PDPW Dairy's Bottom Line October 2019

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

Two calf heads better than one


hen raising calves studies have shown that two – or more – heads are better than one in several ways. Housing milk-fed calves with at least one social partner can be a win-winwin in terms JENNIFER of animal welfare, VAN OS calf-growth performance and consumer perception. In the United States and Canada the majority of calves are housed singly before weaning. Individual rearing became standard practice in the 1960s, in part based on University of Wisconsin research. Isolation was seen to decrease the risk of calf-to-calf disease transmission, reducing morbidity and mortality rates. Without computerized monitoring, single housing also allowed for ease of tracking feed intake and signs of illness. But we now know other factors often contribute to the poor health and performance sometimes seen in group-housed calves. Reduced milk allowances that were once the norm resulted in less nutrient intake, reducing immune function. Insufficient ven-

tilation in older facilities meant subpar air quality, increasing the risk of pathogen exposure. The principles for promoting good health outcomes are similar whether managing individuals, pairs or groups. The risk of respiratory disease and morbidity is reduced in several ways.  Feed sufficient excellent-quality colostrum to promote passive transfer of immunity.  Feed sufficient milk or milk replacer for an excellent plane of nutrition.  Ensure ventilation for good air quality.  Allow sufficient space.  Provide clean and dry bedding.  Ensure biosecurity and sanitation practices.  Limit age differences within groups.  Utilize all-in-all-out practices. Research at UW-Madison on primates found developmental impairments when normally social species were reared in isolation. During the past several years many research groups worldwide applied those concepts to study the development of calves reared either conventionally or socially. The consensus is now that pairs and small groups provide

milk production at maturity. All those outcomes are better for the dairy operation. It’s good for consumer acceptance – this past summer Rielle Perttu, Beth Ventura and Marcia Endres from the University of Minnesota surveyed more than 1,300 adult fairgoers at the Minnesota State Fair. Almost all those fairgoers consumed dairy products – but less than a fourth had family in the dairy industry. Those surveyed were shown photos of Holstein calves in single, pair or small-group pens in a calf UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN barn. Almost half the participants disagreed with One way of socially housing calves is with adjacent hutches sharing a fenced area, as with a individual housing. Only pair in an ongoing research study at University of Wisconsin-Blaine Dairy. a third thought it was an acceptable system. Of  solid feed intake – by greater willingness to try clear advantages when those surveyed 14 percent one-fourth to 1 pound new feeds such as hay and managed well. thought pairing was unacper day pre-weanIt’s good for the calf – total-mixed ration. That ceptable; 7 percent thought ing and three-quarters translates into better reit’s important to maintain small groups were unacto 2.5 pounds per day silience to weaning stress. per-calf space allowance, ceptable. post-weaning meaning an increase in total Calves reared with social In contrast two-thirds of  body weight at weanspace for pairs or groups. A companions bellow less participants thought pairing – by 5 to 9 pounds larger space allows calves to during weaning. When  average daily gain – by ing calves was acceptable show a wider range of nat- regrouped after weaning and three-fourths thought one-fourth pound they start feeding sooner ural behaviors, including group pens were acceptThose increases were playing. They learn to play and don’t show the same able. It’s the first study growth check that conven- especially apparent for well with others. Having showing social housing is tionally reared calves com- calves fed increased milk social contact early in life important for continued allowances. Becoming helps them learn appropri- monly do. consumer acceptance of established on solid feeds It’s good for growth ate social interactions and dairy production. before weaning is importperformance – across also improves their other Social housing can be ant for stimulating rumen a dozen studies socially learning abilities. Socially implemented in many reared calves outperformed function. Better early-life reared calves show better single calves in one or more growth translates to earlier flexibility and adaptabilonset of puberty and better categories. ity to change, including a Please see VANOS, Page E2

Webinar offers economic insights The current dairy environment requires producers to focus on core values, practice discipline in the fundamentals of business and take ownership of their dairy’s numbers. David Kohl is a Prof e s s o r Emeritus David Kohl of agricultural finance as well as small-business management and entrepreneurship at Virginia Polytechnic In-

stitute and State University. He’ll be offering a webinar regarding economic management entitled, “Get a Grip on Ag Economics,” from noon to 1 p.m. Oct. 17. It’s one of Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin’s “World Class Webinars.” From the board room to the frontlines Kohl has traveled several millions of miles and gleaned a wealth of information from around the globe. In this webinar he’ll share the latest regarding core factors that will influence the dairy in-

dustry and business models of the future. He’ll discuss five “tools for the times” to jumpstart dairy businesses for the next decade. Visit www.pdpw.org or call 800-947-7379 for more information. Participants who register can watch the session live; a fully recorded version will also be available to watch later. All past PDPW World Class Webinars are available in the PDPW Webinar Library. Visit pdpw.org/ webinar-library for more information.

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Blending a ration for best Drive, Fond du Lac. call 800-947-7379 for more production is an ongoing Visit www.pdpw.org or information. challenge for dairy producers. A difficult growing season makes it a particularly ambitious task. The Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin’s Feed Management Tours will showcase feeding strategies Oct. 24 — Keith Beer at two successful Wisconsin dairies in Fond du Lac County. Attendees will engage in dialogue with hosts at VirClar Farms of Fond du Lac and Second Look Holsteins of Eden. They will take a closer look at each dairy’s approach to feed management. Several critical insights will be highlighted.  innovative solutions to feed storing, mixing and delivering  value of using feed-management software  effective strategies for BEER FARMS AND CATTLE CO, BERNE, INDIANA, Max (left), Karen, Keith (right) and Craig Beer managing leachate  incorporating no-till Calving nearly 200 two-year-olds monthly, milking only fresh heifers, SCC 150 to 160,000 practices  using cover crops “Getting udders softer, faster for more milk is why we use Udder Comfort.™ For fresh heifers, Participants will learn that’s key. Using this product for 4 years on 2-year-olds after calving, the proof is in the about the benefits of feedpudding. Udders are more pliable. We see lower SCC and a 3- to 4-pound production Quality Udders Make Quality Milk ing a diet consisting of solely increase by 14 days in milk,” says Keith Beer. He and Craig and parents Max and Karen corn silage and western dry raise and sell fresh heifers, calving nearly 200 monthly at Beer Cattle Co., Berne, Indiana. To locate a dealer, call 1.888.773.7153 hay as forage sources. They’ll “Dairies continue to get more milk per cow, and we find ways to supply them with heifers Visit our new website at uddercomfort.com also discover the advantages that continue to get more milk. Udder Comfort is part of that. With their Spray Gun and @uddercomfort of customizing a feed-manBackpack Sprayer, it’s simple and easy to get the job done. agement system that suits “We trialed the Udder Comfort Backpack Sprayer, a great tool to do pre-fresh heifers in headlocks 1x/day For external application to the udder only, after milking, as an their dairy’s specific needs. component of udder management. Always wash and 7 days before calving. Our results were similar to post-fresh with the Spray Gun in the parlor. A combination essential dry teats thoroughly before milking. During lunch discussions is ideal: 1 to 2 days before calving and 3 to 5 days after. For us, post-fresh in the parlor is the best fit. with consultants and tour “Seeing the difference it makes, our guys are proud do it, using the Udder Comfort Spray hosts, attendees will have Gun on parlor air before cows exit 2x/day 5 to 7 days after calving. One pass (front to rear) an opportunity to ask quesdelivers Udder Comfort to the bottom of the udder and up a few inches, overcoming edema tions. around teats and the suspensory ligament, getting udders ready to accept volumes of milk. A chartered bus will pick “This product works. With either method, 5 gallons covers a month for us, averaging 12 applications up attendees at the Radisson on 200 fresh heifers.” Hotel and Conference Center, 625 W. Rolling Meadows

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

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


Working with a business consultant can be a key strategy to remain competitive in dairy.

Program enhances financial literacy The 2019-2020 Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin’s “Financial Literacy for Dairy Now” is open for registration. An advanced third level has been added to the multilevel program designed for dairy-farm owners, chief financial officers and partners. The program also has been a valuable professional-development resource for veterinarians, nutritionists and other agribusiness professionals. Offered in multiple sessions, “Financial Literacy for Dairy” provides attendees a solid financial understanding and foundation complimented by instruction in more-complex principles. Upon registration an online placement test will determine the level bestsuited for each attendee,

based on his or her current degree of financial comprehension. Level 1 offers participants in-depth practice with several core precepts. Dairy-financial experts Gary Sipiorski and Kevin Bernhardt of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville will work with attendees. They will emphasize the value of determining and writing short-term and long-term business goals. The principles of balance sheets will be considered – and why those documents should be prepared at least annually for all entities of the dairy. Offering more than a general overview, Level 1 covers several other concepts and tools used

to proficiently measure a dairy’s profitability.  Level 1 will be held Nov. 13 and 14, and conclude Dec. 18 and 19 with four total days of training. Level 2 offers deeper levels of financial tools and skill sets. Sipiorski and Bernhardt will train participants in sessions. Numerous topics are covered.  Calculate income statements on an accrual basis.  Adjust cash-basis income statements to show true accrual net income.  Ensure changes in inventory, payables and receivables are accounted for to show earnings.  Reconcile inventories, feed and livestock changes, depreciation and all loan balances to the balance sheet. Attendees will also delve

into a study of enterprise profitability and cost-center tracking. They will understand the best methods to split various parts of their operation to measure profitability of each enterprise. Key performance measures and ratios will also be taught.  Level 2 sessions will begin Jan. 8 and 9, 2020; they will reconvene Feb. 12 and 13, 2020, and conclude Mar. 4 and 5, 2020, for a total of six training days. Level 3 is geared to stretch even those with an excellent level of financial competence. It’s taught by Dick Wittman of Wittman Consulting, a family-business consultant, farm manager and faculty member of The Executive Program for Agricultural Producers. Level 3 will present advanced con-

cepts in several core financial-management areas.  budgeting tools for planning and performance monitoring  trend analysis  determination of key metrics to monitor  benchmarking Level 3 also includes a study of such metrics as cost of production, growth and efficiency tradeoffs, and best practices for managing capital investments.  Level 3 will have two days of training Mar. 24 and 25, 2020. Space is limited to 30 attendees per level. All sessions will be held at PDPW headquarters, 820 N. Main St., Juneau, Wisconsin. Visit pdpw.org or contact email mail@pdpw.org or 800-947-7379 for more information.

Business consultant can create success W eather uncertainty, market volatility and increasing operational and capital costs are just a few of the challenges that test even the keenest managers. GREG In developSTEELE ing a 2020 budget that leads to profitability, a proven approach is hiring a qualified business consultant. Working with a business consultant can be a key strategy to remain competitive in dairy. Successful managers realize they are sometimes too close to an issue to see things clearly. Seeking the assistance of a quali-

fied business consultant provides an expert with whom they can talk openly for candid feedback. There are numerous core areas that business consultants will help producers focus on as they work together to improve the dairy. Consider accounting and production systems.  Assess whether information generated is adequate.  Determine if systems improve and support management decisions.  Ensure the accounting system provides necessary information for tax-reporting compliance.  Confirm processes and procedures provide reliable and accurate management information.

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Consider budget projections.  Ensure budget assumptions are relevant.  Ensure cash flow will be adequate.  Determine how necessary capital purchases and improvements will be funded.  Decide how financial performance will be measured. Consider financial monitoring.  Confirm which key performance indicators will be regularly recorded, measured and discussed to track financial progress.  Determine how financial and production systems will be linked to provide an economic analysis of performance.  Recommend the appropriate type of benchmarking to compare the producer’s operation to

Vanos From E1

ways, either in a calf barn

others in a way that identifies opportunities for improvement. Consider profitability.  Find profit-limiting bottlenecks.  Suggest options to improve the operation’s cost structure.  Determine if capital, management and other resources are being managed effectively.  Suggest improvements in the operational systems as they are needed. Consider margin-management programs.  Define which tools are available to implement a sound marketing program.  Confirm that elements necessary for a marketing plan are in place.  Assess whether cost

or outdoors in hutches. The Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin’s “Calf Care Connection” workshops will be held

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Please see STEELE, Page E3

in November in Chilton, Eau Claire and Fennimore, Wisconsin. I will lead breakout sessions to explore scenarios regarding how different types of dairy operations can transition to social rearing and achieve good outcomes. Rekia Salter and Kim Reuscher are dairy-science master’s students at UW-Madison. They are currently running studies regarding paired calves in outdoor hutches. The team hopes to uncover solutions for some common management challenges. Visit www. DairyAnimalWelfare.org/ Survey to take a survey to help research efforts. Jennifer Van Os is an assistant professor and University of Wisconsin-Extension specialist in animal welfare in the department of dairy science at UW-Madison. Email jvanos@wisc.edu to reach her.


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of production is predictable.  Suggest the strategies and targets that will be most successful to the business.  Determine what specific targets are and how they’ll be established.  Offer tips to make the best decisions with the available information.  Recommend the frequency with which to evaluate and adjust the plan. Consider employee management.  Assess opportunities to improve labor efficiency.  Determine if parlor procedures are sound.  Evaluate if the work force is organized.  Evaluate if increased job specialization would

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Thursday, October 3, 2019 | E3

PDPW Herdsperson Workshop scheduled ‌The 2019 edition of the Professional Producers of Wisconsin’s “Herdsperson Workshop” will focus on feed-inventory management, transition-cow management and animal-welfare strategies. The daylong workshop is designed for dairy farmers, herd managers, nutritionists and veterinarians. It will take

place Oct. 30 at the University of Wisconsin-Arlington Agricultural Research Station, N695 Hopkins Road, Arlington, Wisconsin. The program will repeat Oct. 31 through the UW-Marshfield Agricultural Research Station, with the program held at 2611 Yellowstone Drive, Marshfield, Wisconsin. Workshop presenters

are Dr. Laura Hernandez, veterinarian and associate professor of dairy science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Dr. Mike

Hutjens, veterinarian, veterinarian and professor dairy specialist with Uni- in the animal-science deversity of Illinois-Exten- partment at the University sion and Professor Emeritus; and Dr. Marcia Endres, Please see PDPW, Page E4


Celebrate more victories more often


elebrations are fun, positive, exciting and joyful occasions we all enjoy. Once a year most people celebrate their birthdays. And there are numerous other events of life worth celebrating such as the first day of HANK school, high WAGNER school graduation, college graduation, marriage, childbirth and more. In our culture we find even more ways to celebrate throughout the year with holidays such as Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I see no reason to forego celebrating any of those events — because they all represent victories worth celebrating. My question to ponder is, “What other things are worthy of celebration that are not currently on our radar?” Sometimes we are caught in a rut of going to events or celebrations that other people plan. I believe there is value in finding occasions to celebrate with purpose. To some people celebrating with purpose might mean commemorating July 4th a little too heartily at the local tavern, earning a headache the next day. I’m encouraging us to think about why we’re celebrating


opportunities for the next generation. Recommend strategies for implementing a business transfer, including a timeline. Don’t be too quick to discount the advantages of working with a business consultant because of associated fees. A decision that improves business revenue or reduces cost can more than pay for the cost of a business consultant, justifying consulting fees as a sound business expense.

From E2

improve performance. Evaluate whether additional employee training is needed. Confirm protocols are in compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and with other labor regulators. Consider business structure. Determine if the business is structured for longterm success. Suggest various tax-management options as they are available. Ensure buy-sell agreements are adequate. Assess whether the business structure will accommodate growth. Determine how growth will be funded. Consider risk management. Confirm plans needed to protect the business from excessive risk are in place. Ensure interest rates are fixed. Ensure input supplies are booked. Determine milk is priced in the most effective manner. Ensure appropriate contingency plans are in place for unexpected crop failure, disease outbreak or other unforeseen circumstances. Assess whether the business is prepared for environmental risks such as manure spills, farm accidents and more. Consider succession planning. Determine that a vision for the business and personnel is in place. Evaluate available


Please see WAGNER, Page E4

While clinical hypocalcemia, or “milk fever,” is the more obvious threat to freshening cows, it’s the silent subclinical hypocalcemia that can be more destructive. More common and harder to detect, it causes a drop in calcium levels that can creep up in the form of suppressed immune health and decreased productivity. Learn more at StartwithBovikalc.com.

Greg Steele is a senior dairy-lending specialist with Compeer Financial, a Vision Sponsor of PDPW. Email Greg. Steele@compeer.com to contact him.

BOVIKALC® is a registered trademark of Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica GmbH, used under license. ©2019 Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc., Duluth, GA. All Rights Reserved. US-BOV-0014-2019

Another Costly DA? Mycotoxin exposure may be the cause. Mycotoxin exposure can cause a variety of problems in the herd including weak or silent heats, cystic ovaries, elevated SCC, erratic intakes, sporadic loose manure and excessive DAs. BioCycle Plus aids in boosting immune function and fights environmental challenges while helping the cow overcome the damaging effects of mold related challenges.


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E4 | Thursday, October 3, 2019

PDPW From E3

of Minnesota. General sessions will address core herd-management topics. In a session devoted to selective treatment for transition cows, Hernandez will highlight the latest research in screening and treating transition cows as well as targeting the most at-risk cows. Hutjens will discuss specific methods producers can use to manage feed inventories and make wise decisions in the event stores are depleted. In a

session entitled “Why do you FARM?” Endres will shed light on why dairy-cattle welfare-assessment programs such as Farmers Assuring Responsible Management exist. She’ll outline typical herd-management strategies and define key aspects of animal welfare that commonly need more attention on dairies. Attendees can also choose two of three breakout sessions. Hernandez will describe in a hands-on dissection the physiology of the healthy udder and the responses that are triggered when infection

arrives. Hutjens will lead a session highlighting energy-corrected milk and its relevance to the milk check. Endres will facilitate small groups investigating case studies of animal-care practices to which consumers might react negatively. By prompting attendees to reflect on their own animal-care protocols she’ll also shed light regarding problem areas to be addressed. Visit www.pdpw.org or call 800-947-7379 for more information and to register.


Opportunities to learn from PDPW As dairy’s professional development organization, PDPW is committed to leading the success of the dairy industry through education. The following upcoming 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


Oct. 17


Oct. 24

PDPW World Class Webinars™ “Get a Grip on Ag Economics” - David Kohl PDPW Feed Management Tours

Oct. 30, 31

Herdsperson Workshop

Arlington; Marshfield, Wis.

Nov. 13-14

Juneau, Wis.

Nov. 19, 20, 21

2019-20 Financial Literacy for Dairy®, Level 1 (first of two two-day sessions) Calf Care Connection®

Dec. 4 and 5

Dairy Insights Summit; formerly Food & Policy Summit

Madison, Wis.

Dec. 10

Dairy Managers Institute™ follow-up session

Madison, Wis.

Dec. 18-19

Juneau, Wis.

Jan. 14-16

2019-20 Financial Literacy for Dairy®, Level 1 (second of two two-day sessions) 2019-20 Financial Literacy for Dairy®, Level 2 (first of four two-day sessions) Managers Academy™

Mar. 17-18

Cornerstone Dairy Academy™

Madison, Wis.

Mar. 18-19

PDPW 2020 Business Conference

Madison, Wis.

See pdpw.org for more programs and details.

800.947.7379 mail@pdpw.org

Jan. 8-9, 2020


For more information about the farm dividend program and how you may qualify, contact your local Rural Mutual agent or visit us on the web at www.ruralins.com/farm-dividend.

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Wagner From E3

and to ensure that reason shines through. Thinking through the reasons for celebrating might lead us to find a veteran to whom we can offer a hearty handshake, hug or sincere thank-you. It might include carefully chosen words or actions to accompany a birthday present to more personally celebrate the recipient. My point is that sometimes we focus on the festivities rather than the person or people we’re celebrating. I believe we can all afford to think outside the box to make some victories extra-special for those extra-special people in our lives. Maybe the opportunity is not about adding anything extra to traditional celebrations but adding untraditional celebrations to the list. One way to celebrate untraditionally – an event that happens quite often at our farm – is for somebody to bring donuts, a homemade treat or a winter-weather hot chocolate to show thanks and appreciation for others. That’s fairly simple to model as owners or employers. Before we know it the random celebration of others will become a habit that others will initiate – employees and even farm partners such as nutritionists, veterinarians, feed suppliers and other consultants. Another way to be more aware of victories and to accelerate team successes is to set specific goals. Determine when setting a goal how the victory of accomplishing a goal will be celebrated. We set a number of goals in our family and business that give us many opportunities to celebrate. That gives us plenty of occasions to celebrate victories – despite the challenges surrounding us. Celebrating victory doesn’t even need to cost a lot of money. We recently achieved a 35-percent pregnancy-rate goal at our farm. That meant the entire reproductive team – employees, breeders, nutritionists and our veterinarian – were invited to a cookout with great food, drinks and games. It was a chance to learn more about each other. It was a great way to appreciate the people who set and helped achieve the goal. When we become so focused on our challenges we sometimes fail to realize that victories worth celebrating are happening. The past few years have been challenging in the dairy business, but I’ll bet anyone a large sum of money they still have had many victories worthy of some celebration. Let’s agree to be more aware of those victories that too often go unnoticed and unrewarded. Set some goals and celebrate more victories. It’ll foster a great team culture. It will give everyone a deeper appreciation for the events and people being celebrated. Hank Wagner is a dairy producer and a John Maxwell Team teacher, mentor, speaker and coach. To learn more about nurturing thankfulness, consider reading Hank’s book “Teachable Moments: Lessons from Africa.” It’s available online at amazon.com and at most book stores. Contact hwagner@ frontiernet.net for more information.

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