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Volume 18: Issue 5 September 2016

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

Raising calves together offers advantages

Page 6

KATY PROUDFOOT

Raise cull-cow bar

Page 8 Calf-care workshops coming soon

Page 12 Summer’s end means hoof health time

Page 15 Operating loans can solve cash-flow shortages

Dairy producers are hearing more and more about advantages to housing their preweaned dairy calves in pairs or small groups rather than individual hutches or pens. IndividKaty ual housing Proudfoot during that sensitive period has long been thought beneficial for hindering the spread of diseases, but the research is mixed. On the one hand, calves housed in an environment with poor ventilation and/or drainage are at higher risk of respiratory disease when housed in groups compared to individual pens. But when calves are well managed, those housed in pairs or groups of less than eight have better health compared to those housed individually or in groups of eight calves or more. Studies also show that giving calves companionship during those first few weeks of life can add other benefits both before and after weaning, such as better starter intake and increased growth rates, as well as social and

University of British Columbia

Despite traditional wisdom, increasing evidence shows that housing calves in pairs or small groups has advantages in health and social skills that extend through adult life.

learning skills that may eventually make them better herdmates as adults. Create better starter intake, skills Housing calves in pairs before weaning increases their starter intake, improves their ability to socialize with unfamiliar calves and makes them better learners in general. In a study by scientists at the University of British Columbia’s Animal Welfare Program, calves were either housed in a pair or individually with the same amount of

space per calf. Calves housed in pairs consumed an average 37 percent more grain compared to those housed alone. Researchers at Denmark’s Aarhus University found a similar impact of pair housing on starter intake. Calves housed in pairs ate more than 30 percent more grain than individually housed calves, but only if they were provided a high milk allowance – 2.4 gallons per day versus 1.3 gallons per day. Calves housed in pairs also spent more time playing – running, kicking and jumping – compared to those housed alone. To test if increased-play behavior was also a sign the calves were developing better social skills, researchers moved calves from pair-pens and individual-pens into a new area with an unfamiliar calf. Calves that had been housed in pairs approached the new calf sooner, had a lower heart rate – a sign of lower stress – and had fewer pushing and mounting behaviors compared to those housed individually. Not only did calves have better social skills, they also showed signs of improved learning. University of British See CALVES, on page 4

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

Embrace challenge and change HANK WAGNER

“So how’s it going today?” the salesman asked me. After thinking about his question briefly I said, “Awesome!” A bit puzzled and curious, he hesitantly followed with another question. “I thought milk prices were quite low compared to the past couple of years…” While that’s certainly true, I continued my response to him with further explanation. The truth is we all p o s s e s s t wo lists: a list of t h i n gs we ’re happy about or thankful for, and a list of Hank Wagner‌ things we’re not so excited about. We each have a choice. We can focus on things that aren’t so good, or we can focus on the many things we’re thankful for. I explained to the salesman that I prefer to focus on my thankful list. No matter how bad things are, there is always, always, always something to be thankful for. While some in agriculture continue to focus on things that aren’t so good – milk prices among them – it’s important we remember things we’re thankful for. Most of us can say we’re thankful for health, family, friends and relationships. In agriculture, we can also be thankful for lower feed prices, a great crop year, cows that are milking well and milk prices that aren’t as low as they were in 2009. And so much more. Some seem to always have a long list of problems and challenges, and that’s partly because it’s what they continually think and talk about – it’s always topof-mind for them. Others are seemingly optimistic all the time, glowing with an unending list of

things they’re thankful for. In most cases the person who has lots they’re thankful for hasn’t generated the long list because everything is always going great for them. Rather they’ve chosen to live a life of thankfulness and gratitude. Being thankful is simply a choice, regardless of circumstances. I believe there are many things on our complaint list that should actually move over to our thankful list – things like tests, trials, challenges and even failures. How can that be? Those things are painful – and they certainly don’t feel like something we should be thankful for. Much of who we become in life can be traced back to our challenges and failures. Some think that those who excel in life are those who have been lucky enough to not experience test or trial. Actually it’s almost always the opposite. Those who accomplish amazing things have done so in the face of tremendous challenges in their lives. We’ve seen evidence of this throughout the recent Summer Olympics. The amazing individuals who competed in these events have obvious talents and abilities, but their successes didn’t just automatically happen. Olympians are who they are not

because they were born with the ability to win medals. They have risen to that level because of their determination to fight through all adversity to be the best that they can be. None of us were born ready to walk, yet most of us have mastered not just walking, but running as well. How many times did we fall down on our quest to walk? What if a child gave up after a few painful trips to the floor because the stress of challenge was just too much? Few people say school was always easy and enjoyable; rather, school was filled with tests, trials and challenges. But because of those challenges at school, we’re able to read, write, speak and so much more. It’s also true that tests, challenges and failures don’t automatically produce life-improving results. Some people choose to continually think about, meditate, complain or feel victimized by their challenges. That group of unfortunate people will likely never become or experience all they have the potential to achieve or enjoy in their lives. In essence, they become the baby who is unwilling to fall one more time, or the See CHANGE, on page 5


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September 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Calves Continued from page 1

Columbia scientists tested this idea by teaching calves a new task: tell the difference between a black bottle and a white bottle. The black bottle meant calves were given milk, while the white bottle meant calves would be punished with a “time-out” and be isolated from other calves. All calves learned to distinguish between the two bottles e a s i l y a n d c o n s i s te n t l y approached the black bottle. To see how smart the calves really were, experimenters then switched bottle colors, so the black bottle meant a timeout while the white bottle meant milk. That was where the paired and individually housed calves differed – calves housed in pairs learned that the bottles were switched much faster compared to calves housed alone. 888.438.8683

One way to house calves in pairs is to move their hutches together and enclose them with a fence, as shown in this photo from a study done by the University of British Columbia’s Dairy Education and Research Centre.

Long-term benefits: weight gain, less stress Not only do paired and grouped calves eat more starter, have better social skills and are generally quicker to learn, uddertechinc.com

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researchers learned they perform better once they’re weaned and moved into a new group. Researchers from both the University of British Columbia and Aarhus University did studies to test that — and discovered calves do indeed perform better after weaning. Calves housed in pairs grew better, learned how to use a new grain feeder and consumed grain faster, and showed fewer signs of stress when weaned and moved into a new group, compared to individually housed calves. If those skills learned early in life can lead to improvements in performance and a stress reduction after weaning, what does that imply for those animals post-calving and when they’re introduced to the milking parlor or are regrouped with unfamiliar cows? More research is still needed to answer that question, but there’s a good chance those skills will translate into less-stressful transitioning as the animals enter breeding, calving and milking age. Is social housing the way to go? The research is clear that housing calves in pairs or small groups can have positive benefits for them post-weaning, and

potentially when they’re adults. But before converting to social housing, it’s important to take steps to reduce the risk of respiratory disease by improving ventilation and ensuring careful disease monitoring and treatment. When pairing or creating small groups, it’s also important to not take away any space allowance for calves. For example, if housing calves in individual hutches, simply putting two hutches together and using a wider outdoor enclosure can help create a pair. Also don’t introduce new calves to the group on a regular basis. Keeping the groupmates the same until weaning age helps reduce the spread of disease. For producers who are worried calves will cross-suck when they’re housed together, give calves the chance to suck on something else before they turn to their partner. Feeding calves through artificial teats, whether on bottles or teat-buckets, increases the time calves spend sucking and reduces cross-sucking compared to traditional bucket feeding. Other methods to reduce cross-sucking include feeding a high amount of milk – for example, 20 percent of body weight – and gradually weaning the milk by diluting it with water or decreasing milk allowance through five to 10 days. If competition for milk is a concern, provide two separate buckets and add a small barrier between them. If using hutches, put one bucket in each hutch. Feeding calves a higher level of milk – 2 to 3 gallons per day – can also help reduce competition between calves, especially if calves are fed with a computer-controlled milk-feeding system. Katy Proudfoot is an assistant professor and The Ohio State University-Extension specialist in animal welfare and behavior with the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine. Contact her at proudfoot.18@osu. edu for more information.


September 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Change Continued from page 2

child who quits learning because the challenge to learn is too great. Embrace challenge Instead we should strive to be in the group of people who embrace challenge. That group of people doesn’t particularly enjoy tests and trials, but they will likely experience something exciting and fulfilling on the other side of the challenge. In times of challenge, we have two options. One is to accept with hopelessness, convinced this is the way it’s going to be. We might complain about it, or just quietly accept it as our destiny. The other option is to change our way of thinking and acting. That option doesn’t eliminate pain, but the pain strongly motivates us to make changes so we can minimize or even eliminate it. When we face a challenge or

An attitude of gratitude goes a long way to making uncomfortable situations tolerable. Almost always there is much to be gained on the other side of challenges if we embrace challenges rather than resist them.

suffer failure, one question we should always ask is, “What can I do differently so this never happens again?” If we regularly ask ourselves that question and strive to find all answers to it, our lives will catapult to a place we never thought possible for us. People who accomplish greatness in

spite of their challenges not only embrace challenge, test, trial, fear and failure, but they actually move toward it. We are wired to seek comfort; that’s why we like to stay in our comfort zone. But the fruit is always out on the limb; it’s on the other side of that challenge we’re facing. Choose to eliminate complaining and merely accepting that this is a destined lot in life. Instead, move courageously toward that which is causing discomfort. If it’s milk prices or other financial issues that feel like the primary challenge these days, seek to concentrate on things to be thankful for, rather than exerting emotional energy on stressful situations outside of control. In addition, ask if there just might be something to change to help make the situation less discouraging – whether it’s changing expenses or spending habits, or the amount of time complaining or thinking about the topic.

Perhaps there’s a small change that improves efficiency or productivity. The beauty of the process is that changes made can improve outlook and attitude as well as position, for even greater prosperity when things improve. And they will! Perhaps the primary challenge isn’t financial at all, but in specific relationships or in a personal life. The same process works. Ask the right questions and be willing to stay open to embracing the change necessary to rise to a new level of happiness and success. Just because it has always been a certain way doesn’t mean it needs to stay that way. The decision to embrace challenge and change plays a critical role in determining the future. Hank Wagner is a dairy producer and a John Maxwell Team teacher, mentor, speaker and coach. Contact him at hwagner@frontiernet.net for more information.

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September 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

FOCUS ON WHAT MATTERS

Maximize hidden value in cull cows DR. KATIE MRDUTT

Food and Drug Administration, Having safe high-quality is inadequate records,” Lang milk is essential for every dairy said. “The problems that have farm. While a dairy cow’s first been cited in Food and Drug job is milk production, produc- Administration warning letters ers should keep include no records of treati n m i n d t h e ments, inaccurate records for dairy cow may withhold times, animals treated eventually be with multiple drugs without sold as meat. using the longest withhold time Monitoring milk – but rather indicating the quality is stan- withhold date of the last treatKatie Mrdutt‌ dard procedure ment – (and) not having visible on most dairy identification for animals, along farms but there’s room for with various other identificaimprovement when it comes to tion issues. The bottom line is, monitoring meat quality. Maxi- if you don’t know an animal’s mizing the health and profit- treatment history, don’t cull her ability of our dairy market ani- until you know it.” mals continues to be increasBeyond food safety, records can provide a wealth of inforingly important. “We must keep in mind that mation that leads to more all breeds of dairy cattle are ulti- money in the pocket. Work with mately dual-purpose breeds,” a veterinarian to establish a said Dr. Hunter Lang, Sauk Prai- continual monitoring system of rie Veterinary Clinic in Prairie farm records. That allows for du Sac, Wisimprovement in manageconsin. “We Beyond food manage them ment, health to a c h i eve safety, records can and quality of the animal profitable milk provide a wealth of products proproduction but all too often we duced. information that “We need to downplay the importance of leads to more money start looking managing closely at our in the pocket. them for good records to see meat producif animals are tion. Cull dairy cows still make responding to the treatments up the largest group of livestock written in our protocols,” Lang that have residue violations at said. “If they’re not, producers slaughter. We’ve made progress need to work with their herd on this issue but we can do bet- veterinarian to determine if ter.” there’s a problem with the protocol, a training issue, a new Learn how to do better disorder or some other type of One way to minimize food- problem. Perhaps a different safety risks in this group of treatment will be necessary but dairy animals is to have better we need to know when to stop treatment records. treating the incurable. It can be “One of the major reasons for a difficult decision but euthanaresidue-violation investiga- sia may be the right option in tions, as identified by the (U.S.) certain cases.”

Dr. Hunter Lang, left, and Darrell Walser work as a team to improve onfarm management and overall herd health through regular record review.

Focus on shipping the highest-quality animal possible, which is good for both producer and consumer.

Minimize her risk Antibiotics are an essential tool to use when an animal is sick. Some keys to using antibiotics properly include correctly identifying the problem, using the correct antibiotic, using the correct dose and duration, administering it properly, visibly marking the cow as treated and recording the treatment. When used on-label for labeled conditions, these drugs are effective; residue risks are minimized when withdrawal times are properly followed.

But what happens if we use a drug extra-label? “On occasion an animal may need to be treated with an antibiotic in a manner that is not on the label,” Lang said. “In this case, a veterinarian needs to be involved in the decision-making process – one who has knowledge of the farm and has a valid Veterinarian Client Patient Relationship. If an antibiotic is used in an extra-label manner steps must be taken to ensure no residues occur; that can See RISK, on page 9


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September 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Calf Care Connection workshops planned Starting calves with good health is so basic to good dairy business management that it’s one of the most commonly featured training topics in the dairy industry. In just a few weeks, three separate one-day workshops will be held to explore what’s new in treatment protocols and management practices. In three different locations, a trio of calf care experts and a producer panel will share their knowledge with those wanting to fine-tune their calf-care management practices – the dates are Oct. 18, 19 and 20. Dairy producers and calf managers will gather beginning at 9:30 a.m. at each location and concluding at 3:45 p.m. Each workshop will feature a midday lunch-and-learn segment. The management, treatment and prevention of abomasal bloat in calves will be the topic brought forth by Dr. Geof

Calf Care Connection® workshops

Every successful dairy operation depends on calves having a healthy start. The Calf Care Connection workshop series is designed to enhance the proficiencies of calf managers at all levels.

Smith, doctor of veterinary medicine and professor of ruminant medicine at North Carolina State University. In a separate session he’ll discuss important factors to consider when choosing an oral electrolyte therapy and top approaches to treating calf diarrhea.

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A producer panel will showcase three calf-housing facilities by virtual tour. Discover the advantages and disadvantages of each facility, and learn more about the do’s and don’ts for best-management practices in calf care. Dr. Brent Cousin, veterinarian, will lead dialogue on the pros and cons to using wholemilk balancers and fortifiers. He will also demonstrate practical ways to evaluate the consistency of pasteurized whole milk on the dairy, as well as cover approaches and tools necessary to incorporate whole-milk balancers into pasteurized-milk feeding systems. In a hands-on session, Dr. Vicky Lauer, veterinarian, will walk participants through dissections of healthy calf intestines and those afflicted with diarrhea. Learn how and where to take proper samples for laboratory analysis. Attendees will also discuss tips and tricks for prevention and treatment with fellow calf experts and managers. Smith is a professor in the Department of Population Health and Pathobiology at North Carolina State University and a diplomat Geof Smith of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. His

Tuesday, Oct. 18 — Fox Valley Technical College, Main Campus, 1825 N. Bluemound Drive, Appleton, Wisconsin Wedesday, Oct. 19 — Alliant Energy Center, 1919 Alliant Energy Center Way, Madison, Wisconsin Thursday, Oct. 20 — Three Bears Lodge, Main Entrance, 701 Yogi Circle, Warrens, Wisconsin Visit www.pdpw.org for more information.

primary clinical and research interests center around clinical medicine of ruminants, with a focus on calf health and ruminant pharmacology. Lauer is a member of the ANIMART Professional Services Veterinarian team that analyzes calf Vicky Lauer h e a l t h a n d works with producers to improve herd health. After graduating with her doctor of veterinary medicine degree, Lauer was an associate veterinarian at the Veterinary Clinics of Berlin-Ripon for two years, where she focused on dairy and small-ruminant medicine. C o u s i n received a degree in microbiology from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and a doctor of Brent Cousin veterinary medi c i n e d e g re e from UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. Currently he is working as veterinarian and manager for Holsum Dairies LLC, a dairy producer located in Calumet County, Wisconsin. Visit www.pdpw.org for more information.


September 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Risk Continued from page 6

involve extending the withdrawal times for the treated animal. Many residue-violation investigations have found that the violation in question resulted from the extra-label use of a product without a proper withhold time.” Maximize her value Producers must ensure that animals going to slaughter are not a residue risk and that those animals will provide a high-quality meat product. The earlier a decision to cull is made, the better chance the animal will be healthy and produce safe, quality meat. Don’t sell animals that are in poor body condition, have obvious external lesions, or are at risk of not being able to make the trip to the harvesting facility. If the animal isn’t

the type a producer would put on a plate for his or her family, consider if culling is really the only option. As cull cow prices have dropped it’s even more critical to receive the most from each animal sold. One of the best ways to add value is to sell healthy animals. If at all possible consider feeding those that might otherwise be culled for an additional few weeks, to add value at slaughter. Weight gain, reduced lameness and an overall healthier animal can substantially increase the returns for cull cows. Create consumer confidence If we don’t keep in mind our end consumer, we risk endangering our markets. A consumer demands and deserves a reliable, safe and healthy product when visiting the meat counter at a store. We need to continue to improve the quality of the food we provide for them so

9

Aim to maximize the health and profitability of cull cows whenever possible.

they will continue to confidently purchase dairy – and meat – products. Where can a producer learn more? Work with a veterinarian to learn steps to take to minimize risks and maximize profitability of the herd’s cull animals. Visit http://2016regional-

meeting.nmconline.org and view “Food Safety of the Cull Dairy Cow: Introducing Solutions” for considerations when marketing cull cows. Dr. Katie Mrdutt is a Food Armor Outreach Specialist with the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association. Contact her at mrdutt@wvma.org for more information.


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September 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Obstetrics, newborn workshop offered in Spanish

Newborn calves that have a strong start are of utmost importance on every dairy. The upcoming Dairy Obstetrics and Newborn Calf Care Workshops – taught exclusively in Spanish – will teach the fundamentals and also highlight new tools and testing methods.

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Dairy producers and herd managers have an opportunity to enhance skills for both dairycow obstetrics and newborn-calf care, for Spanish-speaking employees, in two upcoming repeating one-day workshops offered by the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin. Workshop presenters Dr. Oscar Duarte, veterinarian, and Jorge Delgado will bring their many years of dairy experience to Spanish-speaking participants during the interactive workshops. Duarte will present “For the Delivering Cow: Dairy Obstetrics Care,” during which he will help attendees understand the how and why of first-rate maternity care. Covering descriptive protocols for safe calf deliveries and various birthing scenarios, the session will also highlight signs to watch for before, during and after birth, as well as animal handling during critical-care times. Participants will engage in demonstrations including hands-on calving training in the maternity pen. In addition, Duarte will train on protocols for newborn calves, such as sanitation and vaccine administration. Delgado will speak to newborn-calf colostrum management. In the interactive session attendees will work with refractometers, serum samples and colostrum samples. They will learn how to manage their findings in addition to learning when and how much colostrum to feed, and whether to bottle feed or tube feed. Also featured will be a showcase of new cowside test methods that can help estimate colostrum quality and

evaluate passive-transfer methods in calves. In addition, management strategies will be explored, like using colostrum replacers and heat-treating colostrum to reduce bacterial counts in colostrum fed to calves. Each day’s session will begin with registration at 8:30 a.m. followed by a 9 a.m. welcome. Sessions are slated to conclude by 4 p.m. each day. Save money when registering more than one person per farm. Visit www. pdpw.org to register or for more information, or call 800-9477379 for more information. Duarte is a native of Colombia; he re c e ive d h i s doctor of veterinary medicine degree in 1984. Oscar Duarte He immigrated to the United States in 1991 and became a U.S. citizen in 2008. His company, OMMA International, provides bilingual consulting and training for the dairy industry. Delgado is a third-generation dairy farmer originally from Ecuador. After receiving his Jorge B.S. in Animal Delgado Science in Costa Rica he returned to Ecuador to work with dairies while representing a genetic company. He moved to the United States in 2002 and worked on several dairies as a herd manager. He served as a Dairy Specialist with Alltech, and in 2014 he joined Elanco. Delgado now lives with his family near Minneapolis.


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September 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Global fight against lameness continues DR. NIGEL COOK

The end of the summer is upon us. Though the high temperatures of the season are over, their effects will linger for a while. Heat-stressed cows lose lying time; that puts them at increased risk for sole hemorrhage and ulceration because of the increased Nigel Cook load on their feet. There’s always a two-month lag between the peak in heat stress and the peak in lameness, so September and October are when we’ll see the problem show in many herds. The delay represents the time for an insult to the hoof corium to manifest on the surface of the claw sole. Lameness is a global problem. The worldwide prevalence of

Figure 1

Worldwide prevalence of lameness in dairy herds by location from peerreviewed literature since 2003

lameness – defined as a cow walking with noticeable weight transfer and a limp – in dairy herds is about 25 percent across studies based in Austria, Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, United Kingdom

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and the United States. Despite research and a significant improvement in our understanding of the causes of lameness during the past three decades, we appear to be fighting a losing battle. The problem has been associated with increasing intensification of the dairy industry, higher milk production and confinement housing, with the conclusion that lameness is an inevitable consequence of those factors. The sustainability of the industry is threatened when the general public learns that production

systems don’t meet their expectations. Lameness is an obvious problem that has been and should continue to be a high priority for us to resolve. Across numerous surveys in different production systems, three lesions emerge consistently as the most significant contributors to lameness: digital dermatitis, white line disease and sole ulcer. Our ability to impact lameness globally will depend on developing effective control strategies targeted at these three lesions. No matter what the cause of lameness, once a cow develops a lesion, she is at much greater risk for developing the same lesion again in the next lactation, likely due to permanent anatomical changes to the structure and function of the claw. For digital dermatitis, the effect even occurs in heifers – putting cattle at greater risk once they become infected prior to first calving. Herd-level risk factors associated with lower lameness risk include less time standing on concrete, deep-bedded comfortable stalls with wider dimensions and absence of lunge obstructions, access to

Table 1 Management Characteristic % Sand-bedded stalls (deep loose bedding including manure solids) % 2-row stall layout pens (vs 3-row) % Use of headlocks at the feed bunk Milking frequency (% 3 times a day) % Use of rBST % Solid floor (vs slatted) % Rubber floors in freestall alleys % Rubber floors in transfer lanes % Rubber floors in holding areas % Rubber floors in parlors % Manual manure cleaning from the alleys % Use of fans over the resting area % Use of water soakers in the pens % Allow access to the outside to roam % Trimming at least once per lactation % Trim cows at least twice per lactation % Trim heifers before calving Mean footbath frequency (milkings per week) Mean cows per full-time equivalent (FTE) worker

% Herds or Mean 62 (70) 61 83 67 67 100 5 15 41 68 73 96 79 9 88 65 49 4.5 62

Management characteristics of the high-producing multiparous group cows in elite-housed dairy herds in Wisconsin (from Cook et al., 2016)


September 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line pasture or an outside exercise lot, prompt recognition and treatment of lameness, higher body-condition score, use of manure-removal systems other than automatic scrapers, use of non-slippery and non-traumatic flooring, and use of a divided feed barrier – rather than a post and rail system – with a wider feed alley. It’s common knowledge that routine professional hoof trimming, access to a trim-chute for treatment and use of an effective footbath program also deliver improvements in lameness. But it’s also true that poorly trained hoof trimmers can cause more harm than good, and many footbath routines are ineffective through poor design and management. For the past 10 years we’ve been working hard in Wisconsin to address the issue. Recent data would suggest we are making progress. We visited 66 high-performance Wisconsin herds that

The prevalence of clinical lameness averaged 13.2, which rivals the degree of lameness identified in grazing herds, and mixed housing and grazing, or organic management systems. have been implementing strategies to prevent lameness. The herds had a mean herd size of 851 cows, were confinement-housed in freestalls and produced more than 40 kilograms — about 88 pounds — energy-corrected milk per cow per day on average. The prevalence of clinical lameness averaged 13.2, which rivals the degree of lameness identified in grazing herds, and mixed housing and grazing, or organic management systems. Interestingly, it’s lower than the prevalence found in similar herds in the Midwest a decade or more ago, suggesting that the overall degree of lameness in the region may be improving. Thus it appears high performance can be compatible with

acceptable lameness levels, if we manage cows correctly. Table 1 highlights some of the management characteristics of those herds, pertaining to lameness management. When examining the management strategies with high levels of adoption in Table 1, there are consistencies with herd-level risk factors documented previously. Those herds use deep loose-bedded stalls, have two-row pen layouts with headlocks, and have solid flooring with strategic use of rubber floors, especially around the milking center. Notably, the herds were not using rubber flooring in their pens to control lameness. Producers clean manure from the alleys when the cows are outside the pen,

13

and have aggressive hoof care, heat abatement and footbath programs. Perhaps surprisingly, 9 percent allow their high-producing cows to go outside the barn strategically – not to graze, but to spend time away from concrete floors inside the barn. Those herds prove we know enough to implement positive change in the dairy industry and achieve acceptably low levels of lameness. When troubleshooting lameness problems, we use a structured approach – starting with locomotion scoring, lesion analysis and assessment of routine hoof trimming and lamecow surveillance programs. For digital dermatitis prevention, we focus on early identification of acute lesions – before the cattle are lame – and perform prompt effective treatment, starting at about breeding age in replacement-heifer pens See Lameness, on page 14


14

September 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

Lameness Continued from page 13

and continuing throughout the life of the animal. We couple that with an effective footbath program to control chronic lesions and hold them in check. Trace mineral supplements have a significant role to play, particularly during the rearing period. For sole ulcer prevention we target risk factors that extend daily standing times – stall design and surface cushion, stocking density, milking times, heat abatement and lock-up time for management tasks. We optimize the transition period to maximize rest and reduce body-condition-score loss in early lactation. And to control white line disease, we examine areas of the farm where flooring puts the cow at risk of slipping, as well as trauma and excessive

hoof wear, and watch workers to ensure low-stress handling, especially around the parlor area. The overall approach is summarized in Figure 2. While we still have knowledge gaps to fill regarding our understanding of lameness, the global crisis that we face with one in four cows walking with a painful limp can be solved by implementing our current knowledge. The challenge we face is one of creating a simple roadmap targeted at an individual producer’s most significant problems and motivating that producer to implement the changes necessary. Dr. Nigel Cook, DVM, is the chair of the Department of Medical Sciences and professor in food-animal medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. Contact him at nbcook@wisc.edu for more information.

Webinars explore trends, global market In a two-part webinar the European Union segseries, economist Daniel ment and Australia, New Basse will apply his Zealand and other parts experience in the comof Oceania have brought their cow numbers down modity business to sort through 2016 domestic enough to sustain a lastand global crop-growDan Basse‌ ing bullish trend. He’ll also discuss the upward ing-season reports. He will offer a glimpse at upcoming trend in prices and China’s trends and forecasts. whole-milk-powder impact. The webinars are offered by the The first of two online seminars will be from noon to 1 p.m. Professional Dairy Producers of Sept. 21. Basse will review how Wisconsin; register by Sep. 14 and the 2016 growing season Oct. 5 respectively. PDPW-memimpacted domestic and global ber cost is $100 each, or $175 for supplies, and he’ll shed light on both. Non-PDPW-member cost projections of what the next is $125 each or $225 for both. Visit year holds in regards to forage, www.pdpw.org or call 800-947corn and protein prices. 7379 for more information. In the second webinar, from Basse, president of AgResource noon to 1 p.m. Oct. 12, Basse will Company, has been in the comlead discussions on world dairy modity business since 1979; AgRemarkets and the current recovery source is a domestic and internatrend, with a focus on whether tional agricultural-research firm.

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September 2016 • PDPW • Dairy’s Bottom Line

15

Is an operating loan the way to go? Paul Dietmann

Most farm businesses encounter months in which the money coming in isn’t enough to cover the bills. Hopefully the farm’s checking account balance is enough to carry it through until cash flow turns positive again. But when that’s not the case, what can the Paul farm family do to Dietmann‌ get by? Typical first steps are to slash family living costs – even important items like health insurance. Deciding which bills absolutely must be paid and which can be pushed off for a month or two is common. Farm operators can put themselves into more precarious situations when they opt to use vendor-financing programs at 7-percent to 10-percent interest rates, or use credit cards that accrue interest at 18 percent or more, or even obtain loans from non-agriculture finance companies that might charge interest rate in excess of 30 percent. There is a safer way to deal with periodic cash-flow shortages but it requires some planning ahead. The best way to prepare for seasonal cash

shortages is to establish an operating loan for the farm. An operating loan is a shortterm reserve fund available for the farm to use when cash flow is tight. Interest rates are typically lower than vendor financing or credit cards. Interest charges only accrue when funds from the line of credit are being used – and stop accruing when the funds are paid back. If the operating loan is never used, it generally doesn’t cost anything – and it’s invaluable to have one available if it’s needed. To establish an operating loan, first decide the maximum amount of operating credit the farm might need to have available. The best way to make this decision is with a month-bymonth cash-flow projection that covers at least one full year. Look for the biggest monthly deficit that might be encountered during the year. The line of credit should cover that amount, plus a bit more. The month-by-month projection should start with the amount of cash on-hand on the first of the month. To that amount, add all expected income each month – including non-farm income – and subtract all cash expenses being paid out each month. The monthly cash outflow should

include all operating expenses, scheduled principal and interest payments on loans, and family living expenses. The bottom line will be a prediction of that month’s ending cash balance and the beginning cash balance for the following month. Going through a month-by-month cash-flow projection is a valuable planning exercise for farms of any size. After reviewing, the family might decide to make changes on the farm that will smooth out the farm’s cash flow. Applying for an operating loan is similar to applying for any other type of farm loan. The lender will need a recent detailed balance sheet that lists all the farm’s assets and liabilities, several years of tax returns and a copy of the month-bymonth cash-flow projection. The underwriting process will include a credit-bureau report. When creating an operating loan for the first time, the lender will likely ask for collateral to secure the loan in the event that the family is not able to pay it back. Because an operating loan is only intended to be used for short-term cash-flow needs, it typically needs to be completely paid off within one year. One unique feature of an

operating loan is that a monthly payment is usually not required. The farm makes payments on the operating loan as cash become available. Loan payments are first applied to cover accrued interest and then to pay down the principal balance. The flexibility of not having a set monthly payment is nice, but it’s important to have the discipline to pay down the operating loan as able. After a first year of successful experience with a farm operating loan, the family may be able to renew the loan for a term longer than one year. As with all loan products, there are risks to consider, including the penalty for not paying it in full within one year. An operating loan may not be the best product to purchase farm equipment or other capital assets, because these are often difficult to pay back within a year; in these cases a longer-term loan is a better fit. Also, rises in interest rates pose a risk. Often operating loans come with a variable interest rate, which means the rate can change each month. Visit badgerlandfinancial.com and look for “Simple Cash Flow Projection Worksheet” for a tool to project month-by-month cash flow. Dietmann is an agricultural lender with Badgerland Financial, a mission sponsor of PDPW.

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PDPW Dairy's Bottom Line -- September 2016  
PDPW Dairy's Bottom Line -- September 2016