Keep flies from moving in

Posted on April 28, 2022 in Dairy Performance
By Barry Visser Now is the time to make fly control plans for your operation. Flies are a nuisance to farm workers and animals, transmit disease and cause significant economic loss. Flies cause livestock to expend extra energy fending them off instead of resting, feeding and milking. Fly control is critically important to all dairy operations to reduce the spread of disease and improve animal comfort, resulting in decreased stress and greater efficiency of growth or production. 

Winter calf barn ventilation

Posted on February 14, 2022 in Dairy Performance
By Barry Visser Temperature fluctuations this winter have presented challenges for calf raisers across the Midwest and many farms have seen an uptick in respiratory issues. Many calf barns rely on natural ventilation to provide clean, fresh air to the calves. This works well in the summertime; however, as doors, windows and curtains are closed in the winter, providing sufficient air exchanges to keep calves healthy can be challenging.

What do you do when maternal colostrum runs short?

Posted on December 29, 2021 in Dairy Performance
By Ann Hoskins Maternal colostrum is a high-value asset on your farm. Unfortunately, that asset often runs short this time of year as many farms see a slump in colostrum production between November and February. Farms need to have a “plan B” in place as they don’t want to short calves on this vital nutrition.

The fall milk slump is still real

Posted on November 1, 2021 in Dairy Performance
Many areas have experienced their first frost of the season or will in the days ahead. For cows, these cooler temperatures are welcome following a summer with near-record heat across much of the Midwest. Despite the more ideal temperatures for cows, farmers find themselves disappointed with milk production this time of year.

Nutrition and reproductive success

Posted on February 9, 2021 in Dairy Performance

By Barry Visser
Reproductive success is a major component of economic success in dairy herds. The feeding program throughout all production stages is important for optimizing a herd’s reproductive efficiency.

Controlling birds and their mess

Posted on December 31, 2020 in Dairy Performance

By Jarrod Blackburn
Many different species of birds make a dairy farm “home” in the cooler months, posing a risk to the health of livestock and people as well as the farm’s bottom line.  Birds are drawn to farms because of the continuous supply of fresh feed and seek the energy-dense components of the feedstuffs or ration.  This loss of nutrients consumed by birds can greatly impact the nutrients that cattle are able to eat, thus directly impacting a producer’s bottom line.  In addition, birds are associated with the spread and amplification of microbiological hazards, including E. coli, Salmonella, and many others that can have lasting impacts in dairy herds. 

When maternal colostrum runs short

Posted on November 13, 2020 in Dairy Performance

By Ann Hoskins
Maternal colostrum is a high-value asset on your farm.  Unfortunately, that asset often runs short this time of year as many farms see a slump in colostrum production between November and February.  Farms need to have a “plan B” in place as they don’t want to short calves on this vital nutrition.

Build your own colostrum thawing and heating unit

Posted on October 27, 2020 in Dairy Performance

Refrigerating or freezing excess high-quality colostrum (greater than 22% Brix reading) is a great way to ensure each newborn calf receives this vital nutrition at birth.  Because high temperatures can destroy immunoglobulins (IgGs) and other nutrients, colostrum should be carefully thawed and warmed before feeding it to the calf.  Producers can easily build their own colostrum thawing and heating unit to accomplish this task by following these simple steps.

Farm feature: Hilltop Dairy LLC has decades’ tradition of ‘good-looking, good-producing cows’

Posted on September 24, 2020 in Dairy Performance

The owners of Hilltop Dairy LLC in Markesan, Wisconsin, have had a passion for registered Holstein cattle and “good-looking, good-producing cows” for decades.  That tradition continues to be front-and-center on the 1,400-cow dairy today.

Amino acid balancing: Benefits go beyond components

Posted on September 10, 2020 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Eric Schwab
The classically discussed benefits of amino acid balancing are typically increases in milk component yield, reduced metabolizable protein (MP) required, and increased efficiency of protein use. This focus is understandable as these benefits are the easiest to quantify economically.  However, recent research shows that these most tangible benefits are not the only reasons why amino acid nutrition should be adopted.

Any heat stress abatement is better than nothing

Posted on June 30, 2020 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Andy Kniesly
After just a few hot days, it is not uncommon to see milk production losses of 5 to 15 pounds of milk per cow day. That might be just the tip of the iceberg as heat stress can lead to a long list of other animal health and performance consequences. A lot of factors go into designing heat abatement systems for dairies, which require a solid understanding of your facilities and environment.  Here are some very common areas that we can focus on to help us prioritize where to start.

VIDEO: Spring Ventilation and Air Quality for Calves

Posted on April 7, 2020 in Dairy Performance

With Dr. Noah Litherland
In the most recent edition of Starting Strong Calf Chat, Dr. Noah Litherland reminds calf raisers of three goals of ventilation:  (1)  provide adequate amounts of clean air to the calf, (2) prevent drafts on the calf, and (3) manage the temperature and humidity in the barn.

Watch the video for tips to optimize the calf environment during spring's fluctuating temperatures and damp weather.

Beware of nitrates this spring

Posted on March 25, 2020 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Michelle Chang-Der Bedrosian
We often associate nitrate concerns with drought-stressed plants, but very wet conditions can also stress plants and cause them to accumulate nitrates.  Furthermore, high nitrate levels aren’t just a concern during the harvest season.  We are hearing reports of silages with higher-than-normal nitrate levels this spring.  Last year’s tough harvest season resulted in some crops going into the silo frozen, which means they did not ferment.  As the weather warms, they begin to “thaw” and undergo a fermentation, which also means there is risk for silo gas formation.  Please, be careful! 

Put computer record systems to work for calf management

Posted on February 24, 2020 in Dairy Performance

By Jon Rasmussen
As computer herd management programs have improved, we have new opportunities to define what needs to be recorded and how this can help us not only treat calves, but also identify higher-level strategies for improvement. 

Waves of Change: Vita Plus Dairy Summit Recap

Posted on January 30, 2020 in Dairy Performance

During Vita Plus Dairy Summit in December, attendees explored many “waves of change” in the dairy industry.  If you did not attend the event – or did attend and are looking for a refresher – browse the topics in this post to access the full event e-news.

5 Things You Should Know About Prebiotics and Probiotics

Posted on August 21, 2019 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Jenn Rowntree, Vita Plus calf and heifer specialist
Both pre- and probiotics have shown the ability to resist invasion of harmful pathogens by preventing them from binding to cells in the GIT or binding directly to (and subsequently destroying) these invading pathogens. They can help improve the gastrointestinal tract environment for ingestion and digestion, thus increasing feed efficiency, and improve the overall immune system by regulating gut barrier function.  Most companies involved in animal health, reproduction, and nutrition have added a variety of prebiotic and/or probiotic products to their portfolios in recent years. Let’s explore some common questions about these feed additives.