Volume 18: Issue 3 April 2016
BOTTOM LINE Sharing ideas, solutions, resources and experiences that help dairy producers succeed.
Page 4 Analyzing alfalfa early offers options
Page 7 Six steps improve foot health
Page 12 Healthy calves start with healthy lungs
Page 14 Managing feed protects profit margins
Healthy cows, good calf care = exceptional calves Veterinarian Dr. Daryl Nydam of Cornell University strongly believes in having healthy cows in order to produce healthy calves. Newborn calves depend on the transfer of immunity from their mothers by ingesting colostral immunoglobulin – that is, ingesting antibodies from colostrum upon birth. “Biologically active factors such as insulin play a role in the maturation of the newborn´s gastrointestinal tract and overall regulation of metabolism,” he said. Colostrum transfers passive immunity to the agammaglobulinemic – a condition in which the body forms few or no gamma globulins or antibodies – newborn calf, as well as a good source of nutrients. But that immunity won’t prevent cryptosporidiosis, which can cause severe diarrhea and death in young calves. And it’s not just sick calves that are a problem. Infected calves might show no outward signs of infection – but those calves shed large numbers of oocysts. During an infection of average duration, a calf may shed about 40 billion oocysts, according to Nydam’s research. So the pathogen can be prevalent both in the calf’s rearing environment and the maternity area. Reports have estimated herd-level fecal shedding in North America ranges from 50 percent to 80 percent. Calves are usually infected via the fecal-oral route – and it takes less than 50 oocysts to infect a healthy calf. The oocyst survives well even after freezing, and is resistant to many disinfectants such as bleach, peroxygen – Virkon – and iodophores, Nydam said. So susceptible calves are likely going to be exposed – and once the intestine is infected, the parasite moves on to other cells, leading to chronic disease. Treating sick calves is just as frustrating. Most antimicrobials have limited effect. So what to do?
University of Wisconsin
Gut development, critical insulin and management practices all play a role in quality calf care.
“Fortunately, most clinically ill calves respond to fluid therapy and supportive care,” Nydam said. “Remember to watch for metabolic acidosis associated with cryptosporidium-induced diarrhea. Consider supplementing intravenous fluids with sodium bicarbonate. Be persistent and intervene early with oral electrolyte solutions, while continuing to feed milk or milk replacer at the normal daily rate – divide it into more frequent, smaller feedings if necessary and feasible. Remember the parasite can lead to protracted disease and necessitates vigilance in care of these calves.” Be aware that a number of studies indicate removing the calf from the maternity area as soon as possible and putting it in an environment that has been cleaned from previous calf use, he said. Cleaning should include removing bedding and the base, and hot-water disinfection of the pens. Allow the area to dry between calves. Wear clean clothes and boots when working with calves. And always, to prevent infection follow best-management practices for calves.
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2 April 2016• PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line
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Vice President Marty Hallock Mondovi, Wis. firstname.lastname@example.org
Secretary Kay Zwald Hammond, Wis. email@example.com
Treasurer Charlie Crave Waterloo, Wis. firstname.lastname@example.org
Directors Brian Forrest Stratford, Wis. email@example.com Jay Heeg Colby, Wis. firstname.lastname@example.org Jeremy Natzke Greenleaf, Wis. email@example.com Dan Scheider Freeport, Ill. firstname.lastname@example.org Linda White Reedsburg, Wis. email@example.com
PDPW Advisors Eric Cooley University of WisconsinDiscovery Farms Sturgeon Bay, Wis. firstname.lastname@example.org Steve Schwoerer Badgerland Financial Fond du Lac, Wis. steve.schwoerer@ badgerlandfinancial.com Chad Staudinger Dairyland Seed St. Nazianz, Wis. email@example.com Richard Wallace Zoetis McFarland, Wis. firstname.lastname@example.org
Dairy farms fall into one of three categories for financial performance and position. Decide where your farm fits — and weather today’s low-price environment. Top performers are consistent These farms show consistent and positive earnings along with a positive return on investment. They know all costs at all times, including costs per hundredweight of production, and break-even margins. Typically excellent negotiators, these farms work with partners to negotiate lower prices on inputs and services. They control capital expenditures and sometimes pay for capital purchases with cash. They consistently make smart business decisions to offset tax liabilities. They excel in risk mitigation and price their milk through hedging, options and futures. They know exactly what their component pricing is and premiums resulting from each area. Most farms in this group have a cost of production from $15 to $17 per hundredweight. Seek opportunities to further refine and reduce operating costs, improve production per cow, take advantage of prepayment discounts and manage tax liability. Lock in profits when positive margins exist with future contracts. And continue leveraging expertise of consultants, lenders and others. Marginal performers are struggling Farms in this category have marginal earnings and average break-even costs. Profits are g e n e ra t e d i n t i m e s o f above-average prices or low feed costs; same goes for tax-liability issues. These farms are somewhat aware of costs and break-even points,
Top-performing managers can go beyond managing systems when they know all costs at all times.
but most costs are not controlled. They only make capital purchases in times of high prices, often by borrowing. These farms employ risk mitigation periodically, and are in and out of the futures market. They may understand hedging and option contracts; cost of production is from $17 to $19 per hundredweight. Improve overall profitability and increase net earnings. Know costs of production and drive them down. Understand pricing options to lock in positive earnings. Use a consultant to climb to the next level; you could easily see return on investment and increase overall profitability. Bottom performers need help This is the “hang on” category that only generate profits with high prices, living off depreciation and real estate appreciation. They usually have
tax-loss carryover, see high break-even costs and are poor negotiators with vendors. They have little or no price-risk mitigation and rarely make capital purchases. These farms do not understand the futures market, options and hedging. They consistently restructure debt; the cost of production is from $19 to $23 per hundredweight. If relying on real estate appreciation to provide collateral for debt restructuring, credit will be difficult if land values level off. Nail down cost of production; consultants need to help develop action plans to reduce high areas. Look to the Farm Service Agency for help. Reduce costs, completely change your operation or liquidate. I realize this may be a tough pill to swallow, but unfortunately realistic in today’s market. Greg Schopen, Badgerland Financial, a mission sponsor of PDPW
April 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 3
PDPW Youth Leadership Derby The 2016 Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin’s Youth Leadership Derby is a career-development event with interactive learning experiences for today’s youth. The overnight lock-in event for youth 15 to 18 years old will begin at 10 a.m.
April 16 and conclude at 12:45 p.m. April 17, and will be held at Brillion High School, W1101 County Road HR, Brillion, Wisconsin. Intended for high school students interested in advancing future careers and/or college
preparation, the event will offer keynote speakers, on-farm wet labs and breakout sessions in a fast-paced learning environment. Attendees will have the opportunity to visit Holsum Dairy to work with veterinarians and view a state-of-the-art
72-stall rotary parlor and more. They will be exposed to mentors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, dairy leaders and like-minded peers. Registration is due by April 10. Visit www. pdpw.org or call 800-947-7379 for more information.
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Alfalfa: slow out of the starting gate? JANE FYKSEN email@example.com 715-683-2779
Every spring, the question on producers’ minds is the same: How did alfalfa come through the winter? By the last week in April, they typically have their answer. While this year’s fairly mild winter was good in one sense, being without extreme temperatures, it also held potential for winter injury, said Chad Staudinger, Dairyland Seed forage product manager at its West Bend, Wisconsin, headquarters. Highly saturated soil conditions in the fall — and warmChad er-than-typical Staudinger temperatures that stuck around until well into December — kept some of the alfalfa from achieving complete dormancy. After December, there were s e ve ra l w a r m - u p s t h a t prompted the alfalfa to break dormancy and draw critical energy out of roots — energy that it needs to shoot out of the starting gate in spring. “Alfalfa thinks about growing when it’s 40 degrees for a day or two,” Staudinger said. He said he fears that considerable alfalfa is coming into the spring green-up-period energy deficient. Lower-fertility fields will be impacted the most. Staudinger said some alfalfa winter-killed in 2013 and 2014, prompting farmers to leave more stubble this past winter and not take a last fall cutting, to enhance insulting snow catch, which is a good thing when winter is more open. Un ive rs i ty o f Wi sco nsin-Madison forage specialist Dan Undersander said alfalfa varieties are being released with improved winter survival. They will survive more difficult
Growers should pull plants and open crowns to reveal alfalfa roots. Brown streaking in a plant root shows evidence of fusarium, the most common alfalfa infection in Wisconsin.
Green alfalfa is a sight for sore eyes. With nice color and consistent growth, it’s what growers love to see.
winters and tolerate October suggested using varieties with harvest with less yield reduc- superior winter survival. tion the following spring. Although Staudinger doesn’t But location in the state plays fear outright winter kill, he a role in the needed winanticipates a slower, slugter-survival rating. gish green-up and G e n e ra l ly, “Alfalfa thinks uneven growth. Un d e rs a n d e r “ We h o p e about growing said, in central this doesn’t Wisconsin – said when it’s 40 degrees happen,” especially S t a u d i n g e r, wh e re s n ow for a day or two.” who is from a cover isn’t Manitowoc CHAD STAUDINGER County dairy farm, dependable — variety with very good where his dad, Bob, to superior winter survival and brother, Brian, milk 2,000 should be grown. In northern cows near Valders, Wisconsin. Wisconsin, which has better He said the riskiest time for snow cover, and in southern alfalfa in terms of injury is from Wisconsin, the beginning of March to the varieties with end of April. Freeze-thaw a d e q u a te to cycles and resulting heaving are go o d w i n te r bad for alfalfa roots. With satusurvival may be rated soil this spring, heaving is selected. potentially more of a concern, depending on whether earUndersander Dan added that ly-spring weather remains mild more intensive Undersander or cold temperatures return. cutting schedHe suggested growers walk ules may increase the need for their fields immediately, if they more winter survival. If har- haven’t already done so, to form vesting in the fall, he strongly an idea of how their alfalfa looks.
It’ll be decision time after full green-up, which typically occurs the last half of April. They should be looking for plants that are green and growing. On older established stands, Staudinger said three to five healthy plants per square foot is the threshold for decent production. On fields seeded this past year, 10 to 15 plants per square foot are needed. If producers prefer to count stems, there should be at least 55 to 60 stems per square foot in both first-year and older stands. Consistent growth, plant to plant and throughout the field, is what they want to see. Asymmetrical growth – with half the plant greening up and the other half not – is an indication of disease, Staudinger said. Next, dig some plants to check out the below-ground status of the alfalfa. Roots should be firm and white, not tan or brown, or soft or mushy, he said. Fusarium is the most common alfalfa infection in Wisconsin; it can result in a brown lesion extending from the crown down into the center of the root. Growers who find a lot of this have a tough call to make. The alfalfa might be okay See ALFALFA, on page 6
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Alfalfa Continued from page 4
for one more year if most plants have healthier white root in comparison to the brownstreak area. With the cost of inputs these days, Staudinger thinks it behooves a farmer to strive for maximum production. In making the decision whether to keep the alfalfa stand for another season or take the nitrogen credit and plant corn, and establish a new stand elsewhere on the farm, growers should inventory their stored forage and consider the hay economy. Alfalfa prices are lower than they’ve been the past two years, making buying forage more attractive. According to the Wisconsin Agricultural Statistics Service, alfalfa hay in 2015 averaged $98.50 a ton, compared to $151 in 2014. U.S. average prices were $196 in 2014 and $163 in 2015. According to UW’s early-March
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averaging $126 a ton, in a range of $80 to $205. If some determine they want to save marginal stands for one more year, Staudinger suggested they might inter-seed a fast-growing grass this spring, as soon as field conditions can support machinery. He recommends Italian ryegrass or annual ryegrass, seeded at 25 to 40 pounds per acre. It’s relatively inexpensive seed and will produce 3 to 4 tons of dry matter this season. “Recognize crowns will be damaged any time an alfalfa field is driven over,” Staudinger said. “But if he just wants to stretch that field for one more year, he’s not overly concerned about the alfalfa. However, if he wants to keep the field longer term, he can thicken it with perennial grasses, but keep in mind injury to crowns that are alive.” A young stand planted this past year, either spring or fall, can be thickened with 12 to 15 pounds of alfalfa seed if need be, as it takes one full year of alfalfa for autotoxicity to be a concern. Again, recognize the potential for damaging crowns by driving over the field, Staudinger reminded.
Despite the present dairy economy, Staudinger said cutting back on fertility will hurt alfalfa growers in the long run. The upside is potash is cheaper than it has been. For every 5 tons of alfalfa dry matter removed per acre, that’s 300 pounds of potassium from the soil. If the aim is to increase fertility levels, growers will need to apply even more. Stick with the basics and don’t forget about sulfur, he said. Another option is to harvest first-crop and plant a forage sorghum or sorghum/sudangrass hybrid; Staudinger said he prefers the latter because it’s easy to establish and provides good summer growth with two or three cuttings. In terms of forage quality, digestibility is comparable to corn silage, if not better. Total season tonnage of 5 tons of dry matter to the acre is a reasonable expectation. If alfalfa is sluggish and showing slow growth, Staudinger said growers can give it a boost with some ammonium sulfate. And while alfalfa typically doesn’t need nitrogen, if it’s not nodulating, a little nitrogen can nudge it back into the growth mode again.
April 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 7
Six steps improve foot health LYNN GROOMS firstname.lastname@example.org 608-437-2827
Anyone who has stood all day at a trade show can relate to sore feet and legs. So it’s not difficult to imagine how a cow feels as it treks from stall to parlor and back two or three times daily 365 days per year – especially if she is forced to stand and wait for several minutes at a time. “Despite increased awareness of lameness in dairy cattle over the past decade, it remains a major concern for the industry,” wrote Dr. Nigel Cook, head of the food-animal production medicine group in the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His 2013 presentation was entitled “Don’t be so lame – time to implement
solutions to sore feet.” Lameness control is fund a m e n ta l to successful dairy-herd Nigel Cook management because it impacts how a cow rests and eats. Bottom line, sore feet reduce a cow’s ability to produce milk efficiently, to reproduce and to survive. Several peer-reviewed surveys of lameness have shown that, with a few exceptions, the prevalence of lameness is higher in free stalls compared to tie stalls, compost barns/bedded packs or grazing herds. In a survey of North American dairy herds, lameness affected onethird to one-half of cows in
Jan Shearer/Iowa State University
White line disease control should focus on an appropriate trimming program as well as good housing, flooring and cow handling.
larger, high-producing freestall housed herds, Cook stated. Facility designs that promote hoof health have been studied as part of the Dairyland Initiative at the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine.
“I believe that it is possible to manage high-producing dairy cows in free-stall-housed herds with high standards of health and well-being,” Cook stated. See FOOT HEALTH, on page 8
8 April 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line
Make hoof trimming a habit
Continued from page 7
While no two herds are alike, dairy producers may consider taking six main steps to help prevent or mitigate lameness. 1. Use sand-bedded stalls 2. Give time available for adequate rest 3. Exercise excellent hoofhealth management 4. Use an effective footbath program 5. Install good flooring to avoid the risk of slipping, wear and trauma 6. Have adequate heat abatement In his paper, Cook summarized the relative impacts of these six steps to lameness control.
Jan Shearer/Iowa State University
Cows with sole ulcers should have hooves trimmed at 90-day intervals.
Sand is the gold standard
Give cows a rest
“Cattle are best designed for earthen surfaces,” said Dr. Jan Shearer, a professor of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State U n i v e r s i t y. “They’re not Jan Shearer designed for a life on concrete so they need time to rest and be off concrete.” Having access to pasture is good, but not all farms have available pasture. Indoors, bedding is critical because it encourages cows to lie down, and when it comes to bedding material, it’s difficult to beat sand, Shearer said. “It’s the gold standard … cows like it and it’s less conducive (than some other materials) to harboring bacteria,” he said. Sand also reduces the risk in alleys for slipping and trauma to the foot. In addition, sand promotes long lying bouts and fewer bouts per day because of its ability to conform around the cows’ hips and hocks, Cook stated.
The best foot health occurs where cows have adequate space and time to rest, said Gerard Cramer, associate professor of dairy production medicine in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota. Fa r m s u s i n g Gerard deep-bedded Cramer stalls, including those using sand, generally see reduced incidence and duration of lameness, he said. Time available for rest is impacted mainly by stall design, time milking, time spent in lock-up, overstocking and heat stress, Cook stated. The longer it takes to move a cow from pen to parlor and back again has been associated with lameness. A cow will unlikely maintain a lying-time target of 12 hours per day if the time spent milking each day exceeds three hours. Cook and his colleagues surveyed 66 herds where the mean time out of the pen milking was 90 minutes, suggesting that many herds are missing the 12-hour
resting target due to undersized parlors, over-sized pens, inefficient transfer lanes and long distances from the parlor to the pen of origin. Time spent milking also impacts lame cows greater than nonlame cows because they are often the last to return to the pen, he stated. “I like to see no more than 45 minutes to 60 minutes between the time cows leave for the parlor and the time they return,” Shearer said. “When you think of farms that milk three times daily, cows are on their feet about three hours per day.” It’s important to minimize the time that cows are away from feed, bedding and water. This means parlors and groups of cows need to be sized to return animals to their pens in about an hour. If additional procedures — such as routine lock-ups — increase standing, that period should be considered in the cow’s time budget, Cramer said. “Another commonly overlooked factor is how cows are moved to the parlor,” he said. “Hoof health is a combination of the environment in which the cow lives and the people who care for her.”
Routine hoof trimming and early identification and treatment of lame cows also can mitigate foot problems. Functional hoof trimming balances the inner and outer claws of rear feet, reducing the overload of the outer claw. That can reduce the risk for sole hemorrhage and ulcers. The effects of trimming generally last about four months. Cows with white line disease and sole ulcers should have hooves trimmed at 90-day intervals, Cook stated. Some dairy producers have trimming done just once per year, while others have it done to two or three times annually. It depends on a herd’s hoof wear, Shearer said. As a general rule, he recommends hoof trimming at least twice per year. “It’s difficult to make general recommendations because it depends on the farm,” Cramer said. He is conducting a research project to answer how frequently a herd’s hooves should be trimmed when cows are housed in sand-bedded freestall barns. “I usually recommend trimming twice per year – once around dry-off to ensure a cow is ready to calve with excellent feet and then again around 100 days in milk,” he said. Observing lame cows is relatively simple in smaller herds, but becomes more challenging as herds increase in size. “I recommend that one or two trained caregivers have the responsibility of locomotion-scoring each week by pen as cows are moved to the holding area for milking, to identify cows for treatment,” Cook stated. Footbaths help control disease An effective footbath program can help control infectious hoof disease, including foot rot and digital dermatitis – or hairy heel warts. It’s almost impossible to
April 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 9 eradicate digital dermatitis once it is present in the herd; the goal is to find the “manageable state of disease,” Cook stated. Controlling digital dermatitis begins with hygiene and footbaths. Controlling sole ulcers and white line disease should focus on an appropriate trimming program as well as good housing, flooring and cow handling. Preventing excessive body-condition loss in the transition period is likely another factor, Cramer said. Cook recommended using an antibacterial agent with efficacy against Treponema species as frequently as necessary to maintain disease control. A reasonable goal is to maintain the proportion of cows infected with digital dermatitis to less than 5 percent at dry-off trims. The median herd footbaths three times per week, but some herds may need more or less bathing depending on the level of leg hygiene and degree of the problem, Cook stated.
Whatever chemical agent is used, the delivery system must ensure that cows’ feet are adequately exposed when they walk through the bath. Typically, farms use 50-gallon footbaths that are 6 feet long and as wide as the transfer lane. “We have shown that this design does not optimize foot immersions per pass,” Cook stated. He cited a study indicating that a longer bath was three times as effective as a short bath with the same chemical. He advocates footbaths that are 10 to 12 feet long with a 10 inchhigh step-in, as narrow as 24 inches, and with sloped enclosed side walls. When filled to 4 inches deep, the bath maintains a final volume of about 50 gallons, he stated.
producers can make concrete surfaces more abrasive to help prevent falls, that type of surface may incur greater wearing on cow feet, Shearer said. “For concrete, we recommend a groove three-quartersinch wide, one-half-inch deep and 3 and one-quarter inches on center,” Cook stated. “This wider groove, located closer together, ensures that when a cow stands on the floor, each foot is always over a groove. The edge of the groove grips the claw and the groove allows for liquid manure to transfer from under the claw, improving contact with the concrete.” Cramer said, “Strategic use of rubber flooring in holding areas, return and transfer lanes can promote foot health in large herds where cows walk long distances.”
Set foundation with good flooring Concrete can become slippery when wet, posing slipping and falling hazards. While
Let off some heat When cows are heat stressed, they stand more and try to cool through the use of thermal panting. There are physiological
changes that increase the likelihood of lameness associated with heat stress. The primary goal of heat abatement is to reduce the risk for increased standing time in the alleys and around the parlor. Cook recommended providing sufficient air movement and soakers in the holding area, adequate air movement in resting areas and adequate access to water – at least two waterers per pen for pens of more than 20 cows, and a minimum of 3.5 inches of accessible perimeter per cow. Again, no two herds are alike, but dairy producers can go far to help prevent or mitigate foot problems by taking these actions to improve their cows’ environment. Learn more about lameness by attending the PDPW Hoof Care Workshop, to be held April 12 in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, April 13 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and April 14 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Visit www.pdpw. org for more information.
10 April 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line
Cut energy costs, keep fresh air Proper ventilation in livestock facilities is important to prevent heat stress in the summer, circulate oxygen, and remove moisture and odors. By installing energy-efficient fans and practicing proper maintenance air quality in a building can be improved and energy costs can be reduced. To save energy and money on a farm: 1) Utilize natural ventilation whenever possible – This will dramatically reduce energy costs and eliminate hours spent updating and maintaining equipment. 2) Opt for variable-speed fans and motors – Variable speed fans and motors allow a producer to regulate the amount of air flow and ventilation in an
operation through the use of sensors. This will help reduce energy costs by managing the speed of the fans based on the outside air temperature and naturally occurring ventilation. 3) Use properly sized fans – Using properly sized, energy-efficient fans is important to lower monthly energy costs. Using less-efficient fans because the initial investment is less will end up costing more money in the long run, and the less-expensive fans may not be as durable. 4) Consult a professional – Consult a professional who is experienced in designing ventilation systems for agricultural facilities. He or she will help identify needs and also assist
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By installing energy-efficient fans and practicing proper maintenance, air quality in a building can be improved and energy costs can be reduced.
with the design and layout of the fans to make the facility as energy-efficient as possible. 5) Perform routine maintenance – Like all pieces of equipment, fans need regular maintenance in order to continue to perform at peak standards. Recommended maintenance should occur every three months. Fans need to be kept clean and properly lubricated to ensure maximum performance and minimal energy use. Circulation fans are used to regulate airflow and temperature, and come in a variety of sizes. The fans are tested by independent companies to rate airflow efficiency such as guards, blade design, motor location and speed. The results are publicly available and should be consulted when determining which fan is best for an operation. Exhaust fans are used to promote ventilation. As with circulation fans, when exhaust-fan diameter increases, fan efficiency also increases. These fans can be used to achieve cross ventilation and tunnel ventilation. With both of these designs, the fans are usually thermostatically controlled to turn on different banks of fans when the temperature hits a certain degree. Exhaust fans should be
installed away from prevailing winds whenever possible. High-Volume, Low-Speed fans are able to quietly move large amounts of air over a vast area. This type of fan is gaining in popularity as more energy-efficient options become available in the marketplace. Depending on the facility and owner preference, these fans are often preferred over other types of fans. As a general rule, threerow free-stall barns should place fans directly over the free stalls, while four-row free-stall barns should install fans over the feed alley. Focus on Energy requires circulation and ventilations fans be on a Qualifying Product List to ensure minimum efficiency and quality standards are met. Check qualified-product lists provided on the Qualifying Product List webpage along with links to the accompanying catalogs and applications. When choosing a new fan keep in mind which best practices apply to the particular operation. For more ideas on implementing energy-efficient practices, check out Focus on Energy’s new Agriculture Energy Efficiency Best Practices Guide. Visit focusonenergy.com or call 800-762-7077 for more information.
April 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 11
Attend world-class seminars — from couch or tractor “World Class Webinars,” presented by PDPW, are offered live online from noon to 1 p.m. CDT. Wednesday, April 20 Feed Additives on Tight Margins – Dr. Mike Hutjens Feed additives in dairy rations continue to be controversial, especially when profit margins are tight. Adding the recommended feed addiMike Hutjens tives can increase total ration feed costs by 10 cents to 30 cents per day. Dairy managers must consider which additive, why, when and how much for dry, transition and high-producing cow groups. The webinar will include direct-feed microbes, new research on yeast products, organic chromium, and futuristic products such as enzymes and essential oils. Register by April 13.
Wednesday, May 18 Managing Your Feed Inventories – Dr. Randy Shaver Feed-inventory management, both supply and quality, is a highly important but often overlooked component of the feeding program on a dairy. It is Randy Shaver crucial to consistently meet animal feed and nutrient needs, achieve herd-production goals, maintain herd health and control feed costs, and contribute greatly to the bottom line. The nuts and bolts of feed-inventory management, potential bottlenecks and opportunities for improvement will be discussed. Register by May 11. In case of date and/or time conflicts, registered viewers can watch a recorded version at any time. Visit www.pdpw.org or call 800-947-7379 to register or for more information.
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12 April 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line
Early respiratory disease diagnosis improves calves’ chances LYNN GROOMS email@example.com 608-437-2827
Bovine respiratory disease has taken a toll on calves over the past few years. Morbidity in preweaned calves due to the disease rose from 12.4 percent in 2007 to 18.1 percent in 2011. In weaned calves, it rose from about 6 percent to more than 11 percent during the same time frame, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Animal Health Monitoring System. At the recent Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin Business Conference, Dr. Sarah Raabis, a large-animal-medicine resident at the University of Wisconsin-Madison,
discussed the clinical signs, diagnostics and pathology of dairy-calf pneumonia. Calves stressed by bovine respiratory disease most often show signs of lethargy, lack of appetite, abnormal breathing and coughing. Stress, viruses and bacteria contribute to the disease. Calves can be stressed by temperature fluctuations as well as by being moved from pen to pen and adjusting to new social groups. Nutrition can factor into stress as well, Raabis said. Calves also are susceptible to a number of viruses, including Bovine herpesvirus 1, bovine respiratory syncytial virus, coronavirus and adenovirus. The most common bacteria contributing to the disease are Pasteurella
multocida, Mannheimia hemolytica, Mycoplasma spp., Histophilus somni, Bibersteinia trehalosi and Trueperella pyogenes. Dairy producers have many tools to help calves fight the disease, including feeding the proper amounts of colostrum in
the first few hours of life. Producers can manage nutrition consistency and volume; evaluate ventilation systems; and reduce environmental stresses on calves. They also can vaccinate, screen for disease and use diagnostic tools.
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Dr. Sarah Raabis of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine checks for an inducible cough in a calf.
April 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 13 Dr. Theresa Ollivett, assistant professor in the food-animal-production medicine section at the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, has been researching the use of ultrasoTheresa nography machines for Ollivett diagnosing lung lesions associated with bovine respiratory disease. When combined with respiratory scoring, thoracic ultrasonography allows differentiation between upper respiratory tract disease, clinical pneumonia and subclinical pneumonia, according to Ollivett and Sebastien Buczinski, associate professor at the University of Montreal’s department of clinical veterinary sciences, in a research paper entitled “On-Farm Use of Ultrasonography for Bovine Respiratory Disease.” Thoracic ultrasound quickly identifies pneumonia in the cranioventral lung lobes. When lesions expand from the cranioventral lobes to the caudal lobes, or lung abscessation and lung necrosis are present, the prognosis seems to be worse for a calf, the researchers stated. Moreover, the technology can be used at the herd level to identify specific populations at risk for developing bovine respiratory disease and to monitor the prevalence and severity of the disease over time. The researchers are currently collecting data to be able to perform a cost-benefit analysis on thoracic ultrasound. If the technology can be used in an economically feasible way to diagnose disease early, farmers can treat calves earlier against the disease. “This will impact the future health and production of the cow,” Ollivett said. Portable rectal ultrasonography machines already used by veterinarians for reproductive examinations can be used to diagnose lung lesions. Therefore the fees for diagnosing lung lesions would likely be mainly
Dr. Sarah Raabis demonstrates ultrasound gear, including a drench gun that is used to apply alcohol to a calf’s skin to help improve the image when checking calf lungs.
based on time spent in screening groups of calves, but this is sure to vary among practitioners. The ultrasound machine will likely allow a diagnosis in about 30 seconds once producers become more accustomed to handling and corralling calves for ultrasound testing. Some dairy herds in New York are already using thoracic ultrasound on a regular basis, Ollivett said. The UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine has the Calf Health Scorer available on iTunes for $2.99. Developed by Dr. Sheila McGuirk, UW-Madison professor of veterinary medicine, the app features a graphical interface to evaluate calf health based on scoring clinical parameters. The parameters include nasal discharge, ocular discharge, ear position, coughing and rectal temperature. Assigned scores range from 0 to 3. Scores of 2 or higher are considered abnormal. Thoracic ultrasound scores also can be recorded in the Calf Health App. Bovine respiratory disease has a large negative economic impact. Raabis cited 2011 research by Alex Bach of Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats in Barcelona, Spain. If heifers die prior to completing their first lactation – for which they are at a higher risk if they were treated multiple times for the disease – then farmers will not see a return on investment from raising those heifers. Heifers that had respiratory bovine disease as calves were twice as likely not to complete their first lactation as animals not affected by the disease, Bach found. A 2014 study by Buczinski et al found that animals that had the disease before three months of age had more than double the chance of dying after three months compared to their healthy contemporaries.
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14 April 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line
Managing feed inventory saves money JANE FYKSEN firstname.lastname@example.org 715-683-2779
With feed the largest expense on most dairies and little wiggle room with the current milk price, producers will want to closely monitor their feed inventories. They want to maximize the amount of milk they’re getting out of every mouthful their cows consume. “The good news is that in 2015, many producers had an opportunity to ‘restock the shelves’ when it comes to their forage supplies,” said Kevin Jarek, Outagamie County crops, soils and horticulture agent. Jarek said he’s fielded many Kevin Jarek questions about estimating the amount of forage on hand, especially in bunkers and bags. When it comes to bunkers, Jarek said the amount of feed present varies tremendously by how much it was compacted. His calculations are based on averages of 42 pounds and 17 pounds per cubic foot, respectively, for corn silage and haylage. However the range can be from 22 to 67 pounds per cubic foot for corn silage and 9 to 32 pounds for haylage. These estimates will at least put producers in the ballpark: • B unker of corn silage – length x width x height x 42 pounds per cubic foot; divided by 2,000 = tons of 65 percent-moisture corn silage • Bunker of haylage – length x width x height x 17 pounds per cubic foot; divided by 2,000 = tons of dry-hay equivalent. He estimates the amounts of forage contained in 1 foot of length in a bag, depending on its diameter, as follows: • Haylage – 8 feet, 0.38 ton dry-hay equivalent; 9 feet, 0.44; 10 feet, 0.54; 12 feet, 0.85 • 65 percent-moisture corn silage – 8 feet, 0.95 ton; 9 feet,
An adequate supply of high-quality forage is crucial to reduce purchased feed costs and increase milk production per ton of forage.
Cows fed corn silage treated with foliar fungicide have higher feed conversion, and corn silage treated with foliar fungicide have less fiber and more sugar content than untreated corn, according to research.
1.1; 10 feet, 1.35; 12 feet, 2.1 tons • Ground ear corn – 8 feet, 21.5 bushels; 9 feet, 26.5; 10 feet, 32.6; 12 feet, 46.9 • Ground shell corn – 8 feet, 34 bushels; 9 feet, 42; 10 feet, 51.7; 12 feet, 74.45. “Remember, when you purchase a 200-foot bag, you had to tie off both ends when it was finished, so you may only have 184 feet or so that is actually filled,” Jarek said. At this past winter’s Wisconsin Crop Management
Conference in Madison, University of Wisconsin-Madison dairy scientist Randy Shaver addressed the need for farmers to better connect with their consulting agronomist and nutritionist. “As the numRandy ber of cows per Shaver farm and thus the acres needed to provide feed have increased for Wisconsin’s dairy farms, the reliance of farm operators on agronomists and nutritionists for advice when making management decisions has also increased,” Shaver said. “A n a d e q u a te s u p p ly o f high-quality forage is crucial to reduce purchased feet costs and increase milk production per ton of forage.” The agronomist-dairy nutritionist interface is expansive and, according to Shaver, includes: • Feed inventory and crop rotations, • Manure storage and application, • N utrient-management plans, • Expansion planning, • Yield-versus-quality considerations, • Feed testing,
• Harvest and storage considerations, • Valuing feed and • Helping train farm staff. Prior to the start of the 2016 growing season, producers might sit down with both parties and address some of these issues, outlined by Shaver: • Feed inventory and crop rotations, taking into account milk cows versus dry cows versus replacements, and the proportion of hay-crop silage and corn silage this season • Any carryover corn silage and high-moisture corn • How cover-crop forages will be plugged into rations • Low-potassium forages • Targeting relative qualities and harvest maturities by crop to various livestock groups • Opportunity for grasses or alfalfa/grass mixtures • The possibilities of brown mid-rib corn silage and reduced-lignin alfalfa — as an example, Dave Combs, dairy nutritionist at UW-Madison, said reduced-lignin alfalfa holds potential for higher-quality forage, widening the harvest window; potentially harvesting later might result in greater tonnage per cutting. A 15 percent to 18 percent reduction in lignin means the ability to harvest eight to 10 days later.
April 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 15 • C rop fungicides — new research from the University of Illinois showed that milk cows fed corn silage treated with foliar fungicide had higher feed conversion, and corn silage treated with foliar fungicide had less fiber and more sugar content than untreated corn. • Feed testing and reducing feed variation • Custom harvesting: Selecting a firm, cost and communication • Establishing harvest maturity and moisture guidelines • Chop length and processing guidelines • Bunker packing, covering and face management • Silage-inoculants use and product selection • The need for feed contracts • Identifying bottlenecks in the operation as they apply to harvest and feeding the cattle. The Ohio State University dairy scientists Bill Weiss and Normand St-Pierre said that regardless of how sophisticated the nutritional model or software used to formulate cow diets is, it’s only as good as the feed sampling. Ingredient compositions change unknowingly at times. For example, silage being fed today came from a weedy part of a field. At other times, it’s expected, like when a new load of hay is delivered. Ideally diets are reformulated to
Regardless of how sophisticated the nutritional model or software used to formulate cow diets is, it’s only as good as the feed sampling.
reflect real change in nutrient composition of ingredients; good samples are the cornerstone of good diet formulation. Good Standard Operating Procedures for sampling should be developed and followed. Multiple samples of feeds should be taken to monitor sampling variation. Averages should be used rather a single sample to reduce the impact of improper sampling.
Although sampling is a major source of variation in diet composition, real variation does exist. But The Ohio State University experts said there’s good news in that substantial dayto-day variation in nutrient composition doesn’t have large negative effects on cows. They said that might mean a 24-hour day isn’t the correct period for assessing variation. Some of
their data suggest that a period of two or three days may be more appropriate. “In other words, if nutrient composition differed between two successive three-day periods, cows might be more likely to respond to that variation,” according to Ohio State. “We have some evidence that diet variation may have cumulative negative effects and that over a longer term – months – negative effects of variation may increase.” A key management factor that appeared to reduce the effects of variation was ensuring cows had access to adequate feed on all days. If the diet changes and cows need to consume more feed — such as when the diet becomes wetter — or the diet changes and the cows can consume more feed — such as when their diet changes from a higher to a lower concentration of Neutral Detergent Fiber — feed must be available to allow the cows to compensate. If the cows can’t compensate, the effects of variation is likely exacerbated. “Although providing excess feed may mitigate some negative effects of variation, it will also increase feed costs,” the research concluded. Email Weiss at weiss.6@osu. e d u a n d S t - P i e r re a t st-pierre.8@osu or visit www. shaverlab.dysci.wisc.edu for more information.
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