PDPW Dairy's Bottom Line -- June 2019

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

Manage bedding for udder health Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin staff

Dry clean bedding is a must for cow health and production. Dr. Sandra Godden, veterinarian, is a professor of dairy-population medicine at the University of Minnesota. She provided new research on the role of bedding management for udder health, cow comfort and lameness Godden at the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin’s recent business conference. “If cows are comfortable they’ll lay down – and when they lay down it results in less lameness,” she said. “Good management practices also mean better traction, resulting in less likelihood of falls and injuries.” She reviewed results of several studies comparing lameness risk and cow-lying time with types of bedding. In general sand bedding is preferred, resulting in cows with the fewest severe hock lesions, longest lying bouts and least bacteria counts. In contrast mattresses resulted in greater numbers of hock lesions and shorter lying times. “Sand continues to be king,” Godden said. “But management practices are critical regardless

A deeply bedded and regularly maintained pack is critical for cow comfort – a precursor for optimal health and production. of bedding material. Keeping bedding amounts in stalls full and level will encourage higher stall use and lying time while also reducing potential for injuries.” She emphasized the importance of routinely replacing wet bedding with dry bedding. “It makes sense that when cows are lying down 12 to 14 hours each day their teat ends are exposed to whatever bacteria are in the bedding,” she said. Godden shared an overview

of research focused on defining the relationship between bedding material, bedding-bacteria counts and udder health. The research seeks to identify management practices to reduce bedding-bacteria counts and establish benchmarks for those counts. Samples of unused bedding from storage and used bedding from stalls were collected during the summer and winter of 2016 from 168 herds in 17 states. Researchers also gathered Dairy Herd Im-

provement Association-testing data, bulk-tank cultures and udder-hygiene scores. Results to date indicate increased bedding-bacteria counts are generally associated with poorer udder health. But the relationship between bacteria count and udder health varies by bacteria group and bedding type. New sand bedding is inorganic and has the least bacteria count. Some studies indicate poorer udder health in cows bedded with manure solids, which are organic.

Regardless of bedding material, a number of management practices should be followed for optimal udder health.  Add fresh organic bedding to stalls daily or every other day.  Remove wet or soiled bedding from the back third of stalls at least twice per day.  Minimize standing water, manure or mud in alleyways.  Avoid overcrowding, ensure correct stall design and dimension, and provide good ventilation.

Tell consumers cow care is priority J

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une Dairy Month is a time for the dairy community to celebrate what they do. It allows producers to showcase their ways of life to consumers who don’t know much about the day-today experiences of dairy farmers and their cattle. A familiar JENNIFER statistic in VAN OS the industry is that less than 2 percent of the U.S. population is employed in agriculture. Another perspective is one person in every 50 people produces food for the other 49. Although most of today’s consumers are physically far removed from the farm, many have desires to connect with their food as well as the people and animals producing it. Not everyone wants to know every detail from farm to fork, but many want to feel confident that what they consume upholds their values. One common question consumers often have is, “Are the cows happy?” Producers are often able to affirm they take care of their cows. Good cow care results in good production so it makes perfect business sense. But stating the truth that way can sound like a conditional statement. Think about the unintended question a consumer might have as a result. “If taking care of cows would not result in good production, would producers still take the best care of their cows,” he or she might ask. When the answer is an emphatic yes, that’s an important message to convey. For people who have never set foot on a farm or encountered a working farm animal, their frame of reference may be limited to family pets. Of course dairy cattle aren’t pets. But there’s an important responsibility to take good care of them – not merely so they’ll perform better but because it’s the proper thing to do. Visitors and social-media followers are often amazed at the amount of technology involved on many modern dairy operations. They’re often fascinated when they learn

about activity monitors or cow “fitbits.” Producers might see such technology as par for the course. But it definitely resonates with consumers and amplifies their opinions about farmers. One way to tell consumers cow care is a priority is to proactively draw attention to the innovations routinely employed in today’s dairy industry. Another positive message to emphasize to consumers is how frequently producers consult with experts to stay up-to-date on the latest advances in technology and scientific knowledge – such as veterinarians, nutritionists, Extension educators and university researchers. Much research is being done to improve efficiency and animal welfare. Consumers need to know the degree to which modern agriculture is constantly pursuing – and implementing – new

information. Studying animal welfare allows producers to come as close as possible to answering the question, “What makes cows happy?” There are behavioral well-being techniques to evaluate health outcomes. But they also assess which situations affect the way cattle are feeling and what behaviors are important for them. Studies have found that cows are motivated to spend more than half the day lying down. Probably every farmer would say seeing all their cows lying down is satisfying. And if cows could talk, they’d likely say they’re also satisfied. Studies have shown cattle brushes – whether the mechanical rotating type or simple scratchers – are good for improving hygiene as well as behavioral well-being. When producers tell consumers

their cows have access to cattle brushes, it portrays cow care is a priority. Point them out to visitors. It’s likely their faces will light up when they see for themselves how much cows and heifers enjoy itching those hard-to-reach spots. People want to know producers care not just about their business but also about animal well-being. For someone whose livelihood is dairy farming, it’s easy to take for granted that caring for and about the cows is essential. But the “other 49” Americans aren’t mind-readers. It’s imperative to openly talk about how decisions and actions are made with the cows in mind – not just production. “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care,” is a quote that’s been attributed to Teddy Roosevelt. When dairy producers apply that wisdom to their

A lactating cow leans into a cow brush – an important aspect to her behavioral well-being. dairy-management practices, consumers will respond positively. Recently a Wisconsin dairy producer shared his motivation to keep milking cows – that feeling of satisfaction he has when he walks by pens of cows each day before the sun comes up to see them all lying down, each one quietly chewing their cud.

Dairy producers know those are happy cows. Be sure consumers know, too. Jennifer Van Os is an assistant professor and University of Wisconsin-Extension specialist in animal welfare in the department of dairy science at UW-Madison. Email jvanos@wisc.edu to reach her.

“... our best results with Udder Comfort.” — Janny Wilbourn

KLEINE DAIRY FARM, CEDAR LAKE, INDIANA The Kleine Family, since 1917 110 cows, 87 lbs/cow/day, SCC 110,000 “Udder Comfort™ is the best. We’ve been using it for 6 years on fresh cows and first-calf heifers for the first few days after calving to reduce the swelling,” says Janny (Kleine) Wilbourn. She milks and helps with herd health at her family’s Kleine Dairy Farm, Cedar Lake, Indiana. They milk 110 cows producing 87 pounds/cow/day of high quality milk, mostly Holsteins, along with Janny’s registered Brown Swiss. Seeing opportunities and challenges for her generation, Janny finds value in doing Ag Awareness events and being part of organizations like Dairy Girl Network, where she says, “it feels so good to learn, vent, and be reassured we can get through things together.” On udder management challenges and cow comfort she says: “We have our best results with Udder Comfort.” “I love how it works and the way it smells. We tried other brands, but after using this one, Udder Comfort is all we ever use now. It is a big help in being proactive with our fresh cows and in our management of udder health.”

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For external application to the udder only, after milking, as an essential component of udder management. Always wash and dry teats thoroughly before milking.


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

PDPW Board of Directors President Jay Heeg Colby, Wis. 715-507-0030 jcheeg@yahoo.com

Vice President Katy Schultz Fox Lake, Wis. 920-210-9661 katylschultz@gmail.com Secretary Dan Scheider Freeport, Ill. 815-812-4012 dnscheider@gmail.com 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

Tours target water management “Water Matters” tours will be held to feature water- and land-management practices and discussion at four Wisconsin dairy farms. The tours will feature discussion of farmer-led initiatives and water-quality issues affecting rural and urban areas, as well as lunch and a presentation on groundwater studies by Mark Borchardt, U.S. Department of Agriculture research microbiologist. Two one-day tours will be offered. The tours are a collaborative ery Farms, the Wisconsin Couneffort between the Professional ties Association and the WisconDairy Producers of Wisconsin, sin Towns Association. The first tour will be held from University of Wisconsin-Discov-

9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 25, with buses departing at 9 a.m. from Southwest Technical College, 1800 Bronson Blvd., Fennimore, Wisconsin. The tour will feature stops at Banner Ridge Farms and Kieler Farms in Grant County. The Shea and Roth families of Banner Ridge Farms have implemented strip cropping and grassed waterways to mitigate nutrient runoff in Grant County’s hilly topography. The Kieler family will discuss how they’ve reclaimed water and sand at their 450-cow dairy farm. The second tour will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 26, with buses departing at 9 a.m. from the Wis-

consin Department of Transportation Park and Ride, 18-01, 6547 Texaco Drive, Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The tour features stops at Farm On Dairy in Pepin County, and Alfalawn Farm in Dunn County. Tom Brenner of Farm On Dairy has planted cover crops or perennials on all forage acres for year-round soil cover. Alfalawn Farm’s Styer brothers have reclaimed sand for bedding and use every gallon of water three to six times at the 2,000-cow dairy. The cost for each tour is $30; register in advance. Visit www. pdpw.org or call 800-947-7379 for more information.

Training set for non-farm professionals Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin staff

MADISON, Wis. – Practical on-farm experience makes a big difference for those employed in agriculture. But those with firsthand knowledge of the day-today routines on a dairy farm are an increasingly rare commodity. While non-farm employees are fully capable of fulfilling their responsibilities, those who grew up or worked on a farm tend to grasp concepts more naturally. To close the gap between those two groups – and to equip nonfarm employees with an impactful understanding of modern agriculture – the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin developed the Agricultural Professional Partnerships program. Scheduled for June 18-20 in the Madison area, participants will depart from and return each day to the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 4402 E. Washington Ave., Madison. Training will take place at a different area dairy farm each day. There will be access to cattle pens, calf barns, manure-handling facilities, machine shops, milking

answering attendee questions. Blue Star Dairy of Arlington, Wisconsin, will be opening its doors for on-site learning. “The on-farm experience for these employees is priceless,” said Sherri Meinholz, member of the dairy. “There’s no better way for them to learn more about the agriculture industry than to spend a few days with the farmers and professionals who are experts on these topics.” Michael Minster is a trader and ingredient specialist with LaBudde Group, a commodity feed group serving the agricultural and pet-foods industry. He said when he learned about the Agricultural Professional Partnerships program he decided to register. Each participant takes his or her own soil sample as instructor Dennis “I came to (the LaBudde) poFrame explains the importance of soil compaction, amendments, and the sition with absolutely no backdirect relationship between crops and specific nutritional elements. ground in agriculture so when I  employee management parlors, free stalls and feed-storread about the program I thought,  economics of production ag- ‘I’ve got to do this,’” he said. “It age areas. Participants will explore nu- riculture was exactly what I needed.”  breadth and scope of The upcoming event is open to merous topics.  dairy-cow health and ani- dairy-business financial man- the public. It’s designed to begin mal-care practices agement with dairy-science basics before  environmental-stewardship Experts will facilitate discussions on those and other topics, techniques Please see TRAINING, Page D3

Dairy honored for energy-efficiency excellence FOCUS ON ENERGY

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN, Wis. – Langmeier Dairy Inc., a 100-head organic dairy and crop farm near Prairie du Chien, earned a 2019 Energy Efficiency Excellence Award from Focus on Energy. The four-gen-

eration family-owned farm supports practices that make economic sense, help the environment and are socially responsible. Reducing energy waste while producing nutritious products are priorities. Langmeier Dairy was one of the first dairies in Wisconsin to experiment with pasture-based dairying af-


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ter the owners experienced a poor corn crop in 1988. Since then the family has transitioned into the organic-dairy market, putting significant attention and care toward animal welfare. The farm works to provide quality feed for its cows, and produce profitable products free of pesticides and antibiotics. “We are honored to be selected to receive Focus on Energy’s 2019 Energy Efficiency Excellence Award,” said Joe Langmeier from Langmeier Dairy. “Thank you to everyone at Focus on Energy for your assistance in helping us achieve our sustainability goals.” While producing organic grass-fed milk, the Langmeier Dairy family decided to also grow organic Brus-

sels sprouts. The operation maintains a new packaging facility that makes recyclable retail packages under the Organic Valley label. Because the dairy is able to harvest, package and ship those products on-site, local jobs are created. The team at the dairy worked closely with an energy adviser from Focus on Energy to install energy-efficient equipment in its new packaging facility for Brussels sprouts. They walked through the facility. From that the energy adviser saw an opportunity to install variable-frequency drives to control the motor speed of the conveyor systems and packaging equipment used throughout the assembly line. The improvements minimize system agitations and

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increase efficiency. They also cut energy use by 30 percent to 40 percent. In addition to upgrades to the variable-frequency drives, Langmeier Dairy also installed energy-efficient light-emitting-diode lighting. The Langmeier family is one of 18 award winners honored for energy-efficiency projects completed through Focus on Energy, as well as for individual contributions toward energy-efficiency dedication and performance. “We’re extremely excited to congratulate each of this year’s winners for their commitment to reducing energy waste,” said Erinn Monroe-Nye, program director with Focus on Energy. “These recipients are among the many Wisconsin businesses, school districts and local municipalities proving Wisconsin is in for energy efficiency. They’re making smart energy decisions that lower operating costs while making the state’s economy more globally competitive.”

 City of La Crosse-Mayor’s Home Energy Challenge  Eland Electric Corporation  Fleet Farm  Galloway Company and Classic Mix Partners  Grassland Dairy Products Inc.  Klein’s Floral & Greenhouses  Little Chute Area School District  Meister Cheese Company  Milwaukee Area Technical College  Miron Construction Co. Inc.  New Glarus Brewing Company  Oneida Nation, Penda Corp  SES Group Inc.  Manitowoc-Two Rivers YMCA Visit focusonenergy. com/ea-map to reach an energy adviser from Focus on Energy for assistance with energy-efficiency improvement needs. Energy advisers have the tools and skills needed to guide customers through potential energy-saving projects. They also provide an un2019 Energy Efficiency Excellence biased third-party source of information to improve Award winners on-farm energy efficiency.  Langmeier Dairy Visit focusonenergy.com/  American Family In- agribusiness or call 888947-7828 or for more insurance  Brewery Nonic formation.

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

LEFT: Sherri Meinholz of Blue Star Dairy near Arlington, Wisconsin, explains to program participants the critical nature of weather and feed value as it relates to alfalfa and milk production.

STOP Training

A robotic feed pusher is an example of technology many non-farm professionals are surprised to learn are in use by dairy farmers.

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branching into broader areas. But it can also be tailored to teach topics that apply to a specific agricultural sector or organization Glenda Gehl is the director of member relations at Land O’Lakes Inc. She said the opportunity to have the appreciation for the com- all the other components program custom-made for plex nature between dairy that come together in dairy their member-relations cows, soils and crops, and operations.” team was a huge selling point. “The majority of our team went through the program,” she said. “Having a team of coworkers go through the program together was impactful. Attending really made clear how intricately all the systems work together – the physiology of the dairy cow, the soilfield-feed component, the business financials and the decision-making. Our team didn’t realize these separate pieces are so tightly fit together. They walked away with a much-better

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Date set for dairyinnovation tours Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin staff

With an emphasis on innovations and technology, two dairies will host July 16 the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin’s Dairy Innovation Tours. Attendees will tour two Wisconsin farms – Brooks Farms near Waupaca and Feltz Family Farm near Stevens Point. During the course of the day participants will see a new free-stall barn and milking parlor, a retail store, robotics and more. The event includes a lunch discussion with tour hosts Ron and Zoey Brooks, as well as Ken Feltz, to further explore creative practices the families are currently working through. Learning about resourceful ways to cover bunker silos and take composting to a new level while working closely with a University of Wisconsin city – a city with a population of more than 26,000. Those are just a few of the tour highlights. Turning challenges into opportunities is what the two dairies are about. Visit pdpw.org or call 800-947-7379 for more information.

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D4 | Thursday, June 13, 2019

Are we missing something? Let us know topics or stories you would like us to include. Email agriview@madison.com with ideas!




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t’s been a tough spring.” “It’s been a rough few years in the dairy industry.” “The prices we receive for our products are below our cost of production.” “We are pawns in the government trade disputes.” Those HANK could be WAGNER complaining or stating facts – or both. It really depends on attitude, motive, thinking or reason for making those statements. It is truly difficult to watch as families have been forced to end their dairy careers and sell multi-generational family businesses. I’m an active dairy farmer; I understand. I understand and I care. Please don’t dismiss what I’m about to share. My motive is to encourage a different perspective regarding these difficult times. It may help us survive this challenging stretch. It may help us learn from it and be better prepared for life’s next challenge. We can become too focused on the challenges we face in agriculture or the negative news from all across the world. And then it can be somewhat easy to feel depressed, discouraged, frustrated, angry and without hope. We will survive this painful season. Unfortunately there will be other challenges in our future; this is not heaven but earth. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.” — the “Serenity Prayer,” part of a prayer written in the 1930s by Reinhold Niebuhr. I’d like to address the first part of his prayer about the things we cannot change. Whether we like it or not there’s a list of things we can’t change. No matter how much we complain, worry or blame, we simply cannot change certain things. Weather is on the list for sure. It may sound foolish, but I’m thankful it’s something that can’t be changed. If people had the power to change the weather, some would want rain for crops

Be conscious of the things you worry about; consider whether you can change it. while others would want sunshine to make hay or play golf. And of course there would likely be governments looking to alter the weather to improve economies or bring devastation on enemies. If we could control the weather to order exactly what we wanted whenever we wanted it, I’m confident it wouldn’t remain free. Regardless of what institution, every measure of rain or unit of growing degrees would likely come with a cost applied by someone. There are other things on that list of things we cannot change, and that list isn’t the same for everybody. It’s important to know our personal list of things we cannot change. One way to determine our list is to listen to ourselves. Be conscious of the things you worry about; consider whether you can change it. If not, put it on the list of things to not worry about and move on to deal with the things you can actually change. That’s easier said than done of course. If we spend all our energy on things we can’t change, not only are we held in a prison of worry and despair, we also miss two other important opportunities. We’ll expound on those opportunities in issues to come. Hank Wagner is a dairy producer and a John Maxwell Team teacher, mentor, speaker and coach. To learn more about nurturing thankfulness, consider reading Hank’s book “Teachable Moments: Lessons from Africa.” It’s available online at amazon.com and at most book stores. Contact hwagner@ frontiernet.net for more information.

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