Milk the money-makers

Posted on April 25, 2016 in Dairy Performance

By Stacy Nichols
With the current low margins, more emphasis needs to be placed on the factors that impact dairy farm profitability.   Dairies should milk as many profitable cows as possible to maximize the milking parlor – without exceeding the capacity to take care of cows. 

The right time to put the seed in the ground

Posted on April 12, 2016 in Dairy Performance

By Jon Urness
What does it cost in corn silage yield or – more importantly – milk yield per acre when planting for corn silage is delayed? 

In a word - a lot!

Walls or no walls?

Posted on March 23, 2016 in Dairy Performance

By Randall Greenfield
Walls or no walls?  This question inevitably comes up when considering storage options for ensiled forages and grains. The answer, of course, is always “it depends.” For any specific situation, the ultimate solution could be different than the next. For the purpose of this article, however, I’ll make some generic comparisons.

Manage dairy heifer feed cost control points

Posted on March 2, 2016 in Dairy Performance

By Pat Hoffman
With the cycle of lower milk prices upon us, we are often asked how to control feed costs, including the cost of feeding dairy heifers. 

The Impact of the Top 5 in 2016

Posted on February 16, 2016 in Dairy Performance

By Gary Sipiorski
Most agricultural products are commodities.  That means corn looks like corn whether it is grown in Iowa, Brazil or China.  Milk looks like milk no matter where in the world the cows are milked. 

The market price of commodities moves based on supply and demand.  As the supply and demand of commodities change - or worldwide cow numbers change – the result is a rollercoaster ride of income on the local farm.

Vita Plus Dairy Summit 2015: Stepping Forward

Posted on February 1, 2016 in Dairy Performance

Vita Plus Dairy Summit, held this past December in Baraboo, Wisconsin, brought together more than 450 progressive producers from across the Midwest as well as leaders in dairy research and management.

Deciphering dairy data

Posted on December 4, 2015 in Dairy Performance
By Randy Greenfield You don’t have to know me well to know I like to work with data. Many producers aren’t quite as likely to get excited about data and spreadsheets, but I think everyone can appreciate the value in tracking dairy herd data to best manage health and performance. We not only have sophisticated

Estimating feed intake of dairy heifers: A quick discussion

Posted on November 20, 2015 in Dairy Performance
By Pat Hoffman Estimating feed intake (dry matter intake) of dairy heifers is an important part of dairy heifer nutrition, but there is a little catch and a trick to get it close. Many of us use heifer bodyweight to estimate feed intake of dairy heifers.  Bodyweight-based heifer feed intake equations “sort of” work, but

TMR mixer checkups do matter

Posted on November 11, 2015 in Dairy Performance
By Rod Martin The total mixed ration (TMR) is an efficient and effective method to feed high-producing dairy cows and has been universally adopted on today’s dairy operations. Yet, many factors can lead to significant TMR inconsistency, resulting in suboptimal milk production, components and potential herd health issues.  Potential variances at each step of the

Use post-season evaluation to assess the harvest

Posted on October 27, 2015 in Dairy Performance
By Chris Wacek-Driver Hopefully, the 2015 harvest season’s efforts have rewarded your farm with adequate inventory and quality feed for the year ahead and will be reflected in profitable milk production and healthy cows.  Equally as important, we hope all this was accomplished efficiently and safely. With the last tire on the bunker and the

It’s time to prepare for winter calf care

Posted on October 19, 2015 in Dairy Performance
By Augusta Hagen A hard frost and cooler temperatures mean winter will be here before we know it. The thermal-neutral zone for a calf under 3 weeks of age is 59 to 78 degrees F.  When temperatures dip below 59 degrees, the calf can start to experience cold stress and not grow as efficiently as

A smooth transition

Posted on September 11, 2015 in Dairy Performance
By Sarah Fraley The transition period for a dairy cow is often considered her most stressful time in the course of her lactation. Typically defined as the three weeks prior to the three weeks after calving, the transition period consists of rapid changes in the cow’s metabolic needs as well as many physiological changes associated

DCAD: Important for dry and lactating dairy cattle

Posted on September 2, 2015 in Dairy Performance
By Dr. Eric Schwab When we say “electrolytes” on a dairy farm, one of the first things that come to mind is feeding electrolytes to scouring calves.  Electrolytes play an important role in the cow’s diet as well.  When we’re talking about electrolytes for adult animals, the term we commonly use is DCAD. Electrolytes are

Bank on corn silage in your rations

Posted on August 27, 2015 in Dairy Performance
By Dr. Darin Bremmer What was once considered a high corn silage diet is not high compared to today’s standards.  We commonly feed diets containing at least 80 percent of the forage dry matter (DM) from corn silage. One of the biggest reasons for this change is consistency.  It is much easier to put up

Understanding starch digestibility inside and out

Posted on August 11, 2015 in Dairy Performance
By Pat Hoffman We feed lactating cows starch sources that may be ground, flaked, processed, rolled or ensiled.  In addition, we store feeds containing starch in bags, bunkers and bins at different moisture contents for different lengths of time. With all these possible combinations, figuring out starch digestibility in the feeds we put in front

Conflict: Cows can be the easy part of farm management

Posted on July 31, 2015 in Dairy Performance
By Jack Hales and Barry Visser The care and comfort of the cows is of utmost importance, but, some days, managing the cows is the easy part.  The biggest conflict from the cows’ perspective may be resolved by moving the dominant cow to another pen. It’s not so easy with people. Occasionally, “big picture” conflicts