes into fresh-air needs for winter. No matter the season, sufficient fresh air needs to be available in the barn for good respiratory health. As tunnel barns become longer,
more than 400 feet to 500 feet, and cross-vent barns become wider, with more than eight rows of stalls, it becomes increasingly difficult to ensure enough fresh air will make its way efficiently from the inlet to the fans. Attaining the minimum winter-ventilation rate of four air changes per hour can be achieved with a natural ventilation system accompanied by open eaves and an open ridge. While four air changes per hour is achievable in mechanically ventilated barns, airflow can still be trapped, leading to excessive humidity and poor air quality. That is most commonly seen in wide-body cross-vent barns, where air is trapped between the baffles, diverts to cross alleys and short-circuits between fan openings. Fogging is a common problem in those barns during winter, simply because the air isn’t moving See VENTILATION, on page 7
Comparison of Mechanical Ventilation Systems Tunnel
Along the length of the barn Usually 4 or 6 rows
Air flow direction Rows of stalls Usual fan location (to avoid fans working against prevailing winds) Air flow distance
Across the width of the barn Can be designed with 4-16 rows
South end of a NS oriented barn or East end of an EW oriented barn Usually longer than a cross At the end wall or along the side walls at one end of the barn
Problems with air flow along the feed and stall alleys once the air enters the barn – path of least resistance
Influence air flow over very few stalls – not recommended
Use of baffles to redirect the air toward the cow
More restricted space to provide necessary surface area Roof pitch and openings potentially suitable for natural ventilation in winter/spring/fall
Use of Evaporative Cooling Pads Natural ventilation option
Potential for natural ventilation and improved air flow with lower risk for freezing
Largely independent of barn – but transfer lane must be managed as a potential inlet
Location of the milking center
Optional natural ventilation in an emergency Poorer control of light intensity in barns with a natural ventilation option Generally barns are traditional width, but they may be spaced closer together (60’) vs naturally ventilated barns (100’)
East side of a NS oriented barn or North of an EW oriented barn Usually shorter than a tunnel Along the entire length of the barn, providing evenly distributed air entry over a greater distance Air travels perpendicular to the alleys, with potentially better distribution of air in the cow pen, but still moves along cross alleys Function well to distribute air at high speed over a row of stalls along the length of the barn Better designed along the inlet for even distribution Wide-body barns usually have low roof pitch and side wall location of fans precludes use as an inlet Air distribution problematic at low air changes/h – freezing alleys along inlet side of barn common and trapped air between baffles Problematic as frequently located at the air discharge side of the barn. Transfer lane may also serve as an inlet. 24/7 requiring back-up generator and emergency plan
Potential for better control of light intensity
Potential to increase #cows housed in available space in widebodies barns
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Start farmer-led watershed project AMBER RADATZ
Wisconsin farmers have long been admired for their leadership qualities. Nationwide they are known as forward-thinking, front-of-the-line caretakers of the water and l a n d a ro u n d them. Farmer-led watersheds are an example of that progressive Amber mind set. The Radatz concept has grown vastly in popularity in the Midwest and nation during the past five years. It’s rooted in the desire farmers have to implement change and innovative solutions. A farmer’s experience with the land on a farm and within a local community is priceless. In recognition of the inherent value in farmer-led groups, Wisconsin has awarded $250,000 in funding to encourage continued innovation and collaborative thinking. So far this year, Wisconsin has invested in 14 farmer-led watershed groups through grants from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The groups have a variety of priorities and goals. All are committed to improving soil and water quality. Each has partnerships unique to its region and geography. Participating in a farmer-led group or attending educational events is a great opportunity to discuss, network and learn. University of Wisconsin-Discovery Farms staff are proud to officially collaborate with three of those groups, conducting nitrogen-use efficiency trials and hosting educational events. More funding for such groups is available now. Applications opened July 1 and are due by Sept. 1. When considering a farmer-led watershed, start by identifying a key group
University of Wisconsin-Extension
A strategy session is held for Horse Creek Watershed Council farmerleaders.
of five to 12 farmers willing to serve together as a “board of directors.” Next consider these questions: • How are farms in the region impacting surface and or groundwater? • W hich current farming practices need additional understanding or evaluation? Answers to those questions are critical to forming a group or project that might supply viable information critical to area farmers and community members. When thinking about possible groups to form, consider common concerns such as excess phosphorus in surface water, soil erosion within fields and or streams, and groundwater quality or quantity driven by regional farming practices. Farmer-led groups can then focus on issues such as soil conservation and erosion, building soil health, refining
nutrient-application timing or rate, timing and placement of manure application, and appropriate nutrient crediting from all sources. All farmer-led groups in Wisconsin have access to the past experiences of other groups and resources such as newsletters, field-day ideas and partnerships, and more. Many online resources can guide a group through the decision-making and group-forming process. The UW-Discovery Farms program has conducted edgeof-field water-quality monitoring on private farms for the past 15 years. The dataset covers a wide variety of farming systems and landscapes around Wisconsin. Water-quality monitoring doesn’t need to be included in a project, particularly if a group is able to access existing monitoring data for the area or a similar landscape. Even if the data wasn’t collected from an immediate
watershed, it still may apply; that can be much less costly. Also, a group can conduct other equally valuable assessments that will build local knowledge and unity. Choose a topic for the group, and then connect with available resources. At Discovery Farms, farmer leadership has been central to our work since the beginning; we believe farmers learn the most from other farmers. That belief has led us to launch “The WaterWay,” an online forum for farmer-to-farmer interaction regarding soil and water-quality topics such as cover crops, soil health, nitrogen-use efficiency, soil erosion and conservation, and runoff. The online forum will allow participants in farmer-led watershed groups as well as other farmers to get answers to questions in real time from those who have experience. The WaterWay will launch this fall. A farmer or consultant who requests a username and password will have access to topic-specific experts each month to share resources, provide information and contribute to discussions. Watch for proposal requests this month from the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Apply to be a member of “The WaterWay.” Help move Wisconsin water quality forward. Visit www.datcp.wi.gov and www.uwdiscoveryfarms.org for more information. Amber Radatz is co-director of University of Wisconsin-Discovery Farms. She has spent the past decade working with dairy farmers on soil and nutrient-loss risk reduction. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 715-983-5668.
July 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 7
Ventilation Continued from page 5
through the barn. In addition, excessive air-inlet speeds often freeze the alleys on the inlet side when fan capacity is increased. Bringing air in through other inlets, such as the roof ridge, may help. Even so, winter ventilation remains a significant challenge in wide-body barns. Those difficulties lead us back to more conventional four-row or six-row barns, which can ventilate during the winter naturally – perhaps even without mechanical assistance. Hybrid barns have adjustable-opening side walls, a ridge vent that can be opened and closed, a lower pitch roof – usually 2 in 12 – and control of fan capacity through fan selection and variable-speed drives. Another advantage for those barns is that they can be placed closer together – about 60 feet apart – and somewhat independent of orientation.
A new three-row freestall barn at Morning Dew Dairy features ventilation, side curtains and sand bedding to enhance cow comfort.
D o n ’t a ss u m e fa s t • er-moving air is better. Mechanical systems typically have a focus on air speed, air per cow – for example, 1,000 cubic feet per minute per cow – or air changes per hour. Most commonly, cross-vent barns aim for 5-mile-per-hour to
7-mile-per-hour winds below the baffles, and tunnels push above these specifications sometimes – a far cry from the 2.5 miles per hour that was once recommended. Designers know that air does not distribute evenly throughout the cross-section of the barn. To ensure
acceptable air-movement sweeps through the cow space, it’s suggested to have higher air speeds in the alleys. However, this may not always be true. If air moves too fast, it may actually draw more air away from the cow space. The best approach is one that ensures fast-moving air in the cow space by using fans over the resting area to promote cooling. With that in place, all we need to do is ventilate the barn adequately. That might mean naturally ventilating the barn, with the accompaniment of shades to prevent cattle grouping in some locations. Or it could mean having a tunnel- or crossvent barn providing a minimum target of 50 air changes per hour in the summer and four air changes per hour in the winter. Dr. Nigel Cook, DVM, is the chair of the Department of Medical Sciences and professor in food-animal medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. Contact him at email@example.com for more information.
• Supplements a cow’s variable intake with critical vitamins and minerals • Aids in immune function providing L-Form Lactobacillus, microbial sugars and specialized proteins. • Helps retain more milk and reduce SCC as shown through Southern Illinois University research
8 July 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line
Precision technologies changing the industry JEFFREY BEWLEY AND AMANDA LEE
During the past 20 years, precision dairy-monitoring technologies have increased vastly in commercial availability and they’ve become more userfriendly. Rapidly changing technology provides producers and researchers with ever-increasing information at the cow, pen, and herd levels. No technology can replace good cow management, but it can certainly provide additional eyes, ears and reports for the already well-functioning dairy operation. Whether a producer wants to improve heat detection, diagnose diseases earlier, measure lameness or track milk production, there’s a device to track it. In fact we are increasingly able with these technologies to measure details as varied as respiration, methane emissions, feed intake, heart rate, rumination, pH,
The CowManager SensOor is an electronic radio-frequency identification ear tag implanted in the middle of the left ear. It monitors rumination time, feeding behavior and ear-surface temperature, and detects heat. Loosely placed around the cow’s neck is a SCR-HR collar tag, which measures rumination and cow activity time. Ear tag is by Agi Automatiserings of Harmelen, Netherlands. The neck collar is by SCR Engineers Ltd. of Netanya, Israel.
body-condition score, temperature, milk content, mobility, lying and standing behavior, steps, and chewing activity. The variety in
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device types is seemingly as limitless. Whether a producer chooses a leg tag, collar tag, or ear tag, or decides to monitor activity through a bolus or a parlor device depends on many factors. In fact, once a producer decides what activity to track, the challenge isn’t necessarily finding the right device for it, but choosing the right protocol. Purchasing and adopting this technology can be difficult, time consuming and frustrating. In a 2015 survey conducted by researchers at the University of Kentucky, producers were asked to list the most important considerations when purchasing a specific precision dairy technology. The top-three priorities producers listed were benefit-to-cost ratio, total investment cost and ease of use. Producers should ask vendors these questions when considering the purchase of a precision dairy technology. • For each variable measured, what are the sensitivities and specificities? Sensitivity, or true positive rate, measures the proportion of positives that are correctly identified as such. Specificity, or true negative rate, measures the proportion of negatives that are correctly identified as such. • What percentage of devices fails each year? • What is the company’s warranty policy? • What is the policy regarding upgrading to new versions of the device? • What are the full costs and what does the purchase include? • Can the company put the producer in touch with current users of the product? Knowing the answer to each of these questions allows a producer to more fully understand risks before purchasing. Questions regarding device failure, warranty and new versions of the device give an idea about potential changes and handling malfunctions of equipment.
Asking about full costs associated with the equipment – including transmitters, software, installation, and maintenance equipment – will give a clearer picture of total cost. The most commonly asked question is “What precision dairy monitoring device is the best for me?” While there is no “best” technology, the ideal technology has some key features. The perfect technology: • explains an underlying biological process • promotes easy action • is cost-effective • is robust and reliable under many conditions • is simple and solution-focused • provides easily accessible information and • is accompanied by a dealer in the area who provides good customer care Precision dairy monitoring devices will continue to be developed and improved. Those who choose to use the technology must also consider how to manage the data while also keeping realistic expectations of the system’s limitations. The amount of data gained from the system can be difficult to learn and hard to manage. Precision dairy monitoring cannot tell a producer how to manage a herd, but it certainly can serve as an additional source of monitoring cows. When the right technology is purchased, a producer often sees the benefits in timelier, more detailed and automated reports, fewer labor costs, and increased quality of life for both cow and the producer. Jeffrey Bewley is an assistant professor in animal and food sciences at the University of Kentucky, where his program focuses on precision dairy technology implementation. Amanda Lee is a graduate research assistant in the University of Kentucky Department of Animal and Food Sciences.
July 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 9 PEOPLE PERSPECTIVE
Know the power of habits HANK WAGNER
Habits – those settled, regular tendencies or practices that can be particularly difficult to give up – drive our everyday choices in a more powerful way than one might think. Generally it’s not the conscious decisions we make that deterHank Wagner mine our successes and failures each day, but our habits. A 2006 Duke University study found that more than 40 percent of actions people perform every day are habit-based and not decision-based. Hundreds of times a day, we behave subconsciously. More specifically, studies show that between 75 percent and 92 percent of our behaviors are actually habits – those things we do with little to no conscious awareness. Our bodies were created so important functions like breathing, the beating of the heart, the moving of certain muscles and many other things are performed without us needing to think about them on a conscious level. Habits are much like this. Once formed, we do things without really thinking about them. Most people brush their teeth before going to bed each night without much thought – it’s simply a habit. The same can be said for the way a person sorts through junk mail and important mail, places keys in the appropriate place when walking in the door, and the way a person greets a spouse and kids. Once established, habits can serve really well – or they can doom us to failure, depending on the habit. Fortunately we can choose to develop good habits and eliminate bad habits, once we understand how they form. Habits begin in our conscious minds as a thought followed by an action – the conscious decision to do a particular thing.
Once that action is repeated for a length of time, it becomes a habit. Once the habit is formed it will be performed in an increasingly more automatic or subconscious manner. That is why habits can be so difficult to change, because they eventually become subconscious choices. Scientists have found that a particular part of our brains becomes active when we are developing a new habit. However, once we’ve consciously decided to perform the activity during a long-enough time frame, brain activity dramatically decreases, freeing space for other responsibilities. Soon a person has a habit rather than an activity that requires a conscious decision. Popular thought is that it takes 21 days of repeated conscious behavior to develop a habit, but science disagrees. In 2009, University College London researchers found it takes an average of 66 days to develop a habit, but the range was large – 18 to 254 days. Not surprisingly, easier behaviors take fewer days to transition from a conscious decision to subconscious habit, while more complex behaviors take longer. It takes determined, focused effort to change habits. The first step is to be more aware of habits and then consciously decide which habits we want to keep, add or eliminate. Successful people aren’t just luckier. They’ve often done the hard work it takes to be successful, but they’ve also learned to develop the right habits and stop the destructive habits. Books and quotes about the power of habits are easy to find; “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg is one such book. Frederick Matthias Alexander, an Australian actor who developed a technique to recognize and overcome habitual limitations – called the “Alexander Technique” was famous for saying “People do
From left, Shawn Wagner, Laura Raatz and Moises Palacios are among an ever-growing group of dairy-farm employees who understand that forming good habits is critical to business and personal success.
not decide their futures. They decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.” Leaders who understand the profound effect habits have are in a position to dramatically improve not only their own personal and business lives, but also the lives of people and
communities around them. Make the decision today to live a life of good-habit forming. Hank Wagner is a dairy producer and a John Maxwell Team teacher, mentor, speaker and coach. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
10 July 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line
Culture of safety Understand how cattle learn DON HÖGLUND
Creating a culture of handling safety on dairy farms is critical to productivity. To do this, we need to understand how dairy cattle learn. Learning is the process of gaining knowledge or skill by studying, practicing, being taught or experiencing something. For dairy Don Hoglund cattle to learn, it takes a relatively permanent change in the probability of a response occurring from an experience. Their response to a situation is an observable one rather than a cognitive one. The basic learning concepts that apply to humans, horses and swine also apply to dairy cattle. Though there are some variations in sensory perception, previous experiences and genetic influences, there are more commonalities in learning styles across these species than differences.
Type of outcome Positive reinforcement Negative reinforcement Positive punishment Negative punishment Nothing
Once we know how dairy cattle learn, we can employ the most humane and effective practices. Associative learning, the process by which a person or animal learns an association between a behavior and a stimulus, has two forms: classical and operant conditioning. A classical conditioning example is, feed is presented to a dairy cow. As a result, she investigates and has a physical
Positive to the animal
Negative to the animal
response – for one, her heart rate increases. If a human is routinely associated with the feed being presented, the dairy cow will soon associate the human with the feed, and she’ll have a similar physical response to the human as she would have to the feed alone. See illustration. To make cattle handling efficient, it’s also important to understand natural survival
behaviors and how to incorporate those instincts to influence learning. Most of today’s popular training techniques co n s i d e r t h e i n s t i n c t ive responses of an animal to make working with them easier. Recognizing how dairy cattle interpret their environment is key to effective training. Otherwise, handlers are merely doing things – standing here and moving there.
Description of the outcome Something positive is added (reward) – action is likely to occur again Something negative is removed – action is likely to occur again Something negative is added – action is less likely to occur again Something positive is removed – action is less likely to occur again Behavior is eventually extinguished unless it is internally rewarding
July 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 11 In classical conditioning, the neutral signal or stimulus comes before the response – the dairy cow sees the feed and then her heart rate increases. In operant conditioning the response comes after the stimulus – a cow decides not to go into a specific stall again after a bad experience. A further distinction between the two types of learning is that classical conditioning involves an involuntary, instinctive response whereas operant conditioning involves voluntary behaviors. See illustration below. In stockmanship terms, the stimulation of livestock is often referred to as a form of pressure. Behaviorists prefer to use the word “stimulus” instead of mental pressure because stimulus can be quantified while mental pressure is difficult to measure. For example, as a handler approaches a cow, she begins to perceive stimulus from the handler’s encroachment. Her sight and hearing are
Once we know how dairy cattle learn, we can employ the most humane and effective practices. Associative learning, the process by which a person or animal learns an association between a behavior and a stimulus, has two forms: classical and operant conditioning. the primary senses engaged, and her exact response to the handler’s presence can depend on various factors such as the cow’s prior experiences, previous human interactions, distance between the cow and the handler, and any competing environment stimuli. Other factors that play a part in her response include nearby
natural or artificial boundaries, husbandry practices, the health, well-being and age of the animal, and even the time of day. By observing the response of the cattle being worked with, handlers can quickly learn how these stimuli influence their behavior. Minimizing stimuli that cause a negative response
in cattle leads to more productive, humane and efficient work – for both the handler and the animal. If the handling process is humane, safe and efficient, then it is effective and productive – and probably more profitable, too. Don Höglund MS, DVM, speaks on Dairy Stockmanship.
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12 July 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line
Focus on Agriculture Put your money where your milk is Focus on Energy
Milk-cooling expense is the largest energy expenditure on a dairy farm. So there is a significant opportunity to cut energy costs by upgrading existing equipment and installing new, more efficient equipment. Two pieces of milk-cooling equipment that drastically reduce energy use are a milk pre-cooler and a refrigeration compressor. A pre-cooler takes heat from milk by sending it through a plate heat exchanger, which pairs warm milk on one side of the plate with cold well water on the other. That quickly lowers the milk’s temperature to within a few degrees of well-water temperature. Refrigeration compressors quickly cool milk below 45 degrees – a requirement of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Pasteurized Milk Ordinance. Using a scroll compressor to cool the milk is about 15 percent to 20 percent more efficient than a reciprocating compressor of similar size. Because milk cooling draws the most energy on a dairy farm, it pays to invest in efficient technology. To save energy and money on a farm: 1. Invest in a correctly sized plate cooler. When considering a platecooler purchase, choose the right size. A plate cooler that’s too small for the milk output will require significantly more time and energy to take the milk temperature down to well-water temperature. Also keep in mind that milk is slightly acidic, so it’s best to invest in a stainless steel plate cooler to avoid rust and bacteria build-up.
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As expensive as milk-cooling costs are, it pays to invest in efficient, properly maintained equipment.
2. Identify the plate cooler water-to-milk flow ratio. The water-to-milk flow ratio directly impacts the amount of heat transferred out of the milk. Typically a 1:1 ratio is recommended. But by increasing water flow, heat transfer can be increased to gain additional degrees of milk cooling. The flow ratio can be controlled through the use of a variable-frequency drive on the milk pump, or a solenoid valve on the water pipe to account for variations in milk volume. The diameter and length of the water pipe are limiting
factors for the system’s maximum water flow. When using a plate cooler, use at least a 1-inch-diameter pipe to allow for sufficient amount of water flow. 3. Select a scroll compressor with a high energy-efficiency ratio. Select a scroll compressor with a high energy-efficiency ratio. Energy-efficiency ratio measures the efficiency of a compressor based on certain evaporating and condensing temperatures. More money will be saved in the long run if the more efficient scroll compressor is purchased, versus
purchasing a less efficient, inexpensive compressor. 4. Perform proper maintenance. As with all milking equipment, regular maintenance is key to ensuring a long, productive life for a scroll compressor and plate cooler. The main focus in maintaining a plate cooler is keeping the unit clean and free from milk-scale build-up, which can lead to bacteria growth when left untouched. Scroll compressors should be checked during a refrigeration tune-up. Many companies offer an annual tune-up service to keep a refrigeration system running at its peak. A tune-up can also uncover potential issues before they arise, and can increase the operating efficiency of a compressor. Fo r m o r e i d e a s o n implementing energy-efficient practices, check out Focus on Energy’s “Agriculture Energy Efficiency Best Practices Guide.” Visit focusonenergy. com/guidebooks to download a free copy or to request a hard copy be mailed. Focus on Energy works with eligible Wisconsin residents and businesses to install cost-effective energy-efficient and renewable energy projects.
July 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 13
Year is at halfway point: Be prepared for second half MARY ELVEKROG
As we begin the second half of 2016, we have some tough things behind us. May was the lowest month for milk prices so far this year. The May-June stretch is in the rear-view mirror – that’s typically the most expensive time frame all year on account of proMary ducers buying Elvekrog seed, fertilizer and chemical inputs, and often hiring more help for custom manure hauling and planting-season chores. While the year ahead still holds unforeseeable challenges, a recent increase in Class III milk prices alongside decreases in many feed and crop costs offer some welcome relief. To be as prepared as possible for the remainder of the
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To be as prepared as possible for the remainder of the year – and to effectively manage any business – it’s critical to know a dairy’s profit and loss numbers. year – and to effectively manage any business – it’s critical to know a dairy’s profit and loss numbers. The full-year look will always tell a clearer story than a month-at-aglance view, and it’s often a more positive snapshot. Now’s the time to look back and project forward. With numbers at hand, review each line item and category. Then project what each will total at the end of the year. Some months in the business are naturally tighter than others, which is why taking the time to project each month within the year is critical. It will also help more clearly define what role a lender may need to play.
When reviewing a profit and loss statement, assess: • Loan payback How fast are loans being paid? Rapid debt repayment is commendable when it’s affordable, but paying debt too quickly can unnecessarily tighten cash flow. Talk to the lender to see if any loans can be restructured. • Inventory management If feed or heifer/youngstock inventory has been increased during the past couple of years, this may be the year to sell some. Typically dairy sales bring more profit than cull cows, so manage first-lactation heifers to maximize return on those assets.
• Year-to-date profit or loss Take a fresh look at ways to generate income through revenue streams other than milk income. Likewise, review operation expenses and determine if any costs can be cut in the months ahead, focusing especially on areas that couldn’t be cut earlier in the year. For those who have been farming for more than a couple of years, the “times are tight” road is familiar. The checking account may not have enough funds and the operating loan may be fully disbursed, but to make a sound financial plan going forward it’s important to evaluate projections with a lender. The outlook may be better than anticipated at the start of the year. Mary Elvekrog is a dairy-lending specialist with Badgerland Financial — mission sponsor of PDPW.
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14 July 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line
On-farm Twilight Meetings coming soon
Open Aug. 23 will be Ruedinger Farms, home to, clockwise from back left, John and Karen Ruedinger, Jamie Zappa, Zachary and Ava, and David Zappa.
Merry Water Farms employees will be available for a twilight meeting Aug. 22 — from left in front, Joe Wanda and Chantel York. Back, from left, are Brad Kauer, Trevor York, Ken York, John Tueting, Quinn York, Jeff Vandenlangenberg, Keith York and Lance York.
From left, Brian Forrest, Ken Hein and Phil Hein will open Maple Ridge Dairy for a twilight meeting to be held Aug. 24.
From left, Randy, Dale and David Styer of Alfalawn Farms will host a twilight meeting Aug. 25 for discussion of dairy issues.
Co m i n g so o n a re fo u r on-farm twilight meetings designed to bring farm and nonfarm people and families together for a night of learning, fun and open conversation. Sponsored by the Wisconsin Counties Association, the Wisconsin Towns Association and the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin, each meeting is free and open to the public. The Agricultural Community Engagement meetings aren’t just for families and neighbors, but also for local community leaders and dairy producers to come together to learn from one another. At each meeting, participants will be treated to a 60-minute guided tour of the hosting dairy; open dialogue will follow while enjoying ice cream. The discussion time is designed to provide a casual platform for open communication, with questions and answers regarding farm life, dairying, milk production and any other
Webinar to showcase cover crops A webinar through the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin will explore goals and expected outcomes when planting cover crops – and learn why they’re an effective tool for erosion control, nutrient capture and forage generation. The August online seminar will feature Matthew Ruark, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Soil Science. He will talk through countless options as well as the pros and cons for dairy producers who incorporate cover crops in their business operations. The webinar will be held from noon to 1 p.m. Aug.17. Whether producers have worked with cover crops for years and or are new to implementing them, all stand to gain invaluable insight on the
topic. Ruark, who serves as faculty advisor in the UW-Discovery Farms program and on the Executive Committee for the Midwest Cover Crops Council, has a wealth of experience to offer. Having earned his Agronomy Ph.D. from Purdue University in 2006, followed by post-doctoral research work in 2006-2008 at the University of California-Davis, he currently runs a fully integrated research and extension program. Priorities of Ruark’s Nutrient Cycling and Agroecosystems Laboratory are four-fold: • To improve the understanding of carbon and nitrogen cycling in dairy production systems • To evaluate nitrogen fertilizer sources across different soil
issues important to the participants. Join a meeting at one of the following farms: Aug. 22: Merry-Water Farms, owned by Keith and Ken York, and their cousin John Tueting, N1240 Hillside Road, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin Aug. 23: Ruedinger Farms Inc., owned by John and Karen Ruedinger, and daughter and son-in-law Jamie and David Zappa, W7222 Cemetery Road, Van Dyne, Wisconsin Aug. 24: Maple Ridge Dairy Business, owned by the Phil Hein family along with Brian Forrest, EP4231 March Rapids Ave., Stratford, Wisconsin Aug. 25: Alfalawn Farm, owned by Randy, Dale and David Styer, E2850 Wisconsin Highway 72, Menomonie, Wisconsin The meetings will begin with dairy tours at 6 p.m. Discussion and ice cream will be offered from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Visit pdpw. org for more information. Matthew Ruark, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Soil Science, currently runs the Nutrient Cycling and Agroecosystems Laboratory — a fully integrated research program.
types and cropping systems to improve production and use-efficiency while reducing impacts to surface and groundwater • To assess the role of soil physical and biological measurement for use in nutrient-management planning, and • To evaluate the benefits of cover crops for crop production and soil health.
Don’t miss the webinar; it’s sure to be a powerhouse of information. Register by Aug. 10 to receive log-in information in order to participate. Those who register will also receive a link to listen to the recording afterward. PDPW member cost is $100; non-PDPW member cost is $125.Visit www.pdpw.org or call 800-947-7379 for more information.
July 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 15
Write and implement SOPs Having written standard operating procedures can help a dairy function at optimal performance. The written instructions are gaining more traction and validity in dairies of all sizes. But, while a Standard Operating Procedure document can contribute to employee understanding and even job satisfaction, they can be somewhat intimidating to put on paper. Most dairy producers are more in-tune with day-to-day decisions regarding their livestock, milking practices, calf-raising protocols, breeding programs, waste handling, feed management, employees, schedules and financials than they are writing about procedures. Still, standard operating procedures have shown themselves to be an integral piece of the dairy puzzle. Pennsylvania State University has developed a process to make the writing process easier so dairy producers can establish excellent procedures – while also bringing their employees on-board to adopt those practices. To start, determine what the business goals are so they can be effectively written in a procedure and communicated to the dairy team. Once specific practices are
Pete Kappelman of Meadow Brook Farms in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, takes time for office work. Writing effective standard operating procedures might mean spending time in the office, but can make a positive difference in any dairy, no matter the size.
defined, with operation followed in each area of management, further break those down into specific procedures and steps. Then writing can begin. The end goal in the writing process of a dairy’s standard operating procedure should be to unite the dairy’s team. Procedures need to be clarified – procedures that employees need to follow on a daily, seasonal or by-incident basis.
Follow seven steps to move from thinking about standard operating procedures to actually writing about them. 1) Plan for results with specific business goals in mind. 2) Observe current business procedures and then put them in writing, by category. Those include milking procedure, processes to follow when a calf is born, equipment use and maintenance, and much more. Be
concise and clear, and use flowcharts and graphs as necessary to simplify understanding. 3) Give each worker who performs a procedure a copy of the first draft and ask him or her to review and suggest changes. 4) Run the written procedures by a veterinarian, nutritionist and other consultant to hear their input 5) Test all the procedures on the operation, revising any steps that cause confusion or hesitation for a worker. The best way to test them is to ask someone unfamiliar with a specific practice to follow the written procedure. 6) Print a final draft of the procedure and post it in appropriate areas – office, calf barn, equipment shed, etc. 7) Train or re-train workers, sharing with them why procedures happen. When employees understand why calf-feeding equipment is cleaned in a certain way, they’re much more likely to comply than if they’re simply told to “Do it like this.” Every dairy can have effective, well-written standard operating procedures. Visit http://extension.psu. edu and search for “sop” for more information.
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