Maintain heifer health through temperature swings

Posted on April 18, 2019 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Noah Litherland
While we enjoy spring's warmer weather, this is usually a stressful season for calves and heifers.  Increased ambient temperature during the day, increased humidity, and cooler nights have clear impacts on heifer intakes and health.  Coccidiosis and respiratory challenges are common due to fluctuating temperatures and environmental stress.

3 ways to cope with high-mycotoxin feeds

Posted on April 1, 2019 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Eric Schwab
Mycotoxins are present in a wide range of livestock feeds. While the focus has been primarily on cereal grains, haylage and hay can also contain mycotoxins.  Grain byproducts, such as distiller’s grains and corn gluten feed, can have mycotoxin concentrations two to three times greater than the parent material as little mycotoxin destruction occurs during processing and concentration occurs in the byproduct stream.  Testing for mycotoxins should be considered when symptoms of toxicity exist among a large population of animals on your farm and cannot be readily explained.

Can you feed reduced-lignin alfalfa with BMR corn?

Posted on March 8, 2019 in Dairy Performance

By Barry Visser
High-quality forages are essential to maximize performance in lactating dairy cows, especially if your goal is to feed high-forage diets.  With the introduction of reduced-lignin alfalfa, some producers ask if pairing this product with brown midrib (BMR) corn will result in too much digestible fiber. 

While controlled research on feeding both reduced-lignin alfalfa and BMR corn silage is limited, producers are having success with this strategy.  The decision and extent to move toward lower-lignin forages are farm-specific.

Balance milk and starter feeding for efficient calf growth

Posted on November 13, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Zach Sawall
A calf is born with a sterile rumen environment void of bacteria, protozoa and fungi.  Microbes in the gut populate slowly at first, but speed up over time.  This process of developing the calf into a ruminant is one of the main goals of the nursery phase.  If a calf consumes more than 0.4 pounds of fat from milk, starter grain intake begins to be suppressed.  Therefore, to maximize starter grain intake, a balanced milk feeding program should accompany a quality starter grain. 

How do we feed low-moisture corn silage?

Posted on October 1, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Darin Bremmer, Vita Plus regional sales manager
Parts of our market area saw intense rainfall and flooding in recent weeks, causing a delay in harvest until the fields can dry out.  Other parts saw the exact opposite and have dealt with severe drought for the better part of the growing season.

Both crop situations can result in low moisture levels and these producers will have to work through the unique challenges of harvesting low-moisture corn silage.  When it comes to properly harvesting and feeding dry corn silage, it helps to adjust harvest basics - such as kernel processing, chopping height and packing - to achieve a good fermentation.

The good, bad and deadly of silo gases

Posted on September 17, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Michelle Der Bedrosian
As producers fill silos, bunkers or bags, I often get calls about gases coming off the silage.  During fermentation, many different gases are formed.  For the most past, this is very normal.  I expect gas formation to occur for roughly a week after a silo is sealed, although some silos can produce gas longer.  While some gases are harmless, others are deadly.  You can never be too cautious when it comes to silo gas.

Inoculant storage and transporation to make the most of the investment

Posted on August 13, 2018 in Dairy Performance

An incredible number of forage management practices must go right to produce quality feed for livestock.  As corn silage harvest approaches, you need to make sure you have enough bacterial inoculant on-hand before you head out to the fields.  Now is the time to double-check your inventory.

Wise investments in heifer raising

Posted on August 8, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Cody Yanzick and Ann Hoskins
Calves are naturally herd animals, but, on many farms, the transition period is the first time they are grouped with others, bringing about a set of challenges that need specialized attention.  Limiting stress on calves can offer some of the greatest paybacks in terms of health and performance.

Alfalfa can calm the protein landscape

Posted on July 30, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Nathan Hrnicek & Stacy Nichols
Dairy producers are looking for opportunities to maintain margins amid increasing protein and byproduct costs.  Growing and feeding more high-quality alfalfa could provide the solution.

Vita Plus Calf Summit 2018 Recap

Posted on July 9, 2018 in Dairy Performance

More than 175 calf raisers, Vita Plus consultants and industry peers came together June 20 and 21 for Vita Plus Calf Summit 2018 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Follow the links in this post to access full event coverage, including speakers' PowerPoint presentations, articles and more.

7 ways to save calf starter dollars

Posted on May 24, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Ann Hoskins
The best way to save on calf starter without sacrificing growth and performance is to limit waste. These seven steps can help you save money on calf starter.

Low-density silage piles equal lost dollars

Posted on May 18, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Nathan Hrnicek
Field work has begun and we’ll be cutting first-crop alfalfa in no time.  It’s amazing how much work can get done in such a short amount of time, but one process that should receive adequate time is silage packing. 

Inoculant mythbusters: Clearing the smoke and mirrors

Posted on April 18, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Michelle Windle
Each year, inoculant companies and their representatives vie for your business.  Decisions should be made based on proven facts rather than marketing, smoke and mirrors.  Therefore, we’d like to share some myths we’ve heard as well as some scientific responses to help “clear the smoke.”

Make the best mineral decisions for cow health and your wallet

Posted on March 12, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Mat Faulkner
In the past, we balanced micronutrients using the “holiday pie theory” – if some is good, more is better. 

But that isn’t the case anymore.  In fact, overfeeding micronutrients can not only be costly to the producer, but it can also be deadly to the animal.

Clear thinking with cloudy milk prices: 5 key ideas to see through the low-hanging price clouds

Posted on February 6, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Gary Sipiorski
Seasoned dairy producers have been through our cyclical milk price swings.  They recognize this low spot because they’ve been here before.  Those with less experience may feel more uncomfortable in the current situation, but that’s not to say any dairy producer is pleased with the prices.  Regardless, everyone must work through the low period. 

Here are five ideas to start the preparation process for however long it will take to get back to a higher milk price.  

Milk production opportunities are waiting in the feedbunk

Posted on January 22, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Jon Rasmussen
Have you visited a nature park and climbed to the top of a tall observation tower?  Finding your way through the woods is completely different after gaining this overview compared to standing on the ground.

How we observe cow behavior at the feedbunk can also really make a difference in what we see.  If we expand our view, we can gain a lot by improving feedbunk behavior.