PDPW Dairy's Bottom Line -- January 2021

Page 1

Volume 23: Issue 1 January 2021

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

Challenging year leads to opportunities Katy Schultz

Page 3 COVID-driven growth looks to endure

Page 6 PDPW Business Conference moves to Dells

Page 14 High-quality forages can cut costs

Page 16 Minimize risk with scenarioplanning

Albert Einstein said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” I can’t think of a better way to describe the roller-coaster year of 2020. The list of difficulties we’ve faced as individuals, dairy farms, manKaty Schultz agers and as an industry has grown vastly since the start of 2020. But our perseverance – our fortitude – has turned a long list of challenges into an even-longer list of opportunities. As dairy farmers we’ve needed to be nimble, quickly pivoting with market and supply changes throughout the year. We’ve learned to do things a little differently, think a little differently and interact with each other a little differently. Through it all we’ve managed to still take care of the things God has granted us with – our land, animals, natural resources and people. Throughout the year our ability to adapt and accept change has grown exponentially. That doesn’t mean it’s been easy. Having a solid support system has been more important than ever. I’m proud that PDPW has walked


Katy Schultz and her father, Keven Schultz, review a to-do list for the day.

every step of the journey with its members. As a grassroots producer-led organization, PDPW understands the critical importance of connecting, sharing information and providing resources during times of crisis. The PDPW response started immediately in March when the team transformed its largest event – the annual business conference – to a virtual format with just a few days’ notice. The Dairy Signal™ broadcast debuted online just weeks later, providing timely, accurate and transparent information for free to anyone with internet access. Leading researchers and leaders in business, government and policy issues o f fe re d m u c h - n e e d e d

counsel, information and resources. When dairy producers weren’t sure whether a milk truck was coming to pick up their milk, or if there would be space at meat-processing plants, the Dairy Signal provided direct conversations with milk processors, meat packers, economists and more so we could understand what was happening in real time. As the year went on PDPW was able to return to offering some in-person training and networking programs, all done with a priority on safety for the facilitators and participants. Some of those programs also offered additional modified-live opportunities See OPPORTUNITIES, page 2

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


January 2021 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Upcoming Educational Events

PDPW: Who we are

Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin (PDPW ) is Dairy's Professional Development Organization®. W ith 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.

JAN 19-21; JAN 26-28

The Dairy Signal™ Online, 12 – 1 pm CT Visit www.pdpw.org to participate in live-streamed event. Audio/video recordings also available free.

JAN 31

PDPW Board of Directors

Cornerstone Dairy Academy™

President Kat y Schultz Fox Lake, Wis. 920-210-9661 katylschultz@ gmail.co m

Applications due Visit www.pdpw.org for details; all sessions held in compliance with CDC guidelines.

FEB 2-4; FEB 9-11

The Dairy Signal™ Online, 12 – 1 pm CT

Vice President Janet Clark Rosendale, Wis. 608-341-6709 vafarmsllc@hotmail.com

Visit www.pdpw.org to participate in live-streamed event. Audio/video recordings also available free.

FEB 10-11

Financial Literacy for Dairy® (Level 2 reconvenes)

Secretary John Haag Dane, Wis. 608-576-0812 jahaag5@gmail.com Treasu rer Jay Heeg Colby, Wis. 715-507-0030 jcheeg@yahoo.com Directors Andy Buttles Lancaster, Wis. 608-723-4712 stonefront@tds.net Ken Feltz Stevens Point, Wis. 715-570-6390 feltzfarms@hotmail.com Corey Hodorff Eden, Wis. 920-602-6449 corey@secondlookholsteins.com Steven Orth Cleveland, Wis. 920-905-2575 orthlanddairy@gmail.com Dan Scheider Freeport, Ill. 815-821-4012 dnscheider@gmail.com

PDPW Advisers

Paul Fricke UW-Madison Dairy Science Madison, Wis. pmfricke@wisc.edu Roger Olson Zinpro Performance Minerals roger.olson@zinpro.com 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

PDPW headquarters Juneau, Wis. Visit www.pdpw.org for details; all sessions held in compliance with CDC guidelines.

FEB 16-18; FEB 23-25


Katy Schultz, right, visits with all milking-parlor employees to review protocols and updates, and also to talk about current personal and family activities.

The Dairy Signal™ Online, 12 – 1 pm CT Visit www.pdpw.org to participate in live-streamed event. Audio/video recordings also available free.

MAR 2-4

The Dairy Signal™ Online, 12 – 1 pm CT

Opportunities Continued from page 1

for those unable or uncomfortable with attending in person. Looking back on the challenges of 2020, there are a few opportunities our industry can capture for the future. I’ve seen a new spirit of connection among dairy farmers and across the industry. Even though we’ve been physically separated we’ve been reminded we don’t need to see each other to know we care about each other. That has also led to a new level of awareness of mental- and emotional-health issues. As we were all forced to stay home – which farmers are typically accustomed to – we’ve done a better job of reaching out to be sure others are okay. We’ve seen an outpouring of support for family farms from consumers locally and around the country. Interest in buying local meat, dairy and produce is greater than we’ve seen in a long time. It took the shock of empty grocery-store shelves to rekindle an appreciation for farms and local food suppliers.

The pandemic has also put a much-needed spotlight on the systemic challenges in our food chain. Bottlenecks we’ve all seen for years on a small scale were suddenly exaggerated and brought to national attention. That has given us the opportunity to address those challenges together as an entire food system. I’m optimistic for 2021. Some of that probably stems from the eternal optimism inherent in every farmer. On the coldest day we know it will become warmer. When markets are at their worst, we know prices will increase. When we plant a seed in the ground, we know it will grow. This past year the public came away with a new level of appreciation for agriculture and what we do. Let’s take that opportunity to do better, learn more and push ourselves to keep improving. Thank you to all PDPW sponsors and members for making 2020 a year of opportunity. I look forward to the connections and learnings ahead in 2021.

Visit www.pdpw.org to participate in live-streamed event. Audio/video recordings also available free.

Katy Schultz is a dairy farmer and coowner at Tri-Fecta Farms near Fox Lake, Wisconsin, and PDPW board president.

PDPW mission: to share ideas, solutions, resources and experiences that help dairy producers succeed.

MAR 3-4

Financial Literacy for Dairy® (Level 2 concludes) PDPW headquarters Juneau, Wis. Visit www.pdpw.org for details; all sessions held in compliance with CDC guidelines.

MAR 9-11

The Dairy Signal™ Online, 12 – 1 pm CT Visit www.pdpw.org to participate in live-streamed event. Audio/video recordings also available free.

MAR 16-17

Cornerstone Dairy Academy™ Kalahari Resort Wisconsin Dells, Wis. Visit www.pdpw.org for details; all sessions held in compliance with CDC guidelines.

MAR 17-18

PDPW Business Conference Kalahari Resort Wisconsin Dells, Wis. Visit www.pdpw.org for details; all sessions held in compliance with CDC guidelines.

MAR 23-25

The Dairy Signal™ Online, 12 – 1 pm CT Visit www.pdpw.org to participate in live-streamed event. Audio/video recordings also available free.

MAR 24-25

Financial Literacy for Dairy® (Level 3)

PDPW headquarters Juneau, Wis. Visit www.pdpw.org for details; all sessions held in compliance with CDC guidelines.

MAR 23-25

The Dairy Signal™ Online, 12 – 1 pm CT Visit www.pdpw.org to participate in live-streamed event. Audio/video recordings also available free.

January 2021 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line


Altered consumer habits drive dairy purchases Kim Koh and Suzanne Isige

With 2020 in the rearview mirror and 2021 officially underway, it’s natural to think about what the new year will bring to the dairy category. Like many other sectors, dairy experienced extraordinary growth along with significant challenges because of the COVID19 pandemic. The insights gained from the past year, as unusual as it was, can help in planning for the year ahead. Take look back The pandemic changed many facets of American lives, including how consumers shop for, prepare and eat food. The percentage of Americans preparing at least 90 percent of their meals at home surged from 24 percent before the pandemic to 59 percent during the initial stages of the crisis when many restaurants closed. Even now that restaurants have pivoted with take-out, delivery and reconfigured dining rooms, the percentage of Americans preparing almost all their meals at home remains twice as much at 47 percent as it was pre-COVID. With more meals being eaten in the home because of restaurant, school and office closures, dairy products saw unprecedented sales growth in the retail channel. Butter sales in 2020 in Wisconsin increased 22 percent through early October; cheese sales increased 12 percent. Creams and creamers, sour cream and frozen novelties also had particularly strong growth. Sales across the entire retail dairy aisle were stronger in 2020 than they were in 2019. Shoppers changed what they were buying and they also changed how they were buying it. Online shopping surged with online grocery sales expected to grow 53 percent overall in 2020. The ranks of online shoppers have permanently expanded; 68 percent of new online grocery

shoppers plan to continue shopping for groceries online in the future. As retailers make online shopping easier for customers by increasing the number of delivery and pickup slots, reducing basket-size requirements for free delivery and expanding delivery zones, that trend is likely to continue. Look to future Despite the many changes that 2020 brought, other consumer needs will remain constant. Consumers continue to seek out products that offer nutrition and holistic well-being. They want brands with purposes that shares their values and products, with a focus on sustainability in production and packaging. The excellent-quality milk produced by Wisconsin’s dairy farmers can fulfill all those trends. With American trust in farmers at an all-time best, dairy is uniquely positioned to connect with consumers. A 2020 Gallup poll showed Americans ranked agriculture and farming as the business they feel most positive about. And a November 2020 American Farm Bureau Federation poll found that 88 percent of adults surveyed trust farmers, an increase from 84 percent in June 2020. The key is to preserve and strengthen that trust so Wisconsin’s dairy farmers – and the dairy industry as a whole – can continue to meet ever-changing consumer needs.

Three pillars needed for continued growth Looking at consumer attitudes and purchase trends, Wisconsin’s dairy community has the opportunity to connect and engage with consumers using three core messages that underscore key market drivers. Dairy is good for me. – Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin found that one in four people rank food and beverage choices as the No. 1 contributor to overall wellbeing. Also 53 percent of people say healthfulness influences their food- and beverage-buying decisions more now than it did a decade ago. The coronavirus pandemic has only underscored the importance of food and beverages that support health. That creates a powerful opportunity for dairy. Of people who buy dairy milk 71 percent say milk’s health and nutritional value is a significant part of their purchase decisions. Dairy also packs the power of being an indulgence and comfort, important mental- and emotional-wellness components. Dairy has a strong story to tell when it comes to wellness. Dairy is good for my community. – Consumers are seeking products made by companies that share their values and support their communities. That trend was heightened by the coronavirus pandemic as people looked for

meaningful ways to support local businesses. Dairy is greatly valued in Wisconsin because people understand how much it contributes to the state’s economy. Buying dairy products helps Wisconsin’s economy, say 93 percent of Wisconsinites. And 89 percent say the Wisconsin dairy industry maintains and builds strong communities, while 88 percent say supporting the state’s dairy industry is important. A significant portion of dairy’s future hinges on upholding those beliefs and values. Dairy is good for the planet. – Sustainability is an important issue for dairy farmers and consumers alike. In fact 59 percent of Americans say it’s important that the food products they consume are produced sustainably, and that includes dairy products. Sustainability is very important in the decision to purchase milk, 53 percent say. And 40 percent say it’s at least a little important. Interestingly consumers view manure and animal welfare as key parts of sustainability. Manure makes the list in terms of fertilizer, energy and run-off control. Animal welfare is viewed as a social responsibility in regards to sustainability. Of people who buy dairy milk 66 percent say the humane treatment of animals is important in their decisions to buy milk. As an industry dairy farmers and processors must be open, transparent and intentional in addressing each of those messages in order to drive dairy forward. To keep dairy relevant to consumers in 2021 and beyond, a focus on each of the three pillars can continue to build trust, foster a love of dairy and sustain markets for Wisconsin milk. Kim Koh and Suzanne Isige are market-research managers with Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, a mission sponsor of Professional Dairy Producers®.


January 2021 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Checkoff mission on track despite 2020 chaos Janet Clark

The thought of not knowing if I could feed my children is something I’m grateful I’ve never needed to face. Since COVID-19 hit in early 2020 our country has experienced numerous hardships. The sight of hungry children impacted me the most. I know how hard my family works to produce safe and nutritious dairy that children need. It breaks my heart to know it isn’t reaching some of them and that parents are facing that crisis. I take comfort in knowing our dairy-checkoff teams – nationally through Dairy Management Inc. and locally through the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin – have worked to help those in need. You may hear a lot about the checkoff’s partnerships with major food-service companies such as McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Domino’s. But dairy farmers have another important partner – Feeding America. We began working together in 2012 to help the organization move more dairy through its network of 200 food banks. That year about 173 million pounds of dairy products were distributed across the country. Thanks to work done by Dairy Management Inc., state and regional checkoff teams, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Milk Processor Education Program, that number has grown exponentially every year. In 2019, 353 million pounds of dairy were distributed through Feeding America. But this past year when food insecurity hit unthinkable rates, an incredible 469 million pounds of dairy reached people – more than double the amount in 2016. Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin also helped people in our state, through partnerships with processors, food-bank organizations, restaurants, grocers,


Janet Clark and her husband, Travis Clark, are co-owners of Vision Aire Farms near Eldorado, Wisconsin. From left seated are Travis, Grace and Janet Clark. From left standing are Eve and Levi Clark.

businesses, government and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Those collective efforts, in addition to others, led to 12 million pounds of donated dairy foods and $800,000 generated for food banks and pantries. More than $10 million generated That’s just one side of the hunger equation. GENYOUth – an organization created through the checkoff to support the health and wellness priorities farmers have for schools – shifted its focus to hunger. Its COVID-19 Emergency School Meal Delivery fund is aimed at helping students, including many who count on schools for

their only meals of the day. School-nutrition staffs have found creative ways to feed students. Yet while they receive federal funding, more money is needed to keep the flow of food moving. GENYOUth has raised more than $10 million in cash and in-kind resources to support 9,000 schools. But its work is not finished; thousands more still need help. Food-service partnerships continue to give strong support. Our partners have kept dairy front and center on their menus through the years. Collectively they have grown U.S. dairy sales by 2.2 billion milk-equivalent pounds and averaged 3 percent growth since their creation. We saw the best from them this past year. One of my

favorite moments happened because of Pizza Hut. As we saw too many times, COVID-19 disrupted celebratory moments and traditions – including the cancellation of high-school graduations. We hoped to give graduates something to smile about with a giveaway of 500,000 pizzas. The promotion was announced on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” giving it national prominence with a reference thanking America’s dairy farmers. And we didn’t stop the flow of cheese at home, thanks to Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin’s “Proudly Wisconsin” buyer missions that connected more than 500 retail and food-service decision-makers to award-winning cheese via in-person and virtual meetings. And Cheeselandia™ – an online community of cheese lovers created in 2018 by Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin – continued its mission of creating advocates and driving conversations about Wisconsin’s dairy products while highlighting the Proudly Wisconsin® cheese badge.

Dairy’s Bottom Line is pubished by PDPW in cooperation with Agri-View. 1901 Fish Hatchery Road Madison, Wisconsin 53713 Toll-Free: 1-888-AGRI-VIEW agriview@madison.com www.agriview.com Editorial Managing Editor Julie Belschner 608-219-8316 jbelschner@madison.com Advertising Sales Manager Tammy Strauss 608-250-4157 tstrauss@madison.com

January 2021 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line Environmental priorities announced The past year also brought an announcement that’s critical to our future. In October the checkoff-funded Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy unveiled its Net Zero Initiative. That’s an industry-wide effort that will help farms of all sizes and geographies implement new technologies and adopt economically viable practices. It’s a critical part of U.S. dairy’s environmenta l - s tewa rd s h i p goa l s, endorsed by industry leaders and farmers to achieve carbon neutrality, optimal water use and improved water quality by 2050. Such commitments matter; consumers are making purchase decisions based on how food and products are produced. And brands, companies and industries – including ours – have new expectations to meet. We can’t tell consumers we’re part

Management Inc. and Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin teams credit for maintaining their missions amid the chaos. I’m a big believer in our checkoff program. As farmers our days are already filled as we manage animal husbandry, land and water priorities, finances and more. We hire professionals to help our farms function. I consider our checkoff program to be part of our professional team. With all that we do, the last thing I want to worry about is how to build sales and trust in dairy once our milk leaves the farm. Our checkoff professionals continue to deliver results, in the best and the hardest of times. Visit www.usdairy.com for more information. of an environmental solution until we have proof – and the Net Zero Initiative will lead us there. To repeat a refrain heard all

too often, 2020 was indeed unprecedented. Every aspect of life was impacted, including how our checkoff teams functioned. I give our Dairy

Janet Clark and her husband, Travis Clark, are co-owners of Vision Aire Farms near Eldorado, Wisconsin. She is an adviser on the board of directors for Dairy Management Inc., a corporate sponsor of PDPW.

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January 2021 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Business Conference moves to Wisconsin Dells Plans are being finalized for the 2021 PDPW annual business conference. Scheduled for March 17-18, the event will be held at the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. The newly remodeled facility has the capacity to meet social-distancing recommendations and other guidelines suggested by the Centers for Disease Control. “Our board is very excited about this conference,” said Shelly Mayer, PDPW executive director. “It will be new and fresh, both in terms of our programming and our venue. Producers have been telling us they need to get together in person, especially after the year we’ve all just experienced.” Participants can expect new additions to the program alongside the traditional assortment of keynote, break-out and specialty sessions. Hands-on Hub

sessions and learning lounges will once again be featured. The Hall of Ideas and Equipment show will also be a vital component of the two-day event. The all-new Nexus™ stage will debut to give innovators and idea generators an opportunity to present their novel ideas to business-conference attendees. Those selected to present

their concepts will each have 15 minutes to describe the implications for the dairy community. A moderator will facilitate the presentations; a question-and-answer session will be held at the conclusion of each. Another new introduction aims to capitalize on the family-friendly opportunities

available at the Kalahari and its waterpark. In addition to sessions for dairy executives and m a n a ge rs, t h e re w i l l b e youth-leadership sessions available for 15- to 18-year-old students interested in exploring leadership and the dairy industry. Exhibitor information and applications for the Hall of Ideas and Equipment show are available now. Visit www.pdpw. org/businessconference and click “Exhibit” for more information. Register for the business conference by visiting www.pdpw. org/businessconference or calling PDPW at 800-947-7379. Those interested in attending the youth-leadership sessions can choose the student-registration rate to register for one or both days. Session information is available in the “Agenda and Program” tab.

Cornerstone Dairy Academy develops leaders Cornerstone Dairy Academy™ is a leadership program developed for dairy producers and members of allied industry who are interested in building their professional-development skills. It’s scheduled for Mar. 16-17 at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin; applications are due Jan. 31. The program will be held partially in conjunction with the 2021 PDPW Business Conference. Leading experts will share knowledge and experience in communications as well as leadership and people development regarding the skills and behaviors connected with influential, visionary and servant leadership. Hands-on interaction, networking and role-playing serve to solidify the fundamentals taught by presenters. During the second day of the program participants will put


their skills to work at the 2021 PDPW Business Conference. After hearing from a keynote speaker during the breakfast program attendees will network with key industry influencers and experts from around the globe. They will explore the latest technologies and learn about the newest dairy-industry research alongside fellow dairy professionals. Visit pdpw.org/cornerstone

Each of the three leadership pillars gives Cornerstone Dairy Academy participants a chance to learn more about a specific suite of skills while networking and sharing experiences with peers.

-dairy-academy for more information and to apply. Accepted dairy-producer and student applicants pay $150 in tuition; industry applicants pay $450. The remaining costs are covered by a program scholarship. Tuition includes program

registration, lodging for the nights of March 16 and 17, and meals for both days of the program. Applicants will be notified of acceptance by Feb. 12. Visit www.pdpw.org or call 800-947-7379 for more information.

January 2021 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line


Ration consistency depends on people Travis Thayer

Change is difficult – especially for cows, which are creatures of habit. Any changes in a cow’s routine can quickly compromise her health and performance. Some of those things are out of a producer’s control. But the more consistency built into a cow’s diet and routine, the more she has the resiliency to deal with unforeseen changes. Any time there’s variability in the ration, rumen conditions are altered – negatively affecting cow performance. In maintaining consistency the biggest factor determining success is the human factor. Dairies with well-trained employees and good communication are the most successful at delivering an accurate and consistent ration day in and day out. Measure consistency in ration More than a decade ago Diamond V, led by Tom Oelberg, introduced a unique systematic approach to evaluating the operational efficiency of a dairy’s feeding program. Called the TMR Audit®, the program takes a comprehensive look at a dairy’s feeding process. It looks at feed-ingredient management and storage as well as how feed is mixed, delivered, pushed up and consumed. TMR Audits look for sources of variation in diet composition, distribution and consumption. Diamond V representatives conduct hundreds of TMR Audits each year. They check loads of total mixed rations for consistency along the feed bunk, feed-bunk delivery and management, feed-center efficiency and shrink, and mixer maintenance. Visit bit.ly/3rbGOB1 for more information. Empower people with knowledge After a TMR Audit is per-

Diamond V

Delivering an accurate and consistent ration every day is critical to dairy-cow health and performance.

formed on a dairy, the results are reviewed with the management and feeder teams. Highlighted are opportunities for improvement that were identified during the audit. In conjunction with that review, a feeder-training session is typically conducted to help the feed team understand the feeding-program goals as well as how team members can keep the diet as accurate and consistent as possible. Feeder training focuses on four themes • Safety first – Working with the heavy equipment used to feed cows is a huge responsibility. Feeders need to be vigilant and watch their own safety. They also must be constantly attentive to others crossing the path or entering the feed area unannounced. Other employees or visitors to the farm should be instructed to always give feeders the right of way, and to be sure they have the feeder’s acknowledgment before entering the feed area. • Accuracy – It’s important for feeders to be focused on ensuring the diet the cows eat is as close as possible to the

formulated diet. • Consistency – The goal is to feed the same ration at the same time every day with regular feed pushups to ensure feed is readily available to the cows. • Communication – There are always going to be challenges – feed variability, feed quality, equipment issues and weather – that can negatively affect the feeder’s ability to deliver a consistent and accurate diet. Feeders should never hesitate to call the manager or nutritionist if they observe anything that may prevent them from delivering an accurate, consistent and well-balanced diet to the cows at the same time every day. The goal of feeder training is to communicate the why behind the complex protocols and procedures feeders must follow. It’s important for feed-delivery technicians to have the knowledge to deliver an excellent-quality and consistent diet. They need the ability to identify, communicate and work with the feed-delivery team to solve challenges that stand in the way of doing that. Optimally feeder training is

done in person, along with a review of the dairy’s TMR Audit results so feeders have specific feedback on areas of opportunity that directly apply to their day-to-day jobs. Those looking for virtual training options should view the feeder-training video series titled “A Noble Purpose – Dairy Feeder Training.” The series provides the why for feeders when an in-person training session is not feasible. The video series was a collaboration between Diamond V and Robert Hagevoort of the U.S. Dairy Education & Training Consortium. The videos are available at the Diamond V YouTube Channel in both English and Spanish. Include feed ingredients to support immunity, rumen health People are the biggest factor in ensuring delivery of an accurate and consistent ration every day. But sometimes outside challenges cause variations in the ration that negatively affect immunity and rumen health. In those situations, feed additives that promote immunity as well as rumen health and stability are a great tool to use to keep cows on track. Work with a nutritionist and-or veterinarian to choose a product backed by peer-reviewed research, to help the herd stay healthy and productive during challenges beyond feeder control. Cows need consistency to stay healthy and perform at their best. By creating consistency in feed-mixing and delivery through employee training and feedback, and including a feed ingredient that supports immunity and rumen health, cows can be started off on the right hoof. Dr. Travis Thayer, veterinarian, is a ruminant-field-tech specialist with Diamond V, a corporate sponsor of Professional Dairy Producers®.


January 2021 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Real-time data improves reproduction programs Mark Roberts

More than 70 percent of herds still rely on visual observation for heat detection, according to Hoard’s Dairyman’s 2020 Continuing Market study. Imagine instead looking at a list of cows to breed on a cell phone or computer. Activity-monitoring systems use real-time data to do heat detection for the producer, saving time and delivering real results. Activity monitors record cow activity 24-7; some also monitor neck movements such as sniffing and chin resting to indicate if a cow is in heat. The goal is to use that data to find the optimal breeding time – typically six to 16 hours after peak activity. Those systems continually survey the herd, recording data and providing accurate real-time information. Data-based recommendations for breeding times can enhance insemination results to improve conception, increase pregnancy rates, reduce calving intervals and cut insemination costs – all with less labor. One-third of herds across the country are using activity-monitoring systems and seeing improvements in reproductive performance. Herds often see changes in reproductive performance shortly after implementing activity monitors. Once a system is installed and collars are on, it takes about two weeks to establish an activity baseline for each animal in the herd. Many farms notice a decrease in days open and hours spent breeding almost immediately after the system baseline is established.

Prepare now for tomorrow’s technology needs When considering cow-monitoring or robotic-milking systems, hone herd-recordkeeping skills in advance. Because adding such technologies will significantly increase computer time, it’s important to review records frequently and begin standardizing protocols. Understand more time will be spent looking at numbers and analyzing data – albeit in lieu of 20 to 30 minutes observing the cows every day. Contributed

Activity monitors provide data-based recommendations for breeding times. That information can enhance insemination results to improve conception, increase pregnancy rates, reduce calving intervals and cut insemination costs – all with less labor. Herd A Herd B Herd C

Pregnancy Rate Before Activity Monitoring 25% 18% 26%

Current Pregnancy Rate

% Change

33% 40% 33%

+8% +22% 7% GEA

Real herds, real results — Almost one-third of herds across the country are using activity-monitoring systems and seeing improvements in reproductive performance.

Plan each day with custom reports A dairy producer should be who’s controlling the data received by activity-monitoring systems. Each system is unique but the most common use of data is tracking activity for heats and reviewing the breeding list each morning. The breeding-list report can be

printed from a computer or viewed on a mobile device along with individual cow data. The systems can send email alerts – cow by cow – when ready to breed, which can work well for smaller herds. For larger herds individual cow alerts can be overwhelming; viewing computer reports once or twice a day is typically most convenient.

Look for a system that can rank cows by optimal breeding time to keep the farm’s reproductive program running efficiently. If there are 20 to 30 cows on the breeding list for the day, the cows can be bred in priority order to help ensure the most optimal insemination window. If time is tight, use the ranked list to determine if cows lower on the list could be bred the following morning. The data puts the producer in control and helps plan the day. Data should also be customizable. With some systems cows can be filtered out within a defined voluntary waiting period to keep them from showing on reports. Or they can be kept in the report to keep track of when they are cycling and ready to breed. It can be customized to a dairy’s management style. Use labor more effectively Activity-monitoring systems track heats more accurately

January 2021 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line through time than the human eye. They also save time and allow for more effective labor by eliminating the need for someone to watch for heats. If someone is spending eight hours each day watching for heats and breeding cows, that time could be redirected to breeding tasks or other tasks that have a bigger impact on the herd. A dairy can also reduce or completely eliminate labor devoted to synchronization programs. Many farms replace those programs entirely while others continue to use them for a smaller percentage of the herd once activity monitors are in use. In both cases labor and expense are reduced by reducing the need for administering shots and locking up the cows. Secondary health benefits occur


Color-coded data in the application makes activity, eating and rumination reports easy to read.

Most activity-monitoring systems track more than heats. Eating and rumination time are key measures to identify health problems such as mastitis, ketosis, rumen acidosis and lameness. Eating and rumination data points allow a producer to identify sick cows sooner; earlier intervention can reduce treatment costs and maintain milk production. Many dairies that purchase activity monitors for heat detection quickly realize health monitoring brings incredible benefits to their herd management. Return on investment seen Each farm is different but many herds realize paybacks in as little as a year and a half into using a complete cow-monitoring system. If a dairy is replacing a reproduction-synchronization program, it will likely see a return sooner. If the reproductive program is already of excellent quality, an activity-monitoring system will provide the tools to take it to the next level. Remember return on investment isn’t limited to reproduction parameter; the



The green bar in the activity-monitoring report indicates optimal breeding time, which occurs six to 16 hours after peak activity.

health-monitoring data helps catch and treat more cow issues sooner. Work with a milking-equipment dealer to improve herdlevel reproductive performance with an animal-monitoring system. The dealer can ensure it properly integrates with the parlor-identification system. Mark Roberts is a regional sales manager with GEA, a corporate sponsor of PDPW.


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January 2021 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Dairy’s Foundation provides grants Janet Keller

For 18 years, the Professional Dairy Producers Foundation has supported programs to build producer professionalism as well as to maintain public trust through programs that educate and engage both the dairy community and the public. The foundation’s programming focuses its support in three key areas. • raising the next generation of professional dairy producers • growing and maintaining public trust in dairy people and products • building dairy-producer skills “About 65 percent of the foundation’s funding is contributed by dairy producers, so our primary goal is to make sure those gifts are used wisely in support of producer-driven education initiatives both locally and nationally,” said Janet Keller, executive director of Professional Dairy Producers Foundation. “We serve all dairy stakeholders from farm to consumer, including local communities that are home to our dairy farms, plants and retailers.” The following are from grants awarded in 2019 and 2020. STEM day at the Calving Corner Each year the Calving Corner® is a popular destination for the suburban and urban folks who attend the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. During the nineday show about 200,000 guests stop by the exhibit; almost 12,000 people witness a live birth. Sixteen calves are born during the show. For the 2020 event the Center for Dairy Excellence Foundation received a Professional Dairy Producers Foundation grant to create a Science Technology Engineering Math activity for


Participants at a 2019 field day sponsored by the Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance have an opportunity to rotate through four different stations, including a soil pit.

STEM day Jan. 6 at the Calving Corner. The team partnered with educators and dairy producers to create a station that featured some of the technologies used on dairy farms – robotic milkers, feeders and sweepers. From 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. a stream of adults and children tried their hand at programming or coding an Ozobot™ to “milk” a cow. Videos of a robotic milker in use were shown with volunteers available to answer questions. The event shared positive information about dairy farming. It also exposed young people to the technology involved in modern agriculture, which is critical as Pennsylvania dairy farms face a labor shortage. “Unfortunately many of today’s youth visualize ‘Old McDonald’ when they think of farming,” said Miriam Kelly, Calving Corner project manager. “Exposing young people to the technologies in use on today’s dairy farms not only encourages a positive perspective of dairy farming, it also encourages young people to consider careers on farms and in the dairy industry.”

Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance Field Day More than 75 farmers, agricultural professionals, community members, media and local-government officials learned about conservation practices and collaboration opportunities at a field day in 2019 hosted by the Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance. Known by the acronym LASA, Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance is a farmer-led nonprofit organization committed to faithful and sustainable stewardship of natural resources. Through innovation and collaboration the Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance identifies, shares and promotes conservation practices that demonstrate continuous improvement. They preserve and enhance quality of life in the community. The three-hour field day included lunch, networking and four stations for participants to rotate through. Stations included a soil pit and trailer-style rainfall simulator presented by the University of Wisconsin-Division of Extension for Lafayette County

and the Soil Health Partnership, as well as a Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance-membership station hosted by farmers and board members. Other stations included a discussion of management impacts on surface run-off, featuring another rainfall-simulator demonstration in addition to results from on-farm trials from the UW-Platteville Pioneer Farm, and a presentation on groundwater-quality monitoring and testing from UW-Stevens Point groundwater-outreach specialists. “The agriculture community and broader local community were positively impacted by this field day,” said Jim Winn of Cottonwood Dairy, co-chair of the Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance. “It served as a forum for farmers, (Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance) members and prospective members to come together to learn about different conservation practices, research and other topics.” The field day generated social-media attention resulting in 17 news stories. Animal-disease traceability video The Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium was awarded a grant to create a video for livestock producers and consumers to communicate the importance of premises registration and individual-animal identification. In the video examples were shared of how using traceability brings added product value to producers and boosts consumer confidence. The 11-minute video depicts the story of a producer, including all the ways the farm uses traceability. It’s used in the case of animal-disease outbreaks. It’s an efficient management tool and a way to increase product value in the marketplace. The video was originally scheduled to launch in spring 2020 but was delayed a few

January 2021 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line


Team care, management keys to productivity James Downey and Amanda Smith

Employee management and care is an area one can devote hours to in the pursuit of self and team improvement. A few key factors can help maximize the productivity and potential of a dairy’s team. Successful dairy managers recognize labor can be difficult to find, train and retain. A good way to start improving in those areas is to evaluate some basics. Some teams interact well with each other; they excel at communicating and complete tasks in a timely fashion. Other teams merely show up to do what they need to do before leaving at the end of the day. That type of team doesn’t go above and beyond what’s required. Still other teams include some people who disrupt team dynamics and bring others down. To make a plan to improve, knowing the current team culture is critical. The next step is to spend time training employees on the path forward. Training moments can happen in a formal boardroom setting, in a barn or milking parlor, or while working side-byside with an employee. It’s important to start each discussion on a positive note. It demonstrates care for team members, plus it’s a proven way to set the right tone and it generates greater buy-in to training concepts. A milking team that’s first commended for a consistently reduced somatic-cell count, for example, will be more open to constructive criticism that might be discussed in training. Another important piece is months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As it happened the timing was critical because it was released when the coronavirus had heightened consumer awareness about diseases, their transmission and how the novel human illness


Taking a dairy to the next level depends on managers who communicate effectively so employees understand the “why” behind their tasks and know they are a respected part of a valuable team.

explaining the “why” behind asking team members to do certain tasks. A calf manager who tells employees to dip all calf navels might consider it a messy part of the job and skip it. But when the manager carefully explains the newborn’s navel is a highway for bacteria to enter the bloodstream and can lead to sickness, the employee is more likely to perform the task. Understanding the why is a core component in doing a better and more-thorough job. Employees are the boots on the ground. Especially as farms grow larger, they are expected to do a lot more decision-making and information-sharing. When they understand they’ve been entrusted with the authority to suggest process changes that may save the dairy time and-or money, they’re much more likely to bring forth those ideas. Fostering open lines of communication

is a benefit to the whole team and encourages the development of new leaders. After training employees and explaining the reasons specific protocols are in place, it typically takes follow-up with team members to realize results. They need to understand they’re accountable. Share results with them and-or work alongside them to ensure tasks are being completed correctly. There’s tremendous value at both an individual and team level for dairies that invest time and pertinent information with employees. Another way to foster respect and trust between managers and employees is to show them they’re appreciated as a person – not just for the work they can do for the dairy. When there’s an opportunity to do so, praise employees in public. If correction is needed do that privately, being sure to explain how they can

was affecting the food supply. “We believe this video will impact producers everywhere, but especially in Wisconsin, as it has a large focus on dairy,” said Jodi Legge, Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium executive director.

“The video weaves a story of how the producer uses traceability to protect his farm, boost consumer confidence and add value to the products sent to market.” Visit www.dairyfoundation. org or www.facebook.com/

handle the issue more effectively in the future. Remember to ensure they understand the why behind it and to offer correction constructively. It can seem daunting to manage employees, and with so many other areas to manage it can be tempting to push team care aside. Fortunately many resources are available to help. The University Wisconsin-Division of Extension has a number of resources to use for team training, including manuals in both Spanish and English. There are also a number of private bilingual consulting and leadership-training companies available for onsite or online team training. Be sure to include vendors and consultants in the process. A farm’s nutritionist can best do his or her work by communicating with all management teams, managers and employees on the farm. The employees are on the farm all the time; they’re more likely to notice if the feed isn’t being pushed in overnight or that feed distribution is poor. Even the most educated and experienced nutritionist relies on feedback from those who are on-site. As dairies grow, dairy managers rely more on their employees to bring them information and data as well as to make more decisions. Partner with consultants so they can assist in developing a strong team culture to ultimately make the business more productive and efficient. James Downey and Amanda Smith are dairy nutritionists with CP Feeds, a corporate sponsor of Professional Dairy Producers®.

dairyfoundation or www.twitter. com/dairyfoundation or call 800-947-7379 for more information. Janet Keller is executive director of PDPF, a mission sponsor of Professional Dairy Producers.


January 2021 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Find digestibility advantages John N. Anderson

When facing variable milk prices, uncertain feedstuff availability and significant feed-price dynamics, producers can seize advantages by choosing feeds with proven digestibility. Diets become simpler with a shift to the basics of dairy nutrition, and by doing what’s tried and true – utilizing digestibility. A cornerstone of basic dairy-cow nutrition is to feed h i g h - q u a l i ty fo ra ge s. High-producing cows can consume big volumes of forage while maintaining milk and component yields at a reduced feed cost. An example highlights two diets with the same energy and protein levels; it demonstrates the economic differences. The target is a Holstein cow producing 85 pounds of energy-corrected milk and consuming about 51 pounds of dry matter. The comparison shows a high-forage diet of 71 percent forage with highly digestible brown-midrib corn silage, and a more-traditional level of forage diet of 57 percent forage with a standard corn-silage hybrid. Corn silage is the primary forage in the example,

with an alfalfa-mix haylage as the balance. Both corn silages are similar in neutral detergent fiber and starch content, but are significantly different in fiber digestibility as NDFD30, undigested fiber as uNDF240, and fiber-digestion rate measured in Kd per hour. Comparison of economics shows diet effects As shown in the tables, brown-midrib corn silage cost $5 per ton more than the standard corn-silage diet due to increased seed cost and a slightly lesser estimated yield. Purchased protein is $0.36 per head per day less; purchased corn is $0.51 per head per day less in the high-forage diet. Given the final costs of $5.26 and $5.48, the high-forage diet is $0.22 cheaper per head per day. Though not illustrated in the tables, purchased-feed costs also play a role; those are more than $1 per head per day less than in the standard diet of 57 percent forage. High-quality forages contribute significantly greater nutrition per unit than average or lesser-quality forages. In the example the high-forage brown-midrib-corn-silage diet is 26.5 percent starch; the


Accounting for fiber digestibility is critical to developing a balanced ration that’s also economical.

standard diet has more starch at 30.3 percent – and therefore calls for energy from another

supplemental source to meet energy requirements. Especially during times of market

January 2021 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

volatility, high-forage diets can be more economical. They can provide greater income over feed costs. The brown-midrib-corn-silage diet has other advantages. It’s 17 points better in neutral-detergent-fiber digestibility, and has

more-favorable levels of undigested fiber and fiber-digestion rates. Fiber digestibility provides a boost at physiologically challenging times such as pre- and post-calving. It also supports substantially greater levels of milk-

production levels than illustrated in the examples. Fiber digestibility can also improve d r y- m a t te r i n ta ke , h e l p maintain condition and positively impact overall cow health. The analytic means to implement changes for many

The Complete Feeding System The combination of Roto-Mix stationary feed mixers and the correct size Roto-Mix feed delivery box make an accurate, efficient ration batching and delivery system. Batch rations up to 1220 cu. ft. with a Roto-Mix Horizontal or up to 1300 cu. ft. with a Roto-Mix Vertical mixer. Combine the quick, gentle mixing action of a Roto-Mix Stationary with the efficient, cost effective delivery of a RDB belt floor or FDB chain floor delivery box to maximize profitability. Roto-Mix delivery boxes allow you to either match your feeder to the capacity of your stationary mixer, or with capacities up to 1900 cu.ft., choose to deliver two stationary batches in one trip!


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positives are available by being alert to fiber digestibility that pays. John N. Anderson is a silage technical leader for Brevant SeedsTM, a corporate sponsor for Professional Dairy Producers®.


January 2021 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Maximize income over feed costs with high-quality forage Cara Engel

Formulating diets that maximize income over feed costs often depends on the combination of forages and concentrates that best suit the herd’s nutritional needs, based on available forages. Ration formulation is greatly dependent on forage quality. The goal is to find a balance between allowing for adequate energy intake to stimulate maximum milk production while reducing feed costs. When there is an adequate supply of high-quality forages the need can often be reduced for supplemented concentrates. Concentrates are used in dairy-cow diets because they provide more digestible energy per kilogram than forages. Concentrates are less gut-filling due to smaller particle size and reduced concentrations of neutral detergent fiber. Diets with greater proportions of concentrates provide a more-consistent source of digestible carbohydrate compared to forages. A major disadvantage to those diets is they tend to be more expensive than those with greater proportions of homeraised alfalfa, grass or corn silage, and have less fiber than alfalfa or grass. Similarly challenging is the wide variance in neutral-detergent-fiber content and neutral-detergent-fiber digestibility of forages such as alfalfa and grass. Those levels can vary widely depending on maturity, weather and time of year. Harvesting practices and storage methods – whether storing as hay or silage – also play a role. Diets that contain greater proportions of concentrates contain smaller levels of neutral detergent fiber and therefore are

Landmark Services Cooperative

Landmark Services Cooperative

less likely to limit feed intake caused by rumen fill. Dietary neutral detergent fiber and nonfiber carbohydrates are fermented by microorganisms that produce volatile fatty acids that reduce ruminal pH. Nonfiber carbohydrates are more rapidly

and completely digested in the rumen compared to fiber, and therefore reduce rumen pH to a greater extent than neutral detergent fiber. A n o t h e r d ra w b a c k o f high-concentrate diets is that an excess of digestible carbohydrate

can cause rumen acidosis or subacute rumen acidosis. The microbial digestion of nonfiber carbohydrates leads to the production of volatile fatty acids, an excess of which will cause a decrease in rumen pH. Rumen acidosis has b e e n l i n ke d to re d u c e d

January 2021 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line dry-matter intake and reduced milk-fat production. Work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has shown high-quality forages can replace costly supplemental concentrates without hindering milk production. Entitled “Evaluation of high-quality alfalfa silage on lactation performance and assessment of forage fiber digestibility in mid-lactation dairy cow diets,” that work found high-quality forages improve nutrient digestibility, reduce gut fill, and allow greater intake of protein and forage neutral detergent fiber in diets. An experiment was conducted to determine how much high-quality alfalfa silage could replace concentrate feedstuffs in high-producing dairy-cow diets without reducing milk production. Forty-eight lactating Holstein cows – 24 multiparous and 24 primiparous at 141 plus or minus 22 days in milk – were randomly assigned to four treatments in a randomized complete block design. The experiment had a two-week covariate period followed by an eight-week treatment period. Diets consisted of 40 percent brown-midrib-corn silage, 10 percent conventional alfalfa silage, and either 0 percent, 6 percent, 12 percent or 18 percent high-quality alfalfa silage on a dry-matter basis. Diets were formulated to contain about 30 percent neutral detergent fiber, 26.4 percent starch and 17.4 percent crude protein on a dry-matter basis. The diet with no high-quality alfalfa silage had a forage-to-concentrate ratio of 50:50. That ratio increased by 6 percent in diets as high-quality alfalfa silage replaced soy hulls as a percent of diet on a dry-matter basis. The high-quality alfalfa silage contained 33 percent amylase-neutral detergent fiber, 26.1 percent crude protein and 10.6 percent ash. Increasing high-quality alfalfa silage in the diets linearly decreased dry-matter intake – P<0.05 – between the treatment diets. See Figure A. Dry-matter


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intake for cows on the diet of 18 percent alfalfa silage was about 1.5 kilograms per day less during treatment weeks one and two as cows were acclimating to the high-forage concentration of the diet. From treatment weeks three to eight, cows on the diet of 18 percent alfalfa silage increased their dry-matter intake. It’s expected that the high portion of forage in the diet initially restricted gut fill as cows were previously fed reducedforage diets prior to the start of the study. As high-quality alfalfa silage replaced soy hulls, neutral detergent fiber intake decreased linearly – P<0.001 – across the diets. Increased particle size has been linked to a decrease in intake of neutral detergent fiber as well as dry-matter intake. The better quality of the high-quality alfalfa silage made for lesser gut-fill limitations compared to conventional alfalfa silages due to its reduced neutral-detergent-fiber composition.

Even with a decrease in dry-matter intake across treatments, milk production by diet was unaffected – P>0.10. See Table A. It’s expected the high quality and digestibility of the high-quality alfalfa silage allowed for greater nutrient absorption and utilization to be partitioned toward milk production. Because milk was unaffected, feed efficiency – calculated as energy-corrected milk divided by dry-matter intake – increased linearly from 1.63 to 1.83 when high-quality alfalfa silage increased incrementally in the diets. Milk-fat percentage and yield increased linearly as high-quality alfalfa silage replaced concentrate feedstuffs. See Figure B for the depiction of the increased milkfat percentage. Percentage and yield of both milk protein and lactose did not differ among the treatments. Milkfat percentage and yield, lactose percentage and feed efficiency were greater for primiparous cows

than multiparous cows. Digestibility of neutral detergent fiber didn’t change with the inclusion of high-quality alfalfa silage. Feed efficiency increased, suggesting underrepresented body-tissue mobilization by cows on higher-forage diets – or calculation errors associated with feed efficiency or diet digestibility. Substitution of protein and non-forage-fiber feedstuffs to as much as 18 percent of the diet, on a dry-matter basis, with high-quality alfalfa silage did not reduce milk production. It increased milk-fat yield, the milk-fat percentage and feed efficiency. The research suggests an opportunity to improve income over feed costs by incorporating high-quality forages into high-producing dairy-cow diets while reducing the need for costly supplemental concentrates. Cara Engel is an internal-nutrition formulator with Landmark Services Cooperative, a corporate sponsor of Professional Dairy Producers®.


January 2021 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Scenario planning essential to budgeting Brad Guse

If there’s one lesson to take from 2020 it’s that volatility is the new standard operating mode. Yes the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting swings in the economy made it difficult for producers to respond to market fluctuations. But milk prices have been erratic for the past several years – and there’s no indication that instability will abate anytime soon. Volatility creates both risks and opportunities. The challenge is managing it in a way that minimizes risks while positioning to take advantage of opportunities. It starts with scenario planning – a process that has changed given the current environment. Choose correct plan When scenario-planning, bankers tend to apply a 5-5-3 sensitivity analysis. That’s an assessment of whether an operation can withstand a 5 percent decline in revenue, a 5 percent increase in expenses or a 3 percent increase in interest rates. That formula applies to normal ongoing operations. But given a new era of volatility that model may not be appropriate. Let’s use milk prices as a guide. In 2020 prices went from $16.25 per hundredweight in March to $12.14 per hundredweight in May to $24.54 per hundredweight in July. Talk about volatility. But when considering average price ranges during the past few years – $4 per hundredweight in 2016, $2.50 in 2018 and $6.50 in 2019 – it’s obvious volatility has been the norm for years, albeit less drastically than in 2020. There’s no reason to believe volatility will cease in 2021 just because the pandemic will hopefully be more under-control. Maybe instead of a 5-5-3 sensitivity analysis, a 10-10-5 calculation – recommended by bankers for those exploring expansion opportunities – should be the new norm in scenario-planning. The caveat here is that sensitivity can be reduced by taking risk off the table. If a robust risk-management plan is in place the standard 5-5-3 formula may still apply. Running multiple scenarios – for base case, best case and worst case – may be the best way to determine how much working capital is needed. In the case of scenario-planning today, 2019’s average price could be the base case, the events of spring 2020 would be the worst case and the spike in second-half 2020 would be the best case. Conducting an analysis for all three cases

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can help determine the necessary liquidity for each scenario. Part of the worst-case-scenario plan is knowing the level of reserves in the form of liquid working capital needed to continue. In an era of heightened volatility, the more liquid the balance sheet the better. Ensure there is sufficient access to available cash without needing to sell an asset. Another important component of the worst-case scenario is having a solid price-risk-management plan in place. • Dairy Margin Coverage • Dairy Revenue Protection • Livestock Gross Margin Insurance • options and forward contracts If working capital is restricted, a risk-management plan may need to be developed to ensure an operation doesn’t run out of its working capital. It’s also important to plan what to do with excess revenue. Whether paying down a line of credit, building cash reserves, and-or investing in technology and other efficiencies, having a plan in place is essential. Uncertainty is certain Looking at milk prices in 2020, there was a range of $12.14 per hundredweight at the worst end and $24.54 per hundredweight at the best end. That’s an increase of more

than 100 percent. Looking at the 2021 futures market, the best-to-worst difference was only 10 percent as of early November 2020. Those facts lead to a few questions. • Was 2020 an aberration? • Will 2021 be less volatile? • What’s the risk in making that assumption? The one certainty moving forward is there will be more uncertainty. It shouldn’t be assumed 2020 was a blip on the radar. Increased volatility in dairy markets is almost certain. That’s why more than ever scenario-planning should be an essential component of 2021 budgeting. In 2020 a pandemic created uncertainty. In 2021 uncertainty could be prompted by trade issues, geopolitical events or something else altogether. One needs to play the cards they’re dealt. Fortunately scenario-planning – coupled with a robust risk-management strategy – can help determine whether one can survive or thrive with future uncertainty. It starts with analysis. Once a situation has been analyzed, the executing of the plan can begin. Brad Guse is senior vice-president of agricultural banking at BMO Harris Bank, a corporate sponsor of Professional Dairy Producers®.

January 2021 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line


Keep dairy on successful path Tim Baumgartner

Now that the page has turned on 2020, it’s a good time for producers to reflect on the number of things they’ve needed to manage through. In late-March 2020 it was difficult to believe the year would end on a good note for the dairy industry. The year delivered government intervention in the markets and a roller coaster of milk prices that affected strategies and financial performance. Yet despite all that, it was a good year for dairy. And that brought healing to farm balance sheets that were negatively impacted from 2016 to 2018. After a couple of profitable years for many dairy operations, 2021 affords the opportunity for continued success. Many dairy producers have made changes in recent years to how they

manage their business. • focusing on producing high components • continuous improvement in milk quality • managing heifer inventories • breeding a portion of the herd to beef • managing expenses intensively • making strategic investments Many became more astute at creating budgets and projections, setting operational and financial targets. Several benefited from an increased level of government support in 2020. But it’s difficult to imagine a repeat of that in the normal course of industry cycles. It’s important to continue to manage all aspects of business to ensure success in 2021. The next couple of months will see the closing of financial information to determine

exactly how 2020 ended. Now’s the time to concentrate on the 2021 budget. Establishing an accurate budget is imperative, including realistic estimates for revenue and expenses to determine cash-flow needs. With an improved financial position and liquidity many operations will likely also look for opportunities to reinvest into their operations. If that’s the case, develop a plan for capital expenditures for 2021 and share it with all stakeholders in the operation. Open communication with on-farm team members, advisers and lenders are essential to successfully implementing a plan for 2021. In the past couple of years the net effect of milk prices has been positive. However large inventories of dairy products, increased productivity and a growing

national cow herd can potentially pressure prices during the next several months. Feed costs also need to be top of mind because there have already been some significant jumps in the corn and soybean markets. Be sure to assess the degree to which financial performance is at risk. Continue to build on the past two years’ results to further strengthen the operation. No one can predict when the government will intervene in an industry. If government intervention was detrimental to one’s 2020 strategy, he or she will need to maintain discipline and direction in 2021. Here’s to another strong year in the dairy industry. Tim Baumgartner is a dairy-lending team leader with Compeer Financial, a vision sponsor for Professional Dairy Producers®.

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January 2021 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Learn more about risk management Robert Netrefa

With so many things affecting the milk price, producers must challenge themselves to learn more about risk management. When it comes to protecting revenue on a dairy farm there are many options. • forward contracts • options on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange • Dairy Revenue Protection • Livestock Gross Margin • Dairy Margin Coverage • do nothing at all Even though doing nothing is an option, history shows it’s rarely the best choice. It’s not uncommon to hear producers say, “Just milking cows and farming used to be easy.” But currently dairy farmers need to know so much more. The question, “Is that a good price?” cannot be answered without sufficient information. One can compare it to historical prices on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange; while there’s no magic wand that’s certainly a way to start. No matter the risk-management option used, knowing a dairy’s numbers will always help make sound decisions concerning risk management. Most producers have no problem answering questions on herd performance or production. But when asked what the basis is, compared to Class III, or what breakeven is, many producers don’t know. When Dairy Revenue Protection first started, many producers were looking for any information they could find to help them with those decisions. More than 30 percent of the milk in Wisconsin is now protected with Dairy Revenue Protection, driving a need for solid information. To develop a tool that helps producers answer questions so they could make sound risk-management decisions, multiple farm-credit associations across the country teamed with Marin Bozic,

assistant professor in the Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota. Producers need to understand a milk check. They must be able to track their basis by quarters to understand how protecting a $16 Class III or a $17.50 component price correlates to the pay price. And revenue-floor numbers should be compared to breakeven numbers. It’s much easier to justify spending $0.30 per hundredweight for Dairy Revenue Protection when data shows that a profit of $1.50 per hundredweight is being protected. Knowing the dairy’s basis will help producers understand what they are protecting and what will show on the milk check. “I don’t need to know my breakeven,” some producers say. That’s technically correct. To demonstrate that the Farm Credit Dairy Revenue Protection Analyzer tool includes a historical breakdown of Dairy Revenue Protection for producers to see the net benefit after premium. Keep in mind those numbers can only be seen by working in distant months; they’re not relevant in the near term. It’s wise for producers to work at least six months ahead. According to Marin’s math, at the level of 95 percent coverage

– which is 44 percent subsidized – for every $100 paid in premium through time the producer will collect $1 per 56 percent or $178. That’s an excellent return on investment. For example if a producer spends $0.35 per hundredweight, through time the indemnities will average $0.62 per hundredweight and the net farm income will be greater by $0.27 per hundredweight. And that’s after the premium. That will only work if Dairy Revenue Protection is always being used, which could sometimes mean that buying at less than breakeven will be better than not buying at all. That’s correct. Even working with numbers that yield a loss, positive numbers can be generated; that’s because the plan also protects the maximum amount one can lose. Every producer should challenge himself or herself to learn more about the federal order, producer price differentials, and what it all means to a pay price. Learn what depooled milk is and how it affects the producer price differential on a milk check. A dairy’s agent is a trusted member of the team – an important adviser. Challenge that person on his or her knowledge. Consider using multiple o p t i o n s i n d eve l o p i n g a risk-management plan. Dairy

Margin Coverage is a risk-management tool available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture that protects the margin. It protects the difference between the all-milk price and average feed costs. It can deliver effective risk management for dairies with as many as 250 head and partial risk protection for larger dairies. The historical tool on Dairy Margin Coverage – visit dairymarkets.org for more information – shows how effective Dairy Margin Coverage can be for a dairy. In the past 10 years a dairy farmer would only have been out the premium in 2014. The average Class III price for that year was $22.34. Using protection tools such as Dairy Margin Coverage with Dairy Revenue Protection or Livestock Gross Margin, producers can stack their coverage. For producers who want to protect their income there’s no reason not to use Dairy Margin Coverage. Of course it’s ultimately the producer’s decision. Gain knowledge from all trusted advisers to help make sound risk-managem e n t c h o i c e s. D e s i g n a risk-management plan and be flexible to change but not greedy with numbers. Try not to fall into the trap of speculating. No one can predict what markets are going to do. Certainly no one predicted what COVID-19 would do to milk markets when it hit the United States. Though there may be an idea of where prices are going, there are too many variables impacting milk prices to ever know for sure. That’s why price risk needs to be managed. Consult with Farm Credit associations for more information on the Farm Credit Dairy Revenue Protection Analyzer and other risk-management tools. Robert Netrefa is the senior cropinsurance specialist with GreenStone Farm Credit Services, a corporate sponsor of Professional Dairy Producers®.

January 2021 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line


Manage foot baths for improved hoof health Eliza Ruzic

Excellent management of foot baths on farms is the foundation of a successful hoofhealth program. Foot baths have for decades been a management tool used to abate dairy-cattle lameness. There are many ways to design, manage and maintain foot baths to improve hoof health and decrease lameness in herds. Foot-bath design, number of immersions per hoof, cow passes per clean solution, solution concentration and solution pH are all major contributors to the effectiveness of a foot bath. One of the most critical things to consider when incorporating a foot bath is the design. To ensure cow comfort, a sufficient number of immersions per hoof and minimal waste, the bath’s design should be constructed with the following considerations. • 10 to 12 feet in length and 1.6 to 2 feet in width to allow for effective and economical chemical concentration while enabling the cow to fit through without slowing cow flow • 10-inch curbs to afford an optimal number of submersions per hoof without deterring cows from stepping into it • sidewalls built at a 70-percent angle so cows are comfortable walking through the foot bath, with solid sidewalls so cows can’t see through them • minimum 4-inch solution depth so the entire hoof is covered while cows are walking through • ability to completely drain the bath for more-thorough cleaning The number of times a cow submerges her hoof in the foot bath is critical. Ideally the rear hooves should each be submersed twice as the cow walks through. If a foot bath is too short or the sides aren’t angled and solid along the entire length, hooves may be in solution only once or not at all.


Foot baths are not meant for treatment of hoof problems but for preventing them from happening.

Percent of herd with leghygiene scores of 3 or 4 Less than 25% 25 to 50% 51 to 75% 75% or more

Foot-bath solutions should be changed every 100 to 300 cows. That can pose challenges in some larger dairies depending on pen size. But changing solution and cleaning foot baths between pens is critical. Some farms use smaller bulk tanks with paddle agitators to mix the foot-bath solution to make the process easier of changing solution between pens. Leg hygiene of the herd should determine how often cows are directed through the foot bath. Leg-hygiene scoring relies on visual observation to assign cows a number between one and four.

Frequency cows should go through foot bath Once a week or less Twice a week Five days a week Daily • One indicates legs are clean. • Two indicates slightly dirty. • Three indicates moderately dirty. • Four indicates very dirty. The dirtier the cows, the more often they should be directed through the foot bath to effectively prevent digital dermatitis – hairy heel warts. On the days a foot bath isn’t being used cows should be allowed to bypass the foot bath or it should be filled with a soap-and-water solution. The most used solutions in a foot bath are copper sulfate and formaldehyde, though the latter isn’t as safe for handling and

therefore isn’t recommended. Copper sulfate should be mixed into a 3 percent to 5 percent solution for best results. When a soap-water solution is used, mix to a ratio of 1 quart of soap to 25 gallons of water. Though it has been common practice to maintain copper-sulfate foot baths at a pH less than 2, an abstract published in 2015 by the University of Wisconsin-School of Veterinary Medicine showed that mixing at a greater pH improved skin integrity around the hoof and improved overall hoof health. At a moderately acidic range of 3.5 to 4.5 cows showed significantly decreased incidence of digital dermatitis, foot rot, corns, hairy heel warts, heel-horn erosion and axial-wall fissures. Eliza Ruzic is a Wisconsin accounts manager with Zinpro, a mission sponsor of Professional Dairy Producers®.


January 2021 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Choose alfalfa varieties wisely Don Miller

In difficult economic times dairy farmers need to make the most from all their investments. When it comes to seed cost for producing feed, alfalfa is no different. Unfortunately alfalfa is commonly put on the back burner when deciding which forages to grow. With the recent advancements in alfalfa genetics, dairy producers should reconsider alfalfa as a valuable and profitable feed for their operations. In the past 60 years there have been significant genetic improvements made for a wide range of alfalfa traits. Those improvements have resulted in increased performance in yield and-or forage quality in multiple environments and with multiple stress factors. There are many areas in which improved alfalfa varieties are providing more profit potential. • more yield • better forage quality – improved fiber digestibility and leaf-to-stem ratio • better stand persistence – more productive years • better resistance to pests, minimizing insect and disease-related losses • better performance under stress conditions such as salinity and moisture stress • harvest-management flexibility, allowing for extended cutting intervals without sacrificing significant forage quality P urch as i ng an exce llent-performing alfalfa variety makes economic sense. The additional cost a farmer pays for a good variety almost always pays for itself with increased yield, stand longevity and-or improvements in forage quality. Midwestern forage trials show a significant range in yield differences. A 2018 trial conducted by Purdue University-Extension, “Crop Cost & Return Guide:

Alforex Seeds

The difference in forage quality between cheap and excellent-quality brands is often noticeable without even testing forage quality. A plot shows a lesser-quality brand on the left and a premium alfalfa on the right. Corn1






Alfalfa (cheap variety)

$3/pound * 18 pounds/acre = $54 prorated over 4 years


Alfalfa (cheap variety)

$5/pound * 18 pounds/acre = $72 prorated over 4 years


Alfalfa (cheap variety)

$7/pound * 18 pounds/acre = $90 prorated over 4 years


Alfalfa (better variety)

$9/pound * 18 pounds/acre = $108 prorated over 4 years


ID-166-W,” featured six university trials – one each in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania. In that trial the first-year yield spread averaged 1.6 tons. After three years the yield difference was 4.3 tons. Even if the added cost of a new improved variety is $1 to $2 more per pound, a yield advantage of a quarter-ton per acre per year at $150 per ton more than pays for the additional seed cost in the first year. The improved variety also has the potential to add $114 more profit per acre during the life of the stand.

Alfalfa-seed cost is relatively small compared to other crops, especially because its cost can be prorated across the life of the stand – normally three to five years. The chart shows some calculations that illustrate that comparison with the per-acre cost of buying a better alfalfa variety. Spending $1 to $6 more per pound for better alfalfa genetics is economical compared to the annual seed costs of other crops.Once a decision has been made to plant alfalfa there are five important factors that should enter into the seed-purchase decision.

• Don’t buy the cheapest alfalfa seed. Alfalfa-variety selection is a three-year to fouryear investment decision. An underperforming corn or soybean variety affects profits for a single year; a poor variety choice can be corrected the next year. But the selection of an inferior alfalfa variety can have a negative effect for multiple years. There may be some up-front cost savings but in the end potential revenue loss due to underperformance can be significant. • Choose a variety adapted for location, using fall-dormancy and-or winter-survival ratings. In recent years producers have begun to use less-dormant varieties to capitalize on increased yield potential by choosing a variety with a fall-dormancy rating of 5 versus 4, or 4 versus 3. But to reduce the risk of winterkill, it’s important to use the winter-survival rating when selecting a less-dormant variety. In those cases selecting a variety with a winter-survival rating of less-than or equal-to 2.0 can

January 2021 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line provide some assurance that the greater-yielding less-dormant variety will survive local winter conditions. • Select a variety that fits yield or forage-quality needs. Determine whether increased tonnage or forage quality is the primary concern. Several new options are available to fill both production needs. • Ensure the variety’s level of pest and-or disease resistance is adequate. Select varieties with resistance – R – or high resistance – HR – to pests and diseases known to limit production locally. • Choose a variety with traits important to the operation. Examples of available alfalfa genetics include the following. • Roundup Ready • HarvXtra • improved fiber digestibility – Hi-Gest and improved FQ hybrids • fast recovery • long-term persistence • stress tolerance, salt tolerance • harvest-management flexibility as it pertains to yield and-or quality Determining what variety to buy should be based on the initial cost as well as the profit potential the variety provides during the next three to five years. A better forage-quality test or a quarter-ton increase in yield on just one cutting will more than pay for the cost of a better variety – usually in the first year. There are plenty of cheap varieties available but it’s difficult to overcome their inherent underperforming genetics. Consider choosing varieties that have the appropriate traits right from the start; that’s the best way to achieve yield and forage-quality goals. Don Miller is director of product development with Alforex Seeds, a corporate sponsor of Professional Dairy Producers®.


Plans ensure feed-program success Kyle Sigg

As 2020 made evident, life and agriculture are full of uncertainty. It goes without saying that dairy farmers face some level of uncertainty every day in their operations. In order to best mitigate those events sometimes it’s best to look back at history for a clearer vision of the future and where the operation is headed. By looking ahead, adjustments can be made early to ensure a successful year. Sample feed on way in Now that harvest season is in the rearview mirror we need to work until next year with what is stored in the bunkers, on the feed pads, or in the bags and silos. By sampling feed on the way in, there should be little surprise – good or bad – when new feed is opened and in front of milking cows, heifers or dry cows. Sampling feed as it comes in is the first line of defense to make adjustments to feed-storage plans if something less than desirable is found. Watching for and catching mistakes then affords more flexibility and saves time, money and costly mistakes in the long run. The ability to make small adjustments to the feed program through time allows for a more-desirable outcome. Consistency plus incremental progress equals sustainable results To some extent producers never quit making adjustments to their operations. The most productive and profitable dairy cows experience miniscule levels of change daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly. By keeping consistency top of mind, small daily margins are increased through time; that persistent progress will yield successful results. Taking questions out of the operation builds sustainability. Capitalizing on what has worked in the past and building on those s u c c e s s e s b ro a d e n s t h e

Prairie Estates Genetics

Kyle Sigg, Prairie Estates Genetics forage manager, takes a sample of freshly chopped corn silage to send to a laboratory.

landscape of profitability. By implementing incremental changes in the feed program, or any aspect of the business, one can assess if the changes being implemented are working and to what extent. Know reasons for making changes Incorporating too many changes into a program at once is likely to lead to confusion about what was done correctly or incorrectly, and what needs to be improved upon. Fixing known problems can be simpler than searching for why the problem exists in the first place. Often investing resources into determining why a problem is occurring cuts into margins, profitability and productivity. Those are the three key factors producers rely on in an all-too-temperamental dairy climate. We all have access to instant information like never before. That can be an excellent tool when utilized correctly but it can be costly if it’s misleading. By questioning decisions and input choices based on research and past success, one leaves little room for regret – that looming monster in the subconscious mind. Making decisions and large adjustments to the operation on a whim in hopes things will work out is not a solid business plan. Adapting to new ideas and implementing them with a

data-based plan is an excellent approach. Many of the best results occur because of a goal and a clearly defined plan based on measurable experience. Especially when dairy margins are tight, having a plan and specific approach while keeping the end goal in mind is very important. By increasing small efficiencies and extrapolating them across the operation through time, trends in the marketplace will have less effect. By acknowledging what cannot be controlled and controlling what can be controlled, producers can remain in the driver’s seat for the long haul. Look to bright future The next generation of dairy farming depends on the decisions made today. It’s increasingly difficult to bounce back from a year of poor-quality feed, which is typically a dairy farm’s largest expense. The advantage to that is that it can also be the dairy’s greatest asset. Regardless of the weather, Mother Nature and the thousands of other factors that are out of one’s control, the quality of a feed program can be controlled to a large degree. By preparing a plan to harvest the best-quality feed possible, the odds of attaining that goal are much better. Kyle Sigg is a forage manager with Prairie Estates Genetics, a corporate sponsor of Professional Dairy Producers®.


January 2021 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Optimize dairy for energy savings Focus on Energy

Increasing energy costs and sustainability goals require dairy producers to re-think management practices. Farms are integrating automation to cut labor costs while increasing productivity. As a result the need to invest in cost-effective energy-efficient solutions is more critical than ever. The type of equipment used on a dairy farm is integral to the operation’s success and deserves the greatest scrutiny when managing energy expenses. There are many ways to decrease energy use to reduce utility bills in the long term. From basic behavioral adjustments to installing controls and system automation, energy-efficiency opportunities can positively impact the milking operation without reducing cow productivity or increasing labor costs. Dairy-service technicians note fewer farms are installing new equipment; more are focusing on repairing current systems. Performing yearly maintenance is another way to reduce energy expenses while maintaining existing equipment. Although it can be challenging to determine how much energy a single farm should consume, Focus on Energy has found dairy farms average more than $100 of annual electricity use per cow. Utility providers can supply producers with valuable information for managing energy. Such information includes daily, weekly and monthly electric-use patterns for evaluating operating procedures and identifying potential adjustments. A better understanding of which equipment uses the most energy is also helpful. Completing an energy assessment of one’s operation is the best way to identify efficiency opportunities. Working with a

According to the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, the U.S. dairy industry spends more than $1.4 billion annually on energy use. Focus on Energy

Producers should keep the several steps in mind when preparing for an assessment.

Focus on Energy

When considering machinery upgrades to increase energy efficiency and productivity, analyze the return on investment by calculating the payback. This payback equation can help prioritize upcoming equipment purchases.

professional for a third-party evaluation can provide an objective energy-management plan to execute for years to come. Producers should keep several steps in mind when preparing for an assessment. • Create a list of operational goals for the next five to 10 years, whether related to energy efficiency or not. • Inventory all equipment utilizing energy. • Identify current operational concerns in need of solutions. • Gather utility data, preferably from the past six to 12 months. That could consist of printed bills or accessing an online portal. • Review current equipment-maintenance schedule. Energy consumption can vary between regions and milking systems. But most energy consumed on dairy farms is used by milk-cooling equipment, vacuum pumps and water-heating equipment. Additional energy is used for facility needs such as

lighting and ventilation systems. If it isn’t realistic to upgrade equipment immediately, perform regular maintenance instead to ensure reliability. Well-functioning equipment reduces costs by avoiding unnecessary repairs; every farm should have a preventive-maintenance plan. Those plans should include establishing routine equipment maintenance, or retaining a service technician to carry out performance reviews to look for potential saving opportunities. Many farmequipment suppliers offer annual tune-up services to keep systems running at peak performance. Even though it isn’t feasible to completely eliminate energy expenses while operating a modern and safe dairy, there are many ways to decrease operating costs. Understanding energy use is the first step in managing expenses and developing an energy-efficiency strategy.

Without a baseline it’s difficult to reach significant energy-reduction goals and make appropriate decisions regarding future investments. Utilizing sustainable practices will go a long way in making farming operations more efficient and profitable. For additional help identifying other energy-efficiency strategies for dairy operations see Focus on Energy’s updated “Energy Best Practices Guide for Agricultural Facilities.” Visit www.focusonenergy.com/ guidebooks to download an electronic copy. Focus on Energy partners with 107 utilities across the state to offer energy expertise and financial incentives to residents and businesses that choose to reduce energy waste. A thirdparty evaluation this past year revealed Wisconsin runs the most cost-effective energy-efficiency programs in the nation in terms of energy savings per dollar spent. An evaluation released this past year found every $1 invested in Focus on Energy generates $4.80 in benefits for Wisconsin – including economic benefits, reduced energy costs and reduced pollution. Focus on Energy®, a corporate sponsor of Professional Dairy Producers®, is Wisconsin utilities’ statewide energyefficiency and renewable-resource program funded by the state’s investor-owned energy utilities as well as participating municipal and electric-cooperative utilities. Visit www. focusonenergy.com or call 800-7627077 for more information.

January 2021 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line


Four seek position on PDPW board T h re e d a i r y - p ro d u c e r members will be elected to seats on the 2020-2021 PDPW board of directors during the PDPW Business Conference. PDPW bylaws allow one vote per dairy-farm membership. The PDPW board of directors has three available positions for 2020-2021; each PDPW dairy-farm member can vote for as many as three candidates. Board members help facilitate the development of programs to bring cutting-edge re s ea rc h , e l i te t ra i n i n g , peer-networking events and hands-on educational opportunities to the dairy industry. Involved in PDPW programs and committees, they also proactively seek leadership opportunities on non-PDPW committees in the dairy and agricultural industries. This year’s candidates bring different skill sets and ideas from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Janet Clark, incumbent, is an owner in Vision Aire Farms near Rosendale, Wisconsin, along with her husband, Travis C l a rk ; h e r parents, Ro ge r a n d S a n d y Janet Clark Grade; and her brother and sister-in-law, David and Torrie Grade. They milk 140 Holsteins and farm 1,200 acres of owned and rented land. Janet Clark is responsible for financial management on the dairy. She 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’s a board member of FarmFirst

Dairy Cooperative and current vice-chair of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, and is a graduate of the Farm Bureau Institute. Gretchen Johnson owns and operates Horse Creek Holsteins near Osceola, Wisconsin, with her husband, Ted Johnson, and son and d a u g h te rin-law Han and Catherine Johnson. Gretchen Johnson is involved in the day-toGretchen day operaJohnson tions of the fa r m t h a t milks 325 cows, raises its own young-stock replacements, and grows corn and alfalfa on 1,000 acres. She enjoys volunteer work, she said, including serving as a 4-H dairy leader, as a Polk County Dairy Promotion board member, as a member of the Polk County Holstein Breeders and as a member of her church council. She especially enjoys mentoring 4-H members who show cattle from their farm at the Polk County Fair and the Wisconsin State Fair. Paul Lippert of Pittsville, Wisconsin, owns Grass Ridge Farm with his father, Matt Lippert, and brother Carl Lippert. The dairy is home to 600 re g i s te re d Holsteins and Jerseys a s we l l a s 500 young Paul Lippert stock. Paul Lippert manages all day-to-day operations including herd health, e m p l o ye e m a n a g e m e n t ,

agronomy and financial analys i s. He ’s a g ra d u a te o f UW-River Falls with a degree in dairy science, and of the Farm and Industry Short Course at UW-Madison. He said he believes strongly in PDPW’s educational focus and has seen the power it has to improve the industry he’s passionate about. Brady Weiland of Columbus, Wisconsin, owns and operates Weiland Dairy with his parents, brothers and seven e m p l oye e s. As dairy manager he Brady Weiland oversees the

600-cow dairy with a focus on management practice and excellent-quality genetics to achieve the dairy’s goals. After graduating from Madison Area Technical College with a certificate in diesel technology, he furthered his education at the UW-Farm and Industry Short Course. Weiland believes strongly, he said, in PDPW’s educational focus; he regularly attends PDPW events. All PDPW members have been mailed ballots for voting, to be returned to PDPW headquarters. Ballots can also be cast on-site at the PDPW Business Conference; they must be received by 1 p.m. March 18. Call PDPW at 800-947-7379 for more information.


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