Making sense of milk fatty acid results

Posted on March 30, 2022 in Dairy Performance
By Stacy Nichols Has your processor offered your farm milk fatty acid analysis?  Milk fatty acids can be economically analyzed with mid-infrared technology, and many processors are beginning to offer this service to farms.  Here’s an overview of milk fatty acids to help you interpret the results.

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.

What’s the goal? More milk or reduced purchased feed costs?

Posted on September 29, 2021 in Dairy Performance
You’ve likely been told “variety A will produce more milk than variety B” when choosing your forage crop varieties. However, it usually doesn’t work exactly that way in the real world.

Fatty acid feeding strategies in a high-cost market

Posted on May 28, 2021 in Dairy Performance

By Marin Western
It’s no surprise to anyone that supplemental fat prices have followed all other feed prices and continue to jump.  We can target ratios of individual fatty acids for specific groups of cows, save some money where possible and limit potential loss caused by eliminating fat from all diets. The ultimate question then becomes:  Who gets the fat I am willing to buy?  Here's how I rank importance of supplementation.

Choose your best strategy for fat supplementation

Posted on October 16, 2020 in Dairy Performance

By Marin Western
No longer do we consider fat just fat.  Current research on fat supplementation to lactating dairy cows is focused on individual fatty acids. Recent studies at Michigan State University have especially highlighted the impacts of individual fatty acids and how we can better utilize the commercial products available to us in the industry.

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.

Grow heifers BEFORE calving

Posted on June 9, 2020 in Dairy Performance

By Barry Visser
The goal of most heifer replacement programs is to raise high-quality, healthy heifers in an efficient and economical manner.  Bodyweight of a heifer at the time of first calving is a proxy for growth and size. If heifers have not reached the desired size at calving, they will continue to grow during lactation. This is much less efficient and happens at the expense of milk production.

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.

2020 financials: A need for cautious optimism

Posted on January 20, 2020 in Dairy Performance

By Steve Maier
As we receive improved milk prices for the year ahead, we should see some recovery to our profitability, which will, in turn, lead to recovery of the balance sheet. Reflecting on my 20 years of finance experience, I seldom see bad decisions made in the worst years; they always seem to happen in the best years.

Milk protein regains the crown

Posted on December 26, 2019 in Dairy Performance

While fat’s value has remained steady and worth capturing, starting in February 2019, protein values have taken off like Usain Bolt running the 100 meter. In fact, it has increased by 232% since February, or more than 20% per month - a pretty amazing performance.  The impact of this on recent milk checks has been a welcomed relief to dairy producers and the industry as a whole.

Farm profitability: Take a good look at these 6 numbers

Posted on December 9, 2019 in Dairy Performance

By Marin Western
Today’s dairy producers have a wealth of data at their fingertips. Details for health, reproduction, feedings and inventories just scratch the surface of the numbers that can be generated from farm data. One of the biggest challenges is what to do with all this information.  A study by Compeer Financial and Zoetis identified six factors that account for 85% of the variation in farm profitability.

10 ways to get more milk from homegrown forages

Posted on October 15, 2019 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Michelle Chang-Der Bedrosian
All dairy producers share this goal:  Get more milk out of a homegrown forage and spend less on purchased feeds.  When it comes to forages, many factors – such as weather, soil depth and rainfall -  are out of our hands.  Here are 10 things we can do to improve forage quality and, hopefully, the milk production that comes from these feeds.

Minimize milk fat depression in the heat of summer

Posted on August 1, 2019 in Dairy Performance

By Barry Visser
Enhancing milk fat is beneficial to animal performance and farm profitability. Today, butterfat accounts for more than half of your milk check. Production goals are often based on combined milk fat and protein yields. Although the dog days of summer may not be an ideal time to improve milk fat, several factors may help you minimize your decline.

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.