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Volume 19: Issue 1 January 2017

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

25 years … and counting HANK WAGNER

Page 2 Feed calves more milk in cold weather

Page 5 Are you sure she still has mastitis?

Page 9 Develop and grow your team

Page 20 Tell dairy’s story; consumers want to know

In 1992 Garth Brooks was country music’s entertainer of the year and Disney’s “Aladdin” was the highest-grossing film. Bill Clinton was elected our 42nd president and the average in-state four-year university tuition was less than $2,500. The names and statistics of 1992 are old news today, but a seed was planted that year that continues to bear fruit t o d a y. I t ’s g row n i n to something that has c h a n ge d Hank Wagner countless lives for the better. And it’s still growing. When the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin – PDPW – came to life, it was at the hands of a small group of people passionate about revitalizing a slumbering dairy economy – and committed to professionalism and the pursuit of continuing education. A lot can happen in 25 years, but one thing that hasn’t changed for the producer-driven organization is its mission to share ideas, solutions, resources and experiences to help dairy producers succeed. Almost everything in life eventually grows old, worn

contributed

Hank Wagner, along with his family, operates a dairy farm in Oconto Falls, Wisconsin. They have participated in many PDPW programs during the organization’s 25-year history. Hank Wagner has served PDPW as a board member and continues to contribute as a speaker at various leadership conferences.

out and outdated, but the few things that do grow more valuable over time are at the heart of PDPW’s purpose: lifelong learning, professional growth and personal development. PDPW’s membership has outgrown the expectations of its founding members and producers – and even its original name. Today, PDPW’s membership includes dairy producers from operations small and large in 38 states. The common thread that

binds these producers is their drive toward continued growth, success and forward thinking. All ideas for programs come directly from producers seeking more education on topics relevant to them – and PDPW relies on experts to bring forth training that’s not available elsewhere. Whether the topic is calf care, feed and nutrition, business and financial management, human resources, managing social media and See 25 YEARS, Page 2

Professional Dairy Producers® I 1-800-947-7379 I www.pdpw.org


2 January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

1901 Fish Hatchery Road Madison, Wisconsin 53713 Toll-Free: 1-888-AGRI-VIEW Madison Phone: 608-250-4162 Madison Fax: 608-250-4155 agriview@madison.com www.agriview.com

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

More milk yields more milk Amanda Smith

Cows. Bears. Kangaroos. Whales. At first these animals seem to have little in common; they thrive in vastly different environments. But all are mammals and give birth to live offspring that rely on milk for nourishment in early life. What sets a dairy calf apart is that it is the only limit-fed mammal of the group. And when we limit-feed our calves, we limit their potential. So why do we still insist on limiting the nutrition from milk to our baby calves? The question is especially critical in northern climates where temperatures drop, strong winds blow and snow falls during the winter months. In those weather extremes calves use what little fat reserves they have, just to stay warm. According to the newly revised “Gold Standards” from the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association, calves should double their birthweight by 56 days. For an 85-pound calf to do that, it needs to maintain an average daily gain of 1.52 pounds. The calf’s diet needs to contain enough calories to support that growth. Gary Geisler, a calf-andheifer specialist with Purina Animal Nutrition, evaluated the nutrient requirements of a

25 Years Continued from page 1

consumer relations – or engaging with the non-dairy sector to better manage highways, roads, soil and water – the programs have impacted dairy managers, employees and families to enhance their way of business and life. I believe there are two characteristics all successful people share: they have a dream and a

When temperatures drop, strong winds blow and snow falls, calves use what little fat reserves they have just to stay warm.

130-pound calf at 60 degrees Fahrenheit and at 20 degrees Fahrenheit using the National Research Council’s ration analyzer. The chart shows a calf’s average-daily-gain potential under four different feeding scenarios. The 20:20 milk

replacer that long reigned as the industry standard is quite inferior to mom’s milk. Simply put, two quarts of a 20:20 milk replacer twice a day is not enough for a calf to support maintenance and growth, especially in colder weather.

Calf potential to maintain and gain weight Pounds of milk solids/day 1.5 pounds 20:20 calf milk replacer

ADG at 60 degrees F 0.83

ADG at 20 degrees F 0

2 gal pasteurized milk

1.77

.95

2 gal pasteurized milk plus .5 pounds pasteurized milk balancer

2.28

1.52

2.5 pounds 26:20 calf milk replacer

2.20

1.42

CP Feeds LLC

belief that they can accomplish that dream. The founding members of PDPW and their current members embody that characteristic. It’s a new year, and now is the time to revisit your dreams. What is it you’d like to accomplish or achieve “someday?” Are you willing to put those dreams on paper, and commit some thinking time to develop goals to keep those dreams alive? Make this your year of learning, growing and achieving all

you have the potential to become. PDPW has a wealth of great programs and resources for you, but you’re the only one who can choose. You may not be able to purchase farm land for $901 an acre or fill your gas tank with $1 per gallon gas as in 1992, but you absolutely can make this your year of growth. Hank Wagner is a dairy producer and a John Maxwell Team teacher, mentor, speaker and coach. Contact him at hwagner@frontiernet.net for more information.


January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 3 Bolstering calves’ pre-weaning gains also brings results later in life. To date, 13 studies have looked at early-life nutrition and milk yield. Two of those studies saw no milk-production advantage with a high plane of pre-weaning nutrition. Those studies also did not see differences in growth rate by weaning. The remaining 11 studies all observed improved milk production when calves were provided with better nutrition pre-weaning. “If you have a real difference in growth rate prior to weaning, you should be able to detect a milkyield response between 1,000 and 3,000 pounds in the first lactation,” said Mike Van Amburgh of Cornell University. “You’re twice as likely to get more milk later on if you feed them better as a calf.” Across the studies, Van Amburgh’s research group found

that, for each pound of average daily gain that’s achieved prior to weaning, the producer should see 1,500 pounds more milk. “If you feed a 20:20 milk replacer at a rate of 1.25 pounds per day, with no stress conditions, at best calves will achieve 0.4 pound of gain per day,” Van Amburgh said. “If you feed 2.2 pounds of a 28:20, you should get at least 1.6 pounds of gain per day. “With a 1.2-pound difference in average daily gain, you’d expect the heifers with better rates of gain to make at least 1,800 pounds more milk. In this evaluation, 22 percent of the variation in first-lactation milk yield was attributable to the calf’s growth rate prior to 49 days of age. Genetic selection for milk yield only accounted for 7 percent.” The data from Cornell University’s own dairy herd showed an

additional 850 pounds of milk for every pound of average daily gain pre-weaning. When looking at the data, part of the yield difference, when compared to the meta-analysis average of 1,500 pounds, can be explained by treatment incidence. Cornell’s standard operating procedure directs that if a calf has a respiratory disorder it must be treated. Calves that were treated made 623 pounds more milk per pound of average daily gain. Untreated herd mates more than doubled that, making 1,400 pounds of milk per pound of average daily gain. Early in life, calves are extremely sensitive to intake. If we don’t supply enough nutrients for calves to meet their requirements, we can’t expect them to remain healthy when facing a pathogen challenge. “Calves that didn’t have a respiratory disorder didn’t go

off-feed and ultimately made more milk,” Van Amburgh said. “The calf that didn’t feel well and went off-feed made less milk.” If we’re going to select animals for a greater genetic capacity for milk production we need to treat them like that. “Similar to the transition cow, this is one of the areas where taking the lowest-cost approach won’t lead to the best possible outcome,” Van Amburgh said. A producer makes an investment in genetics. Once the calf hits the ground, it’s time to invest in the calf. Enhanced growth during the neonatal period has long-lasting implications on milk yield. Producers need to do what they can to reinforce each heifer’s genetic capacity to produce milk with management conditions and nutrition that allow it to happen. Amanda Smith is a dairy consultant with CP Feeds LLC, a corporate sponsor of PDPW.

See the true picture Don’t measure profitability by tax returns alone LORI TEIGEN

It’s hard to believe 2016 is already behind us. Some dairy producers are glad the year is over. Others found 2016 provided opportunities. How can a year that averaged a $13.47 Class III base price for the first six months provide opportunity? It all depends on how a producer manages metrics such as owner’s equity, working capital and cost of production – and tax versus accrual management in years of good profits and years of break-even or losses. Tax accrual management: consider cash versus accrual There is a difference between cash and accrual, and how each ties into other metrics. Cash recognizes income when it’s received

and expenses when they are paid. Cash can be looked at as money in and money out – similar to a checkbook register. It doesn’t give any credit for the value in inventories if a producer increased feed inventory from previous years. Accrual income and expenses are recognized based on the date of the transaction, even if a producer hasn’t received or sent a check, and incorporates changes in feed inventory, accounts payable or accounts receivable, etc. For example, if grain is sold Dec.31, 2016, but the check is deferred to Jan.1 for tax purposes, cash will recognize the sale in 2017 – while accrual will recognize the sale in 2016 because that was the transaction date. Most farmers are using cashbased Schedule F on their tax returns. From a lender’s standpoint, accrual analysis, not cash, is the best way to look at how a business is performing. Look at

beginning and ending balance sheets that are tied to an accrual-based income statement to really see what earned equity and profitability was for 2016. If feed inventories were increased this past year, accrual analysis will give a balance sheet the increased asset value for the value of the additional forages. If there is an increase in accounts receivable, the change in accounts receivable will tie into income on the accrual income statement. If a producer does not do accrual accounting, he or she can ask a lender to provide that analysis. Beginning and ending balance sheets will be needed, typically Dec. 31 to Dec. 31. Accrual analysis is the best way to determine cost of production and evaluate how a business is truly performing, in order to be competitive in the industry and with farming peers. Meet with a lender When meeting with a lender for an annual review to discuss

Ask a lender to help complete an accrual analysis. From a lender’s perspective, it’s the best way to evaluate how a business is performing.

operational needs for the upcoming year, bring solid year-end balance sheets and a copy of the last tax return for the baseline discussion. Ask the lender to help complete the accrual analysis. Using only tax returns to evaluate the profitability of a business can unfortunately lead to a lender making incorrect assumptions on the viability of the business. For instance, when milk prices were high in 2014, a lot of producers prepaid as many expenses as they could – such as chemicals, See PROFITABILITY, Page 4


4 January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Electrolytes: when to use and what to use VAN BEEK NATURAL SCIENCE

Scouring calves can lose 5 percent to 10 percent of their body weight in water within just one day. Fluid loss in excess of 8 percent requires intravenous treatment. Fluid loss of more than 14 percent can result in death. That’s why it’s extremely important to monitor calves and treat them quickly at the first sign of illness. A good electrolyte can restore fluid loss and nutrient imbalances in calves, and lower a herd’s calf mortality. The amount of fluid loss in a scouring calf can be estimated in a few ways – by “tenting” the skin, monitoring gum condition and by checking the calf’s ability to stand or suck. Another clear indicator is the calf’s liveliness or attitude – especially during milk feeding. Even if a calf shows no other symptoms of dehydration, it’s important to monitor it closely for illness if it needs encouragement to drink.

Profitability Continued from page 3

fertilizer, feed and seed – to reduce tax liability. Some even purchased the majority of 2015 expenses in 2014. Therefore, with depreciation their tax returns showed a small profit or even a loss. However when pre-paids are taken into consideration on an accrual income statement, the statement will accurately reflect the true profitability of a dairy. Those can be drastically different situations. If a lender only looks at a one-year tax return, it will show them a business that was not able to take advantage of high milk prices. That can lead to a credit decision that may not be favorable to the business – and to the lender questioning long-term viability. Similarly, if expenses were prepaid in 2014 and the producer had a reduction of expenses for 2015, the lender may project for the upcoming year that he or she is a

Roles of electrolyte ingredients

In the Geof electrolyte values Geof Smith Smith’srecommended recommended electrolyte values “Veterinary Sodium Na Potassium K Chloride Cl strong ion difference Clinics of mmol/L mmol/L mmol/L mmol/L North Amer90-130 10-30 40-80 60-80 ica Food Animal Practice” article “Treatment of calf diarrhea: volume • ‌Provides agents such as gluOral Fluid Therapy,” Dr. Geof Smith, veterinarian at North Caro- cose, citrate, acetate, propionate or lina State University, advises using glycine that facilitate absorption of an electrolyte that meets four sodium and water from the intesrequirements. tine • ‌Supplies sufficient sodium to • ‌Provides an alkalinizing agent normalize the extracellular fluid such as acetate, propionate, or

bicarbonate to correct the metabolic acidosis usually present in calves with diarrhea • ‌Provides energy, because most calves with diarrhea are in a state of negative energy balance Smith’s recommended values, used by most veterinarians to determine whether or not to use an electrolyte, are shown in the table. To choose the most effective electrolyte, search for one that contains sodium, potassium, chloride, maltodextrin, an alkalinizing agent, glycine and direct-fed microbials. Each of those ingredients plays an important role in the rehydration of calves with diarrhea and dehydration symptoms. For the best advantage against calf scours and associated mortality, monitor calf health closely and use an electrolyte with the recommended values and ingredients. Van Beek Natural Science is a corporate sponsor of PDPW.

low-cost operator when in reality the calculated cost of production is not accurate. The reliability and consistency of accrual-based financials lead to better management decisions and enable a producer to more clearly tell the farm’s story to a lender. Consider owner equity in working capital Owner equity is calculated by subtracting total liabilities from total assets. That number is the owner’s equity in the business. Then divide equity by total assets to obtain percentage of equity. From a lender’s standpoint, the threshold we like to see is greater than 50 percent. That means the producer owns more of the business than creditors do. That is also a producer’s “war chest” for times of adversity. Having an owner’s equity position at more than 60 percent will give greater opportunities in a year like this past one – to rebalance debts if cash flow dictates, take advantage of land and

costs are accrual-based. Other factors going into cost of production are: • ‌net herd replacement – the difference of the value of the animal leaving the herd via culling or death, and the income received for the animal • ‌capital costs – interest, depreciation and leases, and • ‌overhead costs – land rent, fuel and custom expenses. Cost of production should always be figured on an accrual basis for consistency and to eliminate the volatility of changes that can be attributed to managing tax liability. Hopefully this will help the producer manage the business so the business does not manage the producer. Improving financials will help make consistent business decisions to ensure long-term viability. Lori Teigen is a dairy-industry specialist with AgStar Financial Services, a corporate sponsor of PDPW.

Ingredient Sodium Potassium Chloride

Maltodextrin Alkalinizing agent Glycine Direct-fed microbials

Role or symptom Draws water into the blood stream to correct dehydration Clinical signs of hypokalemia – low potassium – including depression and profound muscular weakness The major negative ion – electrolyte – in the water and acid-base balance in the body, chloride is used by the kidneys to adjust and maintain equilibrium Provides energy and assists in sodium absorption Whether acetate or propionate, these have been shown to facilitate sodium absorption in the gut. An amino acid transported with Na+ – sodium ion – and works with glucose to facilitate sodium and water absorption Neutralize toxins, stimulate the host immune system, compete for nutrients and with pathogens for attachment sites for growth

equipment purchases, and, more importantly, give the equity needed to survive low milk prices. When earnings show an accrual net loss, the balance sheet will also show the loss in equity because the balance sheet and income statement are accrual-based and tied to each other. Working capital can make or break a business. Working capital is calculated by subtracting current liabilities – accounts payable and principal due in the next 12 months – from current assets – cash, feed inventory and accounts receivable. A guideline we like to use is $400 working capital per cow. Working capital will give the flexibility to manage cash flow and be proactive rather than reactive when faced with adversity. Remember the saying – “always save for a rainy day.” Production cost important The two main drivers of cost of production tend to be feed prices and labor costs. Remember, feed


January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 5

Abnormal milk – what is it saying? MEGAN HERBERG

Visible abnormalities in milk are often the first sign of mastitis. But they should not necessarily determine treatment. Clinical mastitis occurs when we see abnormalities in the cow’s quarter, in the cow, or in her milk. Visible changes in the milk are the result of inflammation or the cow’s response to infection. “Bacteria signal the immune system to produce inflammation, and her immune system goes to work eliminating the bacteria,” said Dr. Linda Tikofsky, professional services veterinarian with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc. “Milk may look abnormal. But when we culture, we may sometimes get a negative result, which means no bacteria are present. The cow’s immune system has already eliminated the bacteria.”

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The standard practice on dairies is to treat until the inflammation is gone, which is why some five-day treatment regimens have become common. However that may be leading producers to over-treat with antibiotics. “We may effectively kill the bacteria within the first 24 to 48 hours of treatment, but the inflammation will go on another three or four days while the body eliminates the dead bacteria and white blood cells,” Tikofsky said. Tikofsky recommends producers take a milk sample, culture it and wait 24 hours for results before treating. That can be done without a negative effect on cure rate or animal welfare in cases with mild or moderate mastitis. For severe mastitis cases, however, treat cows immediately with the appropriate treatment protocol.

Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc.

It’s recommended that producers, when testing for mastitis, take a milk sample, culture it and wait 24 hours for results before treating the cow.

“In 30 to 40 percent of the cultured samples, there are no bacteria present so producers are only seeing inflammation,” she said. “Wait until the inflammation subsides, and then put the cow’s milk back in the tank

when it returns to normal.” Stick to protocol “One of the things that has become very clear is that the observation of inflammation is See MILK, Page 6

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6 January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Take team approach to navigating transition Joel Pankowski

The transition period represents the time in the dairy cow’s life with the greatest opportunities – and yet the time with the greatest potential consequences. At no other time is there more at stake. How a cow comes through the transition will ultimately impact performance and profits in the current lactation and future lactations. To make the most of the transition period, it takes all members of the dairy team – including nutritionist, veterinarian and herd manager – to work together toward a common goal of a healthy, productive herd. Wo r k t o w a r d s o l u tion-based outcomes When it comes to the transition pen, the first step is identifying herd challenges, goals and desired outcomes, so protocols can be implemented to monitor ongoing performance. For example, a dairy that identifies ketosis as a challenge will be focused on finding the cause and developing a plan to minimize its incidence. One tool they may elect to use is beta-hydroxybutyrate monitoring, a simple blood test that can identify subclinical ketosis in fresh cows. By creating a protocol, the team can routinely monitor fresh cows for ketosis and more quickly identify a rise in incidence to allow for adjustments to feeding and management practices.

Milk Continued from page 5

not a good determinant of how long to treat,” said Dr. Pamela Ruegg, veterinarian and professor of dairy science at University of Wisconsin-Madison. “After clinical mastitis occurs, milk remains abnormal for four to six days, and even up to nine

Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition

Cows have a tough road to travel at transition time. Aim to have them “cruising” by a few months post-calving.

In many cases, identifying the desired outcome is the first step. Once a dairy knows the final outcome managers wish to achieve, the team can work together to put action plans in place. For the plans to be successful, the whole team must be involved in the discussion and work together to determine the path forward. Lay groundwork for transition success The communication among team members is the basis for success in navigating the transition period. Working together allows for open dialogue and idea sharing, without the pointing of fingers or placing blame. To make the team most effective in the transition pens, implement the following practices: • ‌Host routine meetings. Have a standing meeting on the calendar where the team can discuss any issues they’ve seen in the fresh-cow pen, and address their concerns before

they become real problems. Allow fresh-cow managers to openly share what they’re seeing with the nutritionist and veterinarian, so they can be awa re o f h ow c ows a re responding to the ration and to implemented management practices. • ‌Have protocols in place. Talk through the protocols with the fresh-cow managers, herd manager, nutritionist and veterinarian. Review the protocols and discuss how they are implemented, and what improvements can be made so they are most effective. As part of the meeting, conduct hands-on training so everyone is on the same page when it comes to executing the protocols, recording interventions and reporting findings. • ‌C o m m u n i c a t e f r e quently. Dairy nutritionists and veterinarians who have been most successful in the transition pen point to ongoing dialogue as one of the key

factors. As soon as one party identifies a potential issue, they call the others to discuss, even if a team meeting is weeks away. In many cases, this proactive approach prevents significant problems later on. • ‌Keep focus on transition. With such a lasting impact on herd productivity and profitability, keep the transition period top-of-mind when making changes on the dairy. Even when the challenge areas seem few, routine monitoring and goal setting is imperative for success. To access tools and resources that can help do the job throughout the transition – including templates for standard operating procedures, how-to documents and management tip videos, connect with an on-farm animal-health field representative. Joel Pankowski is with Field Technical Services of Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition, a corporate sponsor of PDPW.

days. So if you are treating for a shorter duration and milk remains abnormal when treatment ends, stick to the prescribed protocol.” Ruegg said the most important determinants for length of therapy are based on two factors. 1. What’s the pathogen? Different pathogens have different points of infection in the gland and different sponta-

neous or more rapid cure rates. 2. What’s the history of the cow? Has the cow been infected subclinically for a while before becoming a clinical case? Or is this a completely new case? “Monitor using a scoring system and record the results so you’ll have a baseline of cowlevel information and a sense of confidence of whether a case is remaining the same, improving

or worsening,” Ruegg said. “That information helps differentiate inflammation and infection and monitors progression, which is usually simply waiting for the inflammation to subside after your treatment is complete.” Megan Herberg is an associate brand manager with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc., a mission sponsor of PDPW.


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8 January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Consider human resources for dairy TROY SCHNEIDER

Twenty years ago, managing a dairy farm’s employees was a simple job – simply figure out what they will do and how much they would be paid. Today it’s much more complex and competitive. The most successful dairies seek to attract and maintain the best employees. The best dairies will properly manage their workforce to: 1) minimize the risk of litigation 2) improve communications with employees, and 3) increase productivity. Simply put, a dairy, like any other business, has a separate area of management – human resources. This article touches upon some of the most basic areas of human resources, but is by no means comprehensive. Legal or other professional advice for a specific human-resources issue should always be obtained. Beware hiring liability During an interview or hiring process, a dairy farmer must be careful not to create legal liability for discrimination or invasion of privacy. Questions during an in-person interview or on a job-application form should solely be used to obtain information to determine whether the applicant has the qualifications, skills and interests to perform the job. Questions should never be asked about a potential employee’s arrest records, national origin, religious beliefs, marital status or other prohibited subjects. Also a farm employer cannot inquire whether an individual has a disability prior to making a job offer. However employers may ask questions that relate to an applicant’s ability to perform job-related functions. Offer handbooks Many dairies today have an employee handbook for their employees. Employee handbooks can: 1) provide a reference for

UW-Extension

Today’s dairy-management teams should evaluate hiring and firing processes, in addition to other humanresource topics that haven’t historically been top-of-mind issues. The most successful dairies seek to attract and maintain the best employees.

employees so they are able to better understand the dairy farm’s expectations, 2) promote consistency in dealing with employees, and 3) increase the likelihood of winning an employment-law claim. If an employer with an e m p l oye e h a n d b o o k ca n demonstrate that its handbook and its applicable rules are reasonable, communicated to its employees and uniformly enforced, it has a much better chance of winning a litigated employment-law matter. Even though employee handbooks can be beneficial, they must be cautiously used. In the United States, employees can be fired without cause by their employer, “at will,” unless any written documents provide otherwise. As such, handbooks

must be carefully drafted to ensure that promises are not made in the document that will negate the at-will relationship. Employee handbooks should contain: 1) a clear at-will disclaimer, 2) a statement that the employer has the unilateral right to periodically revise policies and the handbook, 3) specific policies regarding such things as the Federal Family Medical Leave Act, equal employment, discrimination and other legal requirements, and 4) a clear disciplinary procedure. Performance and discipline rules helpful More and more dairy farms are recognizing the benefit of a performance-evaluation process.

Performance evaluations are often conducted to: 1) facilitate communication, 2) improve work performance, and 3) document incidents of poor performance for future reference, such as to provide a legitimate reason for termination. A good evaluation form should be tailored to the specific job being reviewed and address in a non-defensive manner the behavior and total performance of the employee. As most dairy-farm employers know, at times it’s necessary to discipline an employee for things like poor behavior, attitude and attendance. What most dairy-farm employers fail to understand is how important See EMPLOYEES, Page 10


January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 9

Grow and develop dairy team To operate a dairy at optimum levels, employees need to be well-trained and well-treated. Upcoming PDPW Dairy Human Resources workshops in Wisconsin and Iowa are designed to empower owners to more effectively communicate with employees to bring out their best – even when language and cultural differences pose challenges. To help dairy producers create a n e f fe c t ive h i r i n g a n d on-boarding system, Trevina Broussard, associate trainer with Humetrics and Peggy Morrow & Associates, will share

common-sense approaches to better recruiting and hiring, customer-service training, team building, retention and management development. In the one-day workshop, Broussard will offer a three-part approach to enhance any dairy operation’s employee-management protocols – beginning with recruiting the best and hiring right. Attendees will learn to attract the right applicants and then identify “eagles” versus “turkeys” as well as how to reduce employee turnover. Participants will leave equipped

with tools to motivate and engage top-performing employees, and to retain them. The workshops also feature a producer panel from whom to glean insights including practices that didn’t work well, how to conduct performance reviews, and tips and tricks for developing a positive business culture and a high-performing team. Training dates and locations in Wisconsin are Jan. 31 in Oshkosh and Feb. 1 in Eau Claire. Training will also be held Feb. 3 in Orange City, Iowa. The

training runs in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-School of Veterinary Medicine and will be crediting up to 5.5 continuing-education credits. Call PDPW at 800-947-7379 or visit pdpw.org for more information.

issues, weather forecasting and trends, and their impact on dairy, producer panels, wet labs and necropsies. More than 200 companies will be represented in the Hall of Ideas Trade Show. The two-day event will feature a celebration of the 25-year PDPW history of

dairy men and women coming together with industry professionals to share ideas, solutions, resources and experiences to help dairy producers succeed. For access to world-class education and unmatched peerto-peer networking with the industry’s greatest from around the nation and world, register today to attend the 2017 PDPW Business Conference. Call 800947-7379 or visit pdpw.org for registration information and details on exhibiting in the Hall of Ideas Trade Show.

PDPW Business Conference and Trade Show coming Marking its 25th anniversary, the PDPW Business Conference and Hall of Ideas Trade Show is set for March 15-16, 2017, at the Alliant Energy Center, 1919 Alliant Energy Center Way in Madison, Wisconsin. It’s a gathering place for solution-minded producers representing dairy operations of every size and scale. This year’s c o n f e re n c e f e a t u re s a n unprecedented number of

speakers and sessions. Among them are industry favorites David Kohl and Lowell Catlett, who will address the group as two of four keynote speakers. In addition, more than 70 speakers will present in 59 dynamic sessions and hands-on labs. With a “Mission Driven” theme, the conference will feature cutting-edge topics ranging from new technologies, the latest insights on herd-management

Agricultural Community Engagement meeting set “Embracing greatness through growth, leadership and agriculture” summarizes the 2017 Agricultural Community Engagement® program, which brings together dairy farmers, community leaders, local elected officials, conservation officials, and other livestock producers who share a vision of growing strong and productive Wisconsin com-

munities. Ben Brancel, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection secretary, will open the meeting with updates on land, water and neighborhood conservation and improvement strategies. The full-day program will feature other segments, including bringing in the next generation,

building a sustainable dairy, and an update on news from Washington, D.C. The 2017 ACE® Regional Meeting is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Kalahari Resort, 1305 Kalahari Drive,

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Call the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin at 800-947-7379 or visit pdpw.org for more information and to register. The meeting is part of the Agricultural Community Engagement® partnership, a joint effort of the Wisconsin Towns Association, the Wisconsin Counties Association and PDPW.


10 January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Employees Continued from page 8

it is to document the discipline process. With a well-documented disciplinary process, a dairy-farm employer can win most employment discrimination, unemployment, or wrongful-discharge claims. Generally, to have an effective disciplinary process and just cause for termination, the following seven questions must be answered in the affirmative. 1. Notice: Did the employee receive fair warning of the possible disciplinary consequences of his or her conduct? 2. Reasonable Rule: Was the employer’s rule reasonably related to (a) the orderly, efficient and safe operation of the business, and (b) the performance the employer might p ro p e r l y e x p e c t o f t h e employee? 3. Investigation: Did the employer perform a reasonable

investigation to see whether the employee did in fact violate the rule? 4. Fair Investigation: Was the employer investigation conducted fairly and objectively? 5. Proof: Did the employer find substantial evidence or proof that the employee was guilty as charged? 6. Equal Treatment: Has the employer applied its rules, orders and penalties evenhandedly and without discrimination to all employees? 7. Penalty: Does the proposed degree of penalty reasonably relate to the offense? A dairy-farm employer should consider the use of a last-chance agreement. In a last-chance agreement, the employer and employee enter into a signed written agreement that gives the employee one last chance to understand what is expected of him or her and to make it clear that any future bad conduct will result in termination.

Employee handbooks must be carefully drafted to ensure that promises are not made in the document that will negate the atwill relationship.

Termination procedure important Sometimes a dairy-farm employer is forced to make the decision to terminate an employee. When a decision is made to terminate an employee, it’s important that proper procedure is followed. First, review the farm’s written employment policies and handbook. If those documents establish a discipline process, it must be followed to avoid a potential unlawful-termination claim.

Second, consider whether any state or federal laws protect the employee. Such laws may include the Americans with Disabilities Act, Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Civil Rights Act and Workers Compensation. Third, review the employee’s personnel file to see if there is sufficient documentation to justify termination or warrant against termination. Finally, consider the employee’s eligibility for unemployment insurance. The human-resources area is a growing area of management for modern dairy farms. One of the primary functions of human resources is to ensure the dairy complies with federal and state labor and employment laws. Hopefully the suggestions given will be used to prevent unnecessary legal claims. Troy Schneider is an attorney with Twohig, Rietbrock, Schneider & Halbach S.C., a corporate sponsor of PDPW.

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January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 11

Only you can prevent farm fires MICHAEL LUBAHN

Take it from an insurance company – fire losses are devastating. People don’t realize that in addition to the fire, there might be additional damage caused by water, smoke and heat. Most items can be replaced, but it’s the items like pictures or sentimental gifts that are the hardest to deal with. The truth is many of those fires were preventable – a little bit of common sense and regular maintenance goes a long ways. Taking the time to inspect potential hazards in the barn and in the home might prevent a call to 9-1-1. Take care in barns Hay Precautions – The abundance and flammability of hay can be a massive hazard if proper precautions are not taken. Don’t store hay near lights, electrical boxes or outlets, and monitor bales to ensure of adequate ventilation. Smoke Detectors – Yes, there should be smoke detectors in the barn. Consider connecting the detectors with a loud siren so they can be heard when no one’s in the barn. Heating Systems – Regularly maintain the furnace and check there are no leaks in any gas and fuel-oil systems. Ensure all ducts and air shafts are clean of dust and debris. Electrical Systems – Conduit, conduit, conduit! Those pesky rodents like to chew on things, so make sure wires – even extension cords – are encased in a metal conduit pipe. Also ensure power needs are met without overloading the electrical system. Take care in homes Chimney Maintenance – Brick chimneys are prone to deteriorate, causing highly combustible creosote to accumulate in wall cavities. Regularly check that the chimney is structurally sound; use a wire brush to remove creosote.

Rural Mutual Insurance

Fire fighters watch as a barn is fully engulfed in flames. Fires like this can result in tremendous financial – and emotional – damage. Simple strategies in the barn and in the home can prevent this type of tragedy.

Burning maple, oak or hickory wood, and having the fire be hot and bright, will limit buildup. Cooking – Stay in the kitchen and roll those sleeves up. That seems like common sense, but cooking accounted for 37.2 percent of all residential fires in 2014, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Those with young children or pets should enforce a “cooking zone” of 3 feet around the stove to prevent accidents. Smoke Detectors – They should be installed on every level of the home – inside and outside sleeping areas – and should be tested monthly. Family Management – Ensure the family practices a fire-escape plan – Red Cross offers worksheets to help prepare – and can safely escape a home fire in less than two minutes. Michael Lubahn is the director of marketing for Rural Mutual Insurance Company, a corporate sponsor of PDPW. The Middleton Fire Department and the National Farm Medicine Center contributed to this article.


12 January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Epithelial: barrier against disease FLOYD SUTTON

The health of an animal, be it a cow or a person, is dependent on a strong immune system. One of the most important parts of the immune system is the epithelial tissue. The most obvious is the skin of the animal, but it’s also the linings of the digestive system, the reproFloyd Sutton ductive tract, the mammary gland, the claw, and the linings of the lungs. The liver and lungs are also comprised of glandular epithelium. Many health problems are related to issues involving those barriers and tissues. Dr. Christoph Mulling, a veterinarian at Leipzig University in Germany, recently made a presentation at a dairy seminar discussing the topic. His interests are in bovine claw health but the concepts discussed apply to other epithelial tissues as well. The body requires those tissues to protect itself from outside forces, both on exterior of the body and interior of the body like the digestive system. All epithelial cells are tightly packed. They are separated from the underlying tissue by a basal membrane. They do not contain blood vessels so they get all their nutrition by diffusion from surrounding tissues. All tissues in the body are interrelated. Things that impact the liver also will impact other epithelial tissues like the skin or mammary gland. The tissues grow out from the basal layer and differentiate themselves into specific tissues. The process varies according to

the tissue and the age of the animal. In children the entire lining of the gut will be replaced in about three and a half days. In older adults that might take a week. The claw o f a d a i ry cow ca n ta ke months to regenerate. The cells work out from the base membrane to the surface. As they move away they increase in keratin, and eventually reach a point when the cell dies and forms the outer protective barrier. Those cells also have contacts with other neighboring cells. They adhere to each other like Velcro. They comm u n i c a te to ea c h o t h e r through structures called gap junctions. In the epithelial of the gut, they have a tight junction that seals the cells

EPIDERMIS CROSS-SECTION

A cross-section of epidermis structure shows the many different cells and layers that work together to form the barrier between the body and the environment.

LAYERS OF THE GI TRACT


January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 13 together to form a barrier. If the communication system is disrupted the system breaks down. Quality of the tissues is influenced by nutrients available to form the tissues. Calcium, for instance, is vital for the formation of keratins in the claw horn. That is the reason calving has such a large influence on horn-quality problems. Lack of calcium shows as hardship grooves, which indicate a weakening of the horn wall. The intercellular glue that holds the cells together is dependent on the availability of fatty acids and biotin. Healthy skin takes good nutrition. One of the most common disease problems in cattle is digital dermatitis. It’s a disease of the skin, caused by a number of different bacteria species that work in concert to insert bacteria through the skin’s outer layers. The outer layer is sensitive to water balance. When the skin is exposed to wet conditions, skin quality is impacted. A good example of this is the impact of washing dishes on human skin. Manure slurry also has an impact on skin by helping to erode skin’s protective cells. Many bacteria that cause foot problems are anaerobic. That means they thrive in low-oxygen environments – and dirty wet feet are a great place for them to grow. Bacteria such as the treponemes are spirochetes that can burrow between skin cells and insert themselves deep in skin dermis, where they cause pain and lameness. If treated early the animal has a good chance of recovery. But if bacteria become well-established deep in the skin they are difficult to eliminate from the animal. A wart-type growth seen in cases of digital dermatitis is really abnormal growth of dermal pegs at the base of the

skin. The bacteria have disrupted the communications between cells; they start to grow in unusual ways. The “hairs” coming out of a digital dermatitis lesion are not hairs at all, but rather skin cells that have “lost their way.” They are growing out from the dermis – but don’t have their signals straight to become healthy skin and to join with their neighboring cells to form a correct barrier. The temptation is to use stronger chemical treatment and prevention programs to treat digital dermatitis. While that may appear to make sense, sometimes those treatments create more problems than they solve. If chemicals used for treatment and prevention are too harsh, they can cause permanent scarring and damage. If dermis is damaged it won’t have a chance to rebuild itself and skin coverings. Some footbath chemicals also can be an issue with high chemical concentrations. They can actually damage the outer layer of the skin, creating a path for bacteria to enter the foot. If we’re working on a prevention program we should think of what would work best for our skin. If a producer wouldn’t put bare hands or feet in the treatment, we need to consider the impacts on the cow as well. Healthy epithelial tissue is vital for a healthy animal. Good nutrition with proper levels and sources of vital nutrients such as mineral, vitamins and trace minerals all will help provide the building blocks of those tissues. Reducing stress, providing adequate hydration and a clean environment with reduced bacterial loads will enhance the functions of those vital tissues to help keep cows healthy and productive. Floyd Sutton is key account manager-Great Lakes, for Zinpro Performance Minerals, a mission sponsor of PDPW.

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14 January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Manage dairy herds on the go NATE MCDONALD

Technology has come a long way in a short period of time and is now part of our everyday lives. It’s how we text the grandkids, share photos with family and hands-free call someone while driving. It has likely woven itself into our days more than we are even aware. Farm ownership transferring to the next more tech-savvy generation will impact the relationship between farming and technology. We have already seen changes in the way a herdsperson manages cows. The increase in automation has resulted in less and less actual time cow-side. Gone are the days of seeing a cow in possible heat and then writing her number down, in order to check on her activity and historical data when there’s a moment to go back and sit in the office. A dairy producer can now easily access from a smartphone each animal’s life history, treatment records, activity levels, and even eating time and behavior. A worker can easily “flag” her with a management application to all workers on the farm. Herd management apps can send emails and texts that allow a herdsperson, parlor manager, owner or anyone else to know what is needed for that certain animal. Without needing to alert each person individually to an issue, a dairy producer can now manage cows in real time, and not just when there is time to enter data in the office. Myriad information types available Activity systems are a good way to identify cows requiring attention for servicing or for preventative health treatments. The systems are becoming increasingly popular due to high labor and drug costs, and the increased reliability of activity

BouMatic

Keep track of a herd’s activity, feeding and other critical data alerts via smartphone.

alerts available. It’s important to note that no matter what activity system is used, a producer must have a plan in place to catch any cows the system misses. Those cows, usually high-producing, early-lactation or cystic, will not show any increase in activity levels. That’s where it’s handy to either utilize a reproduction protocol to synchronize cows at a certain number of days in milk with no service, or to use a sync protocol that allows for “cherry-picking” cows for either a pre-synch or double-ovsynch protocol. Many programs have the ability for reports to be generated for various time frames so further analyses can be made. Generally alerts can be set for when activity is high as well as below normal. It’s also important to consider being able to do that from any location. Choosing the right system is important. In any activity system the producer should be able to do two main things. First and most important is reliably identifying cows that are in heat. That is what pays for the activity system. Secondly, the

producer should be able to identify any potentially sick cows so they can be checked before they drop in milk production and start becoming a financial burden on the farm. Many companies have different ways of doing this. An important factor is for the data to be presented in a simple and usable way to allow a producer to manage the herd. There is a definable economic impact from breeding and reproductive analyses. The Marathon County University of Wisconsin-Extension estimates a cost of $2.50 per day for every day a cow is open beyond 110 days in milk. The Missouri Dairy Growth Council’s Dairy Cattle Reproductive Manual of 2009 explores multiple different economic losses for increasing days open and decreasing pregnancy rate. An activity system can often pay for itself in a short time – and that doesn’t even factor in money saved in drug costs or the decrease in milk production caused by increased days open. There are many online tools available, such as reproductive-cost

spreadsheets to help determine a herd’s potential improvements. A dairy producer can receive low-feeding alerts. Pen-feeding behaviors can be analyzed for further decisions to management. Was there a change to the haylage? Are there mycotoxins or high butyric acid levels in corn silage that is affecting the time cows are at t h e b u n k ? T h ose a re a l l important questions that can be answered by looking at pen averages for eating times. Adjustments can be made to the feed as needed. And of course there’s the dreaded mastitis analysis. Herd-management applications can be of great use, but there is still a need for some dedication to the recording of every incidence as well as of the location and the date of occurrence. Having that data will allow the herdsperson and veterinarian to concentrate on areas that need attention. In today’s world, information is crucial, but finding the right information when it’s needed can be difficult. What tools will gain information on the herd quickly, and how relevant is that information? As the availability of data on cows becomes more and more available, it’s important to ask how easy it is to access. That relates directly to how much a producer is using the technology and how much the producer understands how to use the alerts and reports. As with any software, it’s only as useful as the ability of the user. Training from a herd-management software specialist is a way to ensure the best return from the investment. Any data collected that isn’t used does no good. Nate McDonald is a herd management specialist with BouMatic, a corporate sponsor of PDPW.


January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 15

Prepare to meet the banker BRAD GUSE

Many dairy operators are preparing to hold year-end reviews with their financial partners. There’s certainly no shortage of issues they’ll need to navigate. Chief among them is how to manage liquidity while margins continue to shrink and price volatility grows more intense. But before having those conversations, prepare to answer certain questions, especially when experiencing tight margins. That’s because the farm’s financial position may have changed. More detail and documentation will be needed to support an analysis of the operation. My clients often ask how they can best prepare for year-end meetings. Here are tips that may be helpful. 1. Supply current results. It’s essential to include an accurate and detailed balance sheet with all open account balances detailed and dated, along with any lease-obligation details. Along with the balance sheet, a year-to-date earnings statement will go a long way toward telling the operation’s story. • ‌How did the operation reach its current financial position? • ‌Have open accounts risen? • ‌What has happened to the working-capital position? Production history for the year will provide support for the financial reports provided. The goal here is to define the size of the hole that needs filling, if there is one. 2. Provide a projection for the next operating cycle with clear assumptions and details. Take the time to make the numbers relevant and measurable on a daily basis. For example, if capacity is an issue, calculate what the daily bulk-tank weight needs to be to fill the difference. Be prepared to support the plan with additional documentation

BMO Harris Bank

In periods of tight margins, be prepared to answer specific questions about the farm’s financial position.

that can demonstrate how the goals are attainable. That could include anything from milk stubs to sales receipts to copies of contracts. In the end, prepare to answer the following questions: • ‌What is the operation doing to ensure meeting those projections? • ‌How does each aspect of the plan improve the farm’s situation? • ‌Is the plan realistic and obtainable given current market conditions? 3. Prepare a risk-management plan. Risk management isn’t just for large dairy operations. Having the right risk-management tools in place enables producers of all sizes to survive periods of compressed margins. That starts by knowing costs, examining pricing opportunities available and having the right instruments in place to act on those opportunities. Think about the cost of inputs today on a per-acre basis. In the past the numbers were smaller and easier for an operation to absorb. But with higher costs comes higher risk, so it may be

time to look at crop-insurance coverage levels.

Prepare to answer these questions. • ‌Is the producer hedging prices of both inputs and outputs? • ‌What is the producer doing to ensure margins? • ‌Should the operation consider crop insurance? 4. Focus on cost control and efficiency gains. It’s important to know what the operation is doing to improve margins so it can continue in the event of a sustained downturn. Making changes that impact the bottom line is what matters. Consider what types of technology investments can add to the bottom line. Use a block budget to calculate the impact to the projection and make a case for the investment if it’s positive. See BANKER, Page 16

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16 January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Be prepared with current details and documentation before meeting with financial partners to maximize conversations and plan for the future.

Banker Continued from page 15

Being proactive and holding early and honest conversations with financial partners is essential to understanding where the

farm is today and in getting the financial support needed to move forward. For those not able to prepare those items, getting a third-party evaluation of the operation can add validity to any plan while demonstrating to the lender that the producer is

committed to making improvements. A year-end review should be a collaborative meeting with financial partners. Being prepared and proactive can go a long way toward speeding

the decision-making processes and can help ensure a solid plan for the next cycle. B ra d G u s e i s a s e n i o r vice-president of agriculture banking at BMO Harris Bank, a corporate sponsor of PDPW.

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January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 17

Work together to clarify misperceptions BILL PFINGSTEN

As those of us in the agricultural industry know, the typical American farmer is a good steward of the land and a producer of nutritious, safe, quality food. Unfortunately, those outside of the agricultural industry don’t always have that “insider” knowledge, which is why it’s important for us to keep telling our story. Think about it. More than 200 years ago, 90 percent of the U.S. population lived on farms and produced their own food to eat. Today about 2 percent of the population produces the majority of food that everyone eats … and the other 98 percent are not informed on what farming is truly about. There are stories we should tell. Organic and non-genetically modified organism foods are healthy and a perfectly fine choice for consumers, but they are not any healthier than foods grown or produced using other technologies. For example, producers probably know, all milk – organic and mainstream – goes through the same fivepoint inspection process, including being tested for antibiotics and to ensure there are no artificial growth hormones. That means they are on a level playing field when it comes to food safety. Interestingly, that’s not what public perception reveals. A large consumer study from market researchers Health Focus International indicated that 87 percent of consumers think non- genetically modified organism foods are “somewhat” or “a lot” healthier. Yet many regulatory agencies and organizations that study the safety of the food supply, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, Health Canada,

Today’s consumers are more removed than ever from the source of the food they consume. We play a vital role in ensuring they understand that our product is safe for them and their families.

the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Academy of Sciences, have found genetically modified food ingredients are safe, and there are no negative health effects associated with their use. There are many technologies used in agriculture today that can offer significant improvements in food production and

O

practically no polyphenol oxidase, a plant enzyme that creates the browning. Essentially scientists used the apple’s own deoxyribonucleic acid – DNA – to turn off the polyphenol oxidase protein that makes it brown, while retaining the same composition and nutrition as conventional apples. Another example of how

rganic and non-genetically modified organism foods are healthy and a perfectly fine choice for consumers, but they are not any healthier than foods grown or produced using other technologies. quality. It’s important to note that the science used to develop those technologies is extensive – and keeps health, safety and productivity at the forefront. One example of this is the Arctic apple, which was developed by a British Columbia apple farmer who was frustrated with how quickly his apples browned prior to arriving at a market. The Arctic apple produces

we’re increasing efficiency and production without compromising the safety or quality of food involves corn, which certain pests are drawn to. Corn farmers do a number of things to control those pests, including using organic, biological and conventional pesticides. In fact, a genetically modified organism technology that uses the petunia gene can now be put into

corn to minimize corn borer damage and create a better-quality yield, without any negative effect on safety of the corn itself. A final example that comes to mind is the use of genetically modified organism precision genetics with sugar beets, significantly reducing the number of times a sugar beet crop needs to be sprayed for weed and pesticide control. That technology allows for improvements in production benefits and efficiencies, without compromising food quality, nutrition or safety. I’d be hard pressed to point to an industry that can cite the improvements in production and efficiencies that the agricultural industry has. The U.S. dairy industry in particular is an example of this, using 65 percent less water, 78 percent less feed, 90 percent less land – and 16.4 million fewer cows than the agricultural producers of even 60 years ago, according to a study by the U.S. Dairy Industry. It’s a testament not only to the productivity of our agricultural producers, but also to the sustainability they embrace on an everyday basis. I would recommend consumers watch the documentary “Farmland.” The documentary takes an intimate look at the lives of young farmers and ranchers, and how they are following the path of prior generations while also operating in a different era of public perception. It does a great job of raising awareness of modern-day farmers, and of bridging the gap between the food we buy at the grocery store and how and where it’s made. What’s your agriculture story? Start telling it now! Bill Pfingsten is with SVP Ag Banking, Investors Community Bank, a corporate sponsor of PDPW.


18 January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Know the details before investing Keith Engel

One of the first parlor automation tools – the automatic take-off – began the movement toward providing consistency in the milking process for improved teat ends, udder health and milk quality. Decades later, automated teat-preparation systems are taking consistency to the next level. With automated teat-prep systems, each teat is prepped the same way every time, minimizing variation between employees. That consistency results in cleaner, healthier teats less prone to mastitis, leading to improved milk quality and a reduction in somatic cell counts. But before jumping into an investment, consider four areas to ensure the correct automated teat-prep system is chosen for the dairy.

products and reduce iodine usage by using a non-iodine solution such as chlorine dioxide to clean teats. Milking protocols depend on herd size

GEA Farm Technologies Inc.

Teat scrubbers bring consistency every time with cleaning, sanitizing, stimulation and drying in one easy step.

Automated teat-prep systems enhance consistency and efficiency in the teatpreparation process.

Herd size matters The beauty of automated teat-prep systems is that they provide a convenient and cost-effective solution, allowing farmers to bring additional automation into the milking parlor or stall barn without the investment of robotic milking. While the first teat-prep systems were mainly installed in larger parlors, today there are systems that can be used in herds with as few as 50 cows and as many as 10,000 cows. Different models of automated teat-prep systems are recommended for different-sized herds. Heavy-duty cycle models are made to accommodate 24-hour-a-day milking on larger dairies. Dairies with 300 cows or fewer and milking fewer hours per day can install a model designed for a lower amount of run time. A mobile-cart teat-prep system is also an option for stall-barn herds.

installing an automated teatprep system. The amount of maintenance required can vary from system to system. Some models need to be opened to be fixed, on-site or at the dealership. To reduce maintenance needs, consider investing in a factory-sealed brush system to prevent water and debris from entering the mechanics of the unit. Those systems have lower maintenance needs and only require the changing of brushes and brush covers. Enrolling in a program to fix or replace prep units as needed also reduces maintenance needs.

Maintenance needs vary

Cost benefits impact bottom line

Concerns about maintenance needs can deter a farmer from

Cost savings from installing an automated teat-prep system

can significantly impact a dairy’s bottom line. One of the biggest impacts is the cost of labor. By automating the teatprep process many dairies can operate with fewer employees in the parlor, reducing labor costs and redirecting labor to other needed areas on the farm. The efficiency of automated teatprep systems also decreases milking time, increases the number of cows milked per hour and streamlines teat stimulation to optimize milk harvest. Automated teat-prep systems also do away with the need for towels, cutting costs on laundry services, and on maintenance of washers and dryers. Additionally, some brush systems decrease waste of teat-dip

Depending on the type of parlor, there may be a change in teat-prep procedure when switching to an automated teat-prep system. The goal of any teat-prep system, conventional or automated, is to have an udder-prep lag time of 90 to 120 seconds to allow for proper stimulation and milk let-down. An automated teat-prep system will typically clean, stimulate and dry teats more quickly than conventional systems. To maintain proper udderprep lag time, it’s recommended to follow these protocols in the milking parlor: Eight to 12 cows per employee: First pass – strip and check for mastitis; clean, sanitize, stimulate and dry with the brush Second pass – attach the milking unit Six to eight cows per employee: First pass – strip and check for mastitis Second pass – clean, sanitize, stimulate and dry with the brush Third pass – attach the milking unit. After each line of cows the brush unit should be sprayed clean to remove any material left in the unit. Consider those four areas and talk with a hygiene specialist to ensure the best automated teatprep system is chosen for the dairy. Keith Engel is a dairy-farm hygiene and supplies specialist with GEA Farm Technologies Inc., a corporate sponsor of PDPW.


January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 19

Pet the cow first SHELLI MANNING

and supervision of a sizeable team of employees. It means ensuring the proper training of staff, adhering to standard operating procedures and staying current with a variety of regulations. For Blevins, it also means knowing his people. He makes a point to be in tune with employees – who they are, what their day-to-day lives are like and how that impacts their job performances. Having strong industry partners is also important. Blevins consults with several veterinarians and veterinary technicians, a licensed pharmacist, a milk-quality specialist and a nutritionist on animal care. He’s able to use their collective experience and counsel to address the needs of the herd as well as the employee team. He also relies on his industry partners in developing standard operating procedures, bi-lingual support and new on-farm training programs. After growing up on a large operation in northern Louisiana and then living in Tuttle, Oklahoma, where his father worked at Braum’s Dairy, Blevins attended Oklahoma State University to earn a degree in agricultural education. Despite plans to teach, he began working with cattle on feed lots in Texas, and then at a cowand-calf operation in Oklahoma. He then came to Wisconsin to fill his current role at Wiese Brothers. A career working with production animals requires intelligence, strength, stamina and a passion for the wellbeing of the animals. Blevins said he feels fortunate for the opportunity not only to put his knowledge and experience to use, but also to work with supportive owners with whom he leads a topnotch team of employees. When he isn’t busy overseeing the dairy, he said he enjoys hunting, spending time with his kids – Wyatt, Haley Sue and Payti Jo – and caring for another animal

Scott Blevins and his son, Wyatt, both take animal well-being seriously. Wyatt has shown his calf at the Brown County Fair. Denton Blevins

– their four-legged canine friend, Gus Willy. Shelli Manning is an executive

assistant and staff writer at ANIMART, a corporate sponsor of PDPW.

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To folks outside the agricultural industry, and perhaps to boys and girls everywhere, the idea of “working with animals” evokes images of playing with furry kittens and playful puppies, or perhaps working in a vet clinic or an animal shelter fostering pets in need until they have found “forever homes.” But to those who work in agriculture, it means something different; it’s a lifestyle, a livelihood. When dairy producer Scott Blevins is working with animals, he’s overseeing the care and wellbeing of almost 6,000 cows, most of which weigh 1,500 pounds. That makes them a little more challenging to handle and cuddle than kittens and puppies. Working day-to-day with production animals versus companion animals is different in that it’s not difficult to lose perspective of the animal itself and instead think in terms of units, gallons or dollars. With one simple rule, Blevins created a positive paradigm shift to offset that tendency with his team. His employees are required to pet the cow. As silly as they may sometimes feel, an employee is instructed to first pet the cow when she’s approached for any type of care. Simplistic perhaps, but it has created a culture in which it’s impossible to forget that the person is dealing with a living, breathing animal. It makes even the most challenging of situations – such as encouraging a 1,500-pound animal to stand when she doesn’t particularly want to – safer and more humane for everyone. Blevins is the dairy manager at Wiese Brothers Dairy near Greenleaf, Wisconsin, a position he’s held for 11 years. When managing an operation as large as Wiese Brothers, ensuring the wellbeing of animals involves far more than hands-on care for the animals. It means leadership

protect your investment


20 January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Redefine farm engagement JULIE SWENEY

Dairy farming today is much different than it was even 10 years ago. That is to be expected; change is inevitable. However no one in the dairy industry would have imagined that consumer confidence would have become such a top priority today. The concept of gaining consumer confidence seems simple, yet all the contributing factors relating to how consumers look at dairy products today is a whole other conversation. For some consumers the greatest influence on their opinions comes from their doctors, while others trust and know their neighboring farmers down the road. And for others, social media reigns king as consumers gather their opinions from a variety of sources, including mommy blogs and their friend circles. But sometimes those resources whom they have come to trust and seek advice from aren’t factual sources in regards to the health and safety of dairy products. That is not new. The dairy industry has been trying to address consumer confidence for years, with the hope to change the trend of declining fluid-milk consumption. We need to seek improvements or change methods to address those rising concerns, and we have – kind of. There are social-media pages for many dairy farms out there. They’re doing a great job of sharing dayto-day work, whether it’s the birth of a new calf, finishing harvest work in the fields, or showcasing challenges that come with owning a farm. The posts and photos are sharing dairy’s story in a digital format to a larger audience. That’s a positive and ongoing success story for dairy. But there are consumers out there whom we’re not reaching.

FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative

School children tour a dairy farm to learn about dairy cows from a trusted source – the farmer. Redefine engagement by sharing more than “what” is done; share “why” it’s done.

Sure there are on-farm events, such as Breakfasts on the Farm, and school tours for children and teachers. But we need to actively engage in conversation with them. We need to dig deeper to learn if we’ve asked them about their questions. Opening a farm to the public may take a lot of extra work, especially for large school groups. We need to ensure we’re achieving our goal – helping them understand that everything we do on our farms is focused on the health and comfort of our cows, while also caring for and protecting our natural resources. Just because visitors came to the farm doesn’t mean they’ll walk away understanding everything they experienced. Sometimes it takes more than just someone speaking words to

a group. It may take actions that showcase the level of care and passion for dairy farming. Telling our dairy story might be easiest on the farm because that’s where we can show farm visitors what we do. But in today’s consumer-driven knowledge bubble, that still might not be enough. Sharing what we do with farm visitors one time doesn’t guarantee that the next time they have a question, they’ll ask. It doesn’t even guarantee that they’ll talk about the farm the same way a farmer would, even if they spent several hours at the farm. A new effort may well require a relationship, a new level of engagement where we listen, understand and then respond. The interaction doesn’t end with the on-farm tour. It could also mean going to the school to reach

a larger audience of teachers and staff. Share contact information with them, as well as why their job is important – to help today’s youth understand where their food comes from, and more importantly, the faces behind farming. They need to know a producer is a resource who’s available to them. We often refer to our farms as being a part of the community, an active contributor to the local economy. Often farmers serve on agricultural boards or organizations, which is incredibly valuable, but maybe participating in a community project or engaging in civic groups would have a greater impact. Being the voice for agriculture in those settings while also creating acquaintances in those circles benefits the dairy-farming community.


January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 21 Consider the benefits of relationships during a challenging time. If something were to happen, be it a manure spill on a major road, a near-fatal injury on a farm, or even an activist video accusing a farm, a community that has come to know the producer and the farm would likely come to their support when faced with those challenges. The producer will likely be in a better position than if they don’t know him or her. Our level of engagement with consumers is more important than ever before. With the number of farmers in the United States continuing to be fewer, each of us needs to do more in communicating our story and building relationships within our community. If we don’t tell our story, someone else will. Julie Sweney is the director of communications and marketing at FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative, a corporate sponsor of PDPW.

Lynn Grooms/Agri-View

Donald and Denise Sackmann stand near a farm sign that welcomes visitors to the Richland County Dairy Breakfast. A second sign celebrates their Sesquicentennial Farm — meaning it has been in continuous family ownership for more than 150 years.


22 January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Investments don’t usually guarantee results.

This one does. Attend PDPW Dairy’s Visible Voice training – and invest in your success. Why? Because today’s farm families need to be great farmers and great communicators. But don’t take our word for it …

The thought of a crisis at our farm is frightening. But even more frightening is NOT having a plan for the unexpected incident we try so hard to prevent. That spurred me to attend the Crisis Manangement session. The presentations meshed with exercises specific to our farm. Deep dive discussions and practice interviews pulled together lots of loose ends that had been spinning around in my head. After the session, we finalized our Crisis Communications Plan. This document has been requested by our lender, insurance suppliers and others. It proves we have details committed to paper.

— DAPHNE HOLTERMAN, WATERTOWN, WIS.

MorganMyers is a strategic communications firm that builds, promotes and protects great brands that feed the world. morganmyers.com

A proud mission sponsor of PDPW

Invest your time in the Jan. 26, 2017, Crisis Management Training. You’ll leave feeling prepared for the unexpected and have a crisis plan in hand. Additional 2017 sessions include Effective Leadership and Proactive Communication. Visit PDPW.org for details.


January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 23

Service is the new currency DEB REINHART

We all have a story about someone or something that shaped our lives and helped make us who we are today. My story is a 4-H story. At an early age, 4-H was a way to make friends, participate in interesting projects and figuratively spread my wings. I learned to sew, sell 4-H cookies, engage with others and even to enhance my writing skills. And I can still remember how proud I was to be elected by my peers to be the club news reporter. It was my first leadership role. As a 4-H member, we were each expected to conduct at least one demonstration as a way of being introduced to public speaking and sharing ideas in front of a group. Years went by and the groups grew bigger, as did leadership opportunities that came my way. As a result the world around me expanded. A mere 10 years of collective 4-H experiences is the foundation for who I am today – my cornerstone. Story grew from believers My story is the result of countless people who believed the future held great things for me – when all I wanted was to have fun, be outside and learn new things. But those servant leaders saw way more for this young 4-Her than I could have. Dedicated Extension agents, local business owners, amazing 4-H leaders and many more gave of their time, talents and encouragement to help make dreams become realities – blue ribbons, a trip to the National 4-H Congress, being named a Danforth scholarship recipient and much more. Without exception, everything each of us has is built on the work of others. Who we are is a result of the dreams and examples of parents, mentors, community members and leaders far and

wide. Many of them pour themselves out selflessly so others can achieve things they never will. They give and serve so others can succeed – and they are my heroes. They embody the true meaning of “servant leaders.” Today I see that those servant leaders had something important in common with me – a love of agriculture and an unwavering confidence that the future of the dairy industry is alive and well. Dairy community: servant industry Though dairy producers account for less than 2 percent of the population, the impact we have on all of America and beyond is immeasurable. Not just because of the product we make or the programs we support, but also because of our ability to work together across county and state lines, through associations and organizations, including numerous generations and demographics. Working together is fundamental to servant leadership. In “The Servant as Leader,” an essay Robert K. Greenleaf first published in 1970, he wrote, “The servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, and to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.” Visionary and credible, a servant leader truly does what it takes to give to others. I challenge each one to be a servant leader. Impact the hopes and dreams of those in the next generation. Commit to their hopes and dreams. Help others be successful – show up, listen and be present. Coach if they seem misguided. An untold number of people benefit from the service of those who take an interest in their lives. Be one of those good people, changing lives with support – whether through encouragement and guidance, a sponsorship, a

Professional Dairy Producers Foundation

Tom Thibodeau of Viterbo University roleplays a scenario with attendees of the 2016 Cornerstone Dairy AcademyTM program. Students and audiences agree he is one of the most compelling presenters on the topic of servant leadership and its critical role in our world today.

mentorship or active participation in programs that grow and develop the next generation of dairy leaders. The new term for greatness is “service” and service is the new

currency. Take it from a young 4-H girl. Deb Reinhart is the executive director of the Professional Dairy Producers Foundation, a mission sponsor of PDPW.

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

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


24 January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Take new look at tunnel ventilation ASHLEY AMBROSIUS WERNER

The tunnel-ventilated barn is nothing new – in fact, it’s been around for ages. It seems producers during the past 10 years have taken a good look at the issues of cow comfort related to stalls, bedding, water access and overcrowd rates. Lately there’s been a renewed focus on ventilation. The biggest reason producers are choosing tunnel ventilation is the ability to control barn temperature year-round. Allowing fans to take fresh outdoor air into the barn and to control the wind speed at any given moment is of huge value to the operator. In Wisconsin outdoor temperatures can go from one extreme to the other in a matter of days. Having the ability to maintain a constant temperature for cows is extremely important. For a tunnel-ventilated barn to be successful there must be good air exchange and air velocity. In winter temperatures air velocity will be different than in summer temperatures; yet the goal is to have the same exchange rate in all seasons. In order for this to happen and to allow tunnel ventilation to operate at its fullest potential, the barn will need to be sealed, including curtains, windows, doors and other open spaces.

Jane Fyksen/Agri-View

Tunnel ventilation in the main milking barn at Night Hawk Dairy near Stratford, Wisconsin, creates a more consistent environment inside the barn all year round.

The number of fans operating at any given time as well as fan speed will fluctuate throughout the year, depending on interior temperatures. By directing air to cow level, airflow to the cow’s body can be optimized. By installing an automated system the hard work is taken care of. A ventilation expert can help

fine-tune settings and fans so they start and stop based on indoor and outdoor temperatures and humidity. In cool temperatures fewer fans need to run in order to create a slower air velocity while still exchanging air at a reasonable rate. Air speed in cooler months will be lower so as to minimize

drafts on animals and to prevent them becoming sick. Air exchange plays a huge role in air quality because it brings in cleaner air; it offers insect control, dryer bedding and better animal health. It also leads to a more comfortable work atmosphere, and prolongs building and equipment life. Even when it’s extremely cold outside,

Dairy producers have many options for mechanically ventilating dairy barns. Options include conventional mechanical-ventilation, tunnelventilation and cross-ventilation. Each system has strengths and weakness that need to be considered when deciding what to install. Well-managed systems can be effective and energy-efficient. Whatever system is used, it’s important to remember the reason for providing ventilation air exchange. In cold weather, air exchange between inside and outside the barn removes moisture, gases and airborne pathogens. During very cold weather, some managers restrict ventilation to keep manure from freezing to the floor. The restricted air exchange can lead to increased humidity, cold and clammy conditions, condensation on cold surfaces and unhealthy conditions for the cows. The recommended minimum continuous ventilating rate for a 1,400-pound cow is 50 cubic feet per minute per cow. University of Minnesota-Extension


January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 25 fans still need to operate to create the necessary air exchange because air inside the barn must stay fresh. When hot weather rolls around again, tunnel ventilation helps alleviate many potential negative effects on the herd, including decreased milk production, decreased protein and fat percentages, delayed reproduction and weaker immune systems. In addition, higher death rates during calving – both calf and cow – and increased lameness are often caused by heat stress. In warm temperatures, fans should run at full speed to create a faster air velocity while maintaining a quick rate of air exchange. A good air speed to aim for is 5 to 7 miles per hour, depending on barn length. When temperatures are humid, conditions are also damp. By exchanging air quickly, dry air will help remove moisture from the barn. In addition, air speed w i l l h e l p c rea te a c o o l

environment for animals. Some producers choose to install additional fans above cows and alleys. By doing so, additional air velocity will blow directly onto animals, though it will not create an air exchange. There are many pros and cons to a tunnel-ventilated barn versus a naturally ventilated barn. Some producers choose a double-tunnel-ventilated barn in which air is pulled from the barn’s center and moved toward each end of the barn. For a tunnel-ventilated barn to be most efficient, barn length will play a role in some of the design specifications. In any case, work with a good building contractor who will partner with a ventilation expert. Together they can help create an ideal system for each situation and allow animals to be housed in the healthiest environment possible. Ashley Ambrosius Werner is in agricultural business development with Bayland Buildings, a corporate sponsor of PDPW.

Jane Fyksen/Agri-View

Heifers at Alfalawn Farm are housed in a new tunnel-ventilated facility finished earlier in 2016.

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26 January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Focus on agriculture: energy savings FOCUS ON ENERGY

Agricultural-energy expenditures in Wisconsin amount to about $681.4 million each year. Farmers are constantly striving to eliminate unnecessary energy expenses while still maintaining a safe and productive business. Lower milk prices have had a big impact on dairy farms considering ways to reduce their expenses and keep their business profitable. Even with making some strategic cuts to feed, labor and supplies, many farmers are still not breaking even. And with less money available for capital projects, farmers are determined to find creative solutions to keep their business in the b l a c k . Re d u c i n g e n e rg y expenses is a way to keep operation costs effective while maintaining herd size, safety and a modern facility. There are many ways to decrease energy usage. Technology is a key part of efficiency on farms. Dairy-service companies have noticed that fewer farms are installing new equipment; more are repairing and maintaining current systems. By assessing a farm’s energy usage, efficiency changes can be found that will have a positive impact on a milking operation without reducing cow productivity or increasing labor costs. That can include anything from basic behavioral adjustments to modifying light and temperature controls. Dairy farms average between 800 and 1,200 kilowatt-hours of annual electricity use per cow. In order to better manage a farm’s energy costs, it’s important to understand how those costs are incurred. To develop that understanding, contact an electrical-provider account representative to review daily, weekly and monthly electrical-use patterns. That knowledge will help evaluate operating procedures to identify

For example, say a producer is interested in replacing current waterers with newer, energy-efficient versions to help cut water-heating energy costs. Livestock waterers are vital

Livestock waterers are vital pieces of equipment used on a daily basis to maintain animal health and wellbeing, but older versions can be inefficient – causing hundreds of dollars extra per month during cold winter months. New waterers have increased insulation to reduce heat loss, therefore reducing or eliminating the need for energy to keep water from freezing.

adjustments that can reduce energy use and operational costs, and provide a strategy for a cost-effective energy-management plan. After identifying energy use and operational costs, consider conducting a farm energy audit. Start by contacting a Focus on Energy advisor, Trade Ally or utility representative. The majority of energy consumed on dairy farms goes into milk-production processes and items such as milk-cooling, water-heating and milking equipment. Additional energy is consumed by process equipment, including vacuum pumps, and lighting and ventilation systems. The chart summarizes those top energy users to indicate what portion of monthly bills is incurred to cover those necessary farm processes and equipment. When ready to identify return on investment of equipment u p g ra d e s , wo r k w i t h a dairy-service company or Trade Ally, and energy adviser, to conduct a simple payback for the upgrade. A basic payback equation can be used to prioritize future equipment purchases.

waterers from the energy savings on the utility bill shows the waterers will be paid for in less than three years. That makes the return on investment for the project about 33 percent.

$đ?&#x;?đ?&#x;?đ?&#x;?đ?&#x;?, đ?&#x;?đ?&#x;?đ?&#x;?đ?&#x;?đ?&#x;?đ?&#x;? đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘ − $đ?&#x;”đ?&#x;”đ?&#x;?đ?&#x;?đ?&#x;?đ?&#x;? đ??…đ??…đ??…đ??…đ??…đ??…đ??…đ??…đ??˘đ??˘ đ??…đ??…đ??…đ??… đ??„đ??„đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„ đ??ˆđ??ˆđ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘ = đ?&#x;?đ?&#x;?. đ?&#x;”đ?&#x;” đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„ $đ?&#x;‘đ?&#x;‘, đ?&#x;”đ?&#x;”đ?&#x;”đ?&#x;”đ?&#x;”đ?&#x;”. đ?&#x;’đ?&#x;’đ?&#x;?đ?&#x;? đ??”đ??”đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??”đ??”đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘ đ??›đ??›đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘ đ??˘đ??˘đ??Źđ??Źđ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘đ??˘ đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„ đ??‚đ??‚đ??‚đ??‚đ??‚đ??‚đ??„đ??„ − đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„ đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„ đ??ˆđ??ˆđ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??ˆđ??ˆđ??„đ??„ = đ??˜đ??˜đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„ đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„ đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„ đ??‚đ??‚đ??‚đ??‚đ??‚đ??‚ đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„ đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„ đ??‚đ??‚đ??Źđ??Źđ??ˆđ??ˆđ??ˆđ??ˆđ??ˆđ??ˆđ??ˆđ??ˆđ??ˆđ??ˆ đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„ đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??Žđ??Žđ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„ đ??›đ??›đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„ đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„ đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„đ??„

pieces of equipment used on a daily basis to maintain animal health and wellbeing, but older versions can be inefficient – causing hundreds of dollars extra per month during cold winter months. New waterers have increased insulation to reduce heat loss, therefore reducing or eliminating the need for energy to keep water from freezing. Assume a producer purchased 10 waterers for a total of $11,100, and the producer is able to apply an energy-efficiency-incentive credit of $550 toward the new waterers. Averaging the new cost of the

For help in identifying other energy-efficiency measures for a farm operation, request a copy of Focus on Energy’s “Agriculture Energy Efficiency Best Practices Guidebook.� Visit focusonenergy.com/guidebooks to download a free copy or call 888-9477828 to request a guidebook be mailed. Focus on Energy Advisors have the tools and skills to help guide producers through potential energy-savings projects, and can provide an unbiased third-party source of information to improve the energy efficiency of a farm. Focus on Energy is a mission sponsor of PDPW.

Focus on Energy

Energy-intensive dairy-farm equipment grabs the bulk of energy usage on a dairy.


January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 27

Let’s answer consumer questions Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

Consumers have questions – lots of questions. They ask questions like “Is it local?” “What is the difference between grass-fed and pasture-raised?” “Is it natural?” “What is the difference between organic and conventional milk?” and “Are there genetically modified organisms in my milk?” “As consumers become further removed from food production, it’s only natural that they become more curious about how it is produced,” said Patrick Geoghegan, senior vice-president of corporate communications at the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. “Today’s consumers look for answers using the internet and social media as resources because few can go to the true source of information – the farmer. “Ultimately, our research has shown that shoppers want to be assured that the food they are feeding their family is safe, the animals are humanely raised and the environment is cared for.” Dairy farmers are being asked questions by consumers. Just as each farm and management style differs, each farmer’s answer can vary as well. To more completely answer questions with sound scientific facts, research and review available information. Share credible findings to give consumers concise answers about how food is raised and what happens on a dairy farm. Show the nutritional value of dairy products compared to alternatives. Bring conversations to social media Many dairy producers host

8 REASONS TO EAT

CHEESE

ANY WAY YOU SLICE IT

A SERVING OF DAIRY The average American eats 33.5 pounds of cheese each year. That might sound like a lot, but it’s only about 1.5 ounces per day—or just 1 of 3 recommended daily servings of dairy.

CALORIE CONSCIOUS Cheese contributes only 5% of total calories and 9% of total fat in the U.S. diet. Counting calories? Feta, mozzarella and ricotta naturally have fewer calories.

IT’S DELICIOUS With more than 600 varieties, types and styles of Wisconsin cheese, there’s a cheese for everyone.

PROTEIN POWERHOUSE Cheese is a natural source of high-quality protein. An average serving of cheese contains 10 grams of protein!

STRONG BONES AND TEETH

A L L N AT U R A L Cheese is made from just four basic ingredients—milk, salt, starter culture and rennet.

Cheese is among the richest dietary sources of calcium. One serving provides about 20% of your daily calcium needs.

LESS SODIUM

LACTOSE INTOLERANT? No problem. Look for aged cheeses, which have very low amounts of lactose.

Cheese contributes only 8% of sodium in the U.S. diet. Softer, less-aged varieties, such as mozzarella, are great lower-sodium options. © 2016 Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Inc.

America’s Dairyland

tours or farm breakfasts and interact with consumers asking questions about how food is produced. Dairy farmers can use online resources not only for answers to share with consumers but also to detail those resources to encourage consumers to visit them on their own. As part of the consumer-trust initiative, focus on f re q u e n t m i s p e rce p t i o n s about dairy, both on the farm and at the grocery store. The end goal is to reassure consumers that all dairy products are safe, wholesome and healthy for them and their families. Visit www.americasdairyland.com for nutritional information on dairy products including milk, cream, yogurt, ice cream, butter and more.

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28 January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Key market fundamental: cow numbers CARL BABLER

The classic approach to dairy-market fundamental analysis includes the in-depth review of massive amounts of “economic data” that affect the supply-and-demand balance of milk. The capable analyst may use supply-and-demand balance tables, tabular and graphical methodology, regression analyses, econometric models, analogous season review or index models to examine available dairy-market data. The goal of such study is to derive a milkprice direction bias going forward – i.e. prices up, prices sideways or prices down. Such a forecast can be valuable to both the milk seller and milk buyer as they manage their unique forward price risks and opportunities. With respect to more comprehensive fundamental analysis methods, many observers of the milk market in general, and the Class III Milk Price specifically, have simply followed the relationship between dairy-cow numbers and milk price to derive their longer-term price bias. Cow-number data has been referred to as the prime fundamental indicator of milk supply and price direction. More cows equal more milk, resulting in lower prices, while fewer cows equal less milk, resulting in higher prices. Can it be that simple? Yes. Will cow-number trends reflect influences of demand shifts, import and export currency relationships, governmental policy and producer profitability? Yes. Will cow numbers increase with price and profitability? Yes. Will excessive cow numbers over-supply a market and cause price declines? Yes. Will insufficient cow numbers tighten supply and cause prices to increase? Yes. Nothing against a more comprehensive fundamental analysis, but to

Atten Babler Commodities LLC

Atten Babler Commodities LLC

ignore the risk created by rising cow numbers can be a mistake. A common teaching in commodity textbooks is that “in the long run fundamentals win out.” Therefore if cow numbers

– a fundamental – are trending to or near historical levels and demand is not increasing fast enough, then in time prices will decline in response to cow numbers increasing.

Current cow numbers, price trends down The charts provide a longterm view of cow numbers and milk prices. It is observed that cow numbers have a


January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 29 relationship to prices over time. Of particular interest to producers should be the correlation of historically high cow numbers and prices. Note when cow numbers have been above 9.2 million head in the past, prices declined to levels near $10 for Class III milk prices. U.S. cow numbers currently are at more than the 9.3 million head level. Even though U.S. Department of Agriculture Class III prices have rallied more than $2 since spring, one should be cautioned to historically high cow numbers increasing the risk of a price decline. Plenty of attention has been given to the global dairy market in recent years so it’s important to look at the global cow-number-and-price relationship as well when developing a long-term price bias. The first chart provides a view of historical global cow numbers currently associated with a short-term price increase similar to the relationship observed in the U.S., as shown in the second chart.

Atten Babler Commodities LLC

Risks elevated U.S. Class III and Global Class III equivalent milk prices have rallied in the short term; producers are benefiting from the revenue at the farm level. All the while domestic and global cow numbers are trending higher. Respecting the axiom “fundamentals always win out” leads one to recognize that in the long run, more cows and more milk could lead to lower prices. If global demand does not offset the additional milk that historic cow numbers have the ability to produce, prices may move lower – a signal to producers to reduce milk supplies. With U.S. and global cow numbers at long-term highs, the risks to dairy producers are also elevated. Carl Babler is with Atten Babler Commodities LLC, a corporate sponsor of PDPW.

Atten Babler Commodities LLC


30 January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Dairy calves: good protocols, less salmonella Salmonella is part of a dairy farm’s “microbial ecology.” In addition to fecal-oral transmission, there are many vectors for infection – feed, water, rodents, wild animals, flies, birds and more. Putting the right protocols in place gives advantages to producer and animals – advantages that can make a difference in the bottom line. Salmonella ranks up there with another bacterial pathogen, Escherichia coli, as having the greatest negative economic impact on calf raising. Scours from salmonella infection is one of the leading killers in young dairy calves. Salmonella is especially dangerous because the bug is a hardy, adaptable survivor in the dairy environment. What’s more, many of the thousands of serotypes of salmonella enterica can make people sick. Every year hundreds die from salmonellosis. Better understanding of salmonella transmission and infection in the newborn dairy calf can help producers develop more effective management protocols. Devin Hanson, ruminant field technical specialist with Diamond V, said many current models of salmonella transmission within dairy herds assume fecal-oral dissemination in the animal population. “However,” Hanson said, “recent investigations have found that in addition to fecaloral transmission, animals may also be infected with salmonella in utero as well as transdermally postpartum.” Pathogenic salmonella serotypes are transient members of the intestinal microbial population in cattle of all ages. They can survive for several months

the neonatal immune system is thought to render the newborn more susceptible to infectious disease than mature cattle until six to eight months of age. Salmonella frequently colonizes in dairy calves; clinical salmonellosis appears to be most common in calves of two to four weeks of age.” Create protocols for critical points

Iowa State University

The small intestine of a bovine with salmonella — nontyphoidal — is shown. The mucosa is reddened and covered by large yellow-brown casts of fibronecrotic exudate.

in the environment outside animals. Salmonella has diverse disease vectors “Fecal salmonella shedding among cattle can persist for extended durations following clinical disease, potentially resulting in widespread environmental contamination and increasing the risk of within-herd transmission, especially in young or immuno-compromised animals,” Hanson said. “Potential sources of contamination on commercial dairy facilities consist of incoming cattle, feces, feed, water, rodents, wild animals, flies and birds, and the environment at large. Because there are many ways to transmit salmonella, potential pathogens are often widely disseminated with the original source of infection being unknown.” Aside from exposure to

infectious agents, calf health can be adversely affected by challenges of weather, stress and nutrition. Calves that succumb to a salmonella infection typically show clinical signs of disease that include elevated rectal temperature, suppressed feed intakes, nasal discharge and scours. A newborn calf benefits from adequate colostrum and the passive transfer of antibodies from the cow. Yet the calf’s inherent immune system and immunity acquired from the cow often face serious challenges. “It’s important to remember that calves are immuno-naive at birth; they develop a functioning immune system over the next six to 12 months,” Hanson said. “Pathogenic bacteria are capable of surviving in the same environment for extended periods and remain capable of infecting young calves. “Physiological immaturity of

Operating a successful calf program means creating precise protocols, applying the protocols and minimizing “protocol drift” on the farm. Hanson suggests protocols begin with colostrum management for neonates, and continue through weaning. Each critical intervention with a calf should have a protocol, including transport, vaccinations, castrating, dehorning, treatments and weaning. Protocols aid in minimizing stress to the animal. Stress in the body is coupled with the secretion of cortisol, which in turn suppresses the immune system and leaves calves more susceptible to becoming sick. The nutritional components of milk and milk replacer contain ample nutrients for pathogenic bacteria to persist and replicate at a high level. Bottles and buckets used for feeding calves milk or milk replacer should be disinfected between each feeding. Also suggested are p ro to co l s to m i n i m i ze cross-contamination of equipment used for manure management and animal feeding. “The environment we subject calves to needs to be as clean as possible,” Hanson said. “Disinfecting hutches, and the ground,


January 2017 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line 31 between the cycle of weaning calves and bringing in new calves is a highly valuable practice.” Disinfection methods include applying disinfectants to the hutch and ground that calves were previously housed in, and allowing direct sunlight exposure. Reducing dissemination of disease from sick to healthy animals on a farm is a challenging task. If healthy animals are exposed to fecal material or saliva from diseased animals, a risk for infection is created. Apply protocols in which workers change gloves or disinfect their hands between handling animals to reduce the risk of horizontal transmission.

Control microbial ecology “Critical points of contamination in a calf-rearing operat i o n a re a b u n d a n t a n d

multi-faceted,” Hanson said. “Some have direct implications while others may be indirect. Each preventative measure aids

in minimizing the risk of a calf becoming ill. “Both the calf and the diverse microbial communities she carries are part of the complex microbial ecology of the dairy farm. Pathogenic bacteria like salmonella are part of that ecology. Reducing the impact of salmonella on the dairy operation means getting better control of vectors of infection – not just fecal-oral transmission. It also means providing optimal nutritional health support for the calf’s developing immune system.” Clayton Gill is an editor with Diamond V, a corporate sponsor of PDPW.

Dairy sector does more with less Pat Sternitzky

Producers in America’s Dairyland have been working to become more efficient for generations. And the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirm that their quest to produce more milk and cheese than ever before is right on track. The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service shows that Wisconsin’s dairy industry has increased its year-to-year

production of milk for 30 consecutive months as of October; it also churned out more cheese for 25 straight months. Records further show that the state is on track to break an all-time record for total milk produced in a single year, at more than 30 billion pounds for 2016. Dairy-marketing experts say what makes the streak most impressive is that those record levels of output are being accomplished with fewer farms

and fewer cows. Wisconsin was milking 1.28 million head of dairy cattle in the month of October, according to the USDA, which were about 2,000 less than the same month a year earlier. But production per cow averaged 1,950 pounds for the month, 45 pounds more than the previous October. There are also a smaller number of operations selling milk to market. As of early December, the Wisconsin Department of

Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection had 9,343 licensed dairy herds on record. That’s about 368 less than in December 2015. Wisconsin has been keeping track of dairyfarm numbers since 1950. At that time the state had 143,000 dairy operations and accounted for about 4 percent of the nation’s total dairy farms. Pat Sternitzky is the owner of USAgNet, a corporate sponsor of PDPW.

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PDPW Dairy's Bottom Line January 2017