Video: Evaluating corn silage processing in the field

Posted on August 19, 2014 in Dairy Performance
By Jon Rasmussen Trying to get a handle on corn silage processing while the choppers are moving has gained a great deal of interest in the recent years. A few considerations can help make the evaluation a little less subjective. Start by gathering a fresh corn silage sample in a 32-ounce container (a large soda

Robotic feed pusher: Future driver of dry matter intake?

Posted on July 11, 2014 in Dairy Performance
By Kary Babb In today’s dairy industry, technology is evermore integral to the management and care of dairy herds worldwide.  Increasingly, producers are saying goodbye to manual labor, allowing them to focus their time on other projects. First, we saw a huge change to the industry when robotic milking systems became available.  Since then, an

Building better heifer breeding criteria

Posted on June 23, 2014 in Dairy Performance
By Pat Hoffman For years, dairy producers have been told they should target specific breeding weights and lower the average breeding age of their heifers. There’s just one small problem with this school of thought:  No single heifer calves at the "average" age. Dairy farmers calve distributions of heifers, not the average. In other words,

The ladies like it cool… Starting today (Part 2)

Posted on May 30, 2014 in Dairy Performance
By Rod Martin It’s the end of May and that means heat abatement strategies should be in place on your dairy.  A good method to review your cooling strategy is the 3-M approach:  mechanical considerations, metabolic considerations and management considerations. I discussed several mechanical considerations in my last post, including shade, airflow and water access. 

Caution: Don’t kill your bugs!

Posted on May 12, 2014 in Dairy Performance
By Dr. Michelle Windle Bacterial inoculants are commonly added to forage at ensiling because they result in more desirable fermentations that improve the recovery of dry matter (DM) and energy.  Certain strains of lactic acid bacteria can improve aerobic stability.  Many factors have the potential to affect how well an inoculant works, such as storage

The ladies like it cool… Starting today (Part 1)

Posted on April 25, 2014 in Dairy Performance
By Rod Martin On April 20 here in the Madison area, the temperature soared above 70 degrees for the first time in 190 days.  This was certainly a welcome relief and we are hoping for many more days like that since many of us were wondering if this severe winter would ever end. For 190

Fly control strategies for dairy calves and heifers

Posted on April 21, 2014 in Dairy Performance
By Dr. Noah Litherland Fly control is critically important on all livestock farms.  Flies negatively impact dairy calves in two primary ways: Spread disease such as E. Coli and Salmonella Reduce animal comfort, resulting in increased stress and reduced efficiency of growth The key with any fly management strategy is to start early in the

Motivate frozen employees

Posted on March 6, 2014 in Dairy Performance
By Bob Hagenow Unquestionably, this winter has been tough on everyone and many have reached their tolerance level for cold and snow.  The forecast shows some hope, but March is infamous for surprises and Old Man Winter will probably make a couple more appearances.  So how do you encourage motivation amongst your team while you

So it’s time to hire a new employee on the dairy

Posted on February 13, 2014 in Dairy Performance
By Dr. Al Schultz and Peter Coyne As your dairy business grows or an employee moves on, you are tasked with hiring a quality employee.  Done right, this can be a stimulating process that invigorates the entire team.  But the wrong hire can be a millstone around your neck, a financial drain and a threat

Safety and care in the bitter cold

Posted on January 6, 2014 in Dairy Performance
Working in these extremely cold temperatures is not easy.  Please do your best to work safely as you care for your animals.  Here are a few reminders from your Vita Plus team for dealing with harsh winter conditions on the farm: For your team By Scott Hall, Vita Plus safety director You can’t take care

The Sky is the Limit | Vita Plus Dairy Summit 2013

Posted on December 23, 2013 in Dairy Performance
More than 375 dairy producers, Vita Plus consultants and industry peers came together December 11 and 12 for Vita Plus Dairy Summit 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Keep reading for links to complete event coverage, including articles, videos, photos and speaker presentations.   Virtual Farm Tours Finger Family Farm, LLC | Oconto, Wis. | Tour

High-functioning teams drive today’s top dairies

Posted on November 29, 2013 in Dairy Performance
By Peter Coyne Many people who work with cows on a daily basis have a solid understanding of cow behavior.  Cows are fairly predictable. What about the people you work with? Today, dairies of all sizes depend on teams of people who work together to accomplish the tasks necessary to make the farm profitable.  Unquestionably,

Testing for ketosis: Can it be that easy?

Posted on November 15, 2013 in Dairy Performance
By Kevin Caspersen and John Brantsen In previous Dairy Performance articles, we’ve discussed the importance of testing for and monitoring subclinical ketosis in dairy cows.  We’ve often highlighted the Precision Xtra® blood meter as a simple cowside tool for evaluating ketosis.  But is it really that simple?  We conducted an on-farm survey last year to

The interest rate dilemma

Posted on October 29, 2013 in Dairy Performance
By Gary Sipiorski Every expense on a dairy farm has an impact on the cash flow.  Those that remember the 16-percent interest rates of the 1980s have bad memories of how high interest rates can derail a checkbook. The question is:  “Are we on the interest rate edge of the 80s again?”  When deciding to

Stop the drain of fresh cow disorders

Posted on October 17, 2013 in Dairy Performance
By Dr. Laurie Winkelman Like a slow leak from a car tire that eventually turns into a flat, subclinical ketosis and milk fever can slowly drain profits from your dairy. Cows with subclinical ketosis or milk fever will appear completely normal, floating under the radar of common detection tools and treatments.  Making real changes to

Starch digestibility: Give it time

Posted on October 1, 2013 in Dairy Performance
By Dr. Eric Schwab Here’s a question for you:  When you’re feeding high-producing dairy cattle, do you want to feed the rumen bugs or the wildlife? If you’re an avid hunter in search of big bucks or long-bearded turkeys, the latter might not sound so bad.  But when corn prices hover around $6 per bushel,