Know these symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite

Posted on January 30, 2019 in Dairy Performance

The extreme cold weather and wind chills you are dealing with are dangerous. 

Keep this list handy and watch for any symptoms of hypothermia, frostbite, trench foot, and chilblains that may occur in your family members, employees, or yourself.

5 questions to ask your vet

Posted on January 29, 2019 in Dairy Performance

When was the last time you and your herd veterinarian spent time together with calves?  Even if the calves are healthy, your veterinarian should still be involved in the development of calf management practices.  Here are five questions to ask your herd veterinarian to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of your calf-rearing program.

Safely warm newborn calves

Posted on January 3, 2019 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Noah Litherland
Every one of us in the dairy industry has an inborn fondness for cattle, and value newborn calves and the promise they bring. Let’s get wise about thermal support for our calves in the first 24 hours of their lives during cold weather.

Biosecurity and bovine tuberculosis

Posted on December 3, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Jenn Rowntree
Recently, a herd of cows in Dane County, Wisconsin recently tested positive for bovine tuberculosis (TB) and has been quarantined.  The herd will continue to be under quarantine while the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (WI DATCP) traces all cattle that have entered and exited the herd in the last five years.  This event provides a great opportunity to reiterate how important it is to practice proper biosecurity protocols.

Attention students: 10 tips to prepare for a career in agriculture

Posted on November 20, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Eliza Ruzic
Agriculture is an ever-changing field with endless opportunities for a variety of careers.  From accounting to research, and from sales to hands-on daily labor, young people considering a career in agriculture have plenty of choices for future careers. 

After speaking to an eighth-grade careers class recently, I started thinking about what students can do to prepare themselves for a career in agriculture.  Here are my top 10 tips to make yourself stand out as a candidate for a position.

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. 

Internal parasite control

Posted on October 26, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Barry Visser
Dairy cattle behavior and appearance often make it easy to detect external parasites like flies, mange and lice. Severe internal parasite infiltrations can result in roughness of hair coat, anemia, edema and diarrhea. However, the subclinical impact of internal parasites is largely hidden, yet costly. According to a recent study at Iowa State University, undetected subclinical disease caused by internal parasites can cost $190 per animal.

How to focus on farm efficiency

Posted on October 12, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Peter Coyne
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are defined as measurable values that demonstrate how effectively a business meets its objectives.  Identifying and tracking a few simple, yet critical, KPIs can prevent farm managers from becoming bogged down in analysis and losing sight of what’s important to their operations.

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.

Inoculants: Claims you can count on

Posted on August 22, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Jon Urness
Here in the land of wide open spaces and free markets, it’s fairly easy to put together a silage additive simply by choosing a few likely characters for bacteria, mixing them in a bottle, slapping on a label, and touting it as being well researched and proven – with little or no interference from regulators.

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.

Strategies to recruit and retain good employees

Posted on June 18, 2018 in Dairy Performance

​By Mark Case
Let’s face it, finding and retaining good employees is becoming a major hurdle on many dairy farms.  A few key strategies can give you an edge in finding and keeping great employees.