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Volume 18: Issue 4 June 2016

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

INSIDE THIS ISSUE A closer look at ag-gag laws Page 2 People Perspective: success, growth and leadership

Page 4

Robotic milking: pro or con

Page 12 Tours focus on environment and water

Page 8

Don’t make drastic decisions STEVE SCHWOERER

The saying, “what goes up must come down,” holds true not only for gravity but also for the market. In this case I’m talking about milk prices. After a record year in 2014, those impressive milk prices have fallen off considerably and are predicted to remain low throughout 2 0 16. T h e decrease in milk income Steve along with Schwoerer falling beef prices has put a huge dent in cash flows for dairy farmers. The first question I typically hear from the dairy farmers I work with is, “If I can’t guarantee enough income, where can I cut costs?” My response remains consistent: “If you are efficiently managing your dairy business, there should not be many costs you can cut.” I would like to think dairy farmers look at their costs and aim to be just as efficient when milk is $20 per hundredweight or $13 per hundredweight. No one wants to have any more costs than necessary. While we have seen some input costs such as fuel and feed decrease, it’s certainly not at the same rate as the income decrease based on milk prices. That being said, when we do look at costs it’s important

Cutting feed costs for the sake of cutting costs may actually make cash flow even worse.

to concentrate on those that 2. Labor costs have the most impact to the It’s easy to decrease labor costs by letting people go or bottom line. decreasing hours but, like Things to keep in mind feed costs, consider the effects. A short-term solution 1. Feed costs may have long-lasting conseFeed is a large expense on a quences, especially if the dairy. No matter the milk remaining workers are overprice, aim to feed cows a worked and potentially ration that is at optimum effi- unhappy. ciency for cost and production. While it is true a pro- 3. Veterinary and breeding ducer can cut costs drastically Breeding expenses can easby cutting the feed bill, what ily be reduced by using will it do to milk production? cheaper bulls, but is the Dairy herds need to be at short-term reduced cost maximum production all the worth risking the future qualtime because milk prices will ity of the herd? Veterinary increase again. When they do calls can also be limited, but the producer needs to be in a what affect will that have on position to take advantage of the overall health of the herd? higher prices with maximum production. But looking for 4. Fertilizer, seed and lower-cost alternatives for chemicals feed is definitely something to Total costs can be greatly look at as long as production decreased by reducing the and components can be main- amount of chemicals and fertained. Long story short – tilizer applied on crops, as cutting feed costs for the sake well as by buying lower-cost of cutting costs may actually and possibly lower-quality make cash flow even worse. See DECISIONS, on page 3

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


2 June 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

‘Ag-gag’ – more harm than good 1901 Fish Hatchery Road Madison, Wisconsin 53713 Toll-Free: 1-888-AGRI-VIEW Madison Phone: 608-250-4162 Madison Fax: 608-250-4155 agriview@madison.com www.agriview.com

PDPW Leadership Board President Mitch Breunig Sauk City, Wis. mysticvalley@wildblue.net‌ Vice President Marty Hallock Mondovi, Wis. marbec@nelson-tel.net‌ Secretary Kay Zwald Hammond, Wis. rfkz@centurytel.net‌ Treasurer Charlie Crave Waterloo, Wis. charles@cravecheese.com‌ Directors Brian Forrest Stratford, Wis. bforrest70@gmail.com Jay Heeg Colby, Wis. jcheeg@yahoo.com Jeremy Natzke Greenleaf, Wis. jnatzke@yahoo.com Dan Scheider Freeport, Ill. dnscheider@gmail.com Linda White Reedsburg, Wis. linda@krdairy.com‌ PDPW Advisors‌ Eric Cooley UW-Discovery Farms Sturgeon Bay, Wis. etcooley@wisc.edu Steve Schwoerer Badgerland Financial Fond du Lac, Wis. steve.schwoerer@ badgerlandfinancial.com Chad Staudinger Dairyland Seed St. Nazianz, Wis. cstaudinger@dairylandseed.com Richard Wallace Zoetis McFarland, Wis. richard.l.wallace@zoetis.com‌

KATY PROUDFOOT

Are “ag-gag” laws the best way to respond to undercover videos? According to new research out of the University of British Columbia’s Animal Welfare Program, farm-protection laws, also known as ag-gag laws, may be doing more harm than good. Using a survey of 716 adults in the United States, researchers discovered that simply learning about these laws reduces people’s trust in farmers and increases their support for Katy s t r i c te r a n i Proudfoot mal-welfare legislation. The term ag-gag has been used to describe legislation that restricts or bans audio and video recording taken on farms without the permission of the farmer. That type of legislation has been introduced in at least 16 states, and has passed into law in eight. Those in favor of ag-gag laws believe that banning undercover videos can help protect the privacy of fa r m e r s , w h e r e a s t h o s e opposed to the laws believe they unfairly criminalize people who expose animal abuse on farms – and may make it look like the food-animal industry has something to hide. The study, led by PhD candidate Jesse Robbins, sought to discover what impact these laws have on the general public in the United States, and was specifically interested to know if the laws reduced people’s trust in farmers as sources of information about farm-animal well-being. To do this, Robbins recruited a diverse group of Americans to take an online survey; they represented a wide range in age, income, education, political affiliation, gender, eating habits and location. Half the participants were provided information about farm-protection

laws, including the most common points for and against them. For a comparison, the other half of the participants were not provided with information about these laws. Both groups were then asked to rate whether they agreed with a variety of statements assessing the trustworthiness of farmers as sources of information on animal care. They study used a seven-point scale where 1 meant “strongly disagree,” 4 meant “neutral,” and 7 meant “strongly agree.” Participants also answered questions about their perceptions of various controversial issues like animal welfare. After totaling the scores, researchers found that simply learning about those laws eroded trust in farmers. Scores from people who were asked to read about ag-gag laws hovered below a 4 – “slightly distrusting,” whereas those who did not read about the laws were closer to a 4.5 – “slightly trusting.” The finding was the same regardless of a person’s background – Republicans, D e m o c ra ts, ve ge ta r i a n s, meat-eaters, city dwellers, suburbia-dwellers or rural folks – all had lower trust in farmers after reading about the laws. Researchers also discovered that learning about ag-gag laws made people more likely to believe that farm animals are poorly cared for, and increased their support for stricter laws to protect farm animals. Together these results support the view that the laws create the impression that farmers have something to hide, causing more damage to the industry than what was initially thought. So, if ag-gag legislation is not the answer, what is the best way to respond to undercover videos? The best approach is to prevent employee behavior that could make an undercover video go viral in the first place. The dairy industry prides itself in taking good care of their

animals; animal abuse on farms is uncommon. However the most widespread undercover videos of dairy animals show a cow, heifer or calf being handled, moved or killed inappropriately by farm employees. In other cases, animals may be treated in such a way that the industry considers normal, but the public finds unacceptable. Taking a hard look at farm practices, as the dairy industry has recently done with tail docking, is a good way to assure the public that dairy farmers proudly have nothing to hide. In response to those videos, the dairy industry has taken important steps to prevent animal abuse. The National Milk Producers Federation, the Center for Food Integrity and the U.S. pork sector created the “See it, Stop It” campaign to help empower farm employees to take the initiative to swiftly report and stop animal abuse when they see it. And for farms enrolled in the National Milk Producers Federation National Dairy’s “Farmers Assuring Responsible Management” program, a dairy-cattle care, ethics and training agreement must be signed by all employees once per year. Employees agree in signing that they have been trained in good stockmanship and areas of responsibility such as calf care and more, that they will not abuse animals and that they will report abuse if they see it. Although ag-gag laws may erode trust in farmers, creating proactive strategies like those to prevent animal abuse is sure to boost public perception and trust in an industry that prides itself in good animal care. Katy Proudfoot is an assistant professor and Extension SpecialistAnimal Welfare & Behavior with the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine at The Ohio State University. Contact her at proudfoot.18@osu.edu for more information.


June 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 3

Decisions

versus items it would be nice to replace. Is it a want or a need? Typically in a tight-cash-flow year the want list must be put aside for another year.

Continued from page 1

seed. But consider the impact if lower costs lead to lower yields. There is a theme here. While all the examples are areas to potentially cut costs in the short term, they could have significant impact for a dairy in the long term. Is it worth risking longterm profitability and the health of the dairy herd? Instead it’s also important to consider cost-conscious financial strategies when milk prices decrease and cash flow is tight.

8. ‌Milk quality/quantity

University of Wisconsin Dairy Marketing and Risk Management Program

5. L ‌ oan payments

Look at all loans and determine how long each loan is amortized. If there is a heavy loan payment, ask the lender to reduce the principle and interest payment to a more reasonable level. A reduction in monthly loan payments can possibly have the same effect as adding $1 to $2 per hundredweight onto the milk price.

Perhaps some loans can be consolidated to reduce payments. Interest-only on loans is another option. Strong communication with the lender is important; ask what options are available.

machinery and buildings and nothing more. In a better cashflow year more extensive repairs can be, and should be, made. 7. ‌Limit capital purchases

While it’s important to replace some capital items each year, In a low-milk-price year, only during low milk prices prioritize make necessary repairs to the items that need to be replaced ‌6. Repairs

This is important on a dairy operation all the time but especially in low-milk-price years. Keep in mind not every dairy farmer receives the same mailbox price as everyone else. Premiums added to a milk check can be a huge source of additional income. Some dairy farmers receive $1.25 to $3 in additional premiums based on somatic cell count, and butterfat and protein content. Check those numbers and consider what can be done to maximize premiums received. Those who receive close to $3 per hundredweight premiums have definite advantages over others. Keep in mind we are still paid for pounds of butterfat and protein, so do not reduce milk production to increase components. In a See DECISIONS, on page 4


4 June 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Decisions Continued from page 3

as much quality milk as possible on a dairy operation to ensure long-term viability. Overall, the main point I want to convey is to not make drastic decisions on a dairy farm when milk prices go down. While there are no easy answers when milk prices drop as much as they have, maintain the same practices that have made a dairy successful in the past. Continue to keep longterm profitability, production and health of the dairy herd as the main priority. Focus on milk quantity and quality to maximize the milk check. At today’s milk prices there will probably be losses in profitability. This is a year when maybe the best possibility is to minimize losses and make sure to be at optimum efficiency to take advantage of higher milk prices when they bounce back – which we all hope is sooner rather than later.

perfect scenario we are increasing production and components, and reducing somatic cell count. In a poor-milk-price year every 25 to 50 cents per hundredweight we can add to a milk check will help. I typically tell my customers the right combination of pounds and components — the number to have as a goal — is 6 pounds of combined butterfat and protein. For example, 90 pounds of milk with a 3.6 percent butterfat and 3.1 percent protein is 6.03 pounds of combined butterfat and protein. Basically add the butterfat and protein percentages together and multiply by the pounds of milk production per cow per day. A 100,000 somatic cell count or less is also another goal to strive for to maximize that milk check. In addition, while Steve Schwoerer is a dairy lending the industry is currently flush in specialist with Badgerland Financial, milk, it is always best to produce a mission sponsor of PDPW.

“Everyone learning Dairy Stockmanship knows it is a

site-specific education and that skillful handling is learned on live-animals, ” says Dr. Michaela Kristula, director of the large animal Field Service program at University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine. “Though several animal handling programs are available, we contacted Dr. Don Höglund because his hands-on dairy stockmanship training program extends beyond compliance with the FARM program to the final result of first-calf heifers calmly entering the milking parlor under the guidance of calm and confident handlers. That can have a profound effect on safety and the return on investment.” Spanish and English. Contact: Dr. Michaela Kristula DVM, MS dhoglund@dairystockmanship.com

PEOPLE PERSPECTIVE

Prioritize success, growth, leadership HANK WAGNER

These three powerful words – success, growth and leadership – have something in common. YOU! Each word is dependent on the others. I believe you can’t have any of them at their fullest without having all of them engaged, and working together. What does success look like to you? Ask a hundred people that question and there will be 100 different answers. It’s okay to have different visions of success; each person is different and it should be that way. We often allow others to Hank Wagner have far too much impact on our individual pictures of success. We allow society, culture, and what others think and do to minimize what is really important to us, in our formula for success. Our vision of success often includes financial goals or expectations. Many of us are running businesses that cannot be successful without a profit. But there should be so much more that is thought about in a success plan. What does success look like to you regarding the people and relationships in your lives? What personal goals or dreams are burning inside of you that should not be forgotten? Fast forward your life five, 10 or even 20 years. What might success look like then, and what would you like to tell yourself to start doing today? Our ability to see what success can look like for us is highly impacted by our second word, growth. Many times we look at the current circumstances in our lives and we believe they are a reflection of our potential, which is a crippling success-destroying process. Or we let the thoughts, words or actions of others cloud our vision of what is truly possible for us. We allow our “perceived” failures to damage our self-esteem and destroy our ability to see the

amazing potential within us. What we believe about ourselves has more impact on who we become than anything else. Far too often we allow others to convince us that we are not able to achieve a high level of success. Listen to a small child talk about everything they plan to achieve in his or her lifetime, and you will hear majestic pictures of success and potential. But then as that child matures we watch those dreams and their potential become minimized or destroyed. The level of success in our lives, and our ability to accurately see and believe in our potential, should have little to do with what others think or believe. It is really all about what the person we see in the mirror every day thinks and believes, and that brings us to the third important word – leadership. Many people think leadership is about a position and about working on others to do what we want them to do – but both couldn’t be farther from the truth. Leadership is about influence and that influence must always begin with us. Most people don’t understand the life-altering impact of leading ourselves first. Studies have shown that up to 92 percent of our daily actions and behaviors happen without us even thinking about them. And many of those actions or behaviors originate from belief systems that all of us have. What do you believe about your potential? Can you look in the mirror and humbly see the potential to impact the world? You are loaded with potential, and you will determine what success is and if it is achieved. Your full potential, and your success, cannot happen without leadership, and that leadership must begin with you. Hank Wagner is a dairy producer and a John Maxwell Team teacher, mentor, speaker and coach. Contact him at hwagner@frontiernet.net for more information.


June 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 5

Financial-success strategies offered Ever-changing global and national economics have the dairy industry eager to secure profitability during tight times. Economist and teacher Dave Kohl is offering sensible strategies to dairy producers, lenders, agribusinesses and others serving the industry in a two-part webinar series entitled “Success During an Economic Reset.” The first webinar will examine the state of worldwide and domestic trends that will influence the industry for some time to come. It will also challenge the mindset of the industry and prompt strategic business planning. Kohl will answer 10 of today’s most commonly asked questions by dairy farmers. In the second webinar, Kohl will share specific tools for producers to use to mitigate economic pressures. He will explain key financial metrics and discuss

Webinar details PDPW member cost is $100 per session. Cost to register for both seminars is $175. NonPDPW member cost is $125 per session; cost to register for both seminars is $225. Registered viewers can watch a fully recorded version at a later time if desired.

ways farmers and lenders can work side by side to develop solutions for success. As a midyear checkpoint, this webinar will serve as a valuable tool to monitor business progress. David Kohl received his M.S. and PhD degrees in Agricultural Economics from Cornell University. He is professor emeritus at Virginia Tech and travels the United States as an agriculture “Road Warrior” speaking about agricultural finances, trends and

outlooks. As a regular columnist for Corn & Soybean Digest, Kohl lends his insight to farm management, specifically the financial end of farm management. The webinars, both held on Wednesdays, are designed for all those in the dairy business. Participate in both to save money, or select just one. ‌• Webinar 1: “Position Your Dairy for Economic Success” Noon to 1 p.m. June 8 – register by June 1 ‌•Webinar 2: “Financial and Management Strategies in the Dairy Economic Reset” Noon to 1 p.m. July 6 – register by June 29 Visit www.pdpw.org or 800-947-7379 for more information or to register.

The PDPW World Class Webinar Series is for those in the dairy business or interested in the dairy business. Beginning June 8, join David Kohl, world-renowned dairy and financial guru, when he provides down-to-earth training on how to approach business and decisions.

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6 June 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Culture of safety transforms workplace Success in working with dairy cattle is not related to the intelligence or lack of it on the part of the animals. It really depends on the animal’s ability to try behaviors until something works. The process of moving an animal from point A to point B can be distressful and reactive – a trial-and-error attempt in which the human finally lucks out at finishing the job. Or it can be a low-energy experience for the human and the animals. Which it is will depend on the human’s understanding of how an animal perceives its world, how animals learn, the relative importance of its social peers, and what motivates an animal to avoid or escape threats. With that knowledge, appropriate techniques can be used to humanely create an outcome that is efficient and safe for all involved. Failing to understand how animals learn and why they

Kathy M Helgeson/University of Wisconsin-River Falls

University of Wisconsin-River Falls students learn about dairy science — including how to handle cows.

respond to their environment as they do can have welfare and well-being implications for human and animal. It also has consumer-perception and profit consequences. Creating a culture of handling safety on dairy farms should

Twohig Rietbrock Schneider & Halbach “Attorneys for Agriculture” (920) 849 - 4999

begin with the simultaneous education of ownership, management and staff in the validated principles of how animals actually learn. Then those principles should be practiced in real time. A person likely cannot learn to drive a car, play a piano or ride a unicycle by watching a video of someone else doing it. No amount of education can build animal-handling skill or talent if the knowledge of learning theory is not practiced by all handlers on a given farm and consistently applied in the pastures, pens or parlors. Efficient handlers understand that dairy cattle observe the world around them and respond

based on previous experiences, sensory input, inherited traits and species-typical behaviors. Safe handlers understand that animals are reacting to human presence and action in a given environment. Observant handlers also recognize that the best predictor of future animal behavior is past animal behavior. Animal behavior can be changed through thoughtful alterations in handler behavior. Defending against challenges, regulating fluid levels, reproducing, maintaining body temperature and consuming nutrient energy are typical cattle survival behaviors. In that way they are no different than people. There are differences, however. Those lie in different experiences, perceptions and behavior. Knowledge of animal behavior and neurology have matured to the point that veterinarians and animal scientists can now use terms and phrases that respect the differences between animals and humans. Humans have the unique potential for verbal language – and that underlies some of the fundamental distinctions between the species. The belief that language, sensory perception, cognition and culture shape human experiences, including emotions, is well accepted in

Legal, business and planning solutions for Wisconsin’s farms and agribusinesses.

FIGURE 1: During herding, if a cow walks calmly, follow her. If she runs, back up until she walks and then follow her to the parlor. If a cow kicks the suction off in the parlor, put it back on as soon as possible. If not, kicking works for her and she will repeat it. Modern dairies teach calves to face handlers. Learn how to teach animals to herd. Aggression is a learned behavior that can be spotted in the weaning pens. Learn how to avoid reinforcing it.


June 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 7

From birth, dairy cattle observe the world around them and respond based on sensory input, inherited traits and species-typical behaviors.

neuroscience. The lack of language and culture, and the differences in sensory capabilities, mean animals cannot experience the world the way humans do. That also means that animal feelings, whatever they might be, cannot be the same. Educated and skilled handlers realize that animal behaviors are n o t re l i a b l e ev i d e n ce o f unknowable animal feelings or mental motivations. That indicates that human mental

motivations, such as fear, sadness, trust, friendliness and happiness, should not be used to describe animal behaviors – including their physiology. We can describe what animals do and when they tend do it, but not what they are potentially thinking or feeling. Regardless of the variations between dairy cattle and humans – or in the similarities of overt expressions of behavior – gentle, consistent and

Wolfgang Hoffmann

Creating a culture of handling safety on dairy farms should begin with the simultaneous education of ownership, management and staff in the validated principles of how animals actually learn. A cow is handled carefully in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Milking Parlor.

non-threatening handling can help to establish a relationship. That type of relationship empowers a farm culture with safe, efficient, humane and productive results for animals and their human handlers. Knowledge about animal-learning

principles should be known before handling skill is practiced. Authors are Don Höglund MS, DVM, Dairy Stockmanship; Michaela Kristula DVM, MS, University of Pennsylvania-College of Veterinary Medicine; and Amber Adams Progar, PhD, Washington State University.


8 June 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Water tours highlight innovation, collaboration Farms, municipalities and businesses all around Wisconsin are responding to the 2010 Phosphorus Rule by forming unconventional partnerships and stepping up to the plate to protect water resources. Wisconsin was the second state to establish a phosphorus rule and the first to offer a Watershed Adaptive Management Option. Because this option was the first of its kind, it was difficult to anticipate how it would play out in communities around the state. The collaboration and innovation that has taken place in response to the legislation is astounding. Water tours open for all An opportunity to see those innovative partnerships in action will be offered on three upcoming water-quality bus tours. The tours will be held June 7 in Cashton, June 14 in Green Bay, and June 21 in Oconomowoc. Each tour will feature farms, wastewater-treatment facilities, and businesses using a combination of science, engineering and management to achieve common goals. Those who are curious about adaptive management are in luck. A stop on each tour will feature treatment plants that are beginning to use adaptive management as a strategy to meet discharge requirements. Learn how employees are working with communities on phosphorus trading. During the Cashton tour, visit a recently finished stream-restoration site, one of the Sparta wastewater-treatment plant’s first steps toward reduction of phosphorus loads. During the Green Bay tour, visit a dairy to speak with farmers who are involved in phosphorus trading and adaptive management. Focus on soil health Information on the tours will help producers minimize losses on their farms. Each tour will feature the University of WisconsinDiscovery Farms program, which

has been working side-by-side with Wisconsin farmers for 15 years on identifying ways to minimize losses from farm fields. On each tour, hear from Discovery Farms’ farmer-partners. Participating farmers have received farm-level water-quality data, nutrient-management planning assistance and whole-farm walkovers. They collaborate with Discovery Farms on nitrogen-use efficiency. Water-quality data will be shared; leave with straightforward and science-backed management tips that can be put to work right away. More than anything each tour is focused on discussion and collaboration. Attendees will be

Tours are hosted by the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin and UW-Discovery Farms. Buses board at 9 a.m. and return at 3:30 p.m. Tours are $30; seating is limited. Visit www.pdpw. org or 800-947-7379 for more information.

able to connect with other farmers and advisors ready to establish innovative partnerships to

support water resources. The tours are meant to facilitate a dialogue, spark ideas and bring people together to have an honest conversation about how to protect water quality in Wisconsin. Visit businesses like BelGioioso Cheese Inc. on the Green Bay tour and Tyranena Brewing Company on the Oconomowoc Tour to see how they handle wastewater. Connect with farmers and their conservation partners, including municipalities, land-conservation departments and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Farmers on the tour are involved in pilot phosphorus trading, farmer-led watershed projects and many other conservation efforts.


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10 June 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line FOCUS ON WHAT MATTERS DR. KATIE MRDUTT

Looking for a little extra information or better yet, treatment-cost savings? Then ask a veterinarian to delve into those medical records. When treating animals, producers need to keep daily records on treatment date, animal identification, condition treated and medications used – how much and how often. Those are commonly referred to as “treatment logs” or “cow-side records.” “ T h e s e records are important in ensuring correct milk and Katie Mrdutt m e a t w i t h drawal times are observed,” said veterinarian Dr. Glen Johnson of Reedsburg, Wisconsin. But there is much more

Increase profitability by evaluating treatment records with a veterinarian. Record evaluation is a source of untapped revenues through prevention and risk management.

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put “daily treatment logs” into a management or permanent record, which encompasses the entire cow’s life history. “Management records are not something more or extra, but a way of capturing and organizing these daily treatments into a more permanent record so they are easily accessible for review,” he said. And this doesn’t mean changing much. “Many of my clients use paper systems,” he said. Today dairies have options – paper and/or computerized records. The key is to find a system that works well on the individual dairy. Either way there are benefits. “The purpose for maintaining permanent records is to allow you to make better decisions about drug use, disease prevention and management,” Johnson said. “The producer benefits greatly if permanent records can help us fine-tune when drugs should be used, and just as important, when drugs should not be used.” Johnson said permanent records are best when they are accompanied by reproductive

“Management records are not something more or extra, but a way of capturing and organizing these daily treatments into a more permanent record so they are easily accessible for review.” DR. GLEN JOHNSON events and the results of monthly Dairy Herd Improvement Association testing. Seeing the “whole picture” allows a producer to marry treatment events with pregnancy status and production indices, to fine-tune treatment decisions based on the probability of treatment success and the value of the cow in the herd. “Beyond that, what pieces of information you capture in yo u r p e r m a n e n t re co rd s depends entirely on what questions you are trying to answer,” he said. “Different farms have different problems. Also, on a single farm, the emphasis will shift over time.” For example, a cow enters a


June 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 11

Milking workshops offered in Spanish Getting high-quality milk from healthy cows is the end goal of every dairy operation. Spanish-speaking dairy-farm employees will have an opportunity to hone their milking skills and cow-handling techniques by attending one of three Milking Science Workshops being offered in June by Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin. The one-day workshops will be led by expert veterinarians Dr. Oscar Duarte and Dr. Bob

Leder. Exclusively in Spani s h t h ey w i l l teach appropriate milking techniques, correct use of Oscar Duarte milking and parlor equipment, techniques for handling down cows, accident prevention and residue avoidance. The hands-on sessions will highlight the importance of good employee attitude and

behavior, along with accurate record keeping. Each workshop will begin at 8:30 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. Robert Leder Dates and locations are: •‌ June 9 — Clay View Dairy, 35694 215th Ave., Goodhue, Minnesota • ‌J une 16 — Lake Breeze Da i r y, W2651 K iel Road, Malone, Wisconsin

• ‌June 23 — Junction View Dairy, 29404 County Highway OO, Richland Center, Wisconsin Pre-registration is required. Member registration rate is $125 a person and $75 per additional individual from the same dairy. Non-member registration rate is $250 a person and $75 per each additional individual from the same dairy. Registration fee covers materials and lunch. Visit www.pdpw.org or call 800-947-7379 for information.

parlor with a new case of clinical mastitis. She is flagged for further evaluation and treatment by the herdsman. If the herdsman looks at her permanent record and discovers she has been treated in the same quarter three times previously, he should conclude that more treatment may not be warranted. His decision can be strengthened if the permanent record also includes somatic cell counts, pounds of milk, lactation number and pregnancy status from monthly testing.

“This led to an investigation of colostrum quality and passive transfer of immunoglobulins. It was concluded that colostrum quality was affected by dry-cow facilities without adequate bunk space and poor air quality.” He said producers and veterinarians need to talk about what should be kept in permanent records. “What you choose to record depends on you and your veterinarian, and the ‘dragon you’re trying to slay,’” he said. Other examples are body-condition scores, lameness scores, severity-of-disease scores, dates of moves, calving ease, etc. “I personally live by the law, ‘Never ask anyone to record data that you don’t intend to look at and use,’” he said. “This should be custom tailored to each farm and each situation.” Producers and veterinarians need to work closely together to make treatment and management decisions. “The most valuable time I spend on a dairy is when the (producer) and I review treatment records and permanent records, together, side by side,” Johnson said. “That is the only way to understand what is really going on for this farm.

That is where all the really important conversations start. It doesn’t take long to realize there’s gold in ‘dem dar’ permanent records.”

Dr. Katie Mrdutt is a Food Armor Outreach Specialist with the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association. Contact her at mrdutt@wvma.org for more information.

“What you choose to record depends on you and your veterinarian, and the ‘dragon you’re trying to slay.’” DR. GLEN JOHNSON In addition, bottlenecks in a management system can be identified. “Reviewing records in many of my herds recently showed an increase in treatment events for neonatal calf diarrhea and pneumonia,” Johnson said.


12 June 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Robotic Milking Systems – pro or con? ‌DR. NIGEL COOK

Many factors drive the decision to utilize a robotic milking system, both cow-based and economic. At this time the United States lags behind other areas of the globe that have adopted robotic milking system technology, largely due to the cost of milk production in the United States and the availability of inexpensive labor, which makes larger herd sizes and parlor milking appear more attractive. However, the “Wisconsin Blueprint” sees robotic milking system technology as a real option for a small single family farm trying to stay in dairying with about 120 milking cows and two milking units. Other larger facilities may also look at robotic milking options where hired help is scarce. The manufacturers of robotic milking system units stress that costs should be

based on a cost per hundredweight milk sold rather than a cost per cow. Estimated robot costs are about $180,000, or about $35,000 per year with a seven-year loan. Each robot should yield about 1.7 million pounds per year or cost about $2 per hundredweight milk sold. From the perspective of The Dairyland Initiative, we assume robotic milking system units from manufacturers BouMatic, DeLaval, GEA, Insentec and Lely function well and harvest milk without harming the cow any more or less than any other milking system. The choice between which The Dairyland Initiative, University of Wisconsin unit to purchase will be the individual’s decision based on the Robotic milking system units are located on the side of the pen so design features of the units and automatic scrapers pass in front of the holding area. This is an ideal the availability of local service layout for sand stalls, concrete floors and scrapers. support. The focus of this section will be on the housing of the cow milking systems are constructed because those two factors will around the robot. around slatted floors and mat- determine the success of the All too frequently robotic tress freestalls with forced-flow unit. Milking speed will be cow traffic. With good reason – driven by genetics and milk letthe cows no longer exit the pen down. Milkings per cow per day to be milked and manure han- is impacted by a myriad of difdling is a challenge; we need to ferent factors that include move the cows to the robotic cow-traffic system, feeding promilking system unit. But recent gram, robot capacity, stage of surveys of robotic systems sug- lactation, parity, social domigest that these choices do not nance, facility design and health provide optimal well-being, – lameness being significant. particularly in regard to lameChoices and decisions that ness and hock injury prevention. need to be made in the design of a Producers will be challenged new facility to maximize milkings by robotic-system manufactur- per cow per day, while minimizing ers to optimize milkings per cow the risk of negative effects on per day and milking speed, health and well-being, are:

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Comparison of a Free-Flow vs. a Forced-Flow System

Free-Flow Potentially reduced Potentially increased, reducing robot capacity Potentially increased Increased Decreased (55-60 cows per robot)

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Parameter Milking frequency Number of refusals Number of fetch cows Potential for decline in milking frequency with stage of lactation Robot capacity

Dominance behavior (e.g. gate blocking, becoming trapped in commitment pen) Visits to the feedbunk (meals and Increased potentially dry matter intake) Improved (as they will be picked Identification of sick and lame up for not attending the robot) cows Maximized Time available to rest Reduced

Forced-Flow Increased Likely decreased, especially with pre-selection Typically reduced Decreased Increased (55-75 cows per robot) Potentially increased Decreased Decreased Must wait to be milked


February 2015 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 13 1. Cow-traffic system Choice of cow-traffic system is central to any discussion of robot facility planning. Advocates of free-flow or forced-flow traffic patterns are convinced their concept is best, with advantages and disadvantages for each. Free-flow systems, as the name suggests, allow cows free access to the feed bunk, the robot unit, waterers and the lying area. Attendance at the robot is driven largely by the provision of a specialized pellet in the unit, while a “partial” mixed ration is provided at the feed bunk. Forced-flow systems are created in a variety of ways to direct the flow of cattle using one-way gates. The basic system blocks the route between the stalls and the feed area, allowing access to the robot and milking if sufficient time has elapsed since the last milking, or refusing milking if not. Cows are released to the feeding area and can return to the stalls through a one-way gate.

The Dairyland Initiative, University of Wisconsin

Cows freely walk into and out of the unit.

Other forced-flow systems rely on pre-selection for milking and can be created as milk-first or feed-first systems. Those systems use a “commitment pen” where the only exit is through the robotic milking system; they increase robot capacity by eliminating refusals. In milk-first systems, cows are

pre-selected as they travel from the stalls to the bunk. Cows with milking permission are directed to the commitment pen for access to the robot. Those without permission are allowed to continue to the bunk. The main drive for robot attendance in this system is the desire for cows to eat at the feed bunk, making

bunk management important. The setup eliminates non-productive visits to the robotic milking system. In feed-first systems, cows are allowed to visit the feed bunk and on their return to the stall area they are pre-selected to the commitment pen if they have milking permission. Robot attendance may be driven more by the desirability of the pellet in the robot in these systems, and again, robot refusals are eliminated, increasing robot capacity. With so many system varieties, it is not surprising that research lags behind innovation in determining the optimal setup, and the choice likely varies from farm to farm with differing producer priorities. The majority of research studies agree that forced-flow systems promote higher milking frequency with a reduced need to fetch cows to the robot. Studies also agree that free-flow systems See ROBOTIC, on page 14

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14 June 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Robotic Continued from page 13

promote greater numbers of visits to the feed bunk with more feed meals and greater DMI over forced-flow alternatives. Ultimately, management will determine whether or not the cowflow system works or fails, and whether or not the well-being of the cow is compromised as variation between systems is great. 2. Alley-floor type and manure removal We do not support the use of slatted floors and prefer solid concrete floors with a grooving pattern. Slats are traumatic to a cow’s foot and preclude the use of sand bedding in the stalls. Automatic scrapers are therefore required to keep the alleys clean and a “dry floor” option is used. The choice has a significant effect on the location of the robotic milking system unit relative to the pen. Robotic milking system units at the end of a pen are usually in the way of the scraper, which leads to a large accumulation of manure around the milking area. We therefore recommend that the robotic milking system unit be located on the side of the pen with the combination of solid concrete floors and scrapers. If a slatted-floor option is chosen, impact on the hoof may be minimized by the use of rubber flooring over the concrete. Manure passage through the slats is facilitated by a robot scraper. That setup allows for the robotic milking system to be located in the middle of the barn at the end of each pen rather than on the side of the barn. The layout allows for transfer of cows to pens on either side of the robot and may facilitate sorting. 3. Pen layout Designers of robotic milking system facilities rightly point out that feeding behavior is dramatically different when cows do not need to leave the pen to be milked together. There are no

The Dairyland Initiative, University of Wisconsin

although recent changes in design and manufacturer-recommended management routine has greatly slowed this wear. In order to reduce the quantity of sand being used, we would recommend the Pack Mat system, to limit sand use to about 20 pounds of sand per stall per day. 5. Alley dimensions Dimensions for feed and stall alleys are consistent with our recommendations. However, the crossover adjacent to the robotic milking system unit should be at least 20 feet wide to allow for free cow traffic to and from the unit. This is also the location for handling gates to trap fetched cows in a temporary holding The Dairyland Initiative, University of Wisconsin area. Ideally, the cows should exit through a lane where a footA footbath is situated between the central crossover alleys and the bath can be located and be robots, and fitted with one-directional gates to prevent cows from guided to an area away from entering backward into the robot area. where cows are trying to access bunk activity peaks when cows system unit and movement of the robotic milking system. return from the parlor, and trips cows out of the pen, we favor the 6. Performance targets to the bunk are more evenly dis- tail-to-tail two-row layout. and capacity tributed throughout the day. But 4. Stall surface the delivery of fresh total mixed A single robotic milking system ration remains the driving force The benefits of sand bedding unit should be able to harvest at behind significant bunk activity for the cow still apply in robotic least 4,500 pounds milk per day. and intake, and research data milking system facilities. The At 80 pounds per cow, group size suggests that when cows do not fact that there are some chal- per robot is limited to about 56 all eat at the same time, they do lenges in maintenance for the cows. In a well-functioning facilnot return to the bunk to eat milking units with sand is ity, greater than 2.6 milkings per more later on. Rather they eat understood, but we do not cow per day should be achieved less. Research also shows that at believe that it is a reason not to with less than 5 percent of the this time, lame cows and low- have sand. For example, in the group needing to be fetched. rank cows suffer at the bunk Lely units, the teat-cup retracwhen feed access is limited. tor cords wear around the pulley Dr. Nigel Cook, DVM, is the chair of the Until research proves otherwise, wheel and need to be replaced Department of Medical Sciences and we will therefore favor the con- frequently. In the DeLaval units, professor in food-animal medicine at the struction of two-row pen lay- sand may wear around the pis- University of Wisconsin-Madison School outs, and for ease of fetching of ton arm and the rubber receiv- of Veterinary Medicine. Contact him at cows to the robotic milking ing cup below the laser sensor, nbcook@wisc.edu for more information.


June 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 15

Focus on Agriculture: Recover energy savings The installation of a refrigeration-heat-recovery unit provides one of the fastest paybacks on a dairy farm. Capture the heat from a refrigeration system to preheat well water up to 140 degrees, while also improving the efficiency of the refrigeration system. The four best practices outlined below can be utilized to save energy and money for a farm. 1. Select an appropriatesize storage tank The refrigeration-heat-recovery unit storage tank should be large enough to supply enough hot water required for one milking. Farms that need additional hot water can connect an insulated storage tank to t h e re f r i ge ra t i o n heat-recovery storage tank, so water can move between the two as it is heated and used. 2. Ensure proper installation The refrigeration-heat-recovery unit should be located as close to the compressor as possible in order to minimize heat losses. The storage tanks need to be kept warm during the cold winter months, but do not install a heating element. Instead, storage tanks should contain at least 2

Capture savings for a farm while improving the efficiency of a refrigeration system.

inches of appropriate insulation efficiency and cost savings comto protect against cold winter air. pared to a pre-cooler. Dairies with more than 100 milking 3. Know your options cows are usually able to benefit Decide whether a refrigera- from using both technologies tion-heat-recovery or pre- without increasing overall cooler is the better option, or energy use. both. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it is 4. Perform preventative not economical to use both a maintenance pre-cooler and a refrigeraPreventative maintenance on tion-heat-recovery unit with a refrigeration-heat-recovery dairy herds of less than 100 unit is similar to that of a water cows. A refrigeration-heat-re- heater in that the main goal is to covery unit will provide smaller reduce sediment buildup in the dairies with greater energy storage tank. A common

solution is to install a valve on the refrigeration-heat-recovery unit drain and use the lukewarm water from the bottom of the tank for daily chores that don’t require hot water. That practice will result in regularly drawing water from the bottom where sediment buildup occurs. Major advantages to installing a refrigeration-heat-recovery unit include: • ‌Greatly reduced energy costs associated with heating water. • ‌Capture waste heat from the refrigeration system and transfer that heat to water. • ‌Use the hot water for cleaning and sanitizing milking equipment. When choosing a refrigeration system keep in mind which best practices apply to a particular farm. For more ideas on implementing energy-efficient practices, check Focus on Energy’s new Agriculture Energy Efficiency Best Practices Guide. Visit focusonenergy.com/guidebooks to download a free copy or request a hard copy be mailed. This article was submitted by Focus on Energy. Focus on Energy works with eligible Wisconsin residents and businesses to install cost-effective energy-efficient and renewableenergy projects.

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PDPW Dairy's Bottom Line -- June 2 2016  

PDPW Dairy's Bottom Line -- June 2 2016