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.

6 ways to get the most from your corn silage

Posted on August 17, 2020 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Michelle Chang-Der Bedrosian
Much of the Midwest will be chopping corn silage in the next couple of weeks.  These six steps can help you put up high-quality feed while limiting your potential for shrink and spoilage.

2020 harvest: Go time is close!

Posted on August 6, 2020 in Dairy Performance

The 2020 corn crop looks good in much of the Midwest.  Vita Plus staff across the area provide a quick recap of this growing season and estimated corn silage harvest start dates.

VIDEO: When should you use an L. buchneri inoculant?

Posted on July 22, 2020 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Michelle Chang-Der Bedrosian
Warmer temperatures create the perfect environment for spoilage in your forages. In this video, I explain how a forage inoculant with L. buchneri 40788 can help prevent spoilage, as well as the circumstances in which it's best not to use it. 

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.

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.

Forage and business tips from Vita Plus Custom Harvester Meeting 2020

Posted on May 27, 2020 in Dairy Performance

The 2020 forage season is underway!  Are you geared up for success?  Speakers at the Vita Plus Custom Harvester Meeting held in February shared a wide range of expertise in forage production as well as business management.  Browse all of the event e-news topics in this post and visit Vita Plus Forage Foundations for more forage-focused technical expertise and practical tips.

Serving customers & rural communities

Posted on May 15, 2020 in Dairy Performance

Vita Plus recently launched the Serving Customers & Rural Communities Project.  Through this project, Vita Plus has committed $100,000 to support rural food security initiatives throughout the Upper Midwest.  The purposes of the project are to assist those in rural communities during the COVID-19 pandemic while also showing support for dairy, swine, and beef producers by purchasing their products.  Click the link below to see the growing list of projects happening in communities across the Midwest.  We sincerely thank all the dairy and livestock farmers who work hard to provide nutritious, safe food for our families.  It's an honor to work with you.

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! 

Step away for a better view

Posted on March 9, 2020 in Dairy Performance

By Bob Hagenow
When you wear many hats on your dairy, it may seem difficult – or even impossible – to spend any time away.  But taking a few days to attend an industry event can provide several benefits, including different perspectives, financial benchmarking, planning for the future, practical learning and an opportunity to refocus.