Understand lending options

Posted on March 19, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Gary Sipiorski
Lenders of all kinds – banks, Farm Credit, credit unions, equipment manufacturers and others who make credit available to farmers – have many financing options. 

You may have heard many of the following terms, but it can be tough to understand what they mean for you.  Lenders live and breathe this terminology daily while farmers many only hear the terms once a year. 

Here are some of the more common lending “products” as they may be called by someone doing the financing.  Always remember, each lender will have his or her own policies, additional terminologies and methods.  In no way is should this list be considered complete.

Make the best mineral decisions for cow health and your wallet

Posted on March 12, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Mat Faulkner
In the past, we balanced micronutrients using the “holiday pie theory” – if some is good, more is better. 

But that isn’t the case anymore.  In fact, overfeeding micronutrients can not only be costly to the producer, but it can also be deadly to the animal.

5 steps to help your lender help you

Posted on February 26, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Gary Sipiorski
The relationship a dairy producer has with a lender is just as important as a strong balance sheet and cash flow.  The lender is the gatekeeper for tapping into future borrowings.

A dairy producers should take these five steps to maintain a healthy relationship with his or her lender.

‘Avalanche!’ – A word we don’t want to hear you say

Posted on February 15, 2018 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Michelle Windle
Many farms have a limited amount of space on the feed pad to store their homegrown forages.  This leads some producers to store multiple crops in close proximity.  January and February mark the time of year when many producers move from one crop to another.  Although avalanches can occur in a wide array of situations, it is especially common to see an avalanche at the interface between two crops.  This creates a dangerous situation.

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.

The Right Focus: Vita Plus Dairy Summit 2017 Recap

Posted on January 8, 2018 in Dairy Performance

More than 330 dairy producers, Vita Plus consultants and industry peers came together December 6 and 7 for Vita Plus Dairy Summit 2017 in Madison, Wisconsin.  Follow the links in this post to access full event coverage, including speakers' PowerPoint presentations, articles, videos and more.

Applicator winterization

Posted on December 4, 2017 in Dairy Performance

By Jon Urness
When it comes to inoculant application equipment, nothing is more frustrating than facing the first day of chopping in the spring with hay down and, when you try the applicator, all it does is make a puddle on the ground.  Now you’re scrambling to find parts or to cobble something together that will work until the parts arrive.  After all, when the hay is ready, you have to go no matter what.

Want success? Take care of your people – Part 2

Posted on October 26, 2017 in Dairy Performance

By Peter Coyne
As I mentioned in part one of this series, success on the farm starts and ends with good employees.  We discussed the qualities of good managers and how good management starts at hiring.  In this second article, we will talk about what managers can do to keep employees engaged once they are hired.

Want success? Take care of your people

Posted on October 16, 2017 in Dairy Performance

By Peter Coyne
Employees are the most valuable asset on a dairy farm and managing those employees well is the true key to success on a farm. 

Making the Old Barn New Again – Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus

Posted on October 2, 2017 in Dairy Performance

By Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus calf products coordinator
Before you decide to turn that old dairy barn into a calf barn, you should do some research.  An old barn may provide more warmth and protection from the elements for calves and caretakers.  But consider calf flow, ventilation, sanitation, ease of feeding, and the overall health benefits and risks before you begin renovations.

Choose your ketosis monitoring tool

Posted on August 31, 2017 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Zach Sawall
In early lactation, cows enter negative energy balance.  This comes from increased energy demands for milk production, which can’t be met from dry matter (DM) intake.  If cows can’t adjust to this negative energy balance, excess body reserves are mobilized, leading to higher counts of nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA) and ketones, specifically beta-hydroxy butyrate (BHBA).

Do you know your forage and feed?

Posted on August 23, 2017 in Dairy Performance

By Brittany Gevelinger & Richard Mensendike
Quality forages...where sound nutrition starts. 

Analyzing forage and feed samples will give you an accurate picture of their quality, and help you make management decisions to optimize your herd's nutrition.  The more representative your sample, the more accurate your analysis. 

3 things a fresh cow wants

Posted on July 28, 2017 in Dairy Performance

By Stacy Nichols
A fresh cow pen should provide cows with a clean, comfortable environment to recover from calving and minimize the social stress they experience when being moved into new groups.  The primary goal of a fresh group must be to minimize health events to allow cows to reach their production potential.

Forage storage: Begin with the end in mind

Posted on July 19, 2017 in Dairy Performance

By Bryan Knoper
Do you know the value of your stored forages? 

At the farm level, it is worth more than the cost to build another freestall barn.  At the cow level, it is realized in the fluctuation of her milk production when you switch forages.

Top 10 factors limiting nursery calf group feeding systems

Posted on July 5, 2017 in Dairy Performance

By Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus dairy youngstock technical specialist
Automated calf feeding systems continue to increase in popularity throughout the upper Midwest despite little uniformity in facility design, feeding method, and performance across farms and no industry-wide accepted model to balance facility performance and cost.