PDPW Dairy's Bottom Line -- July 2019

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

The University of Wisconsin-Madison dry-cow barn allows cows to choose whether they stay inside the barn or go out to pasture. While some cows choose to stay inside to eat or lie down, others make their way to pasture.

Let cows choose


well-known ad campaign used imagery of dairy cows outdoors on a sunny pasture, with a tagline referring to “happy cows.” It’s not too surprising that a 2014 survey found that 89 percent of consumers thought dairy cows should have access to pasture. But cows are not like humans. JENNIFER So it’s important to understand VAN OS what’s good for their health and what the cows themselves think in order to appropriately accommodate the needs of their species. Good thing scientists have validated techniques to evaluate animal health as well as for asking cows what they value, even if they can’t respond in words. There are indeed several benefits of pasture for dairy-cattle health, including better air quality and improved locomotion scores throughout time. Also cows show less aggression toward one another when they have more space outdoors. To ask cows how important that kind of environment is to them, some researchers gave them the chance to leave the freestall

barn for pasture – but the cows needed to push increasingly heavy weighted gates to do so. They found the cows were willing to push equally heavy gates to go outside in order to access fresh total-mixed ration after being deprived of feed for a period. They still pushed the heavy gates to go outside even when they had total-mixed ration inside the barn. The message from the cows was that going outside is something they perceive as valuable. But that’s not the end of the story. Although the opportunity to go on pasture can be important to cows, that doesn’t mean they want to be out there all the time. In another study the cows were housed in the same sand-bedded freestall barn with free access to total-mixed ration. They could freely choose when to go outside onto pasture. The cows demonstrated that they liked to go outside sometimes – primarily at night in the warm season. But they also chose to be in the barn during other times. When it was raining cows spent more time inside the barn. Cows avoid wet surfaces. When their only option is wet bedding or mud, it dramatically decreases their lying time. Lying time is an


On a day with cloud cover some cows have chosen to leave the barn for the pasture. important behavior they need to spend more than half of the day engaging in. Mud also decreases cow cleanliness and milk yield, and increases digital dermatitis. Shelter and a dry bed are important for cow comfort. On the flip side cows also spent more time inside the barn during the day time, especially in warmer weather. Cows are susceptible to heat stress, so unlike people sunbathing is not an activity they enjoy in summer. Shade is an extremely important resource for them. A study found that cows who are required to stand for a while will choose to keep standing if they are allowed to do so in the shade, rather than take the opportunity to lie down if they must do so in the sun. Cows will also choose shade compared to soakers that aren’t shaded, even if the water spray is more effective for cooling them. When those resources are combined and cows aren’t forced to choose between shade and soakers, they will gladly use soakers to cool off.

The studies reveal that, in a cow’s eyes, one environment isn’t always superior to another. There are many factors involved in keeping cows healthy and happy in different circumstances. A recent study demonstrated that consumers can have an encouragingly nuanced understanding about those types of tradeoffs when given the chance to consider various housing scenarios. Consumer perception of cows on pasture was overall more positive than for cows kept in a barn. But when the possibility of heat stress was mentioned, participants rated keeping cows on pasture with shade trees more favorably than pasturing cows without shade. But also they favored keeping cows indoors in a barn – sheltered from the sun and cooled with fans – compared with keeping cows outside in the full sun. That intriguing finding illustrates that although consumers often have an expectation that dairy cows should have pasture

access, they don’t necessarily think that should be at the expense of cow thermal comfort. The cows themselves have indicated that pasture can be beneficial for their health and welfare – sometimes. But at other times exposure to environmental extremes can be detrimental; then they seek the benefits of shelter. Pasture per se isn’t always feasible for every dairy operation to provide for all their cattle. Some studies have investigated alternative outdoor areas, both from the perspectives of the cows and consumers. Exercise yards may provide an option for a middle ground that could satisfy many consumers – and give cows beneficial opportunities in a manner more practical for a wider range of producers. Jennifer Van Os is an assistant professor and University of Wisconsin-Division of Extension specialist in animal welfare in the department of dairy science at UW-Madison. Email jvanos@wisc.edu to reach her.

Don’t miss Dairy Innovation Tours PDPW STAFF

Owners of two Wisconsin dairy farms will next week share some out-of-the-box ideas that are making differences on their dairies, at the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin Innovation Tours. The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 16. Ron Brooks and his daughters are continuing the family’s 160-year farming legacy at Brooks Farm near Waupaca, Wisconsin, with an eye toward conservation, growth and innovation. The recently constructed freestall barn’s ventilation system capitalizes on the prevailing southwest winds and saves on energy. The facility features precision parlor technology and an automatic feed pusher programmed with a music playlist. That replaces the sound of the skid steer that previously prompted cows to come to the bunk. Family members manage 1,500 acres, milk 500 cows and are in the process of developing a non-plastic covering for silage. On the outskirts of metropolitan Stevens Point, Ken Feltz and his family own and operate Feltz Family Farms. The fourth-generation farm keeps innovation at the forefront of the business, incorporating enhancements with an eye toward agritourism. A co-host of Wisconsin Farm Technology Days in 2014, the dairy features a traditional parlor and robotic milkers; more robots will be added soon. In addition to guided robot-facility tours, the farm’s retail store is a community favorite that draws tourists from far and wide. The Feltz family is one year into a composting project in partnership with the village of Plover. The retail store is


Ron Brooks and his daughters are continuing the family’s 160year farming legacy at Brooks Farm near Waupaca, Wisconsin, with an eye toward conservation, growth and innovation. On the outskirts of metropolitan Stevens Point, Ken Feltz and his family own and operate Feltz Family Farms. in its second year of serv- milk, pizza, meat, wine and ing customers an assorted soap. during lunch in addition to Attendees will leave by sin Highway 110, Fremont, variety of farm-made and Participants will have op- networking with other dairy chartered bus at 9 a.m. July Wisconsin. Visit www. locally sourced products, portunities to engage in dis- producers during the ride 16 from the Fremont Citgo pdpw.org or call 800-947including ice cream, cheese, cussions with the farm hosts via chartered bus. Travel Plaza, E7487 Wiscon- 7379 for more information.

“... absolutely helps our milk quality.” — Rob and Gail Klinkner

Gail and Rob Klinkner with Rylan and Garrison at our booth during the 2018 World Dairy Expo. Not pictured are children Reagan, Rubi and Ginger.

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“We have used Udder Comfort™ faithfully since picking up samples many years ago at World Dairy Expo. We use it on fresh cows and flare ups,” says Rob Klinkner. Dairying goes back three generations, but he and Gail started Klinkner Holsteins from the ground up. They milk 50 Holsteins and Jerseys near Viroqua, Wisconsin, with a combined RHA of 25,876 pounds of high quality milk with SCC averaging 153,000. “Udder Comfort brings our cows back into production much faster, and it absolutely helps our milk quality,” Gail explains. “We apply it to all fresh udders after each milking for the first 3 days after calving, some longer. “Udder Comfort applies more easily and more evenly, and we see more consistent results that are absolutely different. We did not see results like this with other products. Udder Comfort is the best.”

KLINKNER HOLSTEINS, VIROQUA, WISCONSIN Rob and Gail Klinkner 50 registered Holsteins and Jerseys RHA 25,876M 3.4F 3.0P, SCC 153,000


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


Change habits to change outcomes


here are two things that bring about change – pain and pleasure. Not surprisingly the biggest motivator of change is pain. When things are HANK going well we WAGNER rarely change things because we’re happy and content with current circumstances. But when things become difficult or painful, we’re much more willing to change things to lessen pain. Sometimes difficult

times can be a good thing because they force us to look at options we may not have otherwise explored. It can be difficult to understand or value a difficult season while we’re living in it. When we are further ahead in our journey of life and are able to look back on things, we often see how challenges were blessings in disguise. Many times after people have made changes as a result of difficulties, I’ve heard them say, “I wish I would have done that sooner.” The question is not if we should change, but what should be changed and


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when. I understand that change is difficult. We’re programmed to prefer consistent routines and comfort. But the bottom line is if nothing changes, nothing changes. There’s a list of things we can’t change. It’s important to remain aware of what’s on that list so we don’t waste precious time and energy on them. Fortunately the list of things we can change is much longer. While the complete list of things we can change is too long for this article, I’ve included what I consider the most important items. Almost all of them have to do with ourselves. Many times we prefer to change others or our circumstances, but the best way – and sometimes the only way – is by changing ourselves.  Our thinking – all our words and every action we take first began with a thought. So a change in thinking is almost always required before a change in outcome can be expected.  Our attitude – every day the sun rises and signals to us a new day has begun. Each new day gives us an opportunity to choose our attitudes despite any current or prior negative circumstances.



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ear George: My husband and I are dairy farmers with college-age children who want to join us in the business. We want to encourage them to pursue their interests though we know bringing them in will

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Secretary Dan Scheider Freeport, Ill. 815-812-4012 dnscheider@gmail.com

 Our expectations – what we seek, we shall find. When we expect something we look for it; because we’re looking for it we find it.  Our habits – we all have habits; those habits determine our future. It’s often the small things done daily that shape the outcome of our lives. Consider the habits to add or remove, then choose a strategy to stay committed. Habits are difficult to change.  How we treat people – most of us can stand to improve our thoughts, words and actions involving others. Listening is one of the primary communication skills that shows others we care and want to learn more about them.  How we spend our time – in this category the playing field is level. We all receive 1,440 minutes each day. We have control over much of the way we spend it.

 Vision, goals and plans – look beyond current circumstances. Consider what is possible. Lay out goals and plans connected to a bigger, better and brighter future rather than accepting past or current circumstances as a blueprint for the future. The best investment a person can ever make is in his or her self. As John C. Maxwell has said, “People do not decide their future. They decide their habits and their habits decide their future.” Hank Wagner is a dairy producer and a John Maxwell Team teacher, mentor, speaker and coach. To learn more about nurturing thankfulness, consider reading Hank’s book “Teachable Moments: Lessons from Africa.” It’s available online at amazon.com and at most book stores. Email hwagner@ frontiernet.net for more information.

have legal implications for us. We also want to ensure they understand the serious GEORGE challenges TWOHIG of dairying today. Based on your experience with business-succession planning, can you offer advice from your point of view? – Concerned dairy mom Answer: First of all

ongoing education is a must. I suggest creating an expectation of attending seminars on a regular basis. Dairying is a constantly changing occupation that requires owners and employees to be experts in a variety of areas. Farmers need to invest in continuing education just as much as any other business profession, if not more so. Please see TWOHIG, Page E3

“Attorneys for Agriculture” (920) 849 - 4999 Legal, business and planning solutions for Wisconsin’s farms and agribusinesses.

President Jay Heeg Colby, Wis. 715-507-0030 jcheeg@yahoo.com

Vice President Katy Schultz Fox Lake, Wis. 920-210-9661 katylschultz@gmail.com

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PDPW Board of Directors

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Treasurer Janet Clark Rosendale, Wis. 608-341-6709 vafarmsllc@hotmail.com Directors Andy Buttles Lancaster, Wis. 608-723-4712 stonefront@tds.net Ken Feltz Stevens Point, Wis. 715-570-6390 feltzfarms@hotmail.com John Haag Dane, Wis. 608-576-0812 jahaag5@gmail.com Corey Hodorff Eden, Wis. 920-602-6449 corey@secondlookholsteins.com Steven Orth Cleveland, Wis. 920-905-2575 orthlanddairy@gmail.com

PDPW Advisers Jim Barmore GPS Dairy Consulting Verona, Wis. jmbarmore@gpsdairy.com

Paul Fricke UW-Madison Dairy Science Madison, Wis. pmfricke@wisc.edu Kurt Petik Rabo AgriFinance Fond du Lac, Wis. kurt.petik@raboag.com Andrew Skwor MSA Professional Services Baraboo, Wis. askwor@msa-ps.com

First-quarter protection detailed


airy Revenue Protection is designed to insure against unexpected declines in quarterly revenue from milk sales relative to a guaranteed JOSH coverage NEWTON level. That coverage was first made available in October 2018. Dairy producers had a short window of opportunity to obtain coverage for first-quarter 2019 – from Oct. 9 until Dec. 15, 2018.  During that timeframe 57 endorsements were booked across Compeer Financial’s territory; 11 of those triggered an indemnity. Eight of the 11 utilized the Class III pricing option; three utilized the component-pricing option.  The average indemnity for the Class III Please see NEWTON, Page E3

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Thursday, July 11, 2019 | E3



Dairying is a constantly changing occupation that requires owners and employees to be experts in a variety of areas.


needed to adapt their vision and strategies while methods, technologies and From E2 farm markets evolved and Secondly those entering changed through time. They view the business dairy production today as a life-long project and must have an unwavering understand patience is love and commitment to necessary. Unfortunately the business. Successful farmers have a passion for many in younger generation aren’t as patient. They their families and farms often expect to reach their that overrides the long goals without delay. Yet hours, physical work and it’s natural that real progeconomic turbulence that’s often involved. They ress is made by enduring some stages of instability; love nurturing, caring for progress often takes longer and living in the presence than the desired amount of their cattle. They take of time. A farm’s history is pride in producing qualtypically a good reminder ity milk and crops, and stewarding and conserving that the best ideas and visions mature gradually. their land. They love livIn working with ing where they work and multi-generation dairies working where they live, on legal issues, another and working alongside unsettling trend is becomtheir spouse and involved ing apparent. Many in the children. younger generation enter In multi-generation operations the senior fam- the business with a sense of entitlement rather than ily members often have already invested many de- a commitment to earning cades in leading, managing their position, wage and benefits in the business. and working to build the farm. Like the generations While that inclination isn’t representative of all young before them, they dug in and persisted through pe- adults, it’s increasingly common. Incoming partriods of inflated interest rates and decreases in milk ners must recognize the importance of reinvesting price, as well as health, income in the farm rather weather and other challenges that threatened the than irresponsibly confarm’s future. They expect suming it. Those entering dairy other partners to be willing farming must also have to do the work that needs to be done. Sometimes the strong values. Those values must be shared by all important work of planning and decision-making partners involved in the takes priority. But most of business. Honesty, respect, trust, leadership the time farming means and commitment are a being committed to long days of mundane physical must. So is viewing work as service and contriwork. In many cases the senior bution rather than just a job. Dairy farming takes generation recognizes the an entrepreneurial spirit need for patience while balanced with conservaseeing the farm through tive risk-taking, a shared its stages of growth and vision for the farm’s fudevelopment. They’ve

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ture, and an ultimate goal to keep the farm profitable and successful. I began my response advocating for ongoing learning; I recommend the annual Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin’s Business Conference as a starting point. The conference offers a wide variety of educational sessions and experts. It’s an incredible time of learning and networking with other farmers focused on succeeding. It also gives attendees the chance to learn more about the other educational programs PDPW has scheduled. As for me and our team of attorneys, we also value it. After spending time at the conference visiting with the farmers who are leading Wisconsin’s dairy industry, we always return to work refreshed and reminded that partnering with one another is important. Dairying is an incredibly rewarding occupation. But it’s also challenging, especially when family is involved. Incoming generations need to be prepared to commit to lifelong learning and difficult work. They need to be ready to contend with the unpredictable nature of the business – particularly before entering into legal agreements that may pose a hassle down the road to fix. George Twohig is a partner and attorney at Twohig, Rietbrock, Schneider & Halbach S.C. in Chilton, Wisconsin; the firm focuses on agriculture and agri-business. Email george@twohiglaw.com for more information.

pected milk production per cow versus the actual milk production per cow. From E2 In Wisconsin it didn’t endorsements was $0.66 have an effect on the inper hundredweight, with demnities triggered; that a range of $0.20 per hun- value came in at 1. It’s important to note when dredweight to $1.15 per actual milk production hundredweight. per cow is greater than the The average indemexpected milk production nity for the component per cow, indemnities can endorsements was $0.43 per hundredweight, with decrease. When the actual milk production per cow a range of $0.11 per hunis less than the expected, dredweight to $1.06 per indemnities can increase. hundredweight. Looking ahead to the One elective option for dairy farmers to leverage if remainder of 2019, contracts are currently tradthey see a potential need ing at or near high levels. is the protection factor. The opportunity exists The protection factor is an election on each Dairy to set the Dairy Revenue Protection guarantee at Revenue Protection endorsement; it ranges from 95 percent of contract 1 to 1.5. Greater protection highs. The premiums factors increase the size of associated with those the loss payment accord- contracts should be attractive because the time ingly, should the policy trigger an indemnity. Fif- between now and conty-two percent utilization tract expiration is short. of the 1.5 protection factor The guarantees currently available, coupled with helped increase the size the strengthening basis of some indemnity paysome producers have ments. seen, should put operaThe yield-adjustment tions near break-even or factor compares the ex-

better. The prices offered for first-quarter 2020 Class III prices aren’t as good as those in the latter half of 2019. At the time of writing the average Class III price for that time period was $16.30 per hundredweight. A 95 percent Dairy Revenue Protection endorsement would guarantee about $15.49 per hundredweight. While that guarantee is less than the latter half of 2019, the seasonality of milk prices generally seen during the first quarter must be considered. For reference the average Class III price for first-quarter 2018 was $13.87 and for first-quarter 2019 was $14.30. Dairy Revenue Protection provides an opportunity to eliminate some price risk while maintaining upside, should the price increase. Josh Newton is a crop-insurance team leader with Compeer Financial, which is a vision sponsor of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin.

Section E is now Agri-View’s Dairy Section. Dairy will be in the E section from now on.


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