PDPW Dairy's Bottom Line -- January 2020

Page 1

Volume 22: Issue 1 January 2020

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

Capture value of PDPW Jay Heeg

Page 4 Track the right financial metrics

Page 6 Automation brings consistency and efficiency

Page 8 Think beyond white beverages in blue-capped jugs

Page 10 Monitor feeding protocols for healthy calves

My first experience with the Professional Dairy Prod u ce rs o f Wi sco n s i n ® occurred after my neighbor Brian Forrest invited me to attend a PDPW Barnstorming event with him. In that meeting fellow farmers and PDPW members would be discussing the type of educational programs they’d like PDPW to organize for them. I have always appreciated the opportunity to network with and learn from other farmers so I agreed to attend with him. While it’s been a few years since that meeting I still clearly remember the impact of being in the same room with like-minded producers eager to learn more and connect with one another. I had heard of PDPW before and knew education was one of the group’s primary focuses. As I sat among other dairy producers in that meeting I realized there were a lot of producers who had the same goals and interests as me. I was glad I had decided to tag along. Soon after I attended a PDPW human-resources meeting, then a herdsperson conference. I learned about the Agricultural Community Engagement® program, a partnership with Wisconsin Counties Association and


Dr. Mike Schaefer, veterinarian, left, and Jay Heeg work together during a routine herd-health check.

Wisconsin Towns Association. I saw that PDPW was involved in working with more than just those in the immediate dairy industry. One of the most important undertakings PDPW has ever supported – in my opinion – is the group’s work to endorse the Dairy Innovation Hub. An incredible gift to the industry, the Innovation Hub stands to impact the industry for years to come by way of muchneeded funds for research in dairy through the University of Wisconsin system. Dairy

science and other agricultural-research programs at UW-Madison, UW-River Falls and UW-Platteville will all benefit from the diligent behind-the-scenes work PDPW is a part of. From its beginning PDPW has primarily been known for its legacy of providing firstrate educational programs guided by input from dairy producers. From 15-minute podcasts and hour-long webinars to 1-, 2- or 14-day programs, PDPW truly has a See VALUE, page 2

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


January 2020 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line PDPW: Who we are

Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin (PDPW) is Dairy's Professional Development Organization®. With a vision to lead the success of the dairy industry through education, our mission is to share ideas, solutions, resources and experiences that help dairy producers succeed.

PDPW Board of Directors President Jay Heeg Colby, Wis. 715-507-0030 jcheeg@yahoo.com Vice President Katy Schultz Fox Lake, Wis. 920-210-9661 katylschultz@gmail.com Secretary Dan Scheider Freeport, Ill. 815-812-4012 dnscheider@gmail.com Treasurer Janet Clark Rosendale, Wis. 608-341-6709 vafarmsllc@hotmail.com Directors Andy Buttles Lancaster, Wis. 608-723-4712 stonefront@tds.net Ken Feltz Stevens Point, Wis. 715-570-6390 feltzfarms@hotmail.com John Haag Dane, Wis. 608-576-0812 jahaag5@gmail.com Corey Hodorff Eden, Wis. 920-602-6449 corey@secondlookholsteins.com Steven Orth Cleveland, Wis. 920-905-2575 orthlanddairy@gmail.com

PDPW Advisers

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

www.pdpw.org mail@pdpw.org 800-947-7379

Value Continued from page 1

program for everyone. Those tuning in to PDPW podcasts and webinars don’t even need to leave the farm. Those who love networking while learning can choose from a wide range of in-person programs built around producer feedback. Dairy producers wear so many hats; it can be easy to refuse opportunities to attend an educational program. Nobody can be an expert in everything but we still need to do our due diligence to learn as much as we can. PDPW makes that possible; the benefits are life-changing. Many members have told me they value the networks a n d f r i e n d s h i ps t h ey ’ve gained through PDPW as m u c h a s t h e k n owl e d ge they’ve gained attending programs. Listening to expert trainers and learning practical tips to use once back home is definitely important. But there’s no substitute for talking with someone who knows the path a producer is walking. Meeting other farmers and networking with them is one of the best things about this organization. A new year always breathes new life into our attitudes, even if the work of the previous year remains undone. When we keep our focus on staying the course and moving forward, we’re better equipped to be our best selves. And that’s critical for our dairies, our teams and our families. For anyone who’s been on the fringes for a while, this is a chance to step into the ring. PDPW’s programs are built on ideas producers provide; by attending those programs attendees are investing in themselves. Visit www.pdpw. org to review the offerings and upcoming programs. Allow me to put in a plug for

PDPW photos

As dairy manager at Heeg Brothers Dairy, Jay Heeg makes cow comfort a priority. Sand bedding and tunnel ventilation are important components of the dairy’s cow-care practices. ‘We’re always looking for ways to do what’s best for the animals,’ he says.

Routine communication with employees is the groundwork for team morale, productivity and cow comfort.

the 2020 PDPW Business Conference. It will be the best two days producers spend off the farm, learning how to maximize work on the farm. Plan to attend March 18-19. I look forward to seeing everyone at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison,

Wisconsin. Those who attend w i l l re t u r n h o m e w i t h renewed focus. Visit pdpw.org or call 800947-7379 for more information. Jay Heeg of Colby, Wisconsin, is a dairy producer and the 2019-2020 PDPW president.









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January 2020 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Track finances, set goals Sam Miller


he day-to-day aspects of running a dairy operation are complex in and of themselves, from maintaining a healthy herd to dealing with commodity-price fluctuations. But it’s equally important for operators to keep a close watch on issues that affect long-term prospects – including financial benchmarking, setting goals and developing management skills. Track correct financial metrics – Making sound business decisions and managing near- and long-term operational strategies involves a deep understanding of a dairy’s finances. That begins with keeping the correct financial records. Maintaining financial records for tax purposes is important but it doesn’t tell the complete story of an operation. For example it doesn’t take into account cash spent to grow feed or breeding inventory, loss of inventory or unpaid feed bills. On the other hand managerial financial reporting provides the necessary information to make sound financial decisions such as capital purchases or changes to the operation. If a land purchase is being considered, for example, the effects it could have on the cash flow or balance sheet also need to be considered. So does a potential correction in land values and how that would impact the dairy’s overall financial position. Sound financial reporting is critical when seeking to gain efficiencies, particularly when commodities are depressed. Borrowing isn’t always an option. To operate as efficiently as possible it’s imperative to know the dairy’s cost of production, operating expenses and working-capital position. A financial dashboard can be a great tool to clarify an operation’s financial position. Metrics could include several items. • Include production numbers and efficiency parameters such as pounds of milk shipped per day per cow, somatic-cell count, cull rate and pregnancy rate. • Include cost of production including cost to produce a hundredweight of milk and calculations on a trend basis. They should be broken down by major costs such as feed, labor, replacement costs and more. • Include the current cash position and specifically how much available credit and cash is currently on hand. • Include market-position reports – know the percentage of production price protected


It’s important for operators to keep a close watch on issues that affect long-term prospects – including financial benchmarking, setting goals and developing management skills.

can continue in the event of a sustained downturn. Making changes that impact the bottom line is what matters. Consider what technology investments can add to the bottom line. From there, with every opportunity that arises to further invest in the operation, ask the following key questions. • How will an investment affect cost of production? • Will an investment make the business more efficient? • How will an investment affect leverage ratio? Build management skills – All the questions listed require strong management skills; it’s always a good idea to constantly improve in that area. Strong management skills can lead to the adoption of new ideas and foster an environment of continual improvement. Based on experience in the industry I believe the traits that make for an above-average dairy farm manager include the following three elements. • Strong production-management skills — Passionate about performance and consistent with the details, strong production managers focus on cow comfort and care at a level more than most managers. They are also able to transfer their passion and attention to detail to employees through coaching and mentoring. • Strong risk-management skills — A strong manager is aware of the risks that affect the operation. He or she has put a plan in place to manage them, including risks associated with crops and feed, livestock management, workforce, the environment and price. • Strong proactive – not reactive – planning skills — Strong managers handle the “what ifs” better than others because they have a plan to deal with contingencies. Operations that couldn’t survive in the past ranked at the bottom; they were the least-efficient production managers. But in the most recent cycle those who couldn’t survive were merely those with weaker financial-management skills. The operators who adapt and continually improve in that area are the producers who are most likely to remain in the industry for the long term.

at the levels at which they’re protected. Understand how much is currently open and the current blended price – amount hedged, insured and open, and which options are selected – compared to cost of production. A producer’s financial dashboard should be a tool that enables quick decision-making when opportunities arise. It should assist in managing goals and providing feedback with a focus on replicating the good and improving the bad. Set goals – No matter the plans a producer has for their operation, whether it’s buying the 40 acres next door or installing robotic milking systems, it’s important to hold early and honest conversations with the financial partner involved. A financial adviser should be able to provide a clear understanding of the dairy’s current position and the financial support needed to move forward. At a minimum producers should hold yearend reviews with their financial partners. Be prepared to answer certain questions and provide detailed documentation to support an analysis of the operation. • Detail current results – It’s essential to include an accurate and detailed balance sheet with all open account balances – detailed and dated – along with details of any lease obligations. A best practice is to compare actual results to projections. • Give a projection for the next operating cycle with clear assumptions and details. Be sure to make the numbers relevant and measurable on a frequent basis. • Include a focus on cost control and effi- Sam Miller is the head of agriculture banking ciency gains. It’s important to know what the and a managing director at BMO Harris Bank, a operation is doing to improve margins so it corporate sponsor of PDPW.

January 2020 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line


Buy financial ‘fire’ insurance Tim McTigue


isk is inherent with running and owning any business. Dairy farmers are no exception; they have a wide variety of risks in their production cycles. Farmers deploy various methods to mitigate many of the risks on their farms. They use fungicides on crops, vaccines for animals, property insurance on buildings and machinery, and more. All those risk-mitigation tools have a cost, but the benefit of reducing the risk to the farm far outweighs not using those tools. One of the risk-mitigation tools that many farmers forget to use is a price-protection strategy. During the past 12 months milk prices have increased more than 35 percent. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange Class III milk price in November hit $20 for the first time since 2014. As of the writing of this article, the 2020 futures board for Class III is at more than $17 for all 12 months. If those prices hold most dairy farms stand to make a profit in 2020. But as history shows us, prices always vary. Just because a price is on the futures board today doesn’t mean it will be there tomorrow. In the current volatile commodity markets, farmers need to use marketing tools to survive and thrive for the long term. Just as having fire insurance on farm buildings is a foregone conclusion, farmers need to have marketing plans in place in the event markets take a turn for the worse – and at some point they will. There are a variety of tools available in the marketplace that can be purchased through a crop-insurance agent or brokerage firms that

Investors Community Bank

People, cows and buildings aren’t the only valuables worth protecting on a dairy. Employing a marketing plan can be a critical price-protection strategy to mitigate risk and volatility.

specialize in farm-marketing solutions. The tools can be tailored to the level of sophistication, complexity and comfort level of the farmer. At times the marketplace options can be overwhelming, causing a farmer to not take action on formulating a plan. There are farmers who elect to not pursue marketing options because of the nominal costs involved. But in the current volatile commodity markets those are not valid excuses to appropriately manage commodity-price risks. The first step in putting together a marketing plan is to d e te r m i n e t h e fa r m ’s

average cost of production. With that number in mind the farmer can appropriately discern his or her breakeven milk price. Once that unders ta n d i n g i s i n p l a ce t h e farmer can formulate a plan to manage commodity risks – and lock in profits. A wellrounded plan will include managing input costs and not just milk price. As 2019 demonstrated there are a variety of factors that can impact the input side of the e q u a t i o n , wh i c h i n t u r n impacts the profitability of the farm operation. Taking the volatility risk out of the input side is as important as taking it out of the sale side

of the equation. The volatility in the commodity markets is likely here to stay for the foreseeable future. It’s normal. Volatility creates risk as well as opportunities. Tools and experts are available to help farmers mitigate those risks and create occasions to be profitable. In order to take advantage of those opportunities, farmers need to have a marketing plan in place. Or they are putting the farm at risk of a financial fire that could be avoidable. Tim McTigue is a senior vicepresident of agricultural banking at Investors Community Bank, a Corporate Sponsor of PDPW.


January 2020 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Keep pace with milking advances Keith Engel


arlor expectations have transformed in recent years. But the goal of milking cows safely, gently, q u i c k l y a n d c o m p l e te l y remains a priority. That being said, the need for efficiency has changed how cows are milked. It’s also changed approaches to milking labor and how many cows producers strive to milk per hour. Because milk produced per cow is greater than ever, harvesting more milk in the same amount of time while achieving optimum udder health is even more important. Consistently milking cows properly in an efficient manner can increase productivity and improve milk quality. Automated parlor technologies such as automatic preparation systems and automatic post-dipping can bring consistency and efficiency to milk harvesting. Pa rl o r a u to m a t i o n ca n deliver several benefits. Labor reduction – A look at the advancement of milking technology, from the first pipeline system to robotic milking, makes clear that a main goal in each development has been to reduce labor. As labor availability decreases and costs increase, finding labor efficiencies in parlor-automation technology is more than a goal. It’s critical to the bottom line. With automated-parlor technology the first thing to consider is keeping the number of labor units to a minimum. Teat-prep systems and automatic post-dipping can streamline the milking process. That can reduce the number of employees needed per milking shift, resulting in significant savings. A dairy that’s milking three times each day with three

GEA Farm Technologies Inc.

Automated parlor technologies such as automatic-preparation systems and automatic post-dipping can help bring consistency and efficiency to harvesting milk.

employees per shift in a double-24 parlor could realize a savings of as much as $100,000 or more each year by reducing the number of necessary employees to two per milking. While implementing automated technology doesn’t guarantee labor savings, there are many ways technology can benefit a dairy. Automated options can offer several potential solutions. • Reassign parlor employees to another area that needs attention. • Fill a need in a parlor that’s currently short-staffed. • Achieve a more-consistent milking process and improve milk quality by supplementing current milking staff with automated technology. Evaluate farm-labor needs

to create a plan for how milking automation can help achieve milking goals. Consistent milking procedures – Thirty years ago most farms required only one or two people to milk the cows. That person’s routine was the same every day – from bringing the cows in for milking through the post-dipping process. Today many farms have multiple employees milking cows with different people on each shift. A lot of time is spent training to consistently follow milking protocols, so milk is harvested the same way every milking. Differences in how employees complete milking procedures can lead to inconsistency and a decline in milk quality. The automated parlor

technologies help standardize the milking process for improved consistency and milk quality. That increases in importance when dairies implement longer milking shifts. No matter the technology it needs to be used correctly and maintained on a regular schedule. Proper training is also vital for successful implementation. Efficient milking – Rapid-exit parlors and return lanes for efficient cow flow didn’t exist in the beginning. Current expectations for efficiency are all about the cow – to limit her time away from feed, water and the housing environment as well as to keep her comfortable. Being efficient in the parlor is just as important as cow flow to and

January 2020 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Leah Kieler

from the parlor as well as properly sized holding pens and groups. Automated parlor technologies allow producers to complete the milking process in an efficient timeframe without sacrificing milk quality. When employees are in a rush teats


s Paid Here, Stay ium He em r Pr




may not be cleaned properly or dipped completely. Or the necessary stimulation time for milk letdown may be reduced. Automatic-prep systems ensure each teat is cleaned, disinfected, stimulated and dried in a consistent and efficient manner. Automatic

post-dipping ensures each teat is dipped consistently as soon as milking is complete. It also eliminates the additional seconds or minutes it takes for an employee to grab the dip cup to dip the teats. Another advantage of automation is the ability to slow processes to complete tasks with fewer people. For example a rotary parlor can be slowed to implement an automated-prep system. That could enable one person to do a job that would otherwise require two people. In that way excellent-quality milk can be harvested using less labor. Real results – Kieler Farms is a dairy located near Platteville, Wisconsin. Cows there are milked efficiently in a 50-stall rotary parlor with automated teat-prep equipment and a post-dipping system. “For us it was all about efficiency and consistency,” Leah

Kieler said. T h e K i e l e rs s a i d t h ey wanted technology that would allow them to run their rotary parlor at peak performance with the least number of people. New parlor technology has allowed the Kielers to keep the same number of employees while tripling their herd size to 1,800 cows. The Kielers maintain a 91-pound daily-milk-production average with 3.65 percent fat and 3.05 percent protein along with 95,000 somatic-cell count. The methods producers use to milk cows will continue to evolve. Automated parlor technologies can increase productivity, reduce labor and improve milk quality. Producers should seek the advice of suppliers to learn more about the most suitable options for their operations. Keith Engel is a dairy-farm hygiene and supplies specialist with GEA, a Corporate Sponsor of PDPW.


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January 2020 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Reimagine dairy beverages Randy Ebert

Protein ranks No. 1 for Americans shopping for nutritious foods. And dairy delivers – either in a cold glass of milk or in new non-refrigerated beverage products appearing in grocery stores. The University of Wisconsin-Center for Dairy Research is supported by dairyfarmer checkoff dollars. It aims with its cutting-edge research to help the dairy industry increase the value of its products and sell more milk. Upon joining the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin board I couldn’t believe all that the center does. I find it to be truly amazing – and it’s available to every Wisconsin dairy company. Those outside of Wisconsin pay additional costs for the benefits of using the Center for Dairy Research. As a dairy farmer I hear “We need to do more with milk!” from my friends and neighbors. While consumption of fluid milk has declined, the Center for Dairy Research continues to help the industry find new uses for milk and milk proteins. While many consumers may not realize it, added milk boosts p ro te i n l e ve l s i n m a n y

beverages manufactured for extended shelf life. That includes sports drinks, coffee drinks, fitness waters, diet drinks, nutritional supplements such as Boost and Ensure, fruit smoothies and even shelf-stable milk served on airlines. For the most part those products undergo aseptic or sterile processing to preserve the nutrients in milk while eliminating the need for refrigeration. Let’s make milk shelf-stable Center for Dairy Research began in April its Beverage Innovation Center, one of two centers of its kind in the world. It’s supported by a $750,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and $250,000 from the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin. The center aims to erase the competitive advantage of nondairy beverages in the non-refrigerated food industry. The Beverage Innovation Center will provide state-ofthe-art equipment for dairy entrepreneurs to improve products already on the market as well as to create new products. The center’s staff of more than 30 world-class researchers and

scientists eagerly anticipates outreach to adventurous manufacturers and dairy experts – including farmers. Seek to overcome extensive costs Equipment to create aseptic products carries expensive price tags. The cost of entry into the industry can inhibit entrepreneurial interest. With the Beverage Innovation Center buying the needed equipment, processors will face reduced risks when experimenting with new product lines – a key barrier to milk innovation. In alliance with the beverage center, the Technology Transfer, University Research and Business Opportunity program will accelerate the use of new beverages and their successful market entry. They will provide support and partial payment for consultants to identify new markets, evaluate production costs and assess return on investment. The Technology Transfer, University Research and Business Opportunity program will offer packaging-design and grant-writing assistance to ensure products reach store

shelves to land in the carts of consumers. The services complement the Center for Dairy Research’s extensive training, technical support and product-development programs. They will support the Center for Dairy Research’s partnerships with the dairy industry to bring innovative, nutritious and profitable products to the marketplace. They also align with a three-year-old short course on dairy beverages at UW-Madison. T h e C e n te r fo r D a i r y Research is the crown jewel of Wisconsin dairy. We encourage dairy enthusiasts, co-ops and other corporations to participate in the Beverage Innovation Center. For many years to come the Center for Dairy Research’s actions will promote the solution-focused experimentation that the dairy industry has requested and needed. Visit www.cdr.wisc.edu for more information. Randy Ebert is a member of the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin Board of Directors, representing Brown, Door and Kewaunee counties. Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin is a Corporate Sponsor of PDPW.

January 2020 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line


It’s every producer’s responsibility to understand the farm financials, at least on a practical level. Not only will it help in making quicker and better management decisions, it can provide more profitability, options and peace of mind.

Make budgeting a priority Corey J Fanslau


o you think a million-dollar business should do a budget projection each year?” A giggle came from the other end of the phone line followed by a reply, “Of course they should!” “Then why don’t you do it?” More laughter. And then, “Because we aren’t a million-dollar business.” “Really? Please take a look at your current balance sheet … it says you have more than $2 million in owner equity.” This time, silence from the other end of the line. That’s a recent conversation I had with one of my producers. Like many farmers they have been struggling the past couple of years with cash flow. Their line of credit had minimal available; we termed-off some the year before for cash-flow relief. Now they were asking to termout more. In addition a recent credit-bureau search showed

$50,000 in credit-card debt. They had plenty of equity. Unfortunately they were in a habit of continually pledging assets with a negative cash flow. More critically they had no clear plan as to how to pay off current debt. Sadly that scene plays out repeatedly. When that particular farmer requested to termout the operating line again, it was once more time to explain the challenged cash-flow situation. Farming is a business. In my opinion farmers are the greatest folks in the world with whom to do business. While comprising less than 2 percent of the population they produce food and fiber for the world; they feed us in abundance. Some farm owners are contributors to food production on the world’s stage while remaining slow to adopt basic business practices. Farm size is not the only measure of worth; even a dairy with 50 cows can have assets of more than $1 million.

If a business owner doesn’t know the operation’s current financial position or have a business goal in mind, how can the owner know what business decisions to make? A budget is an invaluable tool – as is a yearend balance sheet, which provides a snapshot of the operation’s current owner-equity position. Those basic financial tools work together to summarize the valuable information necessary to manage a business. Before a producer can consider locking in a milk or corn price, it’s imperative to know the dairy’s cost of production. Protecting a profit hinges on knowing the cost of production; having a budget in place is the first step. In addition comparing profit-and-loss statements to the budget each month will aid in making sound decisions. In sports the goal is to win the game. Keeping score allows coaches and players to make adjustments at half time, all with an eye on winning. The game of farming is far

more serious – and every player wants to win. Even in the best of markets the business of farming produces its commodities with very tight profit margins. Every penny counts. Just a few-cents-more profit on each hundredweight of milk can make a huge difference in profitability. For farms to operate successfully, producers must be good at many things. It often seems there isn’t time in the day after all the chores and fieldwork – and sometimes that’s true. Even so it’s critical to spend time overseeing the dairy’s financial condition. For those who aren’t comfortable handling the numbers, it may be time to consider hiring a professional to assist in bookkeeping. Attention to financial details is just as important as herd or crop management. Corey J Fanslau is a vice-president of traditional lending at GreenStone Farm Credit Services, a Corporate Sponsor of PDPW.


January 2020 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Monitor calf auto-feeders Jon Shunk


Jon Shunk

Figure 1

Jon Shunk

Figure 2

ue to the desire to reduce labor associated with feeding calves, farmers are using computers and auto-feeders with increasing frequency – especially in the upper Midwest. As with any calf-feeding situation there can be issues with auto-feeders. One of the major issues is the variable daily milk intake by many calves. That can negatively affect feed efficiency and calf growth. Figure 1 shows the individual milk intake of 18 calves from the same pen fed via an auto-feeder during the fall. Each dot represents the intake of a calf at each day of age. On any given day several calves consumed one-fifth the amount its penmates did – consuming 2 liters versus 10 liters, for example. That demonstrates an extreme variation in intake. Figure 2 shows similar data, this time depicting the individual milk intake of 24 calves also from the same pen, fed via an auto-feeder in the winter. “Journal of Dairy Science” articles from two separate research groups have discussed such variations with computerized auto-feeders. The same publication reported research from a third research group that studied individually housed calves fed free-choice milk replacer via nipple-buckets. The milk-replacer intake in those calves shows a considerable variation as well. While not all the variation could be explained, some was re l a te d to s i c k n e s s a n d changes in weather. Similarly, decreased intake in calves fed by auto-feeder has been related to sickness. Another challenge with

January 2020 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

computerized auto-feeders is that calves don’t always consume the maximum daily allotment of milk replacer. Research has found that calves allowed to drink as much as 24 liters daily, or 6.34 gallons, only consumed about 60 percent of their d a i l y a l l o t m e n t . C a l ve s allowed as much as 12 liters per day, or 3.17 gallons, only consumed about 80 percent of their daily allotment, indicating a plateau in milk-replacer intake. The group that fed calves the free-choice milk replacer also observed an intake plateau where minor changes in milk-replacer intake occurred after 2.5 weeks of age. In Figure 3 the colored dots represent individual calf intake; the black line represents average intake. The data shows individual and average intake of milk replacer by calves fed free-choice milk from a nipple from birth to five weeks of age. Calf health is pivotal for a c h i ev i n g ta rge te d m i l k intakes, especially in group pens where it can be more challenging for calves to stay healthy. Therefore all protocols that reduce infection and bolster the calf ’s immune system should be an integral part of the calf-care program. Fr o m i n t a k e o f e x c e l lent-quality colostrum as soon as possible after birth to ensuring cleanliness of feeding equipment and pens, every task needs to be performed in an exemplary manner. There are ways to mitigate the large variation in milk intake from auto-feeders. • Reduce the number of calves per nipple to allow more time for each calf to consume its milk allotment. The ideal number depends on the brand and model of the automated feeder, and on the age difference within a group of calves. If there is wide age


Jon Shunk

Figure 3

variation within a pen, it’s important to have fewer calves per nipple. • Expand meal size to a minimum of 2 quarts. That will increase the likelihood that calves are satisfied after a meal. It should reduce crowding at the nipple and cross-suckling. • Allow carry-over if possib l e . T h a t ca n e n co u ra ge calves to consume their allotment when the number of calves per nipple is at maximum. Bear in mind the practice of raising calves in an all-in-allout manner reduces calf-tocalf infection compared to a continuous-flow system. That’s especially important because pneumonia is often a challenge when calves are raised in group pens. Jon Shunk is a feed-products specialist with Landmark Services Cooperative, a Corporate Sponsor of PDPW.

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

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


January 2020 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Don Miller

New innovations in alfalfa breeding have the potential to increase milk production significantly.

January 2020 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Select for betterdigestibility alfalfa Don Miller


airy producers in the United States are increasing milk production, to continually increased levels. That’s due in part to improved animal genetics. But it should be noted that an elite dairy cow’s genetic potential can never be fully utilized without excellent-quality feed. Better milk production requires both. Historically alfalfa has been an important feed for dairy operations. It provides protein, structural fiber and palatability to the ration. Despite its reputation as an excellent-quality forage, alfalfa can vary widely in quality for a variety of reasons. That makes it difficult to balance a dairy ration. In the past 10 years variation in alfalfa quality combined with an increasing popularity of lesser-cost feeds has resulted in a smaller percentage of alfalfa used in dairy rations. As a result plant breeders have been studying factors that influence forage quality as well as which plant traits might be genetically modified to improve alfalfa’s feeding value. The nutrient content and digestibility of alfalfa leaves and stems figure greatly in its feeding value at harvest. Separate from harvest-related losses, reductions in forage quality are generally attributed to two factors related to plant maturity at harvest. One is a variation in the leaf-to-stem ratio; the other is the decreasing fiber digestibility of stem tissue during plant maturation. The ratio of leaves to stems in alfalfa greatly affects its forage quality. Thus the adage more leaves equals better quality; more stems equals less quality. A closer look at the chemical analysis of the plant’s top-growth makes clear that most of the feeding advantage of alfalfa is found in the leaves; stems

have lesser feed value. Leaves have two to three times the protein content of stems. They contribute the majority of feeding value in alfalfa. In addition the leaf portion of alfalfa accounts for as much as 70 percent of the relative-feed quality of a forage sample. The neutral detergent fiber of leaves is more digestible than stem neutral detergent fiber. As alfalfa matures digestibility of its leaves remains relatively unchanged. But stems can become 30 percent to 40 percent less digestible. The shift in the leaf-to-stem ratio of alfalfa as it matures is well-documented. The best-quality alfalfa is immature, or that which is in the prebud-to-bud stage. In that stage the leaf-to-stem ratio is about 60-40. The ratio approaches 50-50 at early flowering. It then reverses to having fewer leaves than stems for a leaf-to-stem ratio of 40-60 at full maturity. The reversal of leaf-to-stem ratio adversely affects the feeding value of the forage. The more alfalfa leaves a producer can capture at harvest the better. Until recently the most common way to improve leaf content and/or forage quality was to harvest early. Though immature alfalfa has a greater concentration of leaves, more crude protein and more dry-matter digestibility, early harvest sacrifices yield. Greater-yielding mature alfalfa is significantly less in quality, with less crude protein and less-favorable values of both acid detergent fiber and neutral detergent fiber. The second factor affecting alfalfa forage quality is stem lignification. As the plant matures lignin content of the stems increases to support plant function and keep the top growth from lodging or bending over. Increasing lignin translates to decreasing fiber digestibility – reflected by increased values of acid detergent fiber and

neutral detergent fiber – as the plant matures. The increase in lignin makes the forage more difficult to digest in the rumen, slowing feed passage and intake, and negatively affecting milk production. Breeding technologies improve alfalfa quality In regards to improving the leaf-tostem ratio, early research provided the data indicating which genetic factors influence leaf-to-stem ratios. That knowledge aided alfalfa breeders in developing breeding technologies to improve leaf content. As a result the alfalfa plants from improved varieties had more leaves throughout the plant canopy, including the lower stems. In some cases the new varieties had 5 percent to 8 percent more overall leaf percentage. Coupled with increased rates of leaf-disease resistance, new varieties lead to improved overall leaf content and leaf-to-stem ratios at harvest. A second – and equally exciting – a l fa l fa - b re e d i n g i n n ova t i o n i s improved stem digestibility. That results in an improved rate and extent of fiber digestibility. T h e re ce n t re l ea se o f exce l lent-yielding alfalfa varieties with improved fiber digestibility and more-favorable leaf-to-stem ratios has taken alfalfa forage quality to a better level. Those varieties provide the fiber needs of the rumen. The increased fiber digestibility significantly contributes to more milk production. Enhanced leaf content also means that alfalfa can now contribute more crude protein to the ration, reducing the expense of soybean-meal protein in the ration. Don Miller is a director of product development for Alforex Seeds, a Corporate Sponsor of PDPW.



January 2020 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Revenue protection completes first year Michelle Sell


airy Revenue Protection has been available for more than a year now. It’s been adopted quickly by producers across the country looking for a simple and effective risk-management tool for their dairy operations. Fo r t h ose wh o a re n o t familiar with Dairy Revenue Protection, producers have two different pricing options on which to base coverage. • ‌The class-pricing option is based on Class III or Class IV, or a blend of the two. • ‌T he component-pricing option is based on a combination of the operation’s declared levels of butterfat – ranging from 3.25 to 5 p o u n d s – a n d p ro te i n – ranging from 2.75 to 4 pounds – along with a fixed level of 5.7 pounds for other solids. In the event of an indemnity, actual component levels must be at least 90 percent of declared levels for butterfat and protein. Since Dairy Revenue Protection was first offered for sale Oct. 9, 2018, almost 52 billion pounds of milk have been covered by it. Statistics show the program as of Nov.18, 2019. • ‌Dairy Revenue Protection endorsements have been sold in 40 states. Wisconsin leads t h e wa y w i t h t h e m o s t endorsements sold. Next in line are Minnesota, California and Michigan. • ‌O f the nearly 52 billion pounds of milk covered, California and Wisconsin claim the largest percentage of production, with more than 5.2 billion pounds or 10 percent each. They’re followed by Idaho and Minnesota. • ‌Just less than 12 percent

of the U.S. milk production has been covered in the Dairy Revenue Protection program based on 2019-2020 projected U.S. Department of Agriculture milk-production projections. There’s definitely a lot of potential for the program to continue to grow. Almost 94 percent of the endorsements have been written at the maximum coverage level of 95 percent. When the program was initially rolled out, available coverage levels ranged from 70 percent to 95 percent in 5-percent increments. At the start of the 2020 crop year as of July 1, 2019, the 70 percent and 75 percent coverage levels were eliminated. So far about 70 percent of the endorsements have been written with the class-pricing option, leaving 30 percent with the component option. Recent trends seem to be shifting more toward the class-pricing option than when the program was initially rolled out. Almost 30 percent of the component endorsements have been written in Wisconsin. Due to the increase in milk prices seen in recent months, Dairy Revenue Protection indemnity payments have totaled about $5.2 million so far. Those payments were made for coverage taken for first-quarter 2019, which was only available from Oct. 9 through Dec. 15, 2018. The small number of indemnity payments to date should not be construed as a negative. Rather it’s a sign of the improvement in the milk markets since earlier in the year, along with the limited time that the product has been available. The percentage of class-price

endorsements through Compeer Financial is running at about 70 percent, with 30 percent component-price endorsements. Those numbers mirror the national percentages. The 1 to 1.5 protection factor for Dairy Revenue Protection gives producers the option to increase the size of a loss if they have one. Compeer Financial is currently running a relatively even split between the 1 and 1.5 factors, with a handful falling somewhere in the middle. Many producers like the thought of being able to increase the amount of the indemnity payment. But in some cases the additional premium to use the 1.5 factor may increase the premium to

a level they are uncomfortable with, especially as we look at more-distant quarters. Dairy Revenue Protection coverage is currently available starting with first-quarter 2020 through first-quart e r 2 0 2 1 . C o v e ra g e f o r first-quarter 2021 is only available utilizing the component option at this point, but the class-pricing option will become available as we move closer to that quarter. As of this writing the markets are providing excellent opportunities to lock in some affordable floor pricing for 2020 with Dairy Revenue Protection. Michelle Sell is an insurance officer at Compeer Financial, a Vision Sponsor of PDPW.

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January 2020 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

PDPW is here to help in 2020 SHELLY MAYER PDPW Executive Director‌

PDPW members, the work you do every day is important. We are blessed to work for fellow dairy farmers and other industry professionals. This past year was a blur; we all can agree there was a lot going on. Here are just a few of the great things 2019 gave rise to. PDPW Podcasts – launched in January, these byte-sized nuggets were an instant success. For easy-toaccess inspiration and professional development perfectly suited for drive-time, the weekly podcast is a complimentary offering available a t w w w. p d pw.o rg – n o change of clothes necessary. PDPW Prime™ – the online catalog of hundreds of dairy’s premier suppliers is featured on the PDPW website. Suppliers update promotions, farmer specials, product listings and contact information so producers can access those offerings online. Dairy Innovation Hub – your Professional Develo p m e n t O rg a n i z a t i o n ® worked diligently behind the s c e n e s to fa c i l i ta te t h e multi-million-dollar project. The dollars approved by the Wisconsin legislature will fund new research projects. They will keep the dairy products you work hard to produce in great demand here at home and around the globe. Public Policy Committee – serving as an ad hoc committee to the board, PDPW members met three

times during 2019 with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection as well as the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Discussing such issues as water quality, food safety, animal care and land-use issues, the committee serves as your voice. The members keep your best interests in mind in those conversations. Agricultural Community Engagement® – an on-going “hard-working” partnership, the Wisconsin Counties Association, the Wisconsin Towns Association and your PDPW worked collectively to facilitate water tours and four “ACE O n - t h e - Fa r m ” t w i l i g h t meetings in addition to collaborating on other issues critical to shaping dairy’s future in Wisconsin. The partnership is a model for stakeholder relationships as we learn from one another and tackle difficult issues that enhance our communities and businesses. Dairy Managers Institute™ – the training program incorporates real-life experiences, group interaction, take-home assignments and a follow-up session three m o n t h s l a te r to e n s u re attendees put into practice what they learned during the program. Requested by those whose responsibilities have shifted from managing cows to managing people, the program equips attendees with the tools to manage, engage and develop excellent-performing teams. Please see MAYER, Page 16

Shelly Mayer is a dairy producer and the executive director of PDPW.

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January 2020 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Mayer From 15

Financial Literacy for Dairy™ – we are adding a third level to the financial-training program. During 2019 many dairy farmers worked through levels 1 and 2 of the curriculum. They have lauded the training as being beneficial to their businesses. Stride™ – in development for high school students, the youth-leadership program will build on their understanding of leadership, technology, communications, career exploration, science, networking and other critical skills as they take steps toward higher education and careers. Like you, your PDPW family will keep doing the work we love. Our first on-location program of

2020 will be Managers Academy for Dairy Professionals™ in Corpus Christi, Texas. Attendees will spend three days together with peers networking and fine-tuning their skills in the executive-level program. We still have some seats available. Visit the PDPW website at www. pdpw.org or call 800-947-7379 for details or to register. Remember as you “grow” through 2020, you are priceless to your family, your team and your business. Your continual investment in education is one of the best things you can do for yourself – and for them. May your 2020 be filled with many blessings. PDPW

PDPW Business Conference – think new ways The 2020 PDPW Business Conference is scheduled for March 18-19 in Madison, Wisconsin. It will once again be a gathering place for dairy’s elite producers and thought leaders. There will be educational sessions in a number of formats along with a world-class trade show and several other features. This year’s program will also focus on new ways of thinking. “The year 2019 has been a blur,” said Shelly Mayer, dairy producer and PDPW executive director. “It’s hard to be focused on where you’re going when you don’t have a clear vision. The year 2020 is about focus – getting your hands back around the wheel again and strengthening your business, team and mind.” Keynote speakers will challenge producers to retrain their brain to innovate, create and empower team members. They’ll help attendees differentiate between what can be controlled and what cannot – and that controlling what they can is the place to start.

Holly G. Green is a trainer and founder of the Management D eve l o p m e n t Institute offered Green at San Diego State University. Author of the book “Use Your Brain to Win,” she will challenge each attendee to do just that. Michael Hoffman is the founder and owner of Dallas-based Igniting Performance Inc. He will impart the skills of sales, customer loyalty, Hoffman leadership and empowering others to be a part of change. Innovation and creativity are

b i r t h e d f ro m being pressed and pushed to the limits. With that message Doug Hall will illustrate how Hall dairy producers – and the industry – is at the cusp of rebirth. He’s the founder and chairman of Eureka! Ranch International as well as a lecturer, author, and television and radio host. He’s the founder of the field of study called “Innovation Engineering.” Almost two decades after terrorism became a household word, the accounts of the Sept. 11 bombings still live vividly in the memories of those old enough to re m e m b e r that day. Mark Nutsch is a forNutsch mer commander of the first Green Beret unit that went into Afghanistan shortly thereafter. His heroic story inspired the

major motion picture, “12 Strong.” It continues to serve as an effective reminder that perspective plays a powerful role in day-to-day life. His message will prompt attendees to reframe their thoughts about their current situations as well as their abilities to make changes for movement in the right direction. “PDPW was built on the desire for continuous education,” Mayer said. “When producers come to the Business Conference for two days, they’re not only saturated with educational resources; they’re surrounded by people who understand the path they’re walking. Fellow dairy producers help sharpen the saw and fill the tank. There’s nothing like being with those who are in step with you.” The 2020 PDPW Business Conference will be held at the Alliant Energy Center, 1919 Energy Center Way, Madison, Wisconsin. Visit www.pdpw.org and click on “Upcoming Programs” or call 800-947-7379 for more information.

January 2020 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line


Program preview: Cornerstone Dairy Academy Three learning pillars, two powerful days – in one authoritative program The two-day Cornerstone Dairy Academy program is designed for dairy producers and industry members who seek to lead or communicate more effectively. Segmented into three learning pillars, the program strengthens and further develops key leadership traits in “Influential Leadership,” “Visionary Leadership” and “Servant Leadership” tracks. Scheduled for March 17-18 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin, the application-based program allows participants to select one of the three pillars of leadership training. When Cornerstone Dairy Academy™ was launched six years ago, a single track of leadership training was featured. Currently its three-pillar format allows participants the opportunity to apply in successive years for a more-comprehensive leadership experience. The Influential Leaders pillar focuses on refining leadership traits that equip participants to be clear, consistent and trustworthy. Influential leaders are those who exemplify a strong work ethic, collaborate with others, have good communication skills and are self-confident. On-site activities will help attendees better understand generational differences and the communication tendencies of each. Discerning behavior types, mastering first impressions, intentionally showing gratitude, and displaying confidence and courtesy are other skills refined and practiced in the Influential Leaders pillar. The Visionary Leaders pillar brings to life the importance of setting ethical boundaries while equipping participants to innovate, envision the “big picture” and think strategically. Experts will illustrate examples of integrity and its ties to ethical decision-making while demonstrating the importance of exceptional credibility. The practical skills of observing global trends and using economic-indicator tools to discover opportunities before others will also be highlighted. The Servant Leaders pillar centers on enhancing listening skills as well as displaying empathy and awareness of others’ needs. Leading persuasively with foresight and passion while growing people’s abilities are

PDPW photos

David Kohl, professor emeritus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, speaks at a 2019 PDPW Cornerstone Dairy Academy session.

Tom Thibodeau, Distinguished Professor of Servant Leadership at Viterbo University, speaks at a 2019 Cornerstone Dairy Academy other hallmarks discussed. Attendees will session.

learn key characteristics and best practices from servant-leadership expert Tom Thibodeau. He’ll outline the value in working as a team, the power of hospitality and customer service as well as the blessings in creating a positive and productive work culture. “This is my second year attending the academy and I’ve learned so much,” said Michael Ingwersen, K&M Scenic View Dairy of Vermont. “I’ll take the skills I’ve gained home to my second-generation family farm to make improvements that will hopefully keep us farming for many more generations.” Cornerstone Dairy Academy attendees will begin their second day of training with a breakfast program at which key learnings from the previous day will be summarized. Afterward participants will have the

opportunity to put newly learned skills to work by networking and attending sessions of their choice at the 2020 PDPW Business Conference. “It is so refreshing to come to a conference that not only leaves you feeling motivated and inspired, but also with actionable items to take back home for more success and positivity in life,” said Sydney Endres, area representative and type-traits appraiser at the American Jersey Cattle Association. Applications are due by Jan.31; visit pdpw. org/cornerstone-dairy-academy to submit an application. Applicants will be notified of acceptance by Feb. 12. Visit www.pdpw.org/ programs/PDPW-Cornerstone-Dairy-Academy/details for more information.


January 2020 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Dairy Wellbeing Workshop scheduled The way producers handle and work around their cattle matters – and not just to the animals. Farm managers, employees, customers and consumers are all impacted as far as safety and animal wellbeing are concerned. Two repeating oneday sessions of the PDPW Dairy Wellbeing Workshop will be held Feb. 12-13 in Green Bay. Kurt Vogel and Dr. Don Höglund, veterinarian, will present animal-wellbeing updates and strategies to ensure safe and efficient interaction between people and dairy cattle. Attendees will participate in a guided tour of American Foods Group. They will hear from beef buyers, market experts and U.S. Department of Agriculture meat inspectors about slaughter processes and the impact cull-cow quality has on the industry. Höglund is a lecturer, trainer and teacher of workshops around the world. He’s also a co-author of “Efficient Livestock Handling: Practical Application of Animal Behavior and Welfare Science.” He will shed light on how animals learn. His session will offer practical tips to train those working with cattle to optimize animal handling, housing and other habits that impact wellbeing. Vogel is an associate professor of livestock welfare and behavior at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He’ll

give participants an inside look at findings from a large multinational survey conducted in conjunction with McDonald’s. He’ll outline proper methods to perform euthanasia, discussing occasions when it’s appropriate with the welfare of people and

animals in mind. He’s president of Vogel Livestock Solutions, a consulting company focused on practical implementation of processes for animal housing, handling, management and slaughter. Pre-registration is required; the workshop will be held at

Tundra Lodge Resort Waterpark & Conference Center, 865 Lombardi Ave., Green Bay. Each one-day session will begin with registration at 8:15 a.m. and conclude at 3:45 p.m. Visit pdpw.org and click on “Upcoming Programs” or call 800-9477379 for more information.

Webinar to discuss management strategies Karszes

Jason Karszes is a Cornell University-Extension senior associate w i t h t h e P RO DAIRY program. In a PDPW

World Class Webinar™ he will discuss strategies to help producers reduce expenses and capture efficiencies. Noon Feb. 5 – Karszes will present, “What are the top 20 p e rc e n t d o i n g ? ” I n t h e

60-minute webinar he’ll share management strategies that distinguish the top 20 percent of farms from the others. Learn how even small differences in several core management categories quickly increase efficien-

cies and decrease expenses. Visit www.pdpw.org or call 8 0 0 - 9 47-7 379 fo r m o re information. In the case of a time conflict a link to the recorded will be emailed to registrants after the webinar.

January 2020 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line


Program Preview: PDPW Hispanic Conflict Management workshop Two one-day programs – taught exclusively in Spanish – will present practical strategies and techniques to Spanish-speaking dairy managers and employees to optimize on-farm collaboration and productivity. The PDPW Hispanic Conflict Management workshops will be held Jan. 28 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and again Jan. 29 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Wi t h wo rk experience ra n g i n g f ro m Central America to Düsseldorf, Germany, and Micronesia, educator Lisa Anderson Anderson will help attendees discover their personal communication styles and learn to better understand the work and communication styles of

others. Participants will practice active listening in group settings to discover first-hand how critical it is to clearly c o m m u n i c a te . A n d e rs o n earned a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction-German, and English as a second language from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She recently completed a 13-credit Community Interpreting Certificate program at Viterbo University, where she wo rke d o n S pa n i s h - a n d English-language access in agriculture, rural health and K-12 education. Another key component to managing conflict is understanding differHincapie ences in cultures. Born in Medellín, Colombia, Natalia

Hincapié will lead participants through a session that will define conflict and outline specific factors that can lead to challenges w i t h i n te a m s . She’ll help attendees develop a game plan and gather prevention s t ra te g i e s to effectively manage uncomfortable situations in the workplace. Hincapié earned a bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine from the University of Antioquia. She has work experience as the lead trainer for various farm-education programs. The PDPW Hispanic Conflict Management workshop

begins each day with registration at 9 a.m. Registration fee includes workshop, materials and lunch. Visit pdpw.org/ programs/PDPWHispanicCon f l i c t M a n a g e m e n t 2 0 2 0/ details for additional details and to register.

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January 2020 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Meet the PDPW Board P D P W ’s n i n e - m e m b e r Board of Directors is elected by active PDPW dairy-farm members. Each director, who is also an active dairy producer, can serve two threeyear terms. Equipped with the leadership skills and a vision to serve, PDPW board members actively shape the organization’s educational calendar, create a relevant plan of work, and serve on other industry-action committees throughout the dairy sector and beyond. Jay Heeg, president, owns and operates Heeg Brothers Dairy LLC along with his brothers Mark and Gary Heeg. The C o l by, W i s consin, dairy Jay Heeg has 1,100 Holstein cows, raises all its heifers, grows 2,800 acres of corn and alfalfa, and employs 20 fulltime workers. Jay Heeg is the dairy manager and human-resource manager. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a bachelor’s of science degree in broad-area agriculture and a minor in animal science, he previously worked for Babson Brothers Company, the parent company of Surge milking. Katy Schultz, vice-president, owns Tri-Fecta Farms Inc. with her siblings Kari and Nick. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville with a degree in agriKaty Schultz business. She

was a marketing and communications professional before returning to her home farm. Now at the farm full-time, she serves as the on-farm manager for daily operations i n c l u d i n g l ive s to c k a n d employees – or “everything with a heartbeat,” as Schultz says it. The family’s farm has 500 cows and 2,000 acres of corn, alfalfa, wheat, soybeans and peas. She and her daughter live in Fox Lake, Wisconsin. Dan Scheider, secretary, is a fifth-generation farmer who dairies in partnership with his parents, Doug and Trish Scheider. The Freeport, Illinois, family Dan Scheider farm milks 650 cows and crops 1,200 acres of corn and alfalfa. Before returning to the farm, Dan Scheider spent three years in agricultural and business banking in north-central Wisconsin. He serves as the vice-president of the Stephenson County Farm Bureau Board and is on the county board of health. In addition he serves on the Buckeye Mutual Insurance Company board of directors. He and his wife have two school-aged children. Janet Clark, treasurer, and her husband, Travis Clark, of Eldorado, Wisconsin, joined her family’s dairy, Vision Aire Farms LLC, in 2 0 1 0 a s Janet Clark employees. Her parents,

Roger and Sandy Grade, are now transitioning ownership to the younger couple along with her brother David Grade. Janet Clark manages the financials and calves. The dairy consists of 140 registered milking Holsteins and 1,000 acres of owned and rented land. Vision Aire also does custom baling and harvesting for neighboring farms. The farm was awarded in 2015 and 2016 the National Milk Quality award from Hoard’s Dairyman. Clark received her b a c h e l o r ’s d e g r e e i n agri-business management from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. She has served in many committee-member and leadership positions. Andy Buttles of Lancaster, Wisconsin, owns and mana g e s S to n e F r o n t Fa r m with his wife, Ly n B u t t l e s. The Buttles family traces its dairy-farming legacy back to the 1850s; Andy Buttles S to n e - Fr o n t has been an all-registered herd since 1913. The dairy is currently home to 1,250 cows and employs 25 team members. Andy Buttles is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in dairy science. Lyn Buttles obtained her undergraduate degree at Pennsylvania State University and earned a master’s degree in dairy nutrition from UW-Madison. The couple has two school-aged daughters. Ken Feltz owns and operates Feltz Family Farms Inc. and Feltz’s Dairy Store Inc. with his wife, Jackie Feltz and

t h e i r fa m i ly. Ju s t o u ts i d e Stevens Point, Wisconsin, their dairy consists of 570 cows that are milked in a Ken Feltz double-12 parallel parlor with an additional 110 cows milked with two robots. The robotic barn is attached to the retail store where cheese, milk, ice cream, meat, chocolates and many other products are sold. The family operation employs 16 fulltime people for work at the farm and dairy store. The Feltz family received in 2015 the Master Agriculturist award; in 2014 they co-hosted Wisconsin Farm Technology Days. They’ve twice hosted Portage County’s June Dairy Breakfast. John Haag owns and operates Haag Dairy LLC, near Dane, Wisconsin, with his son, Josh Haag. A 150-cow operation, Haag Dairy raises all John Haag i t s re p l a c e ments and annually sells about 50 cows to other farmers for replacements. In August 2018 they began using two DeLaval robots in the milking routine. In 2011 they hosted the Dane County Breakfast on the Farm. Since then John Haag has been involved with the Da n e Co u n ty P ro m o t i o n Committee, serving as a director-at-large for the past four years. He’s also been a Lodi FFA alumni president for 12 years and an East Central

January 2020 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line


Meet the PDPW Board Select Sires delegate for seven years. Corey Hodorff is part of a fourth generation to own and operate his family’s century farm with his wife, Tammy Hodorff, brother Clint Hodorff, and parents, Doug and Linda Hodorff. They m i l k 1 ,0 0 0 cows and crop 1,200 acres at Second Look Holsteins LLC Corey near Eden, Hodorff Wisconsin. In addition to the dairy entity, the family business structure also includes Peniel Acres Ltd. as well as Hodorff Seeds and Agronomy. On the farm Corey Hodorff oversees team members and the management of dairy operations. He has served as a 4-H leader, a Fond du Lac County dairy-committee m e m b e r, a Fo n d d u L a c C o u n t y J u n i o r H o l s te i n adviser and a Fond du Lac County Holstein Association director. Steven Orth is co-owner of his family farm, Orthland Da i r y Fa r m L L C , wh i c h includes his mother, Maxine Orth, and b ro t h e r Jo e l Orth. The Cleveland, Wisconsin, farm consists of 1,030 cows, operates 1,900 acres of land, Steven Orth and is supp o r te d by 15 team members. Following the passing of his father after a farm accident, Steven Orth became general manager of the farm at age 18. He has

focused his efforts on improving animal well-being, people development and profitability. Adv i se rs to t h e P D PW Board add another layer of vision and counsel to the organization. All with backgrounds rich in dairy experience and interaction, the 2 0 19 -2 02 0 P D PW Boa rd Advisers hail from a variety of locations and work backgrounds. Jim Barmore, a Wisconsin native, in 2003 started FiveStar Dairy Consulting and in 2009 was a founding partner of GPS Dairy ConsultJim Barmore i n g L LC . He r e c e i ve d h i s undergraduate and graduate degrees in dairy nutrition from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He specializes in areas of forage management, dairy operational efficiency, herd-performance monitoring, facility and barn design, and dairy-expansion planning. He’s involved in strategic planning, performance coaching, executive leadership and people development for dairy owners and managers. He’s a member of the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists, the A m e r i ca n Da i ry Sc i e n ce Association and the Dairy Business Association. He and his family reside in Verona, Wisconsin. Paul Fricke was raised on his family’s row-crop and dairy farm located near Papillion, Nebraska, where his family still farms. Fricke earned a bachelor’s in animal

science in 1988 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a master’s in 1992 and his doctorate in 1996 in reproducPaul Fricke tive physiology at North Dakota State University. In 1996 he became a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Dairy Science as well as the Department of Animal Health and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1998 he joined the faculty in the Department of Dairy Science at UW-Madison and was promoted to professor in 2009. His current position includes 70 percent UW-Division of Extension and 30 percent research appointments in dairy-cattle reproduction. Fricke’s research program focuses on understanding the biology underlying the many reproductive problems presented by modern dairy cattle. Kurt Petik was raised on an 800-head beef-cattle ranch in western South Dakota, which his family still operates. He earned b a c h e l o r ’s degrees in a g r i c u l t u ra l economics and Kurt Petik a g r i c u l t u ra l business from South Dakota State University. His agricultural-banking career began in 1997 as a loan officer in Rock Valley, Iowa. The Petik family in 2003 moved to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where they currently

reside. He in 2013 joined Rabo AgriFinance as a senior relationship manager and opened the company’s office in Madison, Wisconsin. Away from farms and the office, he and his wife are active members of Hope Lutheran Church, enjoy attending their two daughte rs ’ m u s i c a n d a t h l e t i c events, and cheer on their son in the UW-Madison marching band. Andrew Skwor serves as the agricultural-services team leader at the Baraboo, Wisconsin, office of MSA Professional Services Inc. It’s a multi-disciplinary engineering, archite c t u ra l a n d planning consulting firm. He’s a professional engineer licensed in Iowa, IlliAndrew nois, Michigan, Skwor Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin as well as a Certified Professional of Erosion and Sediment Control – experienced in erosion-control planning, design, implementation and inspection. His work spans the arenas of project and construction management, farmstead planning, livestock siting, permitting for the Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System and the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, and design of manure processing, transfer and storage facilities. He holds a bachelor’s in civil engineering and environmental engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. He and his family reside in La Valle, Wisconsin.


January 2020 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

PDPW offers more than programs I

n addition to programming that focuses on specific to p i c s, P D PW o f fe rs resources to its members that further support its mission to share ideas, solutions, resources and experiences that help dairy producers succeed. PDPW Prime: one-stop shop for digital storefronts – Launched in October, PDPW Prime™ allows users to access the digital storefronts of hundreds of dairy’s premier suppliers from one website. Featuring searchable fields such as key words, business categories and names, PDPW Prime also enables companies and organizations to update relevant product news, newly launched services and resources, and contact information that leads viewers directly to websites. Service and product providers are encouraged to update their sites all year long to ensure the online catalog continually offers a comprehensive array of resources to the industry. Visit pdpw.org/pdpwprime to see suppliers and resources currently available. The mobile-friendly site makes for easy access anywhere a cellular signal is available. Bookmark the site today. Peer Groups answer the call for idea sharing and problem solving – From those who thrive when collaborating and networking with peers, the PDPW Peer Group model is garnering high praise. Currently PDPW offers a Mid-Manager Peer Group geared toward established dairy men and women who are interested in improving their business, networking with other professionals, and diving into the nuts and bolts of farm management. In a PDPW Peer Group, six to eight like-minded farming


Painted by artist Larry Schultz of Monroe, Wisconsin, “Faithfully Feeding the Future” is inspired by the generations of dairy farmers connected by the common thread of stewardship and dedication to dairy farming.

professionals regularly gather together on an agreed-upon basis to discuss ideas to improve their dairies. Meetings are led by peer-group members; they are held during the winter and early-spring months. Each member takes a turn hosting the peer group at his or her farm with time for collaboration, discussion and problem-solving. The small group numbers foster a sense of trust as well as openness to the suggestions of others. Confidential discussions and honest feedback

allow members to be held accountable by their peers while improving their businesses. The hosting member chooses the topic(s) for discussion; the others in the group have the opportunity to tour the host farm. Contact PDPW team member Melissa Marti at 715-3233358 or mmarti@pdpw.org for more information or to inquire about future peer groups. Honor the past, support the future – Painted by artist Larry Schultz of Monroe, Wisconsin, “Faithfully Feeding the

Future” is inspired by the generations of dairy farmers connected by the common thread of stewardship and dedication to dairy farming. Created in recognition of PDPW’s 25th anniversary, the painting makes a great gift to honor dairy’s heritage. Proceeds from every purchase support the funding of youth programs. Canvases and prints are available in various sizes. Pricing includes shipping and handling. • 30” x 22.5” canvas … $425 • 24” x 18” canvas … $325 • 30” x 22.5” print … $160 • 24” x 18” print … $135 • 16” x 12” print … $110 Call PDPW at 800-9477379 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to order or for more information.

January 2020 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Opportunities to Learn


PDPW Upcoming Educational Events As dairy’s professional development organization, PDPW is committed to leading the success of the dairy industry through education. The following programs have been developed guided by our mission to share ideas, solutions, resources and experiences that help dairy producers succeed. See pdpw.org/programs for full program details and to register. Date(s)

PDPW Program


Jan. 8-9, 2020

2019-20 Financial Literacy for Dairy, Level 2 (first of four two-day sessions) Managers Academy™ “Renew, Refine, Rethink” PDPW Hispanic Conflict Management Workshop

Juneau, Wisconsin

Jan. 14-16 Jan. 28-29 Feb. 5

Corpus Christi, Texas Oshkosh, Wisconsin Eau Claire, Wisconsin Online, 12 - 1p.m. CST

Feb. 12 & 13

World Class Webinar “What are the top 20% doing?” – Jason Karszes Dairy Wellbeing Workshop (2 one-day sessions)

Mar. 17-18

Cornerstone Dairy Academy

Madison, Wisconsin

Mar. 18-19

PDPW 2020 Business Conference

Madison, Wisconsin

Mar. 24-25

2019-20 Financial Literacy for Dairy, Level 3

Juneau, Wisconsin

Apr. 4-5

Stride™, A Step into Student Leadership

Juneau, Wisconsin

Apr. 14

Agricultural Community Engagement (ACE®) “Leading Wisconsin Forward Together”

Madison, Wisconsin

Green Bay, Wisconsin

Call 800.947.7379 or visit pdpw.org for more programs and details, and to register.

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