Better digestibility with reduced particle size?

Posted on May 18, 2021 in Dairy Performance

By Wyatt Smith
In the last few years, we’ve taken a more critical look at the relationship between forage fiber particle size and forage digestibility.  Researchers at the Miner Institute in New York have explored the concept of reducing particle size of forages with lower fiber digestibility to improve animal performance. 

Doubling down on homegrown proteins

Posted on May 11, 2021 in Dairy Performance

By Steve Murty
Feed prices have increased substantially in recent months.  Further complicating the cost situation, the winter storm that blew through Texas froze water pipes and natural gas lines, which created a short-term deficiency of feed-grade urea.  These two unpredictable incidents emphasize how important it is to double down on forage management practices to preserve homegrown protein yields and save out-of-pocket expenses. 

Grass can fit well in your forage inventories and nutrient management plan

Posted on April 28, 2021 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Zach Sawall and Pat Hoffman
“What else can we fit into our crop rotation to get more tonnage from the acres we have to work?” Italian ryegrass can be an effective forage option whether you’re looking to rescue a winterkilled alfalfa field or wanting to put up a grass forage.

Moisture testing saves money each and every day

Posted on April 12, 2021 in Dairy Performance

By Nathan Hrnicek
Forage moisture is tested daily on some farms while other farms wait for a nutritionist visit.  Farms tend to focus on it more during harvest, but harvest testing strategies also vary farm-to-farm.  However, an accurate reading of moisture content is absolutely necessary at several points throughout the year on a dairy farm.

5 ways a calf says she’s getting the right amount of milk

Posted on March 15, 2021 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Lucas Mitchell
Similar to how we rely on the lactating herd’s performance to indicate if something is working or not, if we pay attention to how the calves are performing, they will show us if they are receiving too much, too little, or just the right amount of milk.

Use your data to increase efficiency and profitability

Posted on March 3, 2021 in Dairy Performance

By Mark Case
Every dairy farm has opportunities to improve efficiency and profitability.  One way to do this is to harness and make sense of your farm’s data.  By diving into the data behind each of these six factors, we can determine what management steps can have the biggest effects on efficiency and profitability.

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.

Work safely in the winter

Posted on January 29, 2021 in Dairy Performance

By Chris Belz
Hard work and a dairy farm go hand in hand, but we need to stay healthy to care for our families and our animals.  Here are a few reminders for safe farm work in the winter.

Stay safe: That text can wait

Posted on January 14, 2021 in Dairy Performance

By Kate McAndrews
Even texters and drivers hate texters and drivers (in farming too).  Many may be driving less frequently right now, but we should continue to challenge ourselves and each other to reduce our distracted driving habits because each of us is so critically important to those around us – both on the farm and at home.  Everyone around the world thrives on communication and efficiency, but we also need to thrive on safety. 

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. 

Sizing up your forage future

Posted on December 17, 2020 in Dairy Performance

By Nathan Hrnicek
If you are deciding to build a new forage storage site, such as a pile or bunker, it is important to consider the space required for these structures, the amount of forage you need at the present time and in the future, and your desired feedout rate.  Additionally, adding adequate apron space is another component often overlooked.

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.

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.

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.