5 summer calf ventilation checkpoints

Posted on May 30, 2019 in Dairy Performance

By Ann Hoskins
If you haven't already, now is the time for routine maintenance on your calf facility ventilation system.  Good air quality goes a long way in promoting calf health.  Plus, an efficiently working ventilation system saves dollars on your bottom line.

8 ways to control alfalfa quality

Posted on May 2, 2019 in Dairy Performance

By Nathan Hrnicek
Typically, to achieve higher-quality alfalfa, the crop is harvested earlier (between 23 and 28 days). Harvesting in the early- to mid-bud stage is still the best and most practical way to maximize quality.  

Another way to maximize quality is to maximize leaf retention.  The leaves are where you get an increase in quality because they are more digestible compared to the stems.  More overall leaves means lower undigestible material, which means higher-quality alfalfa.  To help maintain or increase leaf retention and improve quality, here are some other practices you can enact during the harvest process.

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.

Prevent the pain of frostbite for calves

Posted on February 6, 2019 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Jenn Rowntree
We're likely to see more bitter cold temperatures yet this winter.  Unless frostbite is caught and treated early, the results are often permanent and detrimental.  With limited treatment options, prevention of frostbite is the best strategy.

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.