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  1. New Factsheet: Avian Influenza Detected in Dairy Cattle

    A new factsheet on “Avian Influenza Detected in Dairy Cattle” has been developed and posted on the front page of our web site:  https://dairy.osu.edu/

  2. Current Dairy Industry Outlook and Dairy Margin Coverage Sign-Up

    Jason Hartschuh, Extension Field Specialist, Dairy Management and Precision Livestock, Ohio State University Extension

    Dairy margin coverage (DMC) sign-up is currently underway at your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office through April 29th. The DMC program provided about $2.80/cwt of support in 2023 for the first 5 million pounds of milk production history if producers enrolled at the $9.50/cwt margin level. Farms received 2 months of catastrophic payments when the margin fell below $4/cwt. Figure 1 shows the actual program margin from January 2021 through January 2024 with the projection for 2024. Over the past 3 years, the DMC program when enrolled at a $9.50/cwt margin more than covered the total program premium. All current indications are for stronger milk prices in 2024 and lower feed costs; however, risk management is still critical. For tier-one coverage, there is currently a guaranteed margin payout for January and February totaling almost 60% of the program premium. While March and the rest of 2024 is projected to have margins above the $9.50/cwt level, many different domestic or international events could affect this projection by either increasing feed costs or lowering milk price. As a risk management strategy against either one of these two events, the DMC program is a very useful tool for producers. Also during the 2024 sign up, producers have the option to make a one-time adjustment to their established production to include the supplement coverage they may have had based on their 2019 production history. A graph with red line and yellow lineDescription automatically generatedFigure 1. Actual and forecasted dairy margin coverage.

    In March, USDA raised the 2024 all-milk price forecast to $21.25/cwt with a reduced domestic supply and continued strong domestic demand. Butter prices are staying strong and cheddar cheese prices have had gains recently with a 2 cents yearly price projection increase. The current 2024 Class IV price forecast is $20.10/cwt. Class IV milk prices decreased recently due to a lower nonfat dry milk price forecast with weaker international demand, even though butter prices have increased. The Class III milk price forecast has increased to $17.15/cwt on stronger cheddar cheese prices, even though the whey price forecast has been lowered with weaker international demand.

    The US dairy herd continued to shrink in January of 2024 by about 23,000 head compared to December 2023 or 76,000 head less than the year prior in January of 2023. Heifer inventories do not show a rapid recovery in cow numbers in 2024, but a slow recovery my begin late in 2024. Monthly milk production fluctuates in a cycle each year with January production increasing over December production and setting the production trend for the year as season herds and the spring flush begins. The January 2024 milk production was 7 lb/hd head lower than January 2023, leading to a projected lower yearly production per cow. Milk solids concentrations have been steadily increasing as shown in Figure 2. Milk fat percentage has increased 0.35% in January since 2018 when the average was 4% and in 2024 was 4.35%. The higher concentration of milk solids (fat, protein, lactose and minerals) increases processor efficiency by decreasing the amount of raw milk needed. Thus, milk with higher components is more valuable per cwt.  Figure 2. Percentages of milk fat and solids from 2018 to 2024.

    U.S. milk prices are being supported by strong domestic demand; however, our dairy products are less competitive on the international market. Our strong domestic demand for butter products lead to a 68 million pound import increase in January 2024 over January 2023. While we are also still exporting milk fat products, the 2024 export volume is projected to be 11.1 billion pounds on a milk fat basis, which is lower than 2023 exports. US dairy products are projected to lack price competitiveness in 2024 on the international market. The international market is also projected to continue to have weaker demand. These two factors will weigh on US milk prices throughout 2024.

    With the first quarter of 2024 coming to a close, hopefully you have reviewed your entire 2023 cost of product to look for areas to improve cost control. Now is also a good time to review your cost of production for 2024 and improve your cost controls as you can begin to project home-grown feed costs for the year. As you look over your farm’s data, be sure to evaluate if your milk solids are keeping up with national trends of more dense milk. If your milk fat and non-milk fat solids have not increased from 2018 levels, it is time to investigate why. There are many reasons why milk fat may not be increasing, including nutrition, genetics, or even facilities. Reviewing your production and economic data at least quarterly can improve farm profitability for 2024.

  3. Assessing Forage Stands and Winter Damage

    Jason Hartschuh, Extension Field Specialist, Dairy Management and Precision Livestock, Ohio State University Extension

    Spring is here and now is a great time to walk fields and note how the forages faired. Winter damage is difficult to predict and the variability of temperatures this past winter across the state can present some difficult conditions for forages. Depending on the location and what type of forage field, winter damage may be a major concern, particularly for forages with taproots like alfalfa. Stands should be assessed carefully during spring green-up for concerns, such as heaving and crown and root diseases. A thorough and timely assessment will allow for planning any necessary adjustments for the 2024 season.

    Assessment

    When making a stand assessment, it is important to not only make aboveground observations by way of a stem count but to also dig up plant samples and assess the below-ground biomass. To make an aboveground assessment, select a random one square foot in the field and count the number of living stems within that square foot area. Repeat that random selection and counting of stems, 4-5 times for an area of 20-25 acres. When scouting, the more samples or locations assessed the more accurate the estimate will be. The average stem density of a field can be a useful tool to gauge the yield potential for the coming year. For alfalfa stand assessments, the University of Wisconsin Extension has a useful publication; “Alfalfa Stand Assessment: Is this stand good enough to keep?”, in which they provide the following table as a reference for stand assessment and decision making.

    Number of Stems/ Square Foot

    Expected Result or Action

    Over 55

    Stem density is not yield-limiting

    40-55

    Some yield reduction is expected

    39 or less

    Consider stand replacement

    While assessing the stem density of a forage stand, take note of where on the plant shoot growth is active. Healthy plants will have numerous shoots growing evenly around the crown. A damaged plant will have a lower number of total shoots and often have more or all stems on one side of the crown. Damaged plants will be lower yielding and have a lower survivability for the following winter.

    Heaving

    With temperature variability and freeze-thaw cycles, heaving is a common form of winter damage seen in the field. This is a more common problem in heavier clay soils and poorly draining soils. Warmer temperatures occurring sporadically in February and March, followed by short freezes, similar to what we have seen this year, can heave and expose the root system to a severe enough level that plants may not survive into May. Plants that experience heaving and survive are more susceptible to disease and the stress of heaving accumulates over the lifespan of the crop, lowering the yield potential and life expectancy of the stand. If significant heaving is observed but crown health is minimally affected, adjustments to harvest practices prior to the first cutting may be necessary. Cutting too low at any point during the year on heaved crowns can not only damage the crown and slow regrowth but can also damage the root system, often causing immediate death and no additional cuttings. Making obvious notes in the mower tractor or flagging the field entrance can help you remember throughout the year that mower adjustments need made to not damage the stand. A stand with increased heaving may be limped through this year by managing cutting but will usually need to be rotated to another crop next year.


    Stem and Root Concerns

    Even if no heaving is observed, it is important to dig up plant samples and observe crown and root health. Similar to assessing stem density, select multiple random plants and split the crown and root. The table below can help you rate crowns. A healthy stand will have less than 30% of crowns rating 3 or 4 and no crowns in the count rating 5, which are dead plants.

     

     

     

     



     

    Once a stand assessment is completed, if renovations are needed there are a couple of options. Stands can be improved with grasses and clover to extend the production of the forage for a few years. Another option is terminating after a first cutting and plant silage corn or possibly a warm season forage, such as sorghum, sudangrass, or sorghum-sudan as a high-yielding alternative to meet forage production needs. Based on your operation practices, options such as Teff grass, Italian ryegrass, or Berseem clover are good options for dry hay.  Summer annual cereal grain forage such as oats, spring triticale, or spring barley could be made as dry hay but may be easier to harvest as silage or baleage. To fulfill forage needs, spring seeding alfalfa is an option and planted with a companion crop can provide forage this year and set up a stand ready for maximum yield next year.

     

  4. Spring Forage Establishment

    Jason Hartschuh, Extension Field Specialist, Dairy Management and Precision Livestock, Ohio State University Extension

    As soil temperatures rise and the chances of a morning frost decline, the window to spring-establish forages is open. In the spring, the combination of weather and plenty to do make planting opportunities scarce. To take advantage of those short planting windows, the following are items to consider to improve chances for a successful forage establishment this spring.

    1. Soil Fertility and pH: Set up your forages with the best starting conditions you can by providing sufficient available nutrients and a soil pH that allows for those nutrients to be taken up. Follow the Tri-state Soil Fertility Recommendations (https://forages.osu.edu/forage-management/soil-fertility-forages). Phosphorus levels for grass are optimal in the 20-40 ppm range, while the range for legumes is 30-50 ppm. When it comes to potassium, the optimal range is 100-130 ppm for sandy soils with a cation exchange capacity (CEC) less than 5; for loam and clay soils with a CEC greater than 5, the range is 120-170 ppm. No matter the nutrients in the soil, if pH isn’t taken care of the forage will not be as productive. Most forages are productive at a pH above 6.0, but for alfalfa, a pH of 6.5-6.8 is necessary, and if the pH is below that, it is worth considering pushing alfalfa establishment to the late summer planting window and applying lime and maybe planting an annual grass for forage in the interim. As for nitrogen fertilization, an application of 30 lb/acre of starter nitrogen for pure cool-season grass stands or 10-20 lb/acre for grass-legume mixes can help with seedling vigor in low-nitrogen soils.
    1. Weed Control: Prior to forage establishment, weed control is important to lower potential competition throughout the lifespan of a stand. Weeds can choke out and limit forage establishment, and once a forage is established, the option to control weeds is reduced. Decisions can be made in the selection of the field for establishment to avoid areas where there are known weed problems. Chemical control can be used to manage a variety of weeds, but be sure to take extra caution to follow replant intervals. Another option for weed control and a good practice for particularly competitive perennial weeds is a tillage pass. 
    1. Prepared Seedbed: Planting into a well-prepared seedbed improves seedling germination and uniformity. For conventional systems, an ideal seedbed is firm, smooth, clod-free, and weed-free. As soon as soils are fit, prepare seedbeds for plants, but be careful to not overwork soils depleting soil moisture and increasing the risk of soil crusting following a rain event. When seeding in a tilled seed bed, drills with press wheels are best to ensure good seed-to-soil contact. Excellent tools to firm soil to improve seed-to-soil contact are cultipackers and cultimulchers. Where erosion is a concern in no-till systems, or if there is residue over 35%, the use of a no-till drill is recommended. No-till forage establishment is most successful in silt loam soils and soils that are well-draining. Timing for seedbed prep should be based more on conditions than the calendar, so be sure tillage equipment is ready to go early.  
    2. Seed Selection: Select a high-quality and reputable seed variety. Be sure that the seed used has good germination for a relatively recent germination test and that the variety is well suited to our region. The forage stand is a multiyear crop, so planting “common” seed (variety not stated) usually proves to be a very poor investment, yielding less even in the first or second year and having shorter stand life.
    1. Companion Crops: Select forages and forage mixes that will meet desired production. Direct seedings without a companion crop will allow for 2-3 high-quality harvests in a successfully established seeding year. If looking to increase forage tonnage in the first year of a forage crop, a small grain companion crop can be successful. Companion crops have the added benefits of erosion protection and weed competition in susceptible fields. Important considerations with companion crops to not out-compete the perennial forage are: (i) select an early maturing, stiff strawed variety so other forages are not smothered, (ii) plant companion small grains at 1.5-2.0 bu/acre, (iii) remove companion crop as pasture or silage in the early boot stage to limit competition, and (iv) do not apply additional nitrogen to the companion crop.  
    2. Timing of Planting: The recommended spring planting window for forages in Ohio is mid-March to mid to late April for southern Ohio and late March to early May for northern Ohio. Warm-season forages and annual forages can effectively be established later in the growing season (reference the Ohio Agronomy Guide for species-specific planting windows). Timely planting allows for forages to be established before the environmental stresses of summer and allows forages to better compete with weeds. Later forage planting can struggle to establish lowering the potential yield and lowering quality due to a large presence of weeds. If spring planting is delayed, consider planting a summer annual and waiting to establish a perennial forage in August.  With the warmer than normal February and March we had this year, soil temperatures and spring green up are nearly two weeks ahead of schedule, which means weed germination is also, and we should plan accordingly, as May 1 might be too late this year.
    3. Seeding Rate: Forage seeds can vary in size, shape, and whether or not they are coated. Getting an accurate seeding rate can be difficult, particularly with mixes. Take the time to calibrate seeders ahead of time. The seeding rate is important to establish a uniform stand that is productive and competitive with weeds. An excellent resource for calibration is the video “Drill Calibration” at https://forages.osu.edu/video/.  If mixing grass seed with alfalfa seed, have it professionally blended by the seed supplier if possible, and ask them for any information they may have on drill settings, and seeding rates.  If you cannot have it pre-blended, consider planting it separately to ensure the accuracy of seeding rate.  If you do plan to drop mixed seed through a drill, calibration is a must and will vary so plan accordingly and be sure to test your drop rate.
    4. Seeding Depth: Forages are small-seeded crops, so plant depth is very important for uniform establishment. A seeding depth of 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep with good seed-to-soil contact is optimal for most forage species and soil types. In sandy soils, a depth of 1/2 to 3/4 inch may be appropriate. Be sure to check the actual planting depth when first planting and if any field conditions change. Take particular note in no-till fields and with no-till drills to ensure seeding depth accuracy. In our experience, visibility of up to 25% of the seed on the surface, or in the seed slot but uncovered behind the drill indicates that most seeds are at the proper depth.  Tender legume seedlings will have a very hard time reaching the soil surface if they germinate too deep, especially on heavier soils where any amount of crusting may take place following planting. 
    1. Post Planting Scouting: The first 2 months of a newly established forage are critical for the longevity and long-term production of a stand. Early weed competition is most detrimental to an establishing forage stand. When looking to control a weed problem, for post-emergence application, be sure to double-check the label to not harm forage seedlings. A similar concern is present with insect pests like potato leafhopper damaging legumes as soon as late May to early June. Even in established forages, it is best to scout for pests yearly when each pest is seasonally present.
    2. Harvest Management: Unless there is weed or pest pressure, it is ideal to delay the first harvest of a new seeding until early flowering for legumes. For first harvest of pure grass stands, harvest depends on stand vigor and weather conditions; grasses for the most part establish slower than legumes and 70 days after planting is generally the timing for the first harvest. If the harvest method is grazing, take extra precautions to limit trampling damage. If there is a weed problem, clipping may be necessary to prevent weed seed production.
  5. Milk Prices, Costs of Nutrients, Margins, and Comparison of Feedstuffs Prices

    April F. White, Graduate Research Associate, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    Milk Prices

    In the January issue, the Class III milk future for March was $16.33/cwt. Class III milk closing price for February was $16.08/cwt, with protein and butterfat prices at $1.23/lb and $3.10/lb, respectively. The rising price of milk fat continues to negatively impact protein price. For this issue, the Class III future for April is $15.72/cwt, returning in May to $16.35/cwt.

    Nutrient Prices

    It can be helpful to compare the prices in Table 1 to the 5-year averages. With some lower reported feed prices since the January issue, the cost of net energy for lactation (NEL) has decreased by more than 50%. The cost of NEL is about 55% lower than the 5-year average ($0.09/MCal). However, the cost of metabolizable (MP) has increased since the January issue. It remains higher than the 5-year average ($0.44/lb) by about 40%. These changes can be largely attributed to a lower reported cost of feeds providing primarily energy to the ration.

    To estimate profitability at these nutrient prices, the Cow-Jones Index was used for average US cows weighing 1500 lb and producing milk with 3.9% fat and 3.2% protein. For the March 2024 issue, the income over nutrient cost (IONC) for cows milking 70 and 85 lb/day is about $10.19 and $10.61/cwt, respectively. Both values are higher than the January estimates and are expected to be profitable. As a word of caution, these estimates of IONC do not account for the cost of replacements or dry cows, or for profitability changes related to culling cows.

    Table 1. Prices of dairy nutrients for Ohio dairy farms, March 15, 2024.

    Economic Value of Feeds

    Results of the SESAME™ analysis for central Ohio on March 15, 2024 are presented in Table 2. Detailed results for all 26 feed commodities are reported. The lower and upper limits mark the 75% confidence range for the predicted (break-even) prices. Feeds in the “Appraisal Set” were those for which we didn’t have a local price or were adjusted to reflect their true (“Corrected”) value in a lactating diet. One must remember that SESAME™ compares all commodities at one specific point in time. Thus, the results do not imply that the bargain feeds are cheap on a historical basis. Feeds for which a price was not reported were added to the appraisal set for this issue.

    Table 2. Actual, breakeven (predicted) and 75% confidence limits of 26 feed commodities used on Ohio dairy farms, March 15, 2024.

    For convenience, Table 3 summarizes the economic classification of feeds according to their outcome in the SESAME™ analysis. Feedstuffs that have gone up in price based on current nutrient values, or in other words moved a column to the right since the last issue, are in oversized text. Conversely, feedstuffs that have moved to the left (i.e., decreased in value) are undersized text. These shifts (i.e., feeds moving columns to the left or right) in price are only temporary changes relative to other feedstuffs within the last two months and do not reflect historical prices. Feeds added to the appraisal set were removed from this table.

    Table 3. Partitioning of feedstuffs in Ohio, March 15, 2024. 

    Bargains At Breakeven Overpriced
        41% Cottonseed meal
    Corn silage Whole cottonseed Blood meal
    Distillers dried grains

    Corn, ground, dry

    Mechanically extracted canola meal
    Gluten meal Soybean hulls Solvent extracted canola meal
    Gluten feed 48% Soybean meal 44% Soybean meal
    Meat meal Soybean meal - expeller Whole, roasted soybeans
    Hominy Alfalfa hay - 40% NDF Tallow
    Wheat middlings Feather meal  

    As coined by Dr. St-Pierre, I must remind the readers that these results do not mean that you can formulate a balanced diet using only feeds in the “bargains” column. Feeds in the “bargains” column offer a savings opportunity, and their usage should be maximized within the limits of a properly balanced diet. In addition, prices within a commodity type can vary considerably because of quality differences, as well as non-nutritional value added by some suppliers in the form of nutritional services, blending, terms of credit, etc. Also, there are reasons that a feed might be a very good fit in your feeding program while not appearing in the “bargains” column. For example, your nutritionist might be using some molasses in your rations for reasons other than its NEL and MP contents.

    Appendix

    For those of you who use the 5-nutrient group values (i.e., replace metabolizable protein by rumen degradable protein and digestible rumen undegradable protein), see Table 4.

    Table 4. Prices of dairy nutrients using the 5-nutrient solution for Ohio dairy farms, March 15, 2024.
    A table with numbers and textDescription automatically generated with medium confidence

  6. US Dairy Herds and Policy and the 2022 Census of Agriculture

    Dr. Carl Zulauf, Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics, The Ohio State University and Dr. Gary Schnitkey, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois1

    The exit of dairy operations since 2017 has attracted considerable attention (see, for example, MacDonald, J. M., J. Law, and R. Mosheim, July 2020). The 2022 Census of Agriculture confirms a profound decline, even within the context of the long-standing decline in dairy herds. The economic pressure for fewer dairy herds is abating but remains notable.  An important question is, “What role did current dairy policy play in the post-2017 consolidation?”

    Dairy Farms:  According to the 2022 Census, 24,094 US farms sold milk during 2022 (see Figure 1).  The largest number of dairy farms with milk sales had 50-99 cows. 

    Another 11,942 farms had milk cows on December 31, 2022 but had not sold any milk during 2022.  Of these farms, 97% had less than 10 cows. 
    Milk Sales: In 2022, the 2,013 farms with 1,000 or more cows accounted for 66% of all US milk sales (see Figures 1 and 2). The comparable share was 57% in 2017.
    Dairy Farm Transition, 2017-2022: Fewer US farms sold milk in 2022 than 2017 at all herd sizes except those with 2,500 or more cows (see Figure 3). The latter increased from 714 to 834 farms.  Herds of 20-49 cows declined the most on a percentage basis, followed by herds of 50-99, 10-19, and 10-199. In total, 39% fewer US farms sold milk in 2022 than 2017.  
    Dairy Farm Transition, Historical Perspective: The -39% decline in all US farms that sold milk between the 2017 and 2022 Census of Agriculture was the largest decline between adjacent Census dating back to the 1982 Census (see Figure 4). The next largest declines were -27% between the 2007 and 2012 Census and -26% between the 1992 and 1997 Census.  Large percentage declines in US dairy farms have been an on-going story, but the most recent decline stands out.
    A question that emerges from Figure 4 is, “What caused higher exits from dairy farming during 2017-2022?” One factor was huge losses occurring over an extended period of time.  Since the decision to exit (and enter) dairy farming is a strategic investment decision, a 10-year sum was calculated of the net return above the economic cost of producing milk as computed by USDA, ERS (US Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service). The 10-year sum starts with 1989 because 1980 was the first year USDA, ERS published the cost of producing milk.  An economic cost includes a cost assigned to unpaid labor and farm-produced feeds.

    The cumulative 10 year net return to economic cost has been less than -$10/cwt since 1998 and less than -$30/cwt from 2009 through 2018 (see Figure 5). The largest 10-year losses were -$37/cwt in 2013 and -$36/cwt in 2015.  Since 2015, 10-year losses have declined almost 50%, equaling -$19/cwt in 2022.
    Additional perspective is gained when Figure 4 is combined with the large economies of size that exist in US milk production (see Figure 6).  Economies of size are much greater for non-feed than feed cost.  Over 2016-2022, highest and lowest feed cost differ by $2.50/cwt ($12.87 - $10.37) but by $19.59 for non-feed cost ($27.96 - $8.37).  The large economies of size mean financial pressure from low returns to producing milk is much more acute for smaller herds, as the larger percent decline in smaller dairy herds between 2017 and 2022 illustrate (see Figure 3).  An interesting feature of the economies of size relationship is that non-feed exceed feed cost for herds of less than 1000 cows while the opposite is observed for herds of more than 1000 cows and especially herds of more than 2000 cows.

    The large difference in the relative roles of feed and non-feed cost across herd size is consistent with the large difference in feed cost’s role in year-to-year changes in total cost across herd size. The difference between year-to-year change in feed cost and total cost per cwt has been minimal for herds of 2000 or more cows since 2015 (see Figure 7). In other words, feed cost accounted for most of the year-to-year change in total cost for the herds. As herd size declines, the difference between the average year-to-year change in feed and total cost becomes larger, implying that the year-to-year change in feed cost explain less of the year-to-year change in total cost. It is important to note that considerable variation exists across years in the relationship between year-to-year changes in feed cost and total cost for a given herd size.

    The relationship between feed cost and total cost has policy significance. The 2014 farm bill authorized a Dairy Margin Protection Program that made payments when the margin difference between the US average all milk price received by farms and the cost of feeds (corn, soybean meal, and alfalfa) was below a specified value. The 2018 farm bill renamed the program, Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC). Many payment parameters and calculations used in the formula were modified, but the basic policy design was retained. For a brief but longer history of US dairy policy, see the discussion in the farmdoc daily of November 22, 2021.

    Discussion: 

    Even relative to the notable historical decline in US dairy herds over the last 50 years, the decline between the 2017 and 2022 Census of Agriculture was large. 

    A likely important factor underpinning the sizable decline between 2017 and 2022 is US dairy sector financial stress that dates to the turn of the 21st Century. Dairy sector financial stress is likely abating but still remains notable.

    Another likely important factor is the sizeable economies of size that exist in producing milk. They exacerbate sector financial stress for all but the largest dairy herds. 

    The sizeable economies of size are largely due to non-feed cost per cwt of milk produced. Given the large difference in non-feed cost per cwt across dairy herds, it is not surprising that changes in feed cost per cwt have a much larger role in changes in total cost per cwt for larger dairy farms. 

    The preceding point suggests a program that bases dairy policy payments on the milk price-feed cost margin, such as the current DMC program, is likely to provide the most protection against lower milk profitability for the largest dairy farms, although it is important to note that quantity of milk that can receive a DMC payment is capped.

    If policy deliberations come to the conclusion that dairy policy should be more attentive to the financial stress on smaller dairy farms, policy options include the following:

    1. Scale DMC payments by the ratio of non-feed costs to feed costs for a given size dairy herd. In essence, DMC payment per cwt could be higher than 100% for smaller dairy herds.
    2. Create a new payment program based on non-feed cost per cwt.
    3. Make a per cow payment for a limited number of cows per dairy operation. Because implementing payment limits of any type is difficult since farms rearrange their operation to qualify for payments, a payment per cow could be made to all dairy farms up to the given number of cows. Smaller dairy farms would however receive the most benefit since a larger share of their cows would qualify for a payment.

    None of these policy options would change current DMC payment calculations.

    1This article was reprinted from: Zulauf, C. and G. Schnitkey. "US Dairy Herds and Policy and the 2022 Census of Agriculturefarmdoc daily (14):38, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, February 23, 2024.

    References

    MacDonald, J.M., J. Law, and R. Mosheim. July 2020. Consolidation in U.S. Dairy Farming. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service ERR-274.

    The National Agricultural Law Center. February 2024. United States Farm Bills.  https://nationalaglawcenter.org/farmbills/

    US Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.  February 2024.  Commodity Costs and Returns.  October.  https://www.ers.U.S.da.gov/data-products/commodity-costs-and-returns.aspx

    Zulauf, C., G. Schnitkey, K. Swanson, and N. Paulson.  November 22, 2021.  US Dairy Market and Policy Overview.  farmdoc daily (11):158.  Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  November 22, 2021.  http://www.farmdoc.illinois.edu/

  7. Dairy Sustainability – The Jargon, the Dairy Story, and the Opportunity (Part I)

    Dr. Kirby Krogstad, Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University and Dr. Joanne Knapp, Fox Hollow Consulting, LLC

    Everyone wants to talk about carbon, but who is going to do anything about it? Dairy farmers and allied dairy industry partners are stepping up to the plate! They’ve been investing in and researching new strategies that will shrink our greenhouse gas footprint while also returning value to the farm-gate. This article series aims to get us on the same page about the dairy system and its sources of greenhouse gas emission, about the emerging technologies that will enable us to reduce enteric methane emissions from cattle, and discuss what carbon credits are, how they are being bought and sold, and what that means for the dairy farms and the dairy industry.

    First, we need to get some context on the dairy carbon story and the current dairy carbon emissions picture.

    How Much Carbon Does the U.S. Dairy Industry Emit?

    “Carbon” is actually carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e). Carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide are the three major contributors of CO2e. In total, its estimated that man-made activities in the US emit about 6,300 million metric tons of CO2e each year. Of that, dairy production accounts for 139 million metric tons, or about 2% of the total emission (Figure 1). Although we’re a relatively small emitter relative to other US sectors, if the US dairy sector were its own country, it would rank in the top 1/3 of all countries on a total emission basis. We mustn’t shirk our responsibility – and we’re not!

    Figure 1. United States Greenhouse Gas inventory. Dairy cattle comprise 2% of total USA emissions. Data from epa.gov.

    The Dairy Industry’s Commitment: What Does “Net-zero” Mean?

    Companies, organizations, and governments are making sustainability commitments left and right; The US dairy industry is no different. The Innovation Center for US dairy has committed to achieving “greenhouse gas neutrality” by 2050 – what does that mean?

    Being greenhouse neutral, as US Dairy has committed itself, is defined as the point where anthropogenic (from human activity) emissions are balanced by anthropogenic removal. This is a very difficult mark to achieve, but a worthy task nonetheless. Another common benchmark is climate neutrality; climate neutral means that human activities have no net-effect on the climate system; some have described this as being equivalent to “warming neutral” or not adding to warming of the globe.  Fortunately, the dairy industry is within striking distance of climate neutrality. Place et al. (2022) determined that a 23% reduction in farm-gate emissions for US dairy farms will mean that dairy farms no longer add to the warming of the climate. If we go beyond 23% reduction means we’re really part of the solution!

    Reaching greenhouse gas neutrality may prove to be more difficult and will most certainly require soil carbon sequestration or alternative methods of atmospheric carbon removal. One way to inch toward this goal of greenhouse gas neutrality is the use of methane mitigating feed additives. Incentives are coming into view for such a practice to have an economic return, but we will cover both methane mitigating feed additives and the carbon markets associated with them over the next couple of articles.

    The Dairy Story: What are the Sources of Emissions on a Dairy Farm?

    So where do dairy farm emissions come from? The major sources of greenhouse gas emissions on most dairy farms are manure methane and nitrous oxide emissions (33%), enteric methane emissions (35%), feed production (26%), and energy use (6%; Figure 2). Of course, this can vary tremendously from farm to farm. A farm’s greenhouse gas footprint is especially dependent on the manure management practices and feed efficiency of the whole herd. For example, capturing methane from manure using anaerobic digestion reduces the greenhouse gas emissions from manure by 50%. Solid separation technologies can also reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from manure by 20% (Aguirre-Villegas et al., 2014).

    Figure 2. Greenhouse gas emission sources for U.S. dairy farms. Adapted from usdairy.com.

    Opportunities: What Do These Sustainability Initiatives Mean for the Future (or the present)?

    Sustainability commitments and initiatives are here to stay. Fortunately, the dairy industry has an encouraging story to tell. Some dairy farms are already using manure methane to fuel cars and power buildings. Some electric cars are even being juiced up on dairy cow manure! Reduced and no-till cropping practices have improved soil carbon sequestration. Over the past two decades, genetic selection for yield of milk components, along with supporting approaches in forage selection and harvesting, herd health, parlor technologies, and feeding management, have reduced emissions intensity. Combined, these strategies reduced the carbon footprint of milk by 19% from 2007 to 2017 (Capper and Cady, 2019).

    The emerging opportunity for dairy farms to continue enhancing their sustainability is through the use of enteric methane reducing feed additives. There’s plenty of promise along with challenges – we’ll chat about those next time….

    References

    Aguirre-Villegas, H. A., R. Larson, and D. J. Reinemann. 2014. From waste-to-worth: energy, emissions, and nutrient implications of manure processing pathways. Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining 8(6):770-793. https://doi.org/10.1002/bbb.1496

    Capper, J. L., and R. A. Cady. 2019. The effects of improved performance in the U.S. dairy cattle industry on environmental impacts between 2007 and 2017. J. Anim. Sci. 98(1). https://doi.org/10.1093/jas/skz291

    Place, S. E., C. J. McCabe, and F. M. Mitloehner. 2022. Symposium review:Defining a pathway to climate neutrality for US dairy cattle production. J. Dairy Sci. 105(10):8558-8568. 10.3168/jds.2021-21413.

  8. Why Do Cows Bunch?

    Dr. Dwight Roseler, Adjunct Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    The dairy farmer will look over the cow pen and notice the cows are bunched up and huddled into a big group. The farmer scratches his head and asks, “Why do cows congregate into a group?” They were not like that before. Unsure of what to do, he gets in the pen and separates the cows, only to find the same group of cows a couple hours later all bunched up again.  

    I know dairy farmers that have a “cow whisperer” ability. They observe cows keenly and can tell what their cows are thinking! In my many years of dairy consulting, I have observed some unusual bunching behavior of dairy cows in well managed and comfortable barns. I enjoy watching cows and have learned to be a keen observer of dairy cows. My teachers of cow behavior have been my livestock and my “cow whisperer” farmer clients. 

    A first question to ask is, “Why does it matter that cows bunch together?” When cows bunch together, it compromises production, health, and welfare of the animals. Bunching increases heat stress of the affected cows, increases standing, splashes manure on the udder, and elevates stress hormones. These changes increase risk of lameness, reduces ruminations and feed intake, and results in subsequent loss in milk production that is lower in milk fat. 

    Dairy farmers provide their cows with quality feed, housing, stalls, and environment. The cows are their livelihood, and their best care is top priority. They remove stressors, and cows then perform to their genetic potential. Cows under stress do not perform well. Bunching of cows is an indicator of some external stressor not initiated or solicitated by the farmer. Why do cow’s bunch in well managed and comfortable barns?

    Cow Behavior 

    Cows were created with a four chambered stomach to consume grass and bunch together as a herd. Herd animals stay together as a group with a social dominance structure.  The dominant “boss cow” will direct the herd with subordinate followers. Cows, sheep, and wild animals, including deer, zebra, and a favorite, the wildebeest, are ruminant prey animals. Prey animals are a source of food for predator animals, like lions and cheetahs. Prey animals will congregate together in herds or bunches for protection and survival. In the wild, the wildebeest grazing on the African safari grass will bunch together as a predator cheetah approaches the herd.  This is a truly amazing nature sight to behold in person. The catch is exhilarating to watch, but not for the prey. We don’t have cheetahs in our dairy barns as a threat to our cows, but the response to stress is similar – bunch together! Cows will bunch together when under stress because of their God designed instincts. 

    Bunching can occur in well managed barns as a result of stress of social interactions, environmental stress, flies, electrical stimuli like stray voltage, or limited access to feed or water. A brief review of these factors that cause cows to bunch and possible solutions will follow. Read along and learn.  

    Social Interactions     

    Cows reside in herds where a unique social dominance hierarchy exists in each herd. The “boss cow” is the one that gets her way with whatever she desires. First in the parlor, first to the feed bunk, the clean free stall, and she will dictate her preferences with head butting, ear twitching, and tail movement responses. The lower social order cows are typically the first calf heifer that recently calved. Social stress will cause cows to retreat and bunch up. Research has proven that first calf heifers when housed in a separate pen from older cows will perform better. This is partly due to less social distress. If your facilities allow, a separate first calf heifer group is beneficial. Social hierarchy and conflict are most significant in pens of milking cows of all ages when the pen size is 150 cows or less. Automated milking dairy farms with all cows in same pen will observe more social dominant stressors and potential bunching. As a farm manager, do not overcrowd pens, especially with automated milking systems. 

    Environmental Temperature 

    Cow bunching can start with as few as three to five cows that are initially stressed, and as environmental temperatures increase, more cows are affected and the bunching group grows in size. Research and time-lapse camera observations would indicate that the most frequent time to observe bunching is 3:00 to 8:00 pm. The initial bunching can start when temperatures are at 68 degrees F or higher. This often can occur in May in the US eastern corn belt. Walk your barns during late afternoon each day and be a “cow whisperer”. What are your cows telling you? If they are standing more and bunching even in small groups or standing near a waterer or drinker, then evaluate the factors that impact bunching. Ask a qualified ventilation technician or cow comfort specialist to conduct an air flow and cow comfort audit to identify areas of each barn that are not properly ventilated or designed. Intervene as soon as bunching occurs, as once cows start to bunch, it is difficult to untrain them.

    Microclimates   

    The external perimeter of the barn can also impact the internal barn environment. A California dairy study from 20 large dairy farms indicated that crops grown adjacent to free stall barns can elevate potential for cow bunching. Trim weeds and brush growing near free stall barns and do not plant corn crops close to free stall barns. Researchers speculated that internal barn airflow is modified when crops or tall weeds were near the barns. Even when fans are present in barns, restrictions to outside airflow can create a micro-environment in pens that initiate cow bunching. High stocking density can compound cow bunching during hot weather. Do not overcrowd, as individual cows in groups are exposed to hotter individual temperatures in the inner circle of the cow’s groups.

    On pasture cattle, the reason why cattle may bunch in the warm conditions is not well understood, but one possibility is that bunching may occur around shaded areas as a strategy to reduce heat load. In free stall-housed cattle, they are blocked from direct sunlight during midday. However, radiant direct sun into barns will occur in the US eastern corn belt in the early morning or late afternoon. Sun rays that enter a barn and expose cows to direct sunlight will stratify cows and cause bunching when cows are exposed to direct sun rays.

    Cow bunching will be more common in hot summer months. A barn orientation where direct sunlight enters the sides, high producing cows, long day length, and uneven air flow within the barn are all possible causes of cow bunching. Prepare for summer heat by cleaning fan blades and housing mesh. Dirty fans move less air and will create areas of the barn that do not offer airflow. Remove pen pack manure as extra heat and potential for flies is generated from these systems.  

    Electromagnetic Fields 

    Farmers have perceived magnetic fields from high voltage lines, automated milking systems, or solar panels as possible causes of bunching behavior in their cows. Housed dairy cows are a greater risk for stray voltage than pastured animals due to the exposure of fans, parlor, automatic milking, and electric panels in housed barns. Dairy cow sensory stimuli start at a much lower voltage than humans. A Danish study evaluated 60 dairy farms and identified bunching on several farms. The risk factors were newly constructed barns, measured stray voltage, and presence of fans in barns. The presence of fans in the barn as a factor for bunching is difficult to speculate the cause, but the observations and research would support that cows standing in front of fans would indicate they locate in front of fans to avoid hot spots in other areas of the barn. Cows will bunch in areas of good airflow to avoid flies, similar to pasture cows that stand in the mud. Fans are electronic devices that can cause stray voltage when in use, and if not properly grounded, they can create stress and cows will bunch. One research study indicated that the noise from fans can initiate a stress response in cows and initiate bunching.  

    Pests  

    Stable flies are blood seeking flies that bite the legs of cattle. A California study of 20 commercial free stall herds measured fly counts on cows using traps and observations. Trap counts as few as 50 flies per trap per pen or just 1 fly per leg will cause cows to bunch in free stall pens. The stress of the fly bites causes cows to stand in a tight group with their heads to the center of the group and their tails to the outside to protect themselves against the stable fly attack. Dairy cows are known to have thinner hides than beef cattle, and thus, dairy cows are more susceptible to biting flies. Fly repellent behaviors include tail flicking, foot stomping, head tossing, skin twitching, and ear trembling to reduce the fly attack. An effective fly control program must include a combination of cleanliness, larval control through feed, regular sprays, ear tags and parasitic wasps. Fly control must start early (April / May) to prevent mid to late summer fly issues.

    Feed and Water

    Cattle will increase drinking in hot temperatures, and they will often bunch around drinkers in hot temperatures. When cows congregate and bunch around drinkers or empty feed bunks, it is a response to stress which can begin a bunching response. Provide extra waterers during the summer. Drinkers should provide a minimum of 25 linear water distance per 100 cows.  Water capacity as measured by flow rate is also important that the drinkers are not empty. TMR feed bunks must provide continuous access to fresh feed. A mold inhibitor added to the TMR will maintain freshness and stability of the ration during hot summer months. Provide a minimum of 200 feet of bunk length per 100 cows or 24 inches per cow. Overcrowded pens or limited bunk space with limited feed availability can create opportunities for cows to bunch up, especially during hot weather. 

    Summary           

    Dairy farmers provide quality care for their cows by providing proper feed, water, comfort, ventilation, and housing. As a result of quality care, cows respond by providing consumers with high quality, nutritious milk we can all enjoy.  As a dairy farmer, take time now to get the barns in order for summer time. Keep the predators of stress away with proper prevention. Areas to manage to prevent bunching this summer include effective cleaning of fans, proper fly control, trim grass and weeds around barns, and check for stray voltage, especially from fans and drinkers. Most of all, monitor the barns each afternoon to observe and head off any potential stressors that may cause cows to bunch up.  

  9. Using Dairy Manure with Newly Planted Corn and Soybeans

    Glen Arnold, Extension Field Specialist for Manure Nutrient Management, The Ohio State University

    In recent years, dairy farmers and commercial manure applicators have been moving towards applying dairy manure to newly planted corn and soybeans.

    Applying dairy manure to fields after crops are planted in the spring offers some advantages over applying manure before crops are planted. One advantage is corn or soybean planting not being delayed by the added moisture from the liquid manure. This delay can be costly if wet weather further delays spring planting. The second advantage is the liquid manure adding moisture to the soil that can enhance crop germination and emergence, especially if the weather turns off dry.

    As soon as a field is planted, the manure can be applied. This is true for both corn and soybeans. The seed is protected by an inch or more of soil. In university research, the application of 10,000 gallons per acre of dairy manure has not negatively impacted crop germination and emergence on corn or soybeans. If the crops are emerging, manure can still be applied to corn but not soybeans. Newly emerging soybeans can easily be killed by the application of liquid manure. Corn can tolerate the drag hose through the V3 stage of growth without an issue.

    The nitrogen in the dairy manure will be a boost to the emerging crop. It is difficult to know how much of the ammonium nitrogen in the dairy manure will be available to the crop. The organic nitrogen portion will be a slow release over several years. The ammonium nitrogen in the dairy manure can be lost to volatilization and possibly leaching. In university trials of surface applied dairy manure, only about half the ammonium nitrogen applied seemed to be available for crop growth.

    When a drag hose is utilized, the drag hose applicator commonly applies the manure at an angle across the field. The field needs to be firm enough to support the drag hose to avoid scouring the soil surface and burying small corn plants or further burying seeds. Fields that are spring tilled are not good candidates for a drag hose. No-till fields, stale seed beds, fields with dead or alive cover crops, and tilled fields that have been packed with heavy spring rain are usually good fields for a drag hose.

    Additional on-farm manure side-dress plot results can be obtained by clicking on the On-farm Research link on the OSU Extension Agronomics Crops team website at http://agcrops.osu.edu/ or E-fields at https://digitalag.osu.edu/efields or follow OSU Extension’s manure research on Facebook at: Ohio State Extension Environmental and Manure Management.

    Ohio State University Agronomics Crops Team Youtube channel is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0nhw3GG6Q8&t=1s

  10. Disease Prevention: Making the Most of Your Spring (and every day) Cleaning Practices

    Drs. Samantha Locke, Alex Fonseca-Martinez, and Greg Habing, Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, The Ohio State University

    Cleaning and disinfection (C&D) practices are often laborious and time-consuming, but successful C&D is critical to reducing cattle exposure to pathogens, even if you don't see an immediate response. Many factors can influence the effectiveness of your cleaning and disinfection practices on any given day. Some things are difficult to control, for example, temperature and relative humidity can impact the success of your hygiene practices. However, there are strategies you can implement to make the most out of your C&D (Figure 1).

    The Basics  

    • Plan your C&D. Organize your C&D in a way that would minimize the impact of pathogen spread. For example, when possible, clean and disinfect starting with the youngest animals moving to the oldest. In lactating barns, scrape beds before flushing alleyways. After flushing, scrub water troughs.   
    • Don't forget the cleaning in cleaning and disinfection! Organic material, such as manure or feed residue, that are left on surfaces can interact with disinfectants and reduce their effectiveness. Rinsing or sweeping away any visible contamination from surfaces is the first step to successful C&D.
    • Include a washing step. Washing equipment or surfaces with soap or detergent can remove residue that was left behind after rinsing/sweeping an area – some soaps can even eliminate certain microorganisms. Scrubbing can also help remove strongly adhered residues or biofilms that would interfere with disinfectants. Just make sure to rinse away any product used, as disinfectants can be inactivated by soap. Note: it can be tempting to use pressure washers to efficiently clean heavily soiled areas; however, these should be used with caution. Some pathogens, like Salmonella, can be spread further with pressure washing and can cause animal and human health concerns.
    • Let areas/equipment dry before disinfection. Extra water can dilute disinfectants, reducing their working concentration and effectiveness. If allowing an area to dry completely is not possible, try to allow at least 5 to 10 minutes before applying a disinfectant.
    • Have a plan for cold weather C&D. Cold temperatures can negatively impact disinfectants. If temperatures are predicted to rise throughout the day, consider moving your C&D to whenever the warmest temperatures will be reached. Alternatively, some disinfectant companies have instructions on how to add antifreeze to their products to preserve their effectiveness in winter conditions.

    How Much C&D is Enough?

    If you want your C&D to be successful, routine is important, but it can be difficult to identify how often different areas or equipment should be cleaned. Supplies like calf bottles, esophageal tubers, and calving chains should be cleaned after each use. Daily cleaning of animal housing areas is often not considered feasible from a time and labor standpoint. Intermittent cleaning (for example, weekly or monthly) allows bacteria to establish biofilms. Biofilms are communities of microorganisms that attach to a surface and produce a protective “slime". They are extremely resistant to disinfection and can persist in environments for a long time, consistently causing contamination issues with farm equipment. Biofilms can even result in animal infections. Porous surfaces and areas with lots of cracks, crevices, and hard to reach corners are difficult to clean, and provide lots of opportunities for biofilm formation. In laboratory settings, Salmonella can form biofilms within 48 hours. Currently, very few disinfectants have been tested to determine their effectiveness against biofilms. If C&D of animal housing can't be completed daily, consider adopting a more rigorous protocol in order to disrupt biofilm formation and make sure that your efforts are having an impact.

    What is the Best Disinfectant?

    Disinfectant choice is specific to your facility and which pathogens you are most concerned with. Discuss with your veterinarian what disinfectants and C&D protocols may work best for your herd. However, here are some tips to make sure the disinfectant you choose will give you the most bang for your buck.

    • Check the label. Companies often list the organisms that a disinfectant has been tested against in the lab and found effective. Double check to make sure the microorganisms that cause the most problems in your herd are covered.
    • Actively manage your disinfectants. Some products - like bleach - can lose strength over time. Test strips are available for most disinfectants to ensure that: 1) Concentration of your stock is known and 2) Disinfectants are mixed appropriately when diluted. Disinfectants applied at lower concentrations than instructed on the label are usually ineffective.
    • Follow the contact times listed. The ability of disinfectants to inactivate or kill microorganisms is a function of concentration and contact time. Failing to follow label guidelines regarding concentration and contact times will negatively impact C&D.

    Unfortunately, there is no perfect cleaning and disinfection protocol available. However, if you keep in mind the information provided above, you can avoid common mistakes that reduce the effectiveness of C&D protocols.

    If you’re interested in learning more about cleaning and disinfection and how to develop your C&D program, check out https://www.cfsph.iastate.edu/infection-control/disinfection/.

  11. Milk Prices, Costs of Nutrients, Margins, and Comparison of Feedstuffs Prices

    April F. White, Graduate Research Associate, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    Milk Prices

    In the November issue, the Class III milk future for January was $16.38/cwt.  Class III milk closing price for December was $16.04/cwt, with protein and butterfat prices at $1.45 and $2.98/lb, respectively. The price of milk protein and fat have decreased since the previous issue, a trend typically seen through post-holidays through winter. In this issue, the Class III future for February is $15.95/cwt with March at $16.33/cwt.

    Nutrient Prices

    It can be helpful to compare the prices in Table 1 to the 5-year averages. Since the November issue, the cost of net energy for lactation (NEL) has decreased by about 27%. The cost of NEL is about even with the 5-year average ($0.09/Mcal). The cost of metabolizable protein (MP) has increased slightly since the November issue, but it is still currently about 5% higher than the 5-year average ($0.44/lb).

    To estimate profitability at these nutrient prices, the Cow-Jones Index was used for average US cows weighing 1500 lb and producing milk with 3.9% fat and 3.2% protein. For the January 2024 issue, the income over nutrient cost (IONC) for cows milking 70 and 85 lb/day is about $9.32 and $9.79/cwt, respectively. Both values are expected to be profitable even though they experienced a post-holidays decline. As a word of caution, these estimates of IONC do not account for the cost of replacements or dry cows, or for profitability changes related to culling cows.

    Table 1. Prices of dairy nutrients for Ohio dairy farms, January 12, 2024.

    Economic Value of Feeds

    Results of the Sesame analysis for central Ohio on January 12, 2024 are presented in Table 2. Detailed results for all 26 feed commodities are reported. The lower and upper limits mark the 75% confidence range for the predicted (break-even) prices. Feeds in the “Appraisal Set” were those for which we didn’t have a local price or were adjusted to reflect their true (“Corrected”) value in a lactating diet. One must remember that SESAME™ compares all commodities at one specific point in time. Thus, the results do not imply that the bargain feeds are cheap on a historical basis. Feeds for which a price was not reported were added to the appraisal set in this issue.

    Table 2. Actual, breakeven (predicted) and 75% confidence limits of 26 feed commodities used on Ohio dairy farms, January 12, 2024.

    For convenience, Table 3 summarizes the economic classification of feeds according to their outcome in the SESAME™ analysis. Feedstuffs that have gone up in price based on current nutrient values, or in other words moved a column to the right since the last issue, are in oversized text. Conversely, feedstuffs that have moved to the left (i.e., decreased in value) are undersized text. These shifts (i.e., feeds moving columns to the left or right) in price are only temporary changes relative to other feedstuffs within the last two months and do not reflect historical prices. Feeds added to the appraisal set were removed from this table.

    Table 3. Partitioning of feedstuffs in Ohio, January 12, 2024.

    Bargains

    At Breakeven

    Overpriced

    Corn, ground, dry

    Wheat bran

    41% Cottonseed meal

    Corn silage

    Whole cottonseed

    Blood meal

    Distillers dried grains

    Hominy

    Mechanically extracted canola meal

    Gluten meal

    Wheat middlings

    Solvent extracted canola meal

    Gluten feed

    Soybean hulls

    44% Soybean meal

    Meat meal

    48% Soybean meal

    Whole, roasted soybeans

     

    Soybean meal - expeller

    Tallow

     

    Alfalfa hay – 40% NDF

     

     

    Feather meal

     

    As coined by Dr. St-Pierre, I must remind the readers that these results do not mean that you can formulate a balanced diet using only feeds in the “bargains” column. Feeds in the “bargains” column offer a savings opportunity, and their usage should be maximized within the limits of a properly balanced diet. In addition, prices within a commodity type can vary considerably because of quality differences as well as non-nutritional value added by some suppliers in the form of nutritional services, blending, terms of credit, etc. Also, there are reasons that a feed might be a very good fit in your feeding program while not appearing in the “bargains” column. For example, your nutritionist might be using some molasses in your rations for reasons other than its NEL and MP contents.

    Appendix

    For those of you who use the 5-nutrient group values (i.e., replace metabolizable protein by rumen degradable protein and digestible rumen undegradable protein), see Table 4.

    Table 4. Prices of dairy nutrients using the 5-nutrient solution for Ohio dairy farms, January 12, 2024.

     

  12. Who is the New Guy?

    Dr. Kirby Krogstad, Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a whirlwind start to 2024. Before it gets crazier, I want to introduce myself to all of you Buckeye Dairy News readers. My name is Kirby Krogstad, and I just joined the faculty at The Ohio State University at the Wooster Campus. I have a research and Extension position, so I will be getting to know the Ohio dairy community very well, and hopefully you’ll all get to know me, too!

    I grew up on dairy farms in South Dakota (Krogstad Bros. Dairy) and Minnesota (Garlin Dairy). I grew up like many other farm kids – I spent a lot of time playing sports and showing cattle. After high school, I went to South Dakota State University (Go Jacks!) where I studied dairy production and ag business. In college, I was involved in student government, dairy club, and dairy judging. I also had my first research experience as an undergraduate with Dr. Jill Anderson. I am still a passionate Jackrabbit sports fan. All this is to say, If I am ever wearing blue and yellow, don’t worry – it is Jackrabbit blue and yellow!

    After graduating from SDSU, I went to Lincoln, NE to complete a M.S. degree with Dr. Paul Kononoff. We studied ethanol coproducts, forage feeding strategies, and fiber digestion models. The best thing about living in NE was meeting my wife–more about her later. After studying at University of Nebraska – Lincoln, I headed off to Michigan State University to study with Dr. Barry Bradford. We did quite a wide range of research during my PhD. We investigated Enogen silage, ruminal acidosis, and supplementing B-vitamins as a strategy to improve animal health. I hope to continue investigating all of these topics in my new role, but I’ll keep you all filled in on our team’s progress as it happens.

    My wife, Sydney, and I moved to Wooster just before Christmas. We’re settling in and are quite excited to get to know the area. Both being from the high plains, we’re really enjoying the rolling hills and beautiful scenery. We both love to read and drink good wine, so please when you have the chance, let us know the best book or bottle you’ve experienced recently. I enjoy books about history and consequential leaders, especially their memoirs. My wife enjoys Sci-Fi and fantasy novels. I’m also an avid golfer – I look for, and accept, most any reason to hit the links. If I am not at my desk, a dairy farm, or a meeting…then I’ll be at the course! We also have a shih tzu dog named Oliver who we enjoy cuddling with. 

    I have only one request, if you’re willing to show me your corner of the Ohio dairy industry, please reach out so we can get it on the schedule – just email me at krogstad.6@osu.edu. Or if you’re in the Wooster area and want to grab a lunch or coffee or you just want to introduce yourself, then please shoot me a note. I am eager to get to work for the Ohio dairy industry and I’m most excited to get to know all of you. Time to get to work!

     

  13. New Faculty Member in Animal Welfare

    Dr. Grazyne Tresoldi, Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University


    I was born in the small town of Campo Ere (which means “fields” in the native indigenous language) in rural Brazil, into a family with deep-rooted ties to food production, particularly in the hospitality and meat industry. However, my passion for companion animals guided me towards a career in veterinary medicine. Along the way, I found my true calling in the field of dairy cattle, realizing that my mission is to enhance the well-being of farm animals and champion sustainable farming practices.


    To pursue this mission, I received additional professional training in animal behavior and welfare, which granted me the privilege of collaborating with producers and institutions worldwide. This journey led me to California in 2012, where I started researching heat stress in dairy cattle, with a strong focus on optimizing cooling strategies for lactating cows. After completing my PhD at the University of California-Davis, I assumed a position as an Assistant Professor at California State University-Chico.

    In this new chapter of my life at OSU, I am particularly interested in examining how Ohio's dairy industry addresses challenges posed by adverse weather conditions and developing strategies to mitigate potential risks in the future. Additionally, I am committed to raising awareness and knowledge about food animal welfare among students and dairy industry allies, equipping them to address challenges in responsible food production. My goal is to inspire positive change in the dairy industry to benefit both animals and those who rely on them for sustenance.

    I moved to Columbus in late December with my spouse, Joao, and our two mutts – Dove Solange and Spike. As a southern Brazilian and granddaughter of a butcher, I enjoy barbecuing regardless of the season. I also like exploring nature, traveling, cross-stitching and photographing animals.

     

  14. Current 2024 US Dairy Outlook

    Jason Hartschuh, Extension Field Specialist, Dairy Management and Precision Livestock, Ohio State University Extension

    With the first month of 2024 coming to a completion, hopefully you have had time to review your 2023 profit and losses to prepare your farm for 2024. The U.S. all-milk price for 2023 will be about $20.60/cwt, only the fourth time in 20 years that the all-milk price was over $20/cwt. Unfortunately, the inflation-adjusted milk price was also the fourth lowest in the past 20 years, leading to record low milk-to-feed margins and record high dairy margin coverage (DMC) payments. The milk to feed margin in the DMC program was below the $4/cwt coverage level for 2 months in 2023. The cull cow market though was a bright spot for 2023, with the last part of the year having cull cow prices above $100/cwt. While each farm is different, on average dairy farms will have positive profits per cow for 2023.   

    2024 promises to be its own interesting year for dairy farmers. Current projections are for cow numbers to be about 9.35 million head, slightly lower than 2023 but about 300 lb/cow more milk.  The January USDA dairy forecast has the all-milk price average for the year slightly below 2023 at $20/cwt. The cull cow and bull calf market should stay strong in 2024, with the average fed cattle market prices projected to be 2% higher in 2024 than it was in 2023. Feed costs are also projected to be lower in 2024. The lower average feed cost though will also lower DMC payments for 2024. The current projection is for the milk-to-feed margin for 2024 to be $10.70/cwt, with at least 2 months below the $9.50 margin. When DMC coverage sign-up opens for 2024, even with the higher projected margins covering the maximum amount of milk, a $9.50 margin in tier one will still be a good risk management strategy. There are a lot of unknowns in both the milk and feed markets; your grain farming neighbors are hoping for corn and soybean prices to go up, which will in turn raise dairy feed costs. While the DMC margin forecast shows a more profitable year for dairy farms than 2023, many farms grow the majority of their feeds, and the projected corn production cost is only about $31/acre lower than it was in 2023. With crop input costs not seeing the same reductions as market prices, some producers are going to find 2024 to be a very slim margin year.

    Domestic consumption of dairy products continues to be a bright spot, especially for butter consumption. Domestic demand is shown in Figure 1. While early 2023 fat equivalent milk was below the trend line, the end of 2023 consumption was back to a trend line increase.  The strong demand for butter and milk fat continues to be reflected in the projected Class IV milk price being above Class III. The projected Class IV 2024 forecast is $19.35/cwt, while Class III is only $16.10/cwt. The all-milk price is based on Class III and Class IV milk’s manufactured commodities; in Federal Order 33, approximately 23% of the milk price is based on Class IV milk. This will lead to statistically uniform prices during much of 2024 for Federal Order 33 slightly below Class IV prices. When you work on your 2024 budgets, be sure to consider your actual milk fat and protein production; statistically uniform milk has a fat content of 3.5%, while the average fat content in Federal Order 33 is 4.1%. These additional pounds of milk fat provide a great value, adding about $1.50/cwt to the statistically uniform price for farmers that are producing the average amount of fat in Federal Order 33.

    A graph of milk pricesDescription automatically generatedFigure 1. 

    The export market is expected to grow in 2024 with higher levels of cheese, butterfat products, and whey products. Figure 2 shows the total volume of U.S. dairy exports for 2022 and 2023; total exports are expected to grow by 0.7% in 2024 compared to 2023. Of the 5 major dairy-exporting countries, only the United States and Australia are projected to see growth in their exports. Total milk production is expected to decline in Argentina, New Zealand, and the European Union. U.S. milk protein, whey, and non-fat dry milk are very competitive currently on the world market, with butter prices falling between EU and New Zealand prices.   

     Figure 2. U.S. Dairy exports for 2022 and 2023, from the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

    Even though milk prices are projected to be slightly lower in 2024, there are still opportunities for dairy farm profitability. Using marketing tools to keep the lower feed prices a reality for your purchased feeds, even if grain prices increase, could benefit your operation. Also using tools when profitable Class III or Class IV milk futures are available can help protect your milk check. Figure 3 shows the current milk futures for the year. Both classes are projected to increase during 2024, but Class IV is a much smaller increase. Class III milk futures increase by over $3.00/cwt by the fourth quarter of 2024.

     Figure 3.

  15. Safeguarding Your Herd: How Biosecurity Keeps Salmonella Dublin at Bay

    Drs. Alex Fonseca-MartinezSamantha Locke and Gregory Habing, Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, The Ohio State University

    Understanding Salmonella Dublin

    Salmonella Dublin is a bacterial pathogen that presents a significant risk to both the dairy industry and human health. While there are many different strains of Salmonella that circulate in livestock, S. Dublin is primarily adapted to cattle and is one of the most commonly identified serotypes from clinically ill animals. Historically, Salmonella Dublin was a herd-health issue in the western United States. In recent years, on-farm outbreaks have occurred throughout the eastern United States and in Canada.

    Infection can manifest in various ways, mainly affecting calves aged one week to twelve weeks. Common symptoms include diarrhea, dehydration, unresponsive pneumonia, septic arthritis, and mortality in calves. Diagnosis can be difficult because infected dairy calves, especially older calves, often show symptoms similar to respiratory disease with or without gastrointestinal symptoms. Some calves that survive become long-term, silent carriers that can shed bacteria when stressed. Severe bouts with the disease can also result in unthrifty calves that are less productive in the milking herd or are culled. The primary transmission route for Salmonella is fecal-oral. However, Salmonella Dublin is also known to spread via contaminated colostrum, milk, nasal secretions, and saliva. Establishing effective preventive measures are critical to avoid Dublin introduction to herds or, if Dublin is already present, limit disease spread and resulting negative impacts to animal health and business profitability.

    Biosecurity: The Key to Salmonella Defense

    The encouraging news is that dairy producers can take proactive steps to protect their herds. Biosecurity practices are not a new concept to most, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. The use of face masks, frequent hand washing, isolation in case of symptoms, etc., are just some of the biosecurity measures that come to mind when we remember the practices adopted to avoid contracting and spreading the disease. Many of these practices were familiar to animal producers, who had long been using similar methods to protect their animals from diseases. Washing buckets, bottles, trailers, and the use of vaccines are examples of biosecurity elements commonly used by producers to prevent diseases.

    Biosecurity encompasses a comprehensive set of measures and management strategies designed to protect animals and humans from the introduction and spread of diseases or harmful biological agents. These practices are crucial for food safety, environmental preservation, and business continuity, ensuring the safety of animals and animal products. There is no single solution to prevent Salmonella from entering or spreading on a farm. Biosecurity offers a comprehensive set of ongoing practices aimed at keeping the disease out (bioexclusion) or contained within the farm (biocontainment).

    It's important to recognize that not all farms have the same biosecurity requirements. The level of biosecurity varies based on factors like herd size, farm location, production type, and animal health status. If Salmonella Dublin is present on your farm, establishing excellent biosecurity protocols with the help of your veterinarian, especially in the calving pen and in the rearing of youngstock, will help to control this bacterium. The following elements are part of standard biosecurity procedures to reduce the risk of exposure to Salmonella and other infectious diseases, serving as a minimum requirement for any production facility:

    Personnel Training: Ensure that all farm employees are well-trained in biosecurity practices and understand the importance of disease prevention.

    Controlled Access: Restrict access to your farm by implementing controlled entry points and visitor protocols, reducing the risk of introducing pathogens.

    Animal Housing: If group housing is used in youngstock, utilize an all-in, all-out system to group similarly aged calves together. This can limit the spread of a potential outbreak. When possible, promptly isolate sick calves from the group, providing appropriate care while reducing the chance for animal-to-animal transmission. 

    Animal Health Monitoring: Like other Salmonella, Dublin can cause diarrhea in calves. However, unresponsive respiratory disease and swollen joints can also be signs of Dublin infection. Diagnostic testing may be beneficial to confirm S. Dublin presence and inform treatment options. Work with your veterinarian to determine the best treatment protocols to adopt for your operation. 

    Calf Feeding: In confirmed Dublin-affected herds, feeding waste milk is an exposure risk for calves. Consider pasteurizing colostrum and waste milk before use. Acidification of milk has also been shown to help reduce transmission risk.

    Hygiene Practices: Maintain strict cleaning and disinfection regimens for equipment and animal environments. Consistent cleaning and disinfection in maternity pens are critical to reduce the risk of transmission to calves. Remove and replace soiled bedding regularly and make sure to clean and sanitize equipment such as chains and esophageal tube feeders. In calf barns, clean and disinfect bottles, nipples, and water buckets or troughs daily. Do not power wash facilities or trailers. Power washing may result in aerosolization of S. Dublin and further bacterial spread.

    Organize Workflow: If employees cannot be designated to work with calves only, make sure to work with youngstock before moving to the milking herd. Within calf populations, work from the youngest to oldest animals. If possible, work with ill animals last in order to reduce pathogen spread. Clean and sanitize boots when moving between animal pens, barns, or different age groups.

    Manure Management: Properly manage and dispose of manure to minimize disease transmission. Consider composting or other safe disposal methods.

    Vehicle and Equipment Hygiene: Clean and disinfect vehicles and equipment entering and leaving the farm, including feed trucks and machinery in contact with the herd.

    To enhance biosecurity practices, producers can prepare by:

    By prioritizing action from the BQA Daily Biosecurity and SMS materials based on your current practices and abilities, dairy producers can reduce the risk of introducing and spreading pathogens. This safeguarding ensures the future of their farms, making biosecurity not just a wise investment but a critical necessity.

  16. Precision Livestock Farming for Dairy Producers

    Jason Hartschuh, Extension Field Specialist, Dairy Management and Precision Livestock, Ohio State University Extension

    This winter, the OSU Extension Digital Ag team is offering a 6-part Zoom series on precision livestock farming. Click here to view the flyer. Programs will begin on Wednesday, January 31st from noon to 1:00 pm and continue for 6 weeks. Each program will feature a different speaker on various precision livestock topics. Three of the topics will be of particular interest to dairy producers. The first on January 31st will focus on utilizing drones and remote imagery to determine forage quality and quantity in pasture and hay fields. Dr. Josh Jackson, Assistant Extension Professor with the University of Kentucky, will be our featured speaker for this presentation. The next program of interest will be on February 28th on using activity and temperature monitoring for dairy calf, heifer, and cow management. The featured speaker for this presentation will be Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Field Specialist, Dairy Management and Precision Livestock. The last topic while being a beef-focused presentation will be on March 6th featuring new technology for pen-side diagnosis of the pathogen that is causing Bovine Respiratory Disease in your cattle to improve treatment recommendations. The featured speaker for this presentation is Dr. Mohit Verma, Assistant Professor, Agriculture and Biological Engineering at Purdue University. 

    Other programs will feature technology for sheep, swine, and poultry producers.

    To sign up for these programs, register for free at go.osu.edu/plf24

  17. Dairy Judging Team Update

    Ms. Bonnie Ayars, Dairy Program Specialist, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    On a very cold and early morning in January, dairy judging hopefuls made their way to Fort Worth, Texas to compete in the Stock Show Dairy Judging Contest.  After many delays, they arrived only to be surprised by even colder temperatures. For many, it was their first time visit to Texas where the highways are stacked one on top of the other and the lone star state offers quite a cultural experience.

    That first day allowed very little time for rest, but we did walk the streets of old Fort Worth and watched the longhorns being herded, as well as our evaluation of their appearance, care, and handling.  Admittedly, we felt out of place without fancy boots and big hats.  From there, we ate at the old and rather famed Joe T. Garcias authentic Mexican restaurant.  Then onto the “Cowboy Ranch” rodeo night, which was entertaining enough to keep everyone awake and involved in the atmosphere and pageantry.

    Our first morning included a farm visit and two excellent classes of Brown Swiss cows at Sandy Creek Farm.  They also sell raw milk and a wide variety of dairy products. Actually, we judged and listened to quite an interesting perspective on the dairy business, Texas style. The rest of day included reasons, more touring, and preparation for the contest.

    Contest day followed the next morning and the temperature was at -2 degrees as the first class paraded into the ring.  At least, our reasons were given in a warmer location.  Then the recognition banquet followed with the forecast of snow and wet and freezing rain.  Despite Mother Nature’s attitude, we had a presence with our 2nd place win in the Jersey breed, 5th in Holstein, 4th in reasons, and 5th team overall.

    The five students and their coach attending at pictured below (left to right); Bonnie Ayars (coach), Cole Pond, Lindsay Davis, Rachel Sherman (10th high individual), Grant DeBruin (11th high individual), and Brady McCumons. For each, there were moments of excitement and then the heavy sigh at the Brown Swiss cow class.

    Their adventure continued the next day as we watched some of the dairy shows before heading to the airport with more delays and a return home at 4:00 am the following morning. Travel in the winter is an enigma, but these warriors braved it for the sake of another contest and another time to judge cattle.

     

     

  18. Milk Prices, Costs of Nutrients, Margins, and Comparison of Feedstuffs Prices

    April F. White, Graduate Research Associate, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    Milk Prices

    In the September issue, the Class III milk future for October was $16.83/cwt and November was $17.02/cwt. Class III milk closing price for October was $16.84/cwt, with protein and butterfat prices at $1.05/lb and $3.71/lb, respectively. The price of milk protein has decreased since the previous issue, and nutritionists feeding for components may find additional value in feeding for milk fat. In this issue, the Class III future for December is $16.18/cwt, with January 2024 at $16.38/cwt.

    Nutrient Prices

    It can be helpful to compare the prices in Table 1 to the 5-year averages. Since the September issue, the cost of net energy for lactation (NEL) has increased. The cost of NEL is about 44% higher than the 5-year average ($0.09/Mcal). The cost of metabolizable protein (MP) has decreased since the September issue and is currently about 5% higher than the 5-year average ($0.44/lb).

    To estimate profitability at these nutrient prices, the Cow-Jones Index was used for average US cows weighing 1500 lb and producing milk with 3.9% fat and 3.2% protein. For the November issue, the income over nutrient costs (IONC) for cows milking 70 lb/day and 85 lb/day are about $10.45 and $10.88/cwt, respectively. Both values are expected to be profitable even though they continue a slight decline since July. As a word of caution, these estimates of IONC do not account for the cost of replacements or dry cows, or for profitability changes related to culling cows.

    Table 1. Prices of dairy nutrients for Ohio dairy farms, November 28, 2023.

    Economic Value of Feeds

    Results of the Sesame analysis for central Ohio on November 28, 2023 are presented in Table 2. Detailed results for all 26 feed commodities are reported. The lower and upper limits mark the 75% confidence range for the predicted (break-even) prices. Feeds in the “Appraisal Set” were those for which we didn’t have a local price or were adjusted to reflect their true (“Corrected”) value in a lactating diet. One must remember that SESAME™ compares all commodities at one specific point in time. Thus, the results do not imply that the bargain feeds are cheap on a historical basis. Feeds for which a price was not reported were added to the appraisal set in this issue.

    Table 2. Actual, breakeven (predicted) and 75% confidence limits of 26 feed commodities used on Ohio dairy farms, November 28, 2023.

    A screenshot of a computerDescription automatically generated
    A screenshot of a computerDescription automatically generated

    For convenience, Table 3 summarizes the economic classification of feeds according to their outcome in the SESAME™ analysis. Feedstuffs that have gone up in price based on current nutrient values, or in other words, moved a column to the right since the last issue are in oversized text. Conversely, feedstuffs that have moved to the left (i.e., decreased in value) are in undersized text. These shifts (i.e., feeds moving columns to the left or right) in price are only temporary changes relative to other feedstuffs within the last two months and do not reflect historical prices. Feeds added to the appraisal set were removed from this table.

    Table 3. Partitioning of feedstuffs in Ohio, November 28, 2023.

    Bargains

    At Breakeven

    Overpriced

    Corn, ground, dry

    Wheat bran

    41% Cottonseed meal

    Corn silage

    Whole cottonseed

    Blood meal

    Distillers dried grains

    Gluten meal

    Mechanically extracted canola meal

    Feather meal

    Meat meal

    Solvent extracted canola meal

    Gluten feed

    Soybean hulls

    44% Soybean meal

    Hominy

    48% Soybean meal

    Whole, roasted soybeans

    Wheat middlings

    Soybean meal - expeller

    Tallow

     

    Alfalfa hay – 40% NDF

     

    As coined by Dr. St-Pierre, I must remind the readers that these results do not mean that you can formulate a balanced diet using only feeds in the “bargains” column. Feeds in the “bargains” column offer a savings opportunity, and their usage should be maximized within the limits of a properly balanced diet. In addition, prices within a commodity type can vary considerably because of quality differences as well as non-nutritional value added by some suppliers in the form of nutritional services, blending, terms of credit, etc. Also, there are reasons that a feed might be a very good fit in your feeding program while not appearing in the “bargains” column. For example, your nutritionist might be using some molasses in your rations for reasons other than its NEL and MP contents.

    Appendix

    For those of you who use the 5-nutrient group values (i.e., replace metabolizable protein by rumen degradable protein and digestible rumen undegradable protein), see the Table 4.

    Table 4. Prices of dairy nutrients using the 5-nutrient solution for Ohio dairy farms, November 28, 2023.
    A blue and white table with numbers and textDescription automatically generated with medium confidence

  19. Molds and Mycotoxins in Dairy Cattle: Effects, Diagnosis, and Control

    Dr. Gustavo M. Schuenemann, Professor and Extension Veterinarian, Dairy Cattle Health and Management, Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, The Ohio State University

    1. Molds and mycotoxins are present in feed worldwide with negative implications on cattle health and performance. Most toxins are produced in the field (forages) but molds could produce toxins during storage. Prevention and control of mycotoxins in cattle feed require an effective and integrated management strategy. The following webinar provides an overview of health effects, laboratory diagnosis, interpretation of results with risk levels, and a practical approach to troubleshoot and control mycotoxins. The link to access the webinar in English “Molds and mycotoxins in dairy cattle: Effects, diagnosis, and control”: https://youtu.be/rGC8jH8HTok
    1. Los mohos y las micotoxinas están presentes en los alimentos en todo el mundo, con implicaciones negativas para la salud y performance del ganado. La mayoría de las toxinas se producen en el campo (forrajes), pero los mohos pueden producir toxinas durante el almacenamiento. La prevención y el control de las micotoxinas en los alimentos para el ganado lechero requieren una estrategia de manejo eficaz e integrada. El siguiente webinar proporciona una descripción general de los efectos sobre la salud, el diagnóstico de laboratorio, la interpretación de resultados con niveles de riesgo y un enfoque práctico para solucionar problemas y controlar las micotoxinas. Aquí está el enlace para acceder el webinar en Español “Hongos y micotoxinas en ganado lechero: Efectos, diagnostico, y control”: https://youtu.be/E4rkHQvw5dA
  20. National Dairy FARM Program to Release Animal Care Version 5

    Dr. Maurice L. Eastridge, Professor and Extension Dairy Specialist, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    The Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) program was launched in 2009. It was developed by the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) in partnership with Dairy Management, Inc. The program helps ensure the success of the entire dairy industry by demonstrating U.S. dairy farmers are committed to producing high quality, safe milk with integrity. The National Dairy FARM Program is open to all U.S. dairy farmers, milk processors and cooperatives. As science and best practices evolve, the FARM Program’s goal is to continue showing customers and consumers that we’re holding the dairy industry to the highest standards.

    The FARM Program focuses on five program areas – animal care, antibiotic stewardship, biosecurity, environmental stewardship and workforce development. Each program area provides participants with resources such as science-based standards, verifications, metrics and other tools that can be leveraged to improve best management practices in each respective pillar.

    The FARM Animal Care Program standards are revised every three years to reflect the most current science and best management practices within the dairy industry. Standards, rationale, and accountability measures are reviewed and revised by the FARM Animal Care Task Force and NMPF Animal Health and Well-Being Committee with input from industry stakeholder groups including farmers, animal scientists, and veterinarians. The NMPF Board of Directors provides final approval on version standards. FARM is currently facilitating the development of FARM Animal Care Version 5.

    The following changes were approved by the NMPF Board of Directors in March 2023 to be implemented in FARM Animal Care Version 5:

    1. Locomotion: Establish benchmark for moderate lameness 15% with associated Continuous Improvement Plan (CIP)
    2. Disbudding: Elevate pain management standard from CIP to Mandatory Corrective Action Plan (MCAP). Acceptable methods: Caustic paste and cautery.
    3. Calves: Revision to how colostrum feeding standards are evaluated: a) Meet quantity (10% birth weight), quality (visual, colostrometer, etc.) and timeliness (within 6 hours) guidelines, or b) Evidence of successful transfer of passive immunity.
    4. Continuing Education: Elevate Family Employee standard from CIP to MCAP
    5. Euthanasia: Identification of primary and secondary individuals for euthanasia implementation and confirmation of death in protocol.
    6.  Program Implementation: Establish discovery process between FARM & co-op/processor for farms that exceed animal observation benchmarks significantly.

    The Animal Care Version 5 standards will be in place from July 1, 2024 to June 30, 2027. Additional information about the program is available at: https://nationaldairyfarm.com/

  21. Additional Links to Relevant Information

  22. Milk Prices, Costs of Nutrients, Margins and Comparison of Feedstuffs Prices

    April F. White, Graduate Research Associate, Department of Animal Sciences,The Ohio State University

    Milk Prices

    In the July issue, the Class III milk future for August was $16.94/cwt and September was $17.33/cwt.  Class III milk closing price for August was $17.19/cwt, with protein and butterfat prices at $2.09 and $3.02/lb, respectively. Both component prices are increased compared to the July issue, with protein rising by nearly $0.50/lb. This issue, the Class III future for October is $16.83/cwt, with the November at $17.02/cwt.

    Updated Corn Silage Price

    A new corn silage price used throughout this article was calculated as corn silage harvest winds down in Ohio. This year’s approximate price for normal corn silage (32-38% dry matter), based on a $4.84/bu corn grain price at the end of day September 28, 2023, was $56.40/ton. This marks a $15.41/ton decrease in the calculated price of corn silage for 2023, leaving the feed ingredient cost closer to that of 2021. Based on its nutritive value, home grown corn silage continues to be a bargain feed in dairy cattle rations.

    Nutrient Prices

    It can be helpful to compare the prices in Table 1 to the 5-year averages. Compared to the July issue, nutrient costs are more closely aligned with the 5-year averages. The cost of net energy for lactation (NEL) is about 4% lower than the 5-year average ($0.09/Mcal). The cost of metabolizable protein (MP) has increased since the July issue and is currently about 37% higher than the 5-year average ($0.44/lb).

    To estimate profitability at these nutrient prices, the Cow-Jones Index was used for average US cows weighing 1500 lb and producing milk with 3.9% fat and 3.2% protein. For the September issue, the income over nutrient cost (IONC) for cows milking 70 and 85 lb/day is about $10.84 and $11.25/cwt, respectively. Both values are expected to be profitable even though they are lower than in July. As a word of caution, these estimates of IONC do not account for the cost of replacements or dry cows, or for profitability changes related to culling cows.

    Table 1. Prices of dairy nutrients for Ohio dairy farms, September 28, 2023.
    A screenshot of a calculatorDescription automatically generated

    Economic Value of Feeds

    Results of the Sesame analysis for central Ohio on September 28, 2023 are presented in Table 2. Detailed results for all 26 feed commodities are reported. The lower and upper limits mark the 75% confidence range for the predicted (break-even) prices. Feeds in the “Appraisal Set” were those for which we didn’t have a local price or were adjusted to reflect their true (“Corrected”) value in a lactating diet. One must remember that SESAME™ compares all commodities at one specific point in time. Thus, the results do not imply that the bargain feeds are cheap on a historical basis. Feeds for which a price was not reported were added to the appraisal set this issue.

    Table 2. Actual, breakeven (predicted) and 75% confidence limits of 26 feed commodities used on Ohio dairy farms, September 28, 2023.

    A screenshot of a computerDescription automatically generatedA screenshot of a computerDescription automatically generated

    For convenience, Table 3 summarizes the economic classification of feeds according to their outcome in the SESAME™ analysis. Feedstuffs that have gone up in price based on current nutrient values, or in other words, moved a column to the right since the last issue are in oversized text. Conversely, feedstuffs that have moved to the left (i.e., decreased in value) are undersized text. These shifts (i.e., feeds moving columns to the left or right) in price are only temporary changes relative to other feedstuffs within the last two months and do not reflect historical prices. Feeds added to the appraisal set were removed from this table.

    Table 3. Partitioning of feedstuffs in Ohio, September 28, 2023.

    Bargains At Breakeven Overpriced
    Corn, ground, dry 41% Cottonseed meal Alfalfa hay - 40% NDF
    Corn silage Whole cottonseed Blood meal
    Distillers dried grains Feather meal Mechanically extracted canola meal
    Gluten feed Meat meal Solvent extracted canola meal
    Gluten meal Soybean hulls 44% Soybean meal
    Hominy 48% Soybean meal Whole, roasted soybeans
    Soybean meal - expeller   Tallow
    Wheat middlings  

    Wheat Bran

    As coined by Dr. St-Pierre, I must remind the readers that these results do not mean that you can formulate a balanced diet using only feeds in the “bargains” column. Feeds in the “bargains” column offer a savings opportunity, and their usage should be maximized within the limits of a properly balanced diet. In addition, prices within a commodity type can vary considerably because of quality differences as well as non-nutritional value added by some suppliers in the form of nutritional services, blending, terms of credit, etc. Also, there are reasons that a feed might be a very good fit in your feeding program while not appearing in the “bargains” column. For example, your nutritionist might be using some molasses in your rations for reasons other than its NEL and MP contents.

    Appendix

    For those of you who use the 5-nutrient group values (i.e., replace MP by rumen degradable protein and digestible rumen undegradable protein), see Table4.

    Table 4. Prices of dairy nutrients using the 5-nutrient solution for Ohio dairy farms, September 28, 2023.

    A screenshot of a calculatorDescription automatically generated

  23. Dairy Outlook: September 2023

    Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Tuscarawas County, Ohio State University Extension

    In mid-September, the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (USDA ERS) released its monthly Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook. The latest report is available here: https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/outlooks/107464/ldp-m-351.pdf?v=6487.8. This article will summarize portions of the dairy section of the report.

    Supply and Use

    According to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), milk production in the United States totaled 19.075 billion lb (615 million lb/day) in July 2023, 0.5% lower than July 2022. Milk cows on farms averaged 9.4 million head in July, down 13,000 head from July 2022. The average milk production per cow was 2,029 lb in July 2023, down 9 lb from July 2022. Very high temperatures and dry weather are the primary factors in reduced milk production.

    A graph of a number of cowsDescription automatically generated

    Dairy Margin Coverage milk margins dropped below $4 in June and July. Values below $4 are considered “catastrophic” by the program, triggering indemnity payments to all participants.  The table below summarizes the all-milk price and feed costs.

    A graph of growing weeding costsDescription automatically generated

    Price Forecast: 2023-2024

    The September report revised milk prices up slightly for the remainder of 2023. The milk supply typically responds to changes in prices with a lag of several months. The low margins experienced in 2023 are expected to contribute to further contraction of the dairy herd in the first half of 2024. However, some rebuilding of the milking herd is expected in late 2024 as milk prices improve and feed costs moderate.

    Class

    Projection for 2024

    III

    $17.55/cwt

    IV

    $18.00/cwt

    All-milk

    $20.30/cwt

     

     

     

     



    Moving Forward

    While the price projections from the latest USDA ERS report have been revised upward, profitability will continue to be an issue for many dairy producers. Enrolling in the OSU Extension Farm Business Analysis and Benchmarking Program can help evaluate your financial position and assist with future planning. Please see https://farmprofitability.osu.edu/ for additional information. 

  24. Feed Market Outlook: Tight Cattle Supply Continues to Hold Cull Cow Prices

    Jason Hartschuh, Extension Field Specialist, Dairy Management and Precision Livestock, Ohio State University Extension and Dr. Seungki Lee, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics, The Ohio State University

    Feeder Cattle Price Reached an All-Time High in September 2023

    The feeder cattle price is at a historic high, and the price rally is expected to continue through 2024 because of the tight supply. Figure 1 illustrates the recent cash future prices of several livestock commodities and the Bloomberg (Bberg) index. Clearly, the cattle-related prices show a remarkable increasing trend, compared with hogs and the general ag commodity index (i.e., Bberg AG Commodity). In this article, we will look over the current cattle stocks, which is the reason for the current strong cattle price and the feed market outlook.

    Low Cattle Stock is the Factor

    On September 22, 2023, USDA released a new “Cattle on Feed” report, presenting that the current inventory is 2% below where we were in the previous year (Figure 2). According to the report, during August, placements in feedlots totaled 2 million and marketings of fed totaled 1.88 million head, which is, respectively, 5% and 6% below 2022.

    Feed Market Outlook – Moderate Demand Increase Expected, but Local Issues Matter

    Major commodities for feed are useful references to check the feed market outlook. Table 1 shows a snapshot of feed-related grains on the USDA’s September WASDE report. Because of the larger corn acreage, USDA forecast a 9.7% higher corn supply in the 2023/24 market. In contrast, the soybean supply is forecasted at 3.4% less than the previous year due to the smaller acreage. Interestingly, while the soybean production is expected to be smaller, the soybean meal supply is forecasted to be 2.7% bigger in the 2023/24 market. This prediction is grounded on the rebalancing between the domestic use and exports of soybeans. In the report, USDA projected the US soybean export would be 1.79 billion bushels in 2023/24, which is about 10% down from the previous year. As shown in Table 1, the soybean meal export is forecasted to be higher by 4.9% in 2023/24. So, we can understand the increased consumption forecast for soybean meal is attributed to the higher domestic demand for soybean oil and lower foreign demand for beans. In fact, USDA predicted the biofuel use of soybean oil would be 12.5 million pounds, which is 5.9% greater than last year. When looking at the feed and residual use, corn is forecasted to be increased by 3.7% in 2023/24, but wheat is forecasted to be the same as the previous year. Thus, overall, the feed-related demand is expected to be moderately greater in 2023/24.

    Since the commodity prices are projected to be lowered by and large in 2023/24, buyers will try to lock in at attractive prices, whereas sellers will try to sell when prices are high. As we move through the harvest season, sooner or later, we are going to see the final picture of grain supply, which will help with a better understanding of the supply side move in the feed market.

    For Ohio farmers, it can be useful to see the Ohio hay prices in relation to the national hay prices and soybean meal prices. Figure 3 displays the price trends of hay and soybean meal, where hay prices are presented in three ways: 1) all hay products, 2) hays except for alfalfa, and 3) alfalfa only. As depicted in Figure 3, the national hay prices are largely correlated with soybean meal price, alluding to a substitute relationship. Specifically, we can see that alfalfa is the major factor of the high correlation. However, Ohio hay prices are clearly less correlated with the national price trends, which is not surprising because the majority of transactions of feed grain happen in the Western Corn Belt Plains.  Ohio’s hay market is unique compared to the national market with much of the hay going through the market being used by small load buyers who won’t substitute hay for other protein sources. With a potentially large soybean meal supply, producers will need to watch the hay cost to soybean meal balance next year. Therefore, local market circumstances will be much more critical for Ohio growers, although the macro-level feed market moves will still need to be factored.  

    Table 1. Feed-related commodities snapshot in the U.S.

    Item

    2022/2023

    2023/2024

    Change from 22/23

      Estimate Forecast (%)
    Supply      
    Corn supply (mil bu) 15,147 16,611 9.7%
    Soybean supply (mil bu) 4,581 4,426 -3.4%
    Soybean meal supply (1,000 ton) 53,500 54,925 2.7%
    Wheat supply (mil bu) 2,470 2,444 -1.1%
    Demand      
    Corn: Feed and residual (mil bu) 5,425 5,625 3.7%
    Wheat: Feed and residual (mil bu) 90 90 0%
    Soybean meal (1,000 ton) 53,150 54,525 2.6%
    Soybean meal export (1,000 ton) 14,400 15,100 4.9%
    Prices      
    Corn ($/bu) 6.55 4.90 -25.2%
    Soybeans ($/bu) 14.20 12.90 -9.2%
    Soybean meal ($/ton) 455 380 -16.5%
    Wheat ($/bu) 8.83 7.50 -15.1%

    (Source: USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates)

     

    Figure 1. Daily futures price trends.
    (Source: Barchart CmdtyView, accessed on September 26, 2023)

     

    Figure 2. Cattle on feed inventory on 1,000+ capacity feedlots in the US.

     (Source: USDA NASS)

     

    Figure 3. Hay prices and soybean meal cash (CBOT) trend.
     (Source: USDA NASS and Barchart CmdtyView)

  25. Fall Application of Dairy Manure

    Glen Arnold, Manure Management Field Specialist, OSU Extension

    Corn silage harvest is the start of serious manure application efforts by dairy farmers and commercial manure applicators across Ohio. We have experienced unusually dry weather in much of Ohio, so fields are suitable for manure application.

    The field application of manure, milking parlor water, outdoor lot runoff, and silage leachate is a necessary part of dairy farming. Manure transport and application is a significant expense on dairy farms and can easily approach $150 to $175/cow annually. The rapidly increasing prices of pumps, hoses, and manure application equipment in recent years has forced commercial manure applicators to raise the prices they charge dairy farmers for manure application.

    To best capture the fall applied manure nutrients, manure should be incorporated during application or as soon as possible afterwards. Livestock producers should also consider using cover crops to capture more of the manure nutrients, especially the nitrogen, and also to prevent soil erosion. Another benefit of cover crops that overwinter is the uptake of nitrogen early in the spring when fields are not yet suitable for traffic in March and April and manure nitrogen is still available for plant uptake.

    The most common cover crops used with livestock manure are cereal rye, wheat, and oats. However, farmers have also used radishes, clover, annual ryegrass, Sudan grass, or almost anything they are comfortable growing. If a farmer is participating in the H2Ohio program, be sure to work with your Soil and Water Conservation District to be certain your cover crop mixture meets the necessary application rate(s) and also meets the requirement to live through the winter months.

    A cover crop that is excellent at recycling nitrogen is wheat. Like cereal rye, wheat germinates at low soil temperatures, overwinters, and is an easy cover crop to control the following spring or become a forage crop as wheat silage. It will capture large amounts of the available nitrogen from fall applied livestock manure. Dairy producers can spur growth with one or two applications of manure as the wheat grows next spring.

    Cereal rye is the most commonly planted cool-season grass for capturing excess nitrogen. Because rye over-winters, research has shown it can capture and hold 25 to 50 lb/acre of nitrogen in the organic form as roots and plant tissue. It germinates at lower temperatures than oats so it may be planted later, but less nitrogen will be recycled the later in the fall the rye is seeded. This is another cover crop that could be used as a forage crop in the spring.

    Oats are sometimes used as a cover crop in the fall and need to be planted soon after silage harvest. Drilling oats improves germination and growth before frost. Some farmers in northwest Ohio have had great success surface seeding oats and incorporating with shallow tillage.

    Cover crops can help livestock farmers recapture manure nutrients and conserve soil by reducing erosion. Livestock producers should consider Best Management Practices, such as setbacks, when applying manure. The goal should be to combine nutrient recovery and to protect water quality. Manure application rules in Ohio are influenced by watershed location. Check with your local Soil and Water Conservation District about the most current rules in your area.

     

  26. Keep Forage Nitrate Toxicity in Mind This Year

    Jason Hartschuh, Extension Field Specialist, Dairy Management and Precision Livestock, Ohio State University Extension

    This year has been a weather rollercoaster with multiple spells of drought and flooded conditions. These adverse growing conditions can cause unforeseen challenges with the forages you have stored away. We have had multiple reports of high nitrate levels this year. The first reports of high nitrate levels were in June harvested oats after the early season drought. Recently, we have had additional reports of dangerously high nitrate levels in millet hay with the recently dry weather.  Producers have also told us that they are struggling with excessive silo gas coming from corn silage.

    Plants readily take up nitrates from the soil, even under cooler conditions.  Once in the plant, nitrate is converted to nitrite, then ammonia, and finally into amino acids and plant protein. Any environmental stress that significantly slows down plant photosynthesis and metabolism can lead to excessive nitrate levels in the plant because the nitrate uptake from the soil will be faster than its metabolism into plant protein. Such stresses include frost, extended cold weather, cloudy conditions, hail damage, or drought. While frost is a concern for increasing nitrates in forage, the sorghum family also has prussic acid concerns when plants die quickly because of a frost. Prussic acid and nitrate poisoning are not the same.  

    When ruminants consume excessive levels of nitrate in their diet, the nitrate is converted to nitrite by rumen microbes faster than it can be converted to ammonia, amino acids, and eventually to protein. Accumulated nitrite in the rumen is then absorbed into the bloodstream where it prevents oxygen transport, which leads to death. Livestock sensitivity to nitrates ranked from highest to lowest is: pigs > cattle > sheep > horses. Older or sick animals are generally more sensitive than young healthy animals. The fetus in pregnant animals is very sensitive to high nitrates ingested in the diet.

    One of the common solutions for forages that have slightly elevated levels of nitrates is to mix them with another forage source that is low in nitrates. The best way to do this is to truly mix the two forages so that your cattle eat both at once as a balanced lower nitrate diet. When this is not possible, feed the low nitrate forage first, allowing them to fill up on it, then offer the higher nitrate forage keeping them full for the day alternating forages each feeding. This year it may be important to test those dilution forages to be sure they are truly low in nitrates. Nitrate levels in forage are commonly reported in 3 different ways, ppm NO3 DM, percent NO3, and ppm NO3-N (DM). Table 1 below summarizes how to interpret the results.

    Table 1: Interpretation of nitrate forage test results.

    ppm NO3 (DM)

    Percent NO3

    ppm NO3-N
    (DM)


    Interpretation of results

    0-3,000

    0-0.3%

    <350

    Generally safe for all cattle.

    3,000-5,000

    0.3-0.5%

    350-1130

    Generally safe for non-pregnant beef cattle. Low risk of reduced breeding performance and early-term abortions. Total ration for dairy cattle should be less than 2500 ppm NO3.

    5,000-10,000

    0.5-1.0%

    1130-2260

    Some risk for all cattle. May cause mid to late-term abortions and weak newborn calves. May decrease growth and milk production.

    >10,000

    >1%

    >2260

    Potentially toxic for all cattle. Can cause abortions, acute toxicity symptoms, and death.

    Any time forage growth has been significantly slowed due to extended cold nights, cloudy weather, dry conditions, or premature plant death, nitrates may be an issue. All these stresses can lead to higher nitrate levels in plants due to slowed growth. Nitrogen fertilizer or manure applications made to forages increase the risk for higher nitrate levels in plant tissue, especially if excess nitrogen is available and forage growth is slow.

    Nitrate accumulation is possible in many forage species, including all cool-season perennial forage grasses, alfalfa, all cereal forages (oat, rye, triticale, wheat, barley, spelt, etc.), and brassicas (might be present in cover crop mixes). Nitrates can also accumulate in warm season annuals (corn, sorghum species, millet, and many weeds). Weed species are heavy nitrate accumulators, including lambsquarter, pigweed, dock, some mustard species, horse nettle, nightshade, quackgrass, and jimsonweed. Heavy infestations of those weeds when harvested with the forage will increase the risk of nitrate toxicity.

    Nitrate levels are generally higher in younger than more mature growth. Delaying forage harvest to the dough stage and other forages to flowering/heading stages can significantly reduce nitrate levels. Cutting height can also affect levels as nitrates accumulate in the lower one-third of plants more than in the upper two-thirds.

    Plant nitrate concentrations are higher in the morning than later in the day (plant metabolism during daylight drives the conversion of nitrate to plant protein). Mowing hay late in the afternoon on a sunny day can reduce nitrate levels in forage, especially with the longer fall nights. Once hay is mowed, nitrate levels do not change much during the drying process, so dry hay levels will be similar to levels at the time you mow. Prior to mowing, nitrate levels vary across the field based on plant growth and variable soil nitrogen. This variability increases even more in a field based on mowing time. If we start in the morning and mow all day, the evening mowed forage should have lower nitrate levels. 

    However, ensiling can reduce nitrate levels from 10 to 65% provided fermentation is good. But if the forage is initially very high in nitrates, the silage could yet contain toxic nitrate levels, so this is not an automatic fail-safe option. Be very cautious as high nitrate forages ferment, the bacteria break down the nitrate and release deadly nitrogen gas. Nitrogen oxide gases are heavier than air, may be reddish or yellow-brown in color, and have a bleach-like smell. Nitrogen oxide gases will accumulate in low-lying places, such as around the base of a silo or in the feed room below a tower. When ensiling forage that may have high nitrate concentrations, do not enter the silo for at least three weeks after harvest. If you must enter the silo to level or cover the silage, do it immediately after filling and leave the blower running while anyone is in the silo. If you usually run the blower for an hour prior to entering the silo, it may be necessary to run it for 2 hours to be sure the gas is cleared and fresh air is present.

    Silage must be harvested at the proper moisture for complete fermentation (Table 2). When forages are harvested too dry, they do not ferment properly and nitrate reductions will be less. Baleage is often harvested on the drier side, and even when it is harvested in the ideal moisture range, reductions will not be as much as well-packed silage. Baleage densities are much lower than properly packed silage, so the additional oxygen slows fermentation. If nitrate levels are reduced in silage in about 3 weeks, it will take 6 or more weeks for levels to be reduced in baleage. Since nitrate levels can vary across a field, the harvested forage can be quite variable in nitrate concentration.

    Table 2. Ideal moisture content for forage stored as silage or baleage.

    Type of Silo

    % Moisture Content

    % Dry Matter Content

    Horizontal (bunker) silo

    65% - 70%

    30% - 35%

    Bag silo

    65% - 70%

    30% - 35%

    Tower silo

    62% - 67%

    33% - 38%

    Oxygen-limiting tower silo

    55% - 60%

    40% - 45%

    Baleage

    50% - 60%

    40% - 50%

    The bottom line is that if you suspect the forage could be high in nitrate, the safest thing to do is to sample the forage and have it tested before it is harvested, because if levels are high, you can delay harvest to reduce the levels. You should certainly sample the stored forage before feeding it if you suspect higher levels! Call your forage lab and follow their guidelines closely for sampling the forage, packaging, and shipping the sample to them.

  27. Forage Testing Now Available Through Ohio State

    Dr. Marilia Chiavegato, Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Sciences and Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, The Ohio State University

    The Ohio State University Sustainable Agroecosystems Laboratory is now offering forage analysis. Two forage testing options are available to be done by the lab located on Coffey Road in Columbus.

    Package 1 ($18.50) includes dry matter, crude protein, fiber (NDF and ADF), minerals (Ca, P, K, and Mg), digestibility, ash, fat, lignin, and starch. Package 2 ($20.50) includes all analyses listed in Package 1 plus calculation of total digestible nutrients (TDN) and relative forage quality (RFQ). There is a $2.00/sample grinding fee.

    Helpful test interpretation is provided with both packages! For more information, including shipping and price quotes, scan the QR code below or contact: Marilia Chiavegato, Assistant Professor at chiavegato.1@osu.edu or (614) 625-7512. 

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  28. Next Year’s Winter Annual Cereal Grain Forage Success Starts Now

    Jason Hartschuh, Extension Field Specialist, Dairy Management and Precision Livestock, Ohio State University Extension

    Winter annual forages can be a very economical feed for dairy cows and heifers. The four most common winter annuals are rye, triticale, wheat, and barley. Of these four crops, the most challenging is barley, with it having less winter survivability in our research projects. The benefit to barley is a slightly higher crude protein (CP) and smaller stems, allowing this species to dry better than the other three for hay. Barley CP stays higher even as the crop matures with similar CP levels at pollination to the other species' CP just before the head emerges. In a 3-year study conducted at the Ohio State research stations in Jackson, Fremont, and Custer, cereal rye had the highest yield when harvested just before the head emerges, averaging 1.92 ton/acre of dry matter (DM). Harvesting later once the head emerged increased the DM yield of triticale the most with a yield average of 2.81 ton/acre and a top location average for triticale at 5 tons/acre. In this study, 50 lb/acre of spring nitrogen were applied. Yield and quality data from this trial can be found in Table 1. Species that have a 10.0 after them were harvested at Feeks 10.0 or head in the boot, while those with a 10.5 after them were harvested at Feeks 10.5 head fully emerged and in flower.

    Table 1: Winter annual cereal grain species yield and quality average over 3 years and 3 locations. Results in the same column with similar superscripts statistically had the same yield or quality.1 

    Treatment

    DM Yield (ton/acre)

    Crude Protein (%)

    NDF (%)

    TDN (%)

    Barley 10.0

    1.62cd

    13.71a

    53.2d

    63.6ab

    Barley 10.5

    1.98bcd

    12.06b

    61.6b

    58.4de

    Hybrid Rye 10.0

    1.37d

    11.11bc

    50.4d

    69.5a

    Hybrid Rye 10.5

    1.85bcd

    9.28d

    65.9a

    56.9ef

    Rye 10.0

    1.92bcd

    10.89bc

    57.0c

    61.8bc

    Rye 10.5

    2.34ab

    9.60d

    68.5a

    55.2f

    Triticale 10.0

    1.88bcd

    10.90bc

    57.2c

    61.2c

    Triticale 10.5

    2.81a

    9.36d

    68.2a

    55.3f

    Wheat 10.0

    1.79bcd

    11.55b

    46.4e

    65.7a

    Wheat 10.5

    2.26abc

    10.20cd

    57.4c

    60.3cd

    1DM=dry matter, NDF = neutral detergent fiber, and TDN = total digestible nutrients.

    Not only did species affect yield, but it also impacted forage quality. Barley and wheat had higher CP and total digestible nutrients than both triticale and wheat at either harvest timing. NDF was also lower for barley and wheat. While barley is a good feed, we lost our stand to winter injury at all locations one year and at one location an additional year. All varieties in this study were variety unstated.

    Winter annual cereal forage varieties have very different yields, even within the same species. Within species, yield and quality greatly differed between varieties.  One cereal rye variety in a Penn State variety trial yielded 3.63 ton/acre of DM while another only yielded 2.91 ton/acre. The cereal rye varieties also had a 14-day maturity window between varieties. When planting cereal rye, we often plant a variety unstated as it is cheaper, easy to get, and often used as a cover crop.  

    Triticale also has huge differences in yield, but all varieties mature in a much tighter number of days than the cereal rye. The top yielding triticale variety in the Penn State trial was BCT 19004, with a yield of 4.94 ton/acre of DM with 11.62% CP. The lowest yielding variety was BCT 19003, with a yield of 3.29 ton/acre of DM and 11.46% CP. Many of the other varieties you may be planting yield somewhere in the middle like TriCal Thor that yielded 4.17 ton/acre of DM with a CP of 14.17%. There are many more varieties available that will do well in Ohio. When selecting varieties, look for agronomic information on winter survival and disease tolerance.

    Nitrogen management is a critical part of winter annual forage production. Over the last 2 years, we conducted a trial in Fremont, Ohio at the North Central Research Station on nitrogen and sulfur management on cereal rye.  Our research showed higher yields of 0.27 ton/acre DM in 2022 and 1.5 ton/acre more DM in 2023 when 20 lb/acre of nitrogen was applied in the fall at planting after soybeans compared to no additional nitrogen. Fall nitrogen had little effect on forage quality. We also compared two spring nitrogen rates of 50 and 70 lb/acre plus 20 lb/acre of spring sulfur. Spring nitrogen rates of 70 lb/acre had no effect on yield compared to 50 lb/acre in 2022, but more spring nitrogen in 2023 increased yields by a ton when sulfur was also applied. Full trial results for 2023 can be found in Table 2. Spring nitrogen had a significant increase in CP. Seventy pounds of spring nitrogen increased CP by 0.5 to 2% over 50 lb/acre of spring nitrogen. Sulfur application in the spring of 20 lb/acre did significantly increase yield in 2023 when 70 lb/acre of nitrogen were applied. Our trials only achieved CP values of 12.3%. Our top-yielding treatment was 6.8 ton/acre of DM and had 90 lb/acre of nitrogen applied. This crop removed 270 lb/acre of nitrogen. From our field trial without historical manure applications, additional consideration is needed if CP would increase from more nitrogen applied; however, we must be careful not to increase CP at the expense of crop lodging.

    Table 2: Cereal rye yield and quality in 2023 affected by nitrogen (N) and sulfur (S) applications. Results in the same column with similar letters had statistically the same yield and quality.1  

    Treatments TDN (%) CP (%) NDF (%) Yield (ton/ac DM)

    Fall N-0#, Spring N-70#

    64.7ab

    12.3ab

    56.5b

    4.99d

    Fall N-0#, Spring N-50#

    65.1a

    12.2ab

    56.0b

    4.77d

    Fall N-20#, Spring N-50#,

    64.4ab

    11.3ab

    57.9ab

    6.28bc

    Fall N-20#, Spring N-50#, Spring S-20#

    64.3ab

    11.3b

    58.5ab

    5.82c

    Fall N-20#, Spring N-70#

    65.0a

    11.7ab

    56.2b

    6.53ab

    Fall N-20#, Spring N-20#, Spring S-20#

    63.4b

    12.3a

    59.9a

    6.86a

    Least significant difference:

    1.4

    1.0

    2.7

    0.57

    Coefficient of variation (%):

    1.8

    7.2

    3.9

    7.9

    1TDN = Total digestible nutrients, CP = crude protein, NDF = neutral detergent fiber, and DM = dry matter.

    When trying to maximize forage profitability per acre, consider managing your forage crop more like an agronomic crop. Consider variety selection for your needs looking at both yield and nutritional value. Also, consider nitrogen rate and timing. Your nitrogen may come from commercial fertilizer or manure. Work from New York also showed that unless there was residual nitrogen left over from the previous crop, a fall nitrogen application increased tillering and forage yield. This work also showed that if the field didn’t have fall manure or a history of manure application, a spring nitrogen application increased yield. By increasing your winter cereal grain forage management, you can return even more to your operation’s profitability.

     

     

     

     

  29. Milk Prices, Costs of Nutrients, Margins, and Comparison of Feedstuffs Prices

    April F. White, Graduate Research Associate, Department of Animal Sciences,The Ohio State University

    Milk Prices

    In the May issue, the Class III milk future for June was $16.55/cwt and July was $17.41/cwt.  Class III milk closing price for June was $14.91/cwt, with protein and butterfat prices at $1.51/lb and $2.76/lb, respectively. Class III milk closed over two dollars lower than predicted in the previous issue, and the price for protein decreased by nearly a dollar. The Class III future for August is $16.94/cwt, with the September at $17.33/cwt.

    Nutrient Prices

    It can be helpful to compare the prices in Table 1 to the 5-year averages. Compared to the May issue, nutrient costs are largely stable, with the cost of net energy for lactation (NEL) about 81% higher than the 5-year average ($0.09/Mcal), although $0.02 lower than in May. The cost of metabolizable protein (MP) has increased since the March issue and is currently about 11% lower than the 5-year average ($0.44/lb).

    To estimate profitability at these nutrient prices, the Cow-Jones Index was used for average US cows weighing 1500 lb and producing milk with 3.9% fat and 3.2% protein. For the July issue, the income over nutrient cost (IONC) for cows milking 70 lb/day and 85 lb/day is about $12.40 and $12.83/cwt, respectively. Both values are expected to be profitable, and both are higher than the respective values in May. As a word of caution, these estimates of IONC do not account for the cost of replacements or dry cows, or for profitability changes related to culling cows.

    Table 1. Prices of dairy nutrients for Ohio dairy farms, July 25, 2023.

    Economic Value of Feeds

    Results of the Sesame analysis for central Ohio on July 25, 2023 are presented in Table 2. Detailed results for all 26 feed commodities are reported. The lower and upper limits mark the 75% confidence range for the predicted (break-even) prices. Feeds in the “Appraisal Set” were those for which we didn’t have a local price or were adjusted to reflect their true (“Corrected”) value in a lactating diet. One must remember that SESAME™ compares all commodities at one specific point in time. Thus, the results do not imply that the bargain feeds are cheap on a historical basis. Feeds for which a price was not reported were added to the appraisal set this issue.

    Table 2. Actual, breakeven (predicted) and 75% confidence limits of 26 feed commodities used on Ohio dairy farms, July 25, 2023.


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    For convenience, Table 3 summarizes the economic classification of feeds according to their outcome in the SESAME™ analysis. Feedstuffs that have gone up in price based on current nutrient values, or in other words moved a column to the right since the last issue, are in oversized text. Conversely, feedstuffs that have moved to the left (i.e., decreased in value) are undersized text. These shifts (i.e., feeds moving columns to the left or right) in price are only temporary changes relative to other feedstuffs within the last two months and do not reflect historical prices. Feeds added to the appraisal set were removed from this table.

    Table 3. Partitioning of feedstuffs in Ohio, July 25, 2023.

    Bargains At Breakeven Overpriced
    Corn, ground, dry 41% Cottonseed meal

    Alfalfa hay - 40% NDF

    Corn silage Whole cottonseed Blood meal
    Distillers dried grains

    Feather meal

    Mechanically extracted canola meal
    Gluten feed Meat meal Solvent extracted canola meal
    Gluten meal Soybean hulls

    Soybean meal - expeller

    Hominy 48% Soybean meal 44% Soybean meal
    Wheat middlings Wheat bran Whole, roasted soybeans
        Tallow

    As coined by Dr. St-Pierre, I must remind the readers that these results do not mean that you can formulate a balanced diet using only feeds in the “bargains” column. Feeds in the “bargains” column offer a savings opportunity, and their usage should be maximized within the limits of a properly balanced diet. In addition, prices within a commodity type can vary considerably because of quality differences as well as non-nutritional value added by some suppliers in the form of nutritional services, blending, terms of credit, etc. Also, there are reasons that a feed might be a very good fit in your feeding program while not appearing in the “bargains” column. For example, your nutritionist might be using some molasses in your rations for reasons other than its NEL and MP contents.

    Appendix

    For those of you who use the 5-nutrient group values [i.e., replace metabolizable protein by rumen degradable protein (RDP) and digestible rumen undegradable protein (RUP)], see the Table 4.

    Table 4. Prices of dairy nutrients using the 5-nutrient solution for Ohio dairy farms, July 25, 2023.
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  30. Dairy Outlook: July 2023

    Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Tuscarawas County, Ohio State University Extension

    The USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook was released July 18, 2023.  This report summarizes economic changes based on reporting from the USDA WASDE and other monthly reports.  The full report is available here: https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/outlooks/106951/ldp-m-349.pdf?v=4081.  This article will focus on highlights from the dairy section of the report.

    Supply and Use Data

    According to data compiled by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), milk production, cow numbers, and milk per cow were all higher compared to the same period one year ago.

    Category

    May 2023

    Difference from May 2022

    Milk production

    19.875 billion pounds

    Up 0.6%

    Milk cows

    9.430 million head

    Up 13,000 head

    Milk per cow

    2,108 pounds (per month)

    Up 10 pounds

    According to USDA NASS, items factored to calculate the dairy farm margin for the Dairy Margin Coverage program were mixed. The margin in May 2023 declined to $4.83, which was $7.68 lower than May 2022. This is the lowest dairy farm margin so far in 2023.

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    Input costs and drought conditions have contributed to high dairy cow slaughter so far this year.  The chart below shows weekly slaughter and compares 2023 to 2022.
     

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    Milk Forecast 2023

    The Class III milk price is projected at $16.05/cwt because of expected lower prices for cheese and dry whey.  This represents a reduction of $0.65/cwt from the forecast last month.  Class IV and the all-milk price are projected down compared to the previous month forecast.  Class IV is forecasted at $18.20/cwt and the all-milk price for 2023 is at $19.55/cwt.

    Milk Forecast 2024

    Unfortunately, price projections for 2024 are expected to drop compared to 2023.  The Class III milk price is forecasted at $15.95/cwt.  Class IV is expected to be $17.45/cwt and the all-milk price for 2024 at $19.10/cwt.

    Moving Forward

    If these projections hold true, attention to detail and a critical review of all expenses will become increasingly more important.  Ask questions of your Extension Educator, veterinarian, lender, and other trusted advisors to develop a plan. 

  31. Forecasting and Benchmarking the Financial Bottom Line

    Dr. Maurice Eastridge, Extension Dairy Specialist, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    Currently, a lot of focus is on the volatility in the dairy industry. Of course a hearing on the Federal order pricing system is scheduled (see article elsewhere in this issue of Buckeye Dairy News), but any changes are well into the future. As we sit just beyond the halfway mark for the year and look toward yearend, we should evaluate our current financial situation and project some “what if’s” for the yearend. Milk component prices are rather volatile at the moment due to many factors within the pricing system, although cheese prices are showing some promise. Cull cow prices have been quite good recently, along the overall positive beef cattle prices. Although Ohio is not included, you might want to monitor the new Livestock Auction Dashboard provided by USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (Livestock Auction Dashboard | MMN (usda.gov)) as shifts in beef prices will influence the price for cull cows and dairy calves. The feed price situation is somewhat uncertain at the moment given the drought conditions that remain in some parts of the Midwest, and we are still somewhat too far out from harvest for good estimates on overall grain yields for the primary growing states. First-cutting of forage was quite good in quality but lower yields than often occurring due to low rainfall. Major challenges have occurred for many farmers in getting second or third cuttings harvested in a timely manner due to frequent rains.

    After you develop those “what if’s” on the revenue and costs, there are various sources to benchmark against:

    1. Ohio Dairy Farm Business Summary: The 2011 through 2021 dairy and crop business summaries are provided at: Ohio Farm Business Summaries | Ohio Farm Business Analysis and Benchmarking Program (osu.edu)
    2. Data summaries from the Cornell University Dairy Farm Business Summaries: https://dyson.cornell.edu/outreach/extension-bulletins
    3. Northeast Dairy Farm Business Summaries: https://www.farmcrediteast.com/en/resources/Industry-Trends-and-Outlooks/Reports/2022NEDairyFarmSummary2023MidYearOutlook
    4. University of Minnesota, Center for Farm Financial Management: Reports can be run for crops or dairy by year and also some data are available by herd size: https://finbin.umn.edu/

    Of course one of the major challenges is that each year is different, but at least one of the reports provides a midyear outlook. Best wishes with harvests during the next few months and as you plan for the yearend on financial management.

     

  32. Federal Milk Marketing Order Hearing Planned to Begin in August

    Jason Hartschuh, Extension Field Specialist, Dairy Management and Precision Livestock, Ohio State University Extension

    The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service has announced details about the hearing that will begin on Wednesday, August 23, 2023, at 9:00 a.m. The purpose of this hearing is to discuss 22 different proposals that would amend milk prices in the 11 Federal Milk Marketing Orders. A total of 40 proposals were submitted for consideration. The full hearing announcement can be found here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2023/07/24/2023-15496/milk-in-the-northeast-and-other-marketing-areas-notice-of-hearing-on-proposed-amendments-to

    Testimony will be heard by subject area in the order they are listed:

    1. Milk composition
    2. Surveyed commodity prices
    3. Class III and Class IV formula factors
    4. Base Class I skim milk price
    5. Class I and Class II differentials
    6. AMS proposal

    The public hearing will be held at the 502 East Event Centre, 502 East Carmel Drive, Carmel, IN. Each proposal will be presented and testified on with each witness having 60 minutes to present their proposals.

    Dairy farmers may testify in person at any time during the hearing, or virtually via Zoom on Fridays. Starting Friday, September 1, 2023, and each Friday thereafter during the hearing, beginning at 12:00 p.m. ET, ten (10) time slots will be available for dairy farmers to testify virtually. Dairy farmers must pre-register to testify virtually, as outlined in the instructions provided on the Hearing website. Each registered dairy farmer will be allocated up to 15 minutes to present testimony. Additional time may be requested. There will be no time limit on cross-examination. The hearing will continue until the presiding judge determines it is complete. At that time, USDA will issue their recommended decision with an open comment period to follow on those recommendations. If the process progresses as expected, it should be completed by July 2024.

    The full proposals, hearing recordings, and additional information on participating can be found at: https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/moa/dairy/hearings/national-fmmo-pricing-hearing

  33. Corn Silage Price, Processing, Performance, and Preparation

    Dwight Roseler, Adjunct Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University, and Jason Hartschuh, Extension Field Specialist, Dairy Management and Precision Livestock, Ohio State University Extension

    A high-performance football coach knows, the work is done in the weight room and practice field prior to the opening kickoff. Many players dread the summer two a day football practice. But the motivation was the Friday night lights and the game wins!  In football, there are several chances to make course corrections and improve in season. Corn silage harvest will soon be upon us! Unlike football, corn silage harvest only has one chance to get it right during harvest!  No going back for more practice. The farmers weight room work out of having quality corn silage starts with prepping the soil, proper fertility, reputable seed, weed control, correct planting, field scouting, fungicide (if needed), and correct harvest moisture, chop length, kernel processing, pack density, and feed out. Corn silage is the foundation of dairy rations, and corn silage quality is a top 5 factor in profit for dairy farms. Get it done right, no second chances!

    Corn Silage Preparation - Chop Length and Kernel Processing

    Silage chopper chop length and kernel processing requires regular adjustment and monitoring as usage will alter the chop length and processing rolls.  Corn silage chop length will need to be adjusted by farm depending upon TMR forage percentage in the ration, forage neutral detergent fiber (NDF), and ration starch and undigested NDF (uNDF) levels. The proper corn silage chop length is critical for efficient milk cow performance.  100% of kernels need to be processed on every load.  Assign your pack tractor manager as the gate keeper to make sure the particle length and kernel processing is correct and adjusted properly. Check initial loads and several loads per hour throughout each chopping day. Both variety and planting date can influence kernel size, therefore affecting processing score. Checking processing scores in each field will improve your processing consistency. On farm tests are available to evaluate kernel processing and particle length.  Only one chance each year to get it right!

    Silage Safety

    Safe equipment and safe people.  People safety is number one and the silage safety motto from Dr. Keith Bolsen’s website (https://www.silagesafety.org/) is  “send everyone home healthy and safe”.  The website has resources for safety training during silage season. Silage season involves multiple equipment with drivers moving in various paths. Coordinated traffic patterns and highly visible safety vests for all workers should be mandatory. Keep small children and uninvited farm guests away from busy farm driveways.    

    Silage chopper routine maintenance is a given. Just do it, “always”!  The safety maintenance on equipment often can be forgotten.  Keep a fire extinguisher up to date.  A silage chopper should have both an ABC dry chemical and a water cannon foaming agent extinguisher on board. Clean and replace worn out lights, backup beepers, and slow moving vehicle (SMV) emblems. Silage equipment should be blown off daily to keep free of plant material that may heat up and catch on fire. 

    Pricing Corn Silage 

    Corn silage is the most economical forage ingredient in dairy cattle diets based upon Sesame ingredient pricing. Corn silage typically constitutes from 35 to 60% of the total ration and is 25 to 40% of the total lactating cow feed cost. A proper economic value for corn silage is important to optimize farm income.  

    Three ways to price corn silage: 1) Actual production expense (fixed land cost and variable inputs), 2) alternative ingredient market value or 3) an agreed upon cost from a neighbor for standing corn silage.  The information below addressed these three alternatives.

    Actual production cost

    The actual production expense provides a method to account for the variable costs (seed, fertilizer, chemicals, machinery, labor, insurance, etc.) and fixed costs (land, taxes, etc.) associated with the effort to plant, grow, harvest, and feed corn silage.  The Ohio State Extension 2022 corn silage budget calculator values corn silage variable costs at $570/acre and fixed land costs at $390/acre for a total per acre cost of $960/acre to grow and harvest corn silage. Corn silage yield of 23 ton/acre calculates to a value of nearly $42/ton standing in the field, with a range of $37 to 45/ton varying by tonnage harvested. Your specific fixed and variable farm costs can be used to find your farm corn silage cost. The OSU Extension silage budget allows users to input their specific farm costs (Enterprise Budgets | Farm Office (osu.edu) )

    Corn silage total cost into a ration requires adding harvest, hauling, packing, inoculation, storage losses (shrink), and feed out costs. The OSU Extension 2022 custom rate survey (https://farmoffice.osu.edu) rates for chopping, hauling, and packing range from $7 to 15/ton.  Industry costs for inoculation range from $0.50 to 1.50/ton, storage shrink at $4 to 8/ton, and feed out cost of $0.60 to 2.00/ton. Final in ration corn silage cost of $59/ton (range $50 to 68/ton). OSU has a new corn silage pricing tool that will be released around August 15th to assist with these decisions. Check at https://dairy.osu.edu/ after this date for more information.

    Alternative market ingredient value

    Alternative ingredient market value (Sesame) calculates an economic value on corn silage based upon market costs of ground corn grain, alfalfa hay(silage) and various co-products. The Buckeye Dairy News regularly publishes and archives historical ingredient values and calculates predicted prices of various ingredients.  Corn silage value per ton in recent years has been predicted at $73, 92, 100 and 85/ton in years 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023, respectively. Corn grain ($/bushel) and 48% soymeal price ($/ton) in those same years was $3.70/$300, $6.00/$376, $6.45/$470 and $6.60/$435, respectively.   “Home grown” corn silage is an economical and valuable ingredient into dairy farm rations. Get it grown, chopped, and packed properly.  

    Pricing standing corn silage

    Purchasing standing corn indicates that current silage inventory is limited and more forage is required.  Prior to buying standing corn, evaluate these options for alternative forages:  1) Plant a fall or winter cover crop. Spring oats, spring triticale, and annual/Italian ryegrasses are options for early August plantings. Oat and triticale can produce 2 to 2.5 ton /acre DM yield by mid-October in boot stage or possible 3 ton/acre at head stage in early November.  2) Reduce current corn silage usage and replace with optional economically priced co-products. A dairy nutritionist educated in ration software optimization can provide “best cost” pricing of byproducts that could replace some of the forage in the ration and supply cost savings over purchasing standing corn silage.  3) Reduce lactating cow or heifer inventory. Cull inefficient low-producing cows and reduce replacement heifer inventory to 75% of mature cows if expansion is not in the future.  

    Purchasing standing corn for silage can be accomplished in multiple ways.    The agreement must be fair for both buyer (dairy farmer) and seller (crop farmer). Purchasing standing corn silage starts with determining the yield of grain of the standing corn. Then a grain price can be figured out by local cash markets, forward-contract, or delayed pricing. Add on the value of the silage fodder that is removed and deduct a harvest charge the seller will not incur.  Each aspect of this pricing will be reviewed.    

    Determining the grain yield of standing corn can be estimated in several ways: 1) leave multiple test blocks in each field that can be harvested as dry corn for yield, 2) use grain yield estimate calculated by crop insurance, or 3) harvest the standing corn as silage.  Obtain tonnage and moisture at time of chopping. Adjust total silage tons to a 35% dry matter basis. Calculate the bushels of corn grain in each ton by using the equivalent factor of 0.15 tons of corn silage harvested equals one bushel of corn grain. Another general rule is each ton of corn silage contains 7 bushels of dry shelled corn.  

    Add the stover value of the corn silage removed.  Corn silage has roughly 50% stover on a dry basis. Value the stover based upon good quality grass hay. Every ton of harvested corn silage would remove about 400 lb of stover on a dry hay equivalent basis (15% moisture). Thus, 400 lb of grass hay at $160/ton market price would equate to $32/ton value of fodder for corn silage removed. 

    Remove the dry grain harvest cost for the seller since the grain producer will not be harvesting the crop as dry corn. OSU Ohio custom rates survey has a value of $10.50/ton to harvest, haul, and fill a corn silage bunker.

    Example.  Standing corn that yields 25 ton/acre of corn silage (35% DM).  The 0.15 factor equates to 167 bushel/acre of corn grain. This factor may be low in high-yielding grain corn where a ton of silage may contain 8.6 bushels of corn.  Corn price of $6/bushel generates $1002/acre for grain yield.  $1002 divided by 25 ton of corn silage equals $40/ton corn silage.  Add $32/ton value for the fodder and subtract the $10.50/ton for the harvest charge.  Final price of corn silage per ton $40 + $32 - $10.50 = $61.50/ton.

    Summary

    Corn silage is a critical and key part of the production and economic return for your dairy farm.  Prepare your silage team now for the fall silage super bowl game as you only have one time to get it right. Prepare the equipment, set and monitor the correct chop length and kernel rolls, keep people safety first, and review equipment safety and update as needed.  Ongoing scout silage fields and provide proper fungicide application if needed. Communicate with silage contractors and neighbors on establishing the corn silage price. Have a safe, abundant, and blessed silage season.    

  34. Corn Silage Ear Rot and Foliar Disease Management

    Jason Hartschuh, Extension Field Specialist, Dairy Management and Precision Livestock, Ohio State University Extension

    Currently early planted corn is from full pollination to just beginning brown silk, while later planted corn is still in the vegetative stage but will be pollinating over the next couple weeks. The ideal time to scout corn for fungal disease and for fungicide application is from tassel through pollination. Most fields we have scouted this year show low disease pressure, but we have had humid overcast conditions over the last week which may increase disease challenges. We do have a gray leaf spot confirmed in a few locations across the state, and tar spot has been confirmed in southern Michigan.

    When fungal disease is present in corn silage at harvest, research shows a fungicide application at VT-R1 to control these fungal diseases reduced fiber concentration and improved nutritional value compared to the untreated control. Corn treated with fungicide had improved fermentation and more consistent dry matter values. When disease was severe, dry matter yield was also improved. When fungal disease infects corn, one of its natural responses to stop the spread of the disease is to increase lignin around the infected area which reduces digestibility.

    2021 was the first-year tar spot was found in Ohio, and pressure was low in 2022. Multiple universities across the Midwest are working on tar spot, but we only have limited knowledge on its management and effects on corn silage. Currently, there are no confirmed outbreaks of tar spot in Ohio this year, but a few samples that look like tar spot have been submitted to the lab for diagnosis. It has been confirmed in southern Michigan and southern Ontario, Canada. Previous years have shown us that later planted corn may be at the greatest risk of losses from tar spot. One of the greatest risks to corn silage is from severe infection causing premature plant death. Tar spot reduces silage moisture, digestibility, and energy value which can also lead to poor fermentation with lower silage moisture and plant sugars. Scouting for tar spot is critical and should be done weekly from tassel through R3.  Lesions will be small, black, raised spots appearing on both sides of the leaves along with leaf sheaths and husks. Spots may be on green or brown dying tissue. Spots on green tissue may have tan or brown halos. If tar spot is found in fields, a fungicide application can help slow disease spread, but be cautious of the preharvest interval of the fungicide used with some being as long as 30 days and others as short as 7 days. With silage harvesting beginning around R4 growth stage, 50% milk line, the decision to use fungicide should be closely monitored. Another option is to make sure your harvesters are ready if the corn dies prematurely so that silage moisture is at least correct, with tar spot killing plants in less than two weeks under ideal conditions. Tar spot development is driven by cool temperatures (60 to 70oF), humid conditions (>75% relative humidity), and prolonged leaf wetness (>7 hours). These weather conditions often occur over night and in the morning in early August.

    Other leaf diseases, such as gray leaf spot, northern corn leaf blight, common rust, and southern rust can also decrease digestibility and fermentation, just not as rapidly as tar spot. Gray leaf spot has gray to tan lesions developing between the veins and are distinctly rectangular with smooth, linear margins along the leaf veins. Lesions are slow to develop, needing 14 to 21 days, and begin in the lower leaves. Northern corn leaf blight lesions typically have a tan color and are elliptical or cigar shaped with smooth rounded ends. Common rust is what we usually have in Ohio, but on occasion, Southern rust may be present. Common rust is rarely of economic concern, but the development of southern rust can have economic yield impacts. The colors are different between the two; common rust is brownish to a cinnamon-brown while Southern rust has a reddish orange appearance. Southern rust mostly develops on the top of the leaf and may be on the stems and husks, while common rust is on both sides of the leaves and generally only on the leaves. The last difference is in shape and distribution; common rust pustules are large and oval to elongated with a scatted appearance over the leaf. Southern rust is small, circular, and evenly distributed over the leaf. Identifying the diseases present in your corn field can help you choose the best fungicide when they are needed.

    Each disease has slightly different environmental conditions tin which they thrive, but these conditions can overlap or happen within days of each other. Gray leaf spot is favored by warm temperatures between 70 and 90°F and high relative humidity. Northern corn leaf blight also favors wet conditions but prefers cooler weather of 64 to 80°F. Tar spot is a cool weather disease favoring temperatures from 59 to 70°F during humid conditions of 85% relative humidity or more keeping leaves wet for greater than 7 hours. Another cool weather disease is common rust with optimal disease conditions being temperatures of 61 to 77°F and 6 hours of leaf wetness.  Southern rust is more of a late season disease, preferring the warmer temperatures of 77 to 88°F.

    Maybe the biggest concern for dairy producers is mycotoxin contamination of corn silage and high moisture corn, with many nutritionists encouraging levels below 1 ppm in corn utilized in the lactating ration. Fungicides may have the ability to reduce mycotoxin levels and improve silage digestibility.

    Deoxyinvalenol (DON) is one of the primary mycotoxins in Ohio corn. It is caused by the fungus Fusarium graminearum and causes both Gibberella stalk rot and Gibberella ear rot, making it of concern for both the grain and forage quality. Gibberella ear rot and DON production increase when the 21 days after tasseling are cool and wet. One study under low Gibberella disease pressure, revealed that in all cases but one, an application of fungicide at R1 reduced DON levels by at least 50%. The trial was then expanded for the second year, which was a high disease pressure with DON levels as high as 17.9 ppm in one hybrid and 30.3 ppm in the other hybrid. Again, fungicide had little effect on yield of these two brown midrib (BMR) hybrids or forage quality, but a few products did consistently lower DON levels.  A 2021 corn silage trial in Ohio showed a vomitoxin reduction from 3.1 ppm in the control to 0.5 ppm with Miravis Neo application. In 2022, a project at the Northwest Research Station in Custar, OH compared DON levels among 3 varieties and 3 fungicide application methods. There was a difference between varieties in corn silage DON levels, with the varieties containing better disease resistance having lower DON levels. The fungicide application method also affected DON levels, with all treatments being lower than the control. Interestingly, our application over the top at 20 gal/acre had the lowest DON levels followed by drops. The application over the top did a better job of covering the plant from tassel to root with fungicide, which may help with stalk rot management. An earlier project showed better coverage at ear height when using 20 gal/acre compared to 15 gal/acre.

    The products that consistently lowered DON levels contained a triazole as one of their active ingredients, with prothioconazole being the most common.  Three products that researchers across the country are seeing lower DON levels with when disease is present are Proline, Delaro, and Miravis Neo. The ideal application window from multiple studies has been R1 which is from the point when silks emerge until they become dry about 10 days later. This application is primary for Gibberlla ear rot which infects the ears during pollination. An important part of ear rot control with fungicides is that the fungicide must reach the silk in order to be absorbed at the ear to prevent fungal infection.

  35. Milk Prices, Costs of Nutrients, Margins, and Comparison of Feedstuffs Prices

    April F. White, Graduate Research Associate, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    Milk Prices

    In the March issue, the Class III milk future for April was $19.63/cwt and May was $18.64/cwt.  Class III milk closing price for April was $18.52/cwt, with protein and butterfat prices at $2.56 and $2.70/lb, respectively. Class III milk closed over a dollar lower than predicted in the previous issue, although the price for components increased. The Class III future for June is $16.55/cwt, with the July future less than a dollar higher at $17.41/cwt.

    Nutrient Prices

    It can be helpful to compare the prices in Table 1 to the 5-year averages. Compared to the March issue, nutrient costs are largely stable, with the cost of net energy for lactation (NEL) remaining just shy of double the 5-year average ($0.09/Mcal). The cost of metabolizable (MP) has decreased since the March issue and is currently about 24% lower than the 5-year average ($0.44/lb).

    To estimate profitability at these nutrient prices, the Cow-Jones Index was used for average US cows weighing 1500 lb and producing milk with 3.9% fat and 3.2% protein. For the May issue, the income over nutrient cost (IONC) for cows milking 70 and 85 lb/day is about $10.64 and $11.13/cwt, respectively. Both values are expected to be profitable, and both are higher than the respective values in March. As a word of caution, these estimates of IONC do not account for the cost of replacements or dry cows, or for profitability changes related to culling cows.

    Table 1. Prices of dairy nutrients for Ohio dairy farms, May 15, 2023.
    A picture containing text, screenshot, font, numberDescription automatically generated

    Economic Value of Feeds

    Results of the Sesame analysis for central Ohio on May 15, 2023 are presented in Table 2. Detailed results for all 26 feed commodities are reported. The lower and upper limits mark the 75% confidence range for the predicted (break-even) prices. Feeds in the “Appraisal Set” were those for which we didn’t have a local price or were adjusted to reflect their true (“Corrected”) value in a lactating diet. One must remember that SESAME™ compares all commodities at one specific point in time. Thus, the results do not imply that the bargain feeds are cheap on a historical basis. Feeds for which a price was not reported were added to the appraisal set for this issue.

    Table 2. Actual, breakeven (predicted) and 75% confidence limits of 26 feed commodities used on Ohio dairy farms, May 15, 2023. A screenshot of a calibration setDescription automatically generated with medium confidence
    A screenshot of a computer screenDescription automatically generated with low confidence

    For convenience, Table 3 summarizes the economic classification of feeds according to their outcome in the SESAME™ analysis. Feedstuffs that have gone up in price based on current nutrient values, or in other words moved a column to the right since the last issue, are in oversized text. Conversely, feedstuffs that have moved to the left (i.e., decreased in value) are undersized text. These shifts (i.e., feeds moving columns to the left or right) in price are only temporary changes relative to other feedstuffs within the last two months and do not reflect historical prices. Feeds added to the appraisal set were removed from this table.

    Table 3. Partitioning of feedstuffs in Ohio, May 15, 2023.

    Bargains At Breakeven Overpriced
    Corn, ground, dry

    Alfalfa hay - 40% NDF

    Mechanically extracted canola meal
    Corn silage Soybean meal - expeller Whole, roasted soybeans
    Distillers dried grains   Wheat bran
    Gluten feed Gluten meal 44% Soybean meal
    Hominy Meat meal Solvent extracted canola meal
    Wheat middlings Whole cottonseed Blood meal
      Soybean hulls 41% Cottonseed meal
    Feather meal  

    48% Soybean meal

    As coined by Dr. St-Pierre, I must remind the readers that these results do not mean that you can formulate a balanced diet using only feeds in the “bargains” column. Feeds in the “bargains” column offer a savings opportunity, and their usage should be maximized within the limits of a properly balanced diet. In addition, prices within a commodity type can vary considerably because of quality differences as well as non-nutritional value added by some suppliers in the form of nutritional services, blending, terms of credit, etc. Also, there are reasons that a feed might be a very good fit in your feeding program while not appearing in the “bargains” column. For example, your nutritionist might be using some molasses in your rations for reasons other than its NEL and MP contents.

    Appendix

    For those of you who use the 5-nutrient group values (i.e., replace MP by rumen degradable protein and digestible rumen undegradable protein), see the Table 4 below.

    Table 4. Prices of dairy nutrients using the 5-nutrient solution for Ohio dairy farms, May 15, 2023.
    A picture containing text, screenshot, display, numberDescription automatically generated

     

  36. Do Not Let Your Dairy Cows Strike Out this Summer

    Dr. Dwight Roseler, Adjunct Professor Department of Animal Sciences and Purina Midwest Dairy Nutrition Consultant

    Summertime brings thoughts of ice cream and baseball. The post-game little league event brings both teams to the local ice cream store to enjoy a refreshing ice cream cone. Dairy cows do not play baseball, but they do work hard and expend a lot of energy producing high quality, nutritious milk. A dairy farmer is a coach to their cows, as a dairy manager provides the proper resources to allow their cows to win during the summer. 

    Summertime heat brings serious consequences to dairy cows. The visible signs of summer heat to dairy cows can be one or a combination of the following signs in your cows:  lower feed intake, higher respiration rates, more standing and less chewing, variable manure consistency, higher somatic cell count, and lower milk components. The invisible signs of summer heat stress which occur inside the cow include lower rumen pH, increased body temperature, lower immunity, leaky intestines, and lower blood glucose.  

    A good on-farm method to evaluate heat stress for your dairy herd is to monitor respiration rate.  It will only take 5 minutes per day.  Quietly walk into your dairy cow barn late afternoon and observe cows when no other feeding, milking, or manure scraping activities are occurring.  Count respirations for 30 seconds on 10 individual cows.  Double that number to get respirations per minute.  Average respirations above 40 to 50 are evident of heat stress.  Respirations above 60 indicate mild heat stress, above 80 moderate heat stress, and over 100 severe heat stress.  Cows with pneumonia, mastitis, or are sick can have higher respirations due to sickness.

    Peak milk production on early lactation cows is affected more by summer heat than a late lactation cow.  Summer slump is evident in early autumn when cows that calved in June and July were supposed to achieve their peak production.  These mid-summer calving cows do not achieve peak milk because summer heat lowered their peak milk which leads to the entire herd not performing well in early autumn. 

    What can you do to reduce the effect of summer heat on your dairy cows?  Lactating dairy cow’s optimal environmental temperature is 40 to 60°F. Heat stress is a product of both temperature and humidity. The midwest has high humidity many days, thus fans need to be turned on when temperatures will be above 68°F during the day.  Four to six mile per hour air must flow over the cow lying in a stall.  Water sprinklers improve the effectiveness of heat removal from the dairy cow’s body.  Remember the hot summer days when you stepped out of the pool, you feel cool.  That is the same benefit cows gain by intermittently being sprinkled with water.  

    Nutritional interventions and additives can be put in place to reduce the effects of heat stress.  However, if fans and sprinklers are not installed or properly operating, nutritional interventions will have little impact. 

    Consult with the online resources listed below for additional information on environmental and housing interventions to implement to help coach your dairy cows to a successful summer. 

    Heat abatement strategies for dairy cows.

    https://thedairylandinitiative.vetmed.wisc.edu/home/housing-module/adult-cow-housing/ventilation-and-heat-abatement/

    https://www.ag.k-state.edu/outreach/ffa/Elanco%20Heat%20Abatement%20Guide.pdf

    https://dairy.osu.edu/newsletter/buckeye-dairy-news/volume-24-issue-4/recognizing-and-managing-heat-stress-dairy-cattle

  37. Milk Price Modernization Proposals

    Jason Hartschuh, Field Specialist, Dairy Management and Precision Livestock, Ohio State University Extension

    Over the past year, there has been a lot of discussion about how to modernize milk prices through the Federal Order system to recognize industry changes since the last major update in 2000 and correct a change made in the 2018 farm bill that greatly affects Class I milk price. The major change in 2000 that affects the pay calculation was a switch from milk prices being based on competitive pay prices for Grade B milk in Minnesota and Wisconsin to the current system that bases raw milk class prices on survey data from select wholesale processed products. The Federal Order system was created in the 1930’s to establish orderly milk markets and return market power to the producers. The market disorder was caused by the perishable nature of fluid milk, the seasonal variability in production that didn’t match the fluctuation in consumer consumption, and the multiple uses of milk. Today, these challenges still exist with the Federal Order working to ensure consumers have an adequate supply of fresh fluid milk. Also, it works to assist dairy farmers in developing stable and reliable milk markets, along with promoting and maintaining orderly milk marketing conditions.     

    National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) submitted the most comprehensive Federal Order hearing request on May 1st with 5 areas of proposed amendments. While in late March, the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association and the International Dairy Foods Association each submitted a petition for a hearing to amend the Federal Order but only focuses on their processor’s concerns over the make allowance. The other four areas that NMPF is requesting amendments to that we will discuss in future weeks are: 1) returning to the higher of Class I mover, 2) discontinuing the use of barrel cheese in the protein component price formula, 3) update the milk component factors for protein, other solids, and nonfat solids in the skim milk price formula for Class III and Class IV, and 4) update the Class I differential pricing surface throughout the United States. The additional four areas proposed by NMPF should have a positive effect on dairy producers’ bottom line and counter the decrease in milk price caused by the updated make allowance discussed below. 

    Federal Orders establish minimum prices for raw milk but do not establish minimum retail prices. They also do not guarantee dairy farmers a milk market or a profitable milk price. Through make allowances, they do establish the amount of make a processor will retain from the wholesale price of select products on which milk prices are based. Since the last major Federal Order reform in 2000, milk prices are based on a voluntary survey of dairy product manufacturers that sell bulk wholesale butter, nonfat dry milk, dry whey, and cheddar cheese in 40-lb blocks and 500-lb barrels. This information is used to calculate the prices of butter fat, protein, and other solids. These formulas also have a yield factor which is the amount of cheese made from a pound of protein or butter made from a pound of butterfat.

    Make Allowance Change

    The proposed make allowance changes are based on a voluntary survey in the upper Midwest that had low participation rates with only a third of processors providing data. The voluntary data was also not audited for accuracy. A study from California found that current manufacturing costs compared to current make allowances are 51% higher for cheddar cheese, 49% higher for dry whey, 39% for butter, and 59% higher for nonfat dry milk. These cost increases come from many areas with increases since 2019 of wages-20.2%, health policy premiums-20.9%, electricity-14.1%, natural gas-68.9%, cultures-15.8%, sale-18.8%, cardboard packaging-25.8%, and plastic packaging-36%.

    Make allowance changes:


    Component

    Current Make Allowance ($/lb)

    NMPF Proposed
    Make Allowance ($/lb)

    Butterfat

    $0.1715

    $0.2100

    Nonfat solids

    $0.1678

    $0.2100

    Protein

      $0.20003

    $0.2400

    Other solids

    $0.1991

    $0.2300

    Hearing requests acknowledge the need for a better way to determine and update make allowances through a mandatory survey of manufacturers’ cost of production and product yield. One-way plants have improved profitability is to improve product yield. These future mandatory surveys would provide much better accuracy for updating the make allowances by having all processors participate and having the data be auditable. While USDA has the authority to do this data collection, congress will have to fund this survey data collection, making the mandatory survey somewhat separate from the Federal Order hearing.

    NMPF predicts that the proposed updated make allowances will have a negative initial effect on producers if done alone from other 4 proposals. It would reduce the national all-milk price by $0.54/cwt, Class III price by $0.58/cwt, and Class IV by $0.53/cwt. Increased make allowances long term should lead to increased investment in process facilities, increased production of higher-value products that are also more expensive to produce, and the ability for efficient plants to again pay producer premiums for high-quality milk.

    Class I Mover Change

    The Class I mover would return to the higher of Class III or Class IV skim milk price as it was prior to 2019. In 2019, the Class I milk price calculation was changed to the average of Class III and Class IV plus $0.74/cwt. This appeared to be a better way to calculate Class I milk price and allow for better risk management, but this has not been the case. The current average calculation allows for simpler risk management as producers and processors can hedge both Class III and Class IV skim milk and know that will be the basis of their milk price. Unfortunately, this has led to increased Class I volatility and decreased milk prices. There has also not been a significant increase in hedging as a risk management tool by producers or processors. As demand for manufactured products changes, the Class III and Class IV prices do not always move in the same direction or magnitude as each other, causing spreads greater than $1.48/cwt, which can lead to manufacturing classes of milk having a higher price than fluid milk. The monthly volatility between the advanced price that Class I milk is priced on and the final price for Class III and Class IV has also been made worse by the current calculation leading to increased negative producer price differentials. The average formula has also led to increased depooling, as for multiple-months manufacturing class prices have exceeded fluid milk prices, causing the Federal Order to work in reverse where manufacturing plants had to pay into the pool instead of receiving from the pool which could decrease the supply of fluid milk.  Since the implementation of the current system in May of 2019, it is estimated that across all Federal Orders, this formula has reduced milk checks by $937.9 million dollars compared to the higher of the formula. While USDA corrected some of this with the Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program, a solution to this problem in the future is needed. For this reason, NMPF is proposing a return to the higher of the formula for the Class I milk price mover. This change should have a net positive effect on producers’ milk prices, helping to offset the negative effects of increased make allowances.

    Protein Value Change by Removing 500-pound Barrels

    The next proposal is the removal of 500-pound barrels of cheddar cheese from the protein price formula and only using 40-pound blocks. Approximately 28% of the cheese produced in the US is cheddar. Prior to 2017, blocks and barrels of cheddar cheese were closely correlated and stayed within $0.05/lb of each other. Since then, the block/barrel spread has increased to an average of $0.12/lb with blocks exceeding barrel price most of the time. Only 7% of US cheddar cheese is processed as barrel cheese but represents just under half the surveyed cheese price volume. This has decreased the value of milk protein and dairy producers’ milk checks, thus this change should have a positive effect on producer milk prices. From 2019 to 2022, this change would have increased protein price by $0.15/lb, Class III milk price by $0.45/cwt, Class I price by $0.20/cwt, or US average all milk price by $0.25/cwt.

    Milk Component Factors in Skim Milk

    While it will have minimal effect on component-based Federal Orders (FO) like FO33, the proposed adjustment to the component factors in the skim milk pricing formula will have a significant effect on non-component orders like FO5. In component-based Federal Orders, it should increase the Class I milk price and decrease the amount of depooling.  The current proposal is to increase the calculated amount of components to 9.36 lb per hundred of nonfat solids, 3.35 lb per hundred of protein, and 6.01 lb per hundred of other solids.  By increasing component factors in skim milk to represent current industry values, Class I milk price will increase by $0.55/cwt in all Federal Orders. For non-component-based Federal Orders, Class III would increase by $0.73/cwt and Class IV by $0.38/cwt.  

    Class I Differential Pricing Surface Model

    Geographically, the US dairy industry has greatly changed where cows are located since 2000 with only modest changes to Class I differentials in the Appalachian, Florida, and Southeast Orders occurring in 2008. Since then, there has been drastic increases in transportation cost and the distance milk is traveling to ensure that all regions of the country have access to a fresh supply of fluid milk. The current Class I differentials are based on a time when it cost approximately $0.347 to 0.388/cwt per 100 miles that milk was hauled. Today, this cost is $0.920 to 1.00/cwt per 100 miles that milk is transported. Milk haulers are also struggling to find backhauls due to decreased citrus concentrate and limited time to add an extra wash once the milk tanker makes it back to the farm area. Tankers often need to be refilled quickly with milk. This increased cost of transportation is putting the fresh fluid milk supply in some areas of the country at risk of consumers not having access to freshly processed fluid milk. It is also adding a burden to dairy farms who are subsidizing the cost of trucking to supply these regions with a fresh supply of fluid milk. NMPF recommended changes to the Class I differential that would increase FO33 from $1.98 to $3.68/cwt or a $1.70/cwt net increase in Class I differential. 

    Together, these 5 areas should have a positive benefit to Ohio dairy farmers and processors. These changes would allow both groups to reinvest in the dairy industry. If a Federal Order hearing takes place, we will work to keep you updated on the process of what it means to your farm and how to participate.    

    References:

    https://www.nmpf.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/NMPF-FMMO-Modernization-hearing-request-and-proposal-050123-1.pdf

    https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/WCMA_USDA_Petition_March2023.pdf

    https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/20230309_IDFAPetition4865_3290_0697.pdf

  38. Employee Training Resources for Animal Care in the Dairy Industry

    Ryan McMichael, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mercer County, Ohio State University Extension 

    As our society continues to evolve, we can continue to see advancements in technology that leads to increased animal production, farm management efficiency, and a decreased need for the level of manual labor that was needed 30 years ago. While we could speculate how much manual labor on dairy farms will be needed 30 years from now, there will and should always be a commitment to proper animal care and welfare. As farms continue to bring in new personnel in the daily operations, we should train that workforce to uphold the proper animal care and welfare practices on our farms. If your farm doesn’t have a training program setup or perhaps it may need to be updated, there are several resources available to assist farms with their needs.

    One of the resources would be to seek out and utilize the information that is already developed by the National Dairy FARM Program created by the National Milk Producers Federation in partnership with Dairy Management, Inc. in 2009. Many of our milk marketers and cooperatives are enrolled in the program and have requirements for their producers to meet the program standards. The program has resources developed in animal care, antibiotic stewardship, environmental stewardship, and workforce development, including videos, handouts, and signage. Many of these publications are developed in English and Spanish to assist with the trainings for a diverse workforce.

    The Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) program has these different resources available for a minimal cost and several have no cost found on their producer’s resources webpage. For example, there is an “Calf Care and Quality Assurance Animal Care Reference Manual” available for $7.60 that covers the topics of calf health, animal handling, and other key management practices. An example of one of the free videos is a short 13-minute video on “End of Life Decision Making: Fitness to Transport”. There are also a series of free Dairy Stockmanship videos that could be used to educate new employees in proper handling.  The list of searchable resources can be found on their website located at https://nationaldairyfarm.com/resource-library/farm-program/. Please note that the FARM Animal Version 5 changes were approved in March of 2023 and will be implemented starting July 1, 2024. It is expected that by the end of 2023, resource development will be taking place to update to the changes coming in version 5. More information can be found at their website,  https://nationaldairyfarm.com/dairy-farm-standards/animal-care/animal-care-version-5-development/.

    Another option for training resources would be Dairy Care365 developed by Merck Animal Health. This is an online library of video lessons, quiz questions, and standard operation procedures that participants can complete on their own and earn a certificate upon completion. The Dairy Care365 complements and helps to fulfill the animal care requirements of the National Dairy FARM Program, Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization, and various dairy cooperatives and processors. Information can be found at https://www.merck-animal-health-usa.com/dairy-care-365.

    The Calf Care and Quality Assurance (CCQA) Program has a developing course catalog that can be utilized to help employees earn a certificate in CCQA by watching videos and answering questions during the lessons. While helping to meet training needs for producers in the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA; https://www.bqa.org/) program, the online modules could be utilized to assist dairy producers looking for resources dedicated for calf health, care, and management. This program is similar to the setup of Dairy Care365 and could be assigned to employees to work at their own pace and submit a certificate of completion when finished. The CCQA program can be found at https://training.calfcareqa.org.

    The resources for training new employees or updating existing employees are not limited to those listed above, and producers may develop their own resources or utilize items provided to them by others. Every producer is welcome to contact their local Extension office to see if there are opportunities for local options for their county and area. It is important to remind ourselves that training and updating employees on proper animal care, welfare, and management is only a start; every individual on our dairy operations needs to commit daily to upholding the practices and principles that ensure our animals’ health and wellbeing.

    List of Resources:

    Farm Animal Care Program, National Milk Producers Federation 
    https://nationaldairyfarm.com
    703-243-611

    Dairy Care365, Merck Animal Health
    https://www.merck-animal-health-usa.com/dairy-care-365
    Email: dairycare365@merck.com

    Calf Care & Quality Assurance Training and Resources
    https://training.calfcareqa.org/
    Email: ccqa@calfcareqa.org

  39. 2023 Dairy Hall of Service Recognition

    Dr. Maurice Eastridge, Professor and Senior Associate Chair, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    In 1952, The Dairy Hall of Service was formed at The Ohio State University to recognize individuals who have made a substantial and noteworthy contribution toward the improvement of the dairy industry of Ohio, elevated the stature of dairy farmers, or inspired students enrolled at OSU. Two recipients were recognized on Tuesday, April 18 during the Department of Animal Sciences’ Celebration of Excellence program held at the Fawcett Center on the Columbus Campus.

      Mark Henry is a second-generation dairy farmer where he took over the family operation in West Liberty, OH in 1980 milking 60 cows. Over the course of 23 years, they expanded the herd to 120 cows.  Then in 1995, Henry Farms expanded their herd to 300 cows and began milking three times a day. In March 2023, the dairy averaged 622 registered Holstein cows with a rolling herd average of 28,972 lb milk/cow with a 4.2% fat and 3.1% protein. The dairy has received many production and quality awards over the years, including lifetime production cow for Brown Swiss and Gold Standard DFA members.  

    Mark has served the dairy industry in many avenues. He has served on the COBA Board of Directors since 2015, including serving as Vice President. In March of 2019, he joined the Select Sires Board of Directors. He as very active in leadership at the Union Chapel Community Church, where he and his wife, Joan, attend.

    For many years, Mark Henry has graciously opened up his dairy farm to University faculty and students. These visits have included class trips, use of his PCDart records for class, training students for Dairy Challenge programs, CVM capstone course for veterinary students, and the many veterinary students being at his farm while on their rotation at the OSU Large Animal Services in Marysville. In addition, faculty have conducted research on his farm. He also supports 4-H and FFA groups and has provided many farm tours to school-age children, church groups, and Farm Bureau events.

    As provided by one of his nominators, “Mark is a great family man with deep personal convictions and morals. He is a friend and mentor to many and has contributed in countless ways to the education and betterment of Ohio State students too numerous to count”. Another nominator expressed that “He never stops trying to learn, become a better dairyman, and be a better steward of his cows.”

     Dianne Shoemaker received her BS from the OSU Department of Dairy Science in 1982, and a MS in 1986 from OSU on “Factors Affecting the Profitability of Northeast Ohio Dairy Farms”. In 1986, became a county Extension Agent in Agriculture and Natural Resources. She became a District Dairy Extension Specialist in 1999, and in 2003, she was promoted as an Extension Dairy Specialist statewide. In 2012, she became a statewide Field Specialist in dairy production economics with providing leadership to the Ohio Farm Business Analysis and Benchmarking Program and retired in July 2022.

    She really enjoyed working with the Dairy Excel Team, traveling, learning, developing curriculum, and teaching Managing for Success and Farm business management modules. She worked with the ODA Dairy Division, state veterinarians, CVM, county and state Extension personnel, and others to address the needs of Ohio’s dairy industry. She provided leadership to many workshops, such as “So Your Dairy Client Wants to Expand”, dairy certificate programs for veterinarians, neonatal calf and heifer management, and labor management.  Her leadership was invaluable to the publication of the 15 Measures of Dairy Farm Competitiveness, Farm and Dairy Business Analysis Summaries, and development of factsheets to help farmers understand the rapidly emerging programs during COVID in 2020.  She provided leadership to the Dairy Working Group, dairy articles in the Farm and Dairy, and constant updates on dairy marketing and pricing.

    Dianne and her husband, Steve (also an OSU graduate), operate a dairy farm in Columbiana County with 180 cows and 133 replacement heifers. The herd averages about 20,000 lb/cow, 4.87 % fat and 3.67% protein. They have two sons, Austen who graduated from OSU Agronomy and Ben who graduated in civil engineering from Youngstown State University. Dianne’s life has continuously invested into Ohio’s dairy industry. Her teamwork and leadership with agricultural agencies and OSU colleagues have led to lasting impacts to farmers, students, and Ohio’s agricultural industry.

  40. Dairy Palooza Wrap-Up

    Ms. Bonnie Ayars, Dairy Program Specialist, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    Dairy Palooza was held on April 22 at the Wayne County Fairgrounds.  As usual, we had the support of several donors who committed their resources to the dairy 4-H youth of Ohio.  This year, we created a slightly different version with more focus on quality assurance (QA) training and assessment. 

    In the morning session, attendees made their usual rotation of each good production practice (GPP) and also the thank you writing session.  After lunch and the group photo, we then had workshops focusing on clipping, fitting, and showmanship.  We also incorporated hands-on learning activities for each of the GPP to reinforce what was taught in the morning.  An added twist was a quiz bowl demonstration using all QA questions. Cloverbuds were also fortunate to have a separate format for the day.

    More than 165 youth attended with many adults present who also could attend adult sessions on social media and dairy marketing update. 

    It takes a league of volunteers to plan and manage the day of activities.  We appreciate all who make time to be a part of the action.

    The 2024 Dairy Palooza will be held at the Canfield Fairgrounds in Mahoning County on April 20.  We are pleased to return to this location and look forward to feedback from this year’s format while continuing to exercise the 4-H motto of “making the best better.”

    A group of people sitting in bleachers

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  41. Milk Prices, Costs of Nutrients, Margins and Comparison of Feedstuffs Prices

    April F. White, Graduate Research Associate, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    Milk Prices

    In the January issue, the Class III for February was $17.95/cwt and March was $17.80/cwt. Class III milk closing price for February was very slightly lower than predicted at $17.78/cwt, with protein and butterfat prices at $2.37 and $2.72/lb, respectively. Skim milk price, protein, and butterfat prices are all lower for March than for January, contributing to a lower Cow-Jones Index in this issue. The Class III future for April is $19.63/cwt and the May future is $18.64/cwt, both improved compared to February and March.

    Nutrient Prices

    It can be helpful to compare the prices in Table 1 to the 5-year averages. Compared to the January issue, nutrient costs are largely stable, with the cost of net energy for lactation (NEL) still just shy of double the 5-year average ($0.09/Mcal). The cost of metabolizable protein (MP) is still about 6% lower than the 5-year average ($0.44/lb).

    To estimate profitability at these nutrient prices, the Cow-Jones Index was used for average US cows weighing 1500 lb and producing milk with 3.9% fat and 3.2% protein. For the January issue, the income over nutrient cost (IONC) for cows milking 70 lb/day and 85 lb/day is about $8.62 and $9.21/cwt, respectively. Although still expected to be marginally profitable, both estimates are lower than those in January and continue the downward trend since November. As a word of caution, these estimates of IONC do not account for the cost of replacements or dry cows, or for profitability changes related to culling cows.

    Table 1. Prices of dairy nutrients for Ohio dairy farms, March 29, 2023.
    TableDescription automatically generatedEconomic Value of Feeds

    Results of the Sesame analysis for central Ohio on March 29, 2023 are presented in Table 2. Detailed results for all 26 feed commodities are reported. The lower and upper limits mark the 75% confidence range for the predicted (break-even) prices. Feeds in the “Appraisal Set” were those for which we didn’t have a local price or were adjusted to reflect their true (“Corrected”) value in a lactating diet. One must remember that SESAME™ compares all commodities at one specific point in time. Thus, the results do not imply that the bargain feeds are cheap on a historical basis. Feeds for which a price was not reported were added to the appraisal set this issue.

    Table 2. Actual, breakeven (predicted) and 75% confidence limits of 26 feed commodities used on Ohio dairy farms, March 29, 2023. TableDescription automatically generatedTableDescription automatically generated

    For convenience, Table 3 summarizes the economic classification of feeds according to their outcome in the SESAME™ analysis. Feedstuffs that have gone up in price based on current nutrient values or in other words moved a column to the right since the last issue are in oversized text. Conversely, feedstuffs that have moved to the left (i.e., decreased in value) are undersized text. These shifts (i.e., feeds moving columns to the left or right) in price are only temporary changes relative to other feedstuffs within the last two months and do not reflect historical prices. Feeds added to the appraisal set were removed from this table.

    Table 3. Partitioning of feedstuffs in Ohio, March 29, 2023.

    Bargains At Breakeven Overpriced
    Corn, ground, dry   Mechanically extracted canola meal
    Corn silage Soybean meal - expeller Whole, roasted soybeans
    Distillers dried grains   Wheat bran
    Gluten feed Gluten meal 44% Soybean meal
    Hominy Meat meal Solvent extracted canola meal
    Wheat middlings Whole cottonseed Blood meal
    Alfalfa hay - 40% NDF Soybean hulls 41% Cottonseed meal
    Feather meal 48% Soybean meal  

    As coined by Dr. St-Pierre, I must remind the readers that these results do not mean that you can formulate a balanced diet using only feeds in the “bargains” column. Feeds in the “bargains” column offer a savings opportunity, and their usage should be maximized within the limits of a properly balanced diet. In addition, prices within a commodity type can vary considerably because of quality differences as well as non-nutritional value added by some suppliers in the form of nutritional services, blending, terms of credit, etc. Also, there are reasons that a feed might be a very good fit in your feeding program while not appearing in the “bargains” column. For example, your nutritionist might be using some molasses in your rations for reasons other than its NEL and MP contents.

    Appendix

    For those of you who use the 5-nutrient group values (i.e., replace MP by rumen degradable protein and digestible rumen undegradable protein), see Table 4.

    Table 4. Prices of dairy nutrients using the 5-nutrient solution for Ohio dairy farms, March 29, 2023.
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  42. USDA Dairy Report: March 2023

    Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Tuscarawas County, Ohio State University Extension

    The United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (USDA ERS) publishes a monthly Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook.  The March report is available here: https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/outlooks/106119/ldp-m-345.pdf?v=4174.3.  This article will highlight portions of the dairy report.

    Supply and Use

    The most recent USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) estimate of U.S. milk production for 2022 was revised up 0.1 percent compared to 2021.  For 2022, the number of milk cows was reduced by 2,000 head.  The average number of cows and milk production per cow in January 2023 were higher than the same month a year prior. 

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    Data from the NASS Agricultural Prices Report and the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service compare various costs for January 2022 and January 2023.  These items are summarized in the table below.

    Item

    January 2023

    Difference (compared to same month year prior)

    All-milk

    $23.10/cwt

    -$1.10

    Corn

    $6.64/bushel

    +$1.06

    Alfalfa hay

    $263/ton

    +$48.00

    SBM

    $500.53/ton (Feb. 2023)

    +$19.57

    Based on the USDA, Dairy Margin Program, in January 2023, the spread between milk prices and feed costs ($7.94/cwt), narrowed compared to January 2022 ($11.54/cwt).

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    Dairy culling rates in the first few weeks of 2023 were at a brisk pace, as represented in the table below.

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    Restaurant Performance Index

    According to data from the Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) from the National Restaurant Association, product sales were strong in January 2023.  The index rose 0.9 percent from December 2022 to January 2023, the strongest monthly increase in 15 months.  The National Restaurant Association is optimistic about sales growth, as 58 percent of operators expect sales growth to increase in the next six months.

    Chart, line chartDescription automatically generated

    Forecast for 2023

    For 2023, USDA ERS is projecting an increase of 0.20 billion pounds of milk higher than last month, and 10,000 more milk cows than projected in the prior month’s report.  However, cow numbers are expected to decline throughout the year because of lower numbers of replacements and higher cull cow prices.

    Class

    Price Forecast for 2023

    Class III

    $17.56/cwt

    Class IV

    $18.30/cwt

    All-Milk

    $20.45/cwt

     

  43. Feeding for Milk Components

    Dr. Maurice L. Eastridge, Professor and Extension Dairy Specialist, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    Yields of milk and milk solids per cow continue to increase each year. The annual milk solids yield per cow is higher in the US than for New Zealand, Germany, and Argentina (Figure 1). Except in only selective markets today in the US, dairy farmers are paid for milk by processors primarily on milk fat and protein yields. Therefore, considerable focus needs to be on the yields of milk solids, especially yields of fat and protein to improve farm profitability. In a recent survey (Nichols, 2023), benchmarking information from 35 Michigan and Indiana Holstein dairy farms was collected. The average herd size was 452 cows with herd size ranging from 90 to 2,000 cows and eight of the dairy farms used automated milking systems. Among the 35 herds, milk yield averaged 84.4 lb/day, DM intake 56.2 lb, milk fat 4.08%, and milk protein 3.21%. From these averages, feed efficiency was 1.65 lb energy-corrected milk/lb DMI, milk fat and protein yield (MFPY) was 6.15 lb/cow/day, and efficiency of MFPY was 0.11 lb/lb DMI.

    The prices paid for milk fat and protein from January 2020 to February 2023 are provided in Figure 2. Traditionally, milk protein was at a higher price than milk fat, even as evidenced during most of 2020 and 2021 (even though this period of time was during the pandemic). However, much of 2022, fat was valued higher than protein. Fat and protein started 2023 being of similar value, but protein slipped below fat in February 2023 at $2.365/lb and 2.718, respecivelty. A summary of the primary feeding factors that affect milk fat and protien yields have been provided by Weiss and Shoemaker (2020). The main dietary factors that are related to increased milk protein yield are:

    1. Increasing dietary starch concentrations (but not so much as to cause acidosis),
    2. Increasing dietary inclusion of fermentable starch, such as high moisture corn,
    3. Increasing concentrations of high-quality undegradable protein,
    4. Improving amino acid profile by feeding specific protein sources or by feeding rumen-protected amino acids, especially methionine, and
    5. Reducing the concentration of dietary fat (fat supplements, distiller grains, whole cottonseed, or whole soybeans).

    The main factors related to increased milk fat yields are:

    1. Reducing dietary starch concentrations,
    2. Reducing dietary inclusion of fermentable starch sources,
    3. Increasing inclusion rate of specific supplemental fat (e.g., sources of palmitic acid),
    4. Increasing dietary cation anion difference (i.e., feed more potassium and sodium without increasing dietary chloride or sulfur), and
    5. Reducing dietary sulfur concentrations to just meet requirements (practically this usually means reducing inclusion rate of distiller grains which are usually high in sulfur).

    During 2023, the fat and protein prices paid to dairy farmers will likely be volatile. Therefore, farmers need to be attentive to these price shifts and work with their nutritionist to capatilize on optimizing fat and protein yields as markets shift.

     Figure 1. Yield of milk solids per cow per year fior the US, New Zealand, Germany, and Argentina (Britt et al., 2021).

     Figure 2. Prices paid for milk fat and milk protein in Federal Order 33 from January 2020 through February 2023.

    References:

    Britt, J.H., R.A. Cushman, C.D. Dechow, H. Dobson, P. Humblot, M.F. Hutjens, G.A. Jones, F.M. Mitloehner, P.L. Ruegg, I.M. Sheldon, and J.S. Stevenson. 2021. Review: Perspective on high-performing dairy cows and herds. Animal 15 (Suppl 1); https://doi.org/10.1016/j.animal.2021.100298

    Nichols, S. 2023. Benchmarking survey helps farms evaluate IOFC. VitaPlus Dairy Performance, Accessed March 30, 2023, https://www.vitaplus.com/dairy-performance/benchmarking-survey-helps-farms-evaluate-iofc/#.ZCZLGXbMJPY

    Weiss, B.W. and D. Shoemaker. 2020. Consider dietary changes to take advantage of changes in milk component prices. DIBS # 43-20, Ohio State University Extension, Accessed March 31, 2023, https://dairy.osu.edu/sites/dairy/files/imce/DIBS/DIB%2043-20%20DIB%2043-20%20Consider%20dietary%20changes%20to%20take%20advantage%20of%20changes%20in%20milk%20component%20prices.pdf

  44. Using Dairy Manure with Newly Planted Crops

    Glen Arnold, Extension Field Specialist, Manure Nutrient Management, Ohio State University Extension

    Coming out of a warm, wet winter most dairy producers have plenty of manure on hand going into spring. Rather than applying manure to fields prior to spring planting, and potentially facing planting delays, a growing trend in the Midwest is surface applying manure using a drag hose overtop newly planted corn or soybeans.

    An application of 10,000 to 12,000 gallons per acre of dairy manure to newly planted crops will not hinder germination and can actually provide moisture to encourage emergence of the crop. The only precaution is that the field needs to be firm enough to support the drag hose to avoid scouring piles of dirt and burying the seeds too deep. Spring worked fields that have not been firmed up through rainfall are not good candidates for a drag hose.

    For soybeans, the manure application needs to be within a few days of planting and definitely before the soybeans begin to emerge. Once emerged, soybeans can be killed by the application of manure until they reach the V3 stage of growth and can handle the damage from both the manure and the drag hose.

    For corn, it is becoming common to make two dairy manure applications spaced a few weeks apart. The first is immediately after the crop is planted and the second application is anytime up to the V4 stage of growth (four leaves with collars).  The smaller the corn, the less damage will be obvious from the tractor tires as the drag hose is pulled across the field.

    A five-year drag hose treatment was conducted at the OARDC Northwest Station concluding in 2018 to determine what stand damage and potential yield loss may occur from the V1 to the V5 stages of corn (Table 1). A six-inch diameter drag hose, filled with water, was pulled across each plot twice (going in opposite directions) at corn growth stages V1 through V5.

    Table 1. 2014-2018 OARDC drag hose damage corn plot results.

    Year

    2014

    2015

    2016

    2017

    2018

     

    Corn stage

    Stand, 
    plants/ac

    Yield, bu/ac

    Stand

    Yield, bu/ac

    Stand

    Yield, bu/ac

    Stand

    Yield, bu/ac

    Stand

    Yield, bu/ac

    Five-year avg.,

    bu/ac

    No drag hose

    30,166

    145.1

    31,850

    167.2

    28,625

    145.1

    35,000

    164.5

    30,750

    217.8

    167.9

    V1

    29,660

    154.3

    31,750

    166.1

    28,625

    149.5

    35,125

    161.5

    31,500

    218.0

    169.9

    V2

    30,166

    157.9

    32,000

    165.3

    28,500

    141.2

    34,750

    159.6

    30,750

    217.7

    168.3

    V3

    28,933

    153.9

    31,375

    172.3

    29,250

    144.4

    34,875

    172.1

    29,625

    215.6

    171.9

    V4

    29,264

    149.7

    31,375

    164.3

    27,500

    152.1

    33,750

    166.5

    28,750

    209.1

    168.4

    V5

    15,366

    109.8

    23,500

    123.5

    16,000

    126.3

    25,250

    122.2

    18,250

    132.8

    122.9

    The results of this five-year research study suggest corn could be side-dressed or top-dressed with liquid livestock manure using a drag hose through the growth stage V4 without a yield loss. More than 60% of the corn plants snapped off at the V5 stage. While the snapped off plants regrew, they did not produce reasonable ears of grain.

    Leaving manure on the soil surface will not capture as much of the manure nitrogen as incorporating the manure. Be sure to have a manure sample collected during the application process and use the analysis to understand what nutrients were applied.

    Dairy manure can also be applied to wheat.  A lone application of 10,000 to 12,000 gallons per acre will not provide enough nitrogen to maximize a grain yield, but the moisture and nutrients will spur crop growth, and this can make for a better wheatlage harvest. Using drop nozzles, some dairy farms make a 2nd application to the wheat field a few weeks after the 1st application. The drop nozzles place the manure at the soil surface and keep it off the leaves of the wheat plants.

     

     

  45. JIT Inventory: Amazon-Yes, Dairy Producer-No

    Dr. Dwight Roseler, Adjunct Professor Department of Animal Sciences and Purina Midwest Dairy Nutrition Consultant

    Just in time (JIT) inventory provides Amazon customers with consumer items upon demand. No storage of consumer items needed. In the industrial manufacturing sector, JIT improves efficiency and saves money by coordinating inbound supply resources to meet daily manufacturing capacity. COVID-19 threw a wrench in the JIT process across the world as raw supply chain disruptions limited the resources for manufacturers. Agriculture was not exempt from that disruption and currently these supply limitations cause equipment delays and shortages. Fortunately, dairy producers do not use JIT forage inventory and were exempt from forage supply disruptions.   

    In feeding dairy cows, forages are harvested seasonally then stored fermented for the year in silo’s or dry as bales. Forage storage has a financial cost with storage cost and shrink. However, the highest forage cost is no forage or inadequate forage. When forage supply is limited, purchased feed costs go up, production can suffer, and profit declines. Nothing can replace good quality forage in a dairy ration.  

    Feed software programs that link with TMR weigh scales will manage forage inventory if the values are accurate. The software properly measures current inventory and calculates feed shrink when inbound tons are correct, shrink losses are low, and TMR scales operate properly.  

    A dairy farm client several years ago learned a hard lesson when corn silage supply was short. Alternatives to corn silage can be fed but often the performance is less than expected. In the middle of June, I received a phone call and was informed by the dairy manager to formulate a diet to reduce corn silage from 62 to 32 lb/cow and nothing was on the farm to replace it. Fortunately, wet gluten feed, ground corn, and chopped hay were available and reasonably priced during that year when corn was near $3/bushel.  Cow health was maintained but performance suffered and purchased feed costs soared. The dairy survived but was financially constrained.

    As a thumb rule, 1.5 to 2 acres of land per milking cow and replacement heifer can be used to determine forage land base for the herd. This land amount will vary based on soil quality, weather, forage yield, harvest and storage losses, and milk production per cow. In years of poor crop yields, this land base can be 2.5 to 3 acres per milking cow. High production herds (100 lb milk/cow) will require 15% more land (1.7 to 2.3 acres/cow) than herds at lower production (80 lb milk/cow). Higher forage yields per acre can also provide more forage for the farm. The number of replacement heifers will determine the acreage base for growing forage for the herd. In recent years, the number of replacement heifers has decreased per capita of milking cow from 95% to 78%. This not only reduces total feed costs on the dairy but also the land requirement for growing forages.

    In years where forage yields are not adequate due to weather or uncontrollable circumstances, evaluate alternative forages.  Plan and do not just feed whatever comes out of the silo. Options for years of short forage is to purchase corn silage from neighboring farms. Other options to consider include double cropping a cool season forage (triticale, rye, or wheat) for spring planting or spring plant short season (60 to 80 day) forages (forage sorghum or BMR sorghum). These spring forages can produce an abundant crop in 60 to 80 days with one harvest yields of up to 18 ton/acre of wilted forage.  These forages will have high sugar content and will replace corn silage with added ground corn.

    Plan for good quality and adequate forage acres for your dairy. Abundant good quality forage supports profitable farms that maintain healthy cows at high production.  Just in time forages and feeding whatever is in the silo is never a good idea for dairy cows or profitable dairy farms.  

     

  46. Spring Hayfield Scouting

    Allen Gahler, Extension Educator for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Sandusky County and Jason Hartschuh, Dairy Management and Precision Livestock Field Specialist, Ohio State University Extension

    While things are muddy with hints of green in northern Ohio, we are hearing from colleagues in central and southern Ohio that spring is definitely here and bringing things to life, including pasture grasses and hayfields. After green-up happens in your part of the world, it’s the ideal time to be scouting hayfields and pastures for winter damage, legume crown health, heaving of the root systems, and pesky winter annual weeds. Over the next few weeks, it may be necessary to rescout fields as they receive additional frost freeze events and ponding rain fall. 

    Depending on where you are located and what type of forage fields you have, winter damage may be one of the most significant reasons to be scouting for now. In northern Ohio, where we do not have a lot of grass hayfields or pastures, but alfalfa fields are plentiful. This is yet another year for major concern. There was never a period of more than 5 to 6 days where the ground was frozen in most of the state, and the same can be said for snow cover. Both of these things can be good for an alfalfa field if they last. But when they do not and leave behind standing water, or provide for constant freeze-thaw cycles throughout the winter, alfalfa and other legumes can suffer and even die. Recent walks in some alfalfa fields in north-central Ohio have revealed just what we are concerned about...heaving of the crown and root system, which can lead to disease, less stems and lower yield, and eventual crown die-off.  In some cases, as we saw in the spring of 2020, and again last year, when warmer temperatures occur sporadically in February and March, followed by short freezes, the roots will heave enough to expose the taproot and many plants will not even survive into April and May. Remember, alfalfa suffers from cumulative stress loads – once it is stressed in some way, its yield potential and life expectancy goes down permanently, and those stresses add up over the life of the stand. So be sure to get down to ground level when scouting and observe those alfalfa crowns to see if field renovation with grasses may be necessary, or if there may even be enough die-off to warrant crop rotation and an alternative forage plan for 2023. 

                If you do observe significant heaving, but crown health seems to be intact, or at least the plant will attempt to produce enough stems to offer a profitable tonnage, adjustments on the hay mower may be in order before first cutting. Cutting too low on heaved crowns can not only damage the crown and slow regrowth but can also damage the root system, often causing immediate death and no second cutting. Growers should certainly be looking at how many healthy crowns and/or stems per square foot are visible in alfalfa fields to make a decision on whether or not to keep that stand. Most forage specialists and researchers commonly use 55 and 40 as key numbers when assessing stem counts. This means a good stand of alfalfa has 55 or more healthy stems per square foot, and yield potential is still at or near 100%. When a field falls between 40 and 55 stems per square foot, yield is still acceptable and considered economically viable, but counts below 40 indicate that the stand should be rotated to another crop and a new field prepared. At 40 stems per square foot you can expect about an 80% yield, and when counts fall to 30 stems, yield declines to 60% of the maximum dry matter yield. Additional factors such as taproot health, asymmetrical growth out of a crown, or discolored crowns should also be considered along with stem count when assessing a field. When doing your stem count, don’t count the stems on crowns that are unlikely to survive first cutting, such as stems that have heaved more than 2 inches out of the ground. When reviewing crown health, the charts below can help you rate crowns (Undersander et al., 2011). A healthy stand will have less than 30% of crowns rating 3 or 4 and no crowns in the count rating 5, which are dead plants.

     

     

     

     

    After you have completed your stand assessment and if renovations are needed to meet your forage needs, begin lining up seed now. Marginal stands can be improved with grasses and clovers for a couple more years of forage production. If stands are poor, there are many options for summer annual forages to meet your forage needs. Some of them are easier to make as dry hay, such as Teff grass, Italian ryegrass, or Berseem clover. Summer annual cereal grain forage such as oats, spring triticale, or spring barley are other forage options that could possibly be made as dry hay but may be easier to harvest as silage or baleage. Spring seeding new alfalfa fields is an additional option if planted with a companion crop, which can result in forage this year and a full stand ready for maximum yield next year. Higher-yielding options such as sorghum, sudangrass, sorghum-sudan, or corn silage can also be planted with higher yields achieved with May plantings than June plantings with all of these crops. 

    References:

    Undersander, D., C. Grau, D. Cosgrove, J. Doll, and N. Martin. 2011. Alfalfa Stand Assessment: Is this stand good enough to keep? University of Wisconsin-Madison, Accessed March 30, 2023, https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/forage/alfalfa-stand-assessment-is-this-stand-good-enough-to-keep/

     

  47. Assessing Wheat Crop Grain Versus Forage Economics

    Bruce Clevenger, Farm Management Field Specialist and Jason Hartschuh, Dairy Management and Precision Livestock Field Specialist, Ohio State University Extension

    Ohio’s soft red winter wheat is vulnerable to stresses by the weather and soil conditions during the winter and early spring.  March is often the month judgements are made about plant health that will relate to potential grain yield and spring nitrogen applications.  In 2023, areas of Ohio have received heavy rainfall causing water stress thus questioning the wheat grain yield potential.

    Ohio National Ag Statistics Service 20-year trend yield for 2023 is 74 bu/acre.  In the past 10 years, 4 of 10 years yielded below 74 bu/ac and 4 of 10 years yielded above 74 bu/ac, leaving 2 of 10 years yielding 74 bu/ac.  Two noteworthy years below Ohio’s 74 bu/ac were 2015 (67 bu/ac) and 2019 (56 bu/ac).  According to Ohio Wheat Performance Test growing season notes, low yields in 2015 were attributed to wet weather in June and July and delayed harvest, while low yields in 2019 were attributed to slow early season wheat growth and development due to cool temperatures and above average precipitation.  High yields in 2016 (80 bu/ac) related to above average temperatures in March, which accelerated green-up with wheat surviving freezing temperatures in April and May.  High yields in 2021 (85 bu/ac) related to cool temperatures and adequate moisture, leading to a long grain fill period with favorable harvest conditions.

    The Chicago Board of Trade July 23 wheat futures contract price peaked in mid-February at $8.00/bu, fell to the $6.70 levels, and recently approached $7.00 the last week of March.  Growers without confidence in wheat conditions most likely did not enter into a July 2023 wheat forward contract in February through March, leaving their commitments open to switching to other options if the wheat failed or was terminated.  Options could include: 1) keep the current wheat through harvest, 2) terminate the wheat and plant full season corn or soybean, or 3) harvest wheat as a forage and follow with a soybean or corn crop.  Keeping the current wheat may also be important if the grower needs straw production for use or sale.

    Corn yields in central Ohio are generally maximized with planting dates April 23-29, closely followed by April 30 to May 7, with approximately 1 to 1.5 bu/day yield decline for delays beyond the first week of May.  Soybean yields in central Ohio are also maximized with planting dates at the end of April, with approximately ¼ to more than 1 bu/acre/day decline for delays beyond May 1st.

    If terminating wheat is preferred, a full season corn or soybean crop remains realistic.  However, if the wheat crop is to be harvested as a forage, delayed corn and soybean planting will occur.  To maximize wheat as a forage, the crop will need to develop towards Feekes Growth Stage 10.0 (Boot) or 10.5 (Heading complete, pre flowering).  These growth stages typically will occur mid to late May (10.0) and late May to early June (10.5).  Using May 20 for Feekes 10.0, and planting corn or soybeans on May 21, the follow-up crop would have an estimated yield decline of 14 to 20 bu/ac and 4 to 14, respectively.  Using June 1 for Feekes 10.5 and planting corn or soybeans on June 2, the follow-up crop would have an estimated yield decline of 26 to 40 bu/ac and 8 to 32 bu/ac, respectively.

    Based on research conducted over two years at 3 OSU research stations, a wheat silage crop receiving 50 lb/acre of spring nitrogen had an average yield of 1.8 ton/acre of dry matter when harvested at Feekes 10 and 2.25 tons/acre of dry matter when harvested at Feekes 10.5. The average crude protein was 11.5% and total digestible nutrients (TDN) was 65.7% with a Feekes 10 harvest. The crude protein declined to 10.19% and TDN to 60.3% as the crop matured to Feekes 10.5. Based on nutrient values in the January Buckeye Dairy news, this silage would have a nutrient value of $305/ton at Feekes 10.0 or $282/ton at Feekes 10.5. This leads to a silage crop value of $546 to 648/acre. The earlier harvest of wheat silage compared to grain harvest allows for double crop forages to be planted sooner. The earlier planting allows for corn silage to be planted as a double crop, teff, forage sorghum, sorghum-sudan, or a grain crop. The earlier planting of forage crops allows for near traditional single crop yields. Increasing teff grass harvest from once as a double crop to two or three in a year is advantageous. Sorghum-Sudangrass can also be managed in a multi-cut system with the first cutting 45 to 60 days after planting and an additional cutting 45 days later. Research conducted in New York showed a 10 ton as-harvested difference between corn silage planted the first of June versus the middle of July. Brown midrib (BMR) sorghum sudangrass also resulted in a yield decline of 4 tons/acre across the same planting date range. With a corn silage value of $50 per acre, an extra 10 tons/acre of corn silage increased corn silage value by $500/acre.

    Wheat yields are not 100% predictable in March.  In fact, wheat yields can be surprisingly good or poor because there are conditions in the growing season coming later that will favor or lower grain yield.  Critical conditions contributing to high wheat yield would be having a long grain fill period with adequate moisture and avoiding the impacts of foliar and head diseases.  Prior to terminating or using alternative harvest of any wheat, always contact your crop insurance agent and check-in with the USDA-FSA office.

  48. Memorial Scholarship Launched by the Ayars Family

    Dr. Maurice L. Eastridge, Professor and Extension Dairy Specialist, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    The parents of CFAES undergraduate Austin Ayars have launched a memorial scholarship fund in honor of their late son, Dr. Austin Ayars.     Dr. Austin Ayars

    Features of his life and information regarding the memorial fund are available at:

    https://cfaes.osu.edu/stories/parents-cfaes-undergrad-austin-ayars-launch-memorial-scholarship-funds?utm_source=sfmc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=faes_alumni-newsletter_fy22_cfaes-connect-mar&sfmc_id=59397428&sfmc_key=00517453

    Also, a video sharing reflections of Dr. Ayars life are available at: https://buckeyefunder.osu.edu/project/34136, along with information on how to contribute to the fund to honor his life and support the education of students, aimed especially for those with interest in dairy cattle.

     

  49. Milk Prices, Costs of Nutrients, Margins and Comparison of Feedstuffs Prices

    April F. White, Graduate Research Associate, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    Milk prices

    In the November issue, the Class III future for December was $20.16/cwt and the January future was $20.00/cwt. Class III milk closing price for December was only slightly higher than predicted at $20.50/cwt, with protein and butterfat prices at $2.67/lb and $3.15/lb respectively. This issue, the Class III future for February is $17.95/cwt, and the March future is $17.80/cwt.

    Nutrient prices

    It can be helpful to compare the prices in Table 1 to the 5-year averages. Compared to the November issue, the increased costs of both corn and soybean meal out of Chicago lend themselves to an increased cost of NEL, double the 5-year average ($0.09/Mcal). However, the cost of MP more closely mirrors the 5-year average ($0.44/lb) at about 6% lower.

    To estimate profitability at these nutrient prices, the Cow-Jones Index was used for average US cows weighing 1500 lb and producing milk with 3.9% fat and 3.2% protein. For the January issue, the income over nutrient cost (IONC) for cows milking 70 lb/day and 85 lb/day is about $12.28 and $12.79/cwt, respectively. Although still expected to be profitable, both estimates are lower than those in November. As a word of caution, these estimates of IONC do not account for the cost of replacements or dry cows, or for profitability changes related to culling cows.

    Table 1. Prices of dairy nutrients for Ohio dairy farms, January 25, 2023.
    Table

Description automatically generated

    Economic Value of Feeds

    Results of the Sesame analysis for central Ohio on January 25, 2023 are presented in Table 2. Detailed results for all 26 feed commodities are reported. The lower and upper limits mark the 75% confidence range for the predicted (break-even) prices. Feeds in the “Appraisal Set” were those for which we didn’t have a local price or were adjusted to reflect their true (“Corrected”) value in a lactating diet. One must remember that SESAME™ compares all commodities at one specific point in time. Thus, the results do not imply that the bargain feeds are cheap on a historical basis. Feeds for which a price was not reported were added to the appraisal set for this issue.

    Table 2. Actual, breakeven (predicted) and 75% confidence limits of 26 feed commodities used on Ohio dairy farms, January 25, 2023.

    For convenience, Table 3 summarizes the economic classification of feeds according to their outcome in the SESAME™ analysis. Feedstuffs that have gone up in price based on current nutrient values or in other words moved a column to the right since the last issue are in oversized text. Conversely, feedstuffs that have moved to the left (i.e., decreased in value) are undersized text. These shifts (i.e., feeds moving columns to the left or right) in price are only temporary changes relative to other feedstuffs within the last two months and do not reflect historical prices. Feeds added to the appraisal set were removed from this table.

    Table 3. Partitioning of feedstuffs in Ohio, January 25, 2023.

    Bargains At Breakeven Overpriced
    Corn, ground, dry

    Alfalfa hay -
    40% NDF

    Mechanically extracted canola meal
    Corn silage Soybean meal - expeller Whole, roasted soybeans
    Distillers dried grains

    Feather meal

    Wheat bran

    Corn gluten feed Corn gluten meal 44% Soybean meal
    Hominy Meat meal Solvent extracted canola meal
    Wheat middlings Whole Cottonseed Blood meal
      Soybean hulls 41% Cottonseed meal
     

    48% Soybean meal

     

    As coined by Dr. St-Pierre, I must remind the readers that these results do not mean that you can formulate a balanced diet using only feeds in the “bargains” column. Feeds in the “bargains” column offer a savings opportunity, and their usage should be maximized within the limits of a properly balanced diet. In addition, prices within a commodity type can vary considerably because of quality differences as well as non-nutritional value added by some suppliers in the form of nutritional services, blending, terms of credit, etc. Also, there are reasons that a feed might be a very good fit in your feeding program while not appearing in the “bargains” column. For example, your nutritionist might be using some molasses in your rations for reasons other than its NEL and MP contents.

    Appendix

    For those of you who use the 5-nutrient group values (i.e., replace metabolizable protein by rumen degradable protein and digestible rumen undegradable protein), see Table 4 below.

    Table 4. Prices of dairy nutrients using the 5-nutrient solution for Ohio dairy farms, January 25, 2023.

     

  50. USDA ERS Dairy Outlook: January 2023

    Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Tuscarawas County, Ohio State University Extension

    The United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (USDA ERS) released its Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook on January 19, 2023.  The full report is available here: https://downloads.usda.library.cornell.edu/usda-esmis/files/g445cd121/gx41nx08z/hh63v522z/LDP-M-343.pdf. This article summarizes portions of the dairy report.

    Dairy Supply and Use

    The November estimate by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of milk production was 18.2 billion pounds. This represents a 1.3% increase from November 2021. Cow numbers were also reportedly higher – 1,000 more than the previous month and 38,000 greater than the year prior. Milk production per cow for November was 1,937 lb, an increase of 17 lb compared to November 2021.

    Chart, line chartDescription automatically generatedNumbers from the NASS Agricultural Prices report, with comparisons to 2021, are summarized in the table below.

    Category

    November 2022

    November 2021

    All Milk, $/cwt

    $25.60

    $20.70

    Corn, $/bu

    $6.49

    $5.26

    Alfalfa Hay, $/ton

    $267

    $213

    5-State Avg. – Hay, $/ton

    $331

    $254

    Soybean meal, $/ton

    $436.75

    $358.73

    2023 Forecast

    USDA is projecting a decline of 15,000 head of dairy cattle in 2023. This is the result of expected lower milk prices and steady to increasing feed costs. The January 31 Cattle on Feed Report from USDA will provide a better indication of future dairy numbers. Average milk production remained unchanged and is projected at 24,370 lb/cow.

    USDA Projected 2023 Dairy Prices ($/cwt)

    Type

    Projected Price

    Class III

    $18.85

    Class IV

    $19.25

    All Milk

    $21.60

    Moving Forward

    Early indications are that 2023 will be a challenging year for dairy farms. While there has been a drop in fertilizer prices, many inputs look to remain steady or increase in price. This scenario will require budgeting, monitoring, and evaluation on a regular basis. 

    I encourage you to have open conversations with your lender, input suppliers, and Extension professional as you work through the year. There are many resources and people available to help you be successful.

  51. Over-the-Counter Antibiotics Will Require Veterinary Oversight (Rx) Beginning in June of 2023

    Dr. Gustavo M. Schuenemann, Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, The Oho State University

    By June of 2023, all medically important antibiotics currently available at most feed or farm supply stores will now require veterinary oversight (written Rx) to be used in animals, even if the animals are not intended for food production. Examples of affected antibiotics include injectable penicillin and oxytetracycline. In addition, some retail suppliers who were able to sell these drugs/products in the past may no longer sell them after June of 2023.  This means that small and large animal veterinarians should be prepared for an increase in calls and visits from animal owners who previously may have purchased these drugs over the counter at their local farm supply store. To continue using medically important antimicrobials, you may need to establish a veterinary-client-patient relationship (VCPR). Consult your veterinarian for more information.   

    What is a veterinarian-client-patient-relationship?

    A veterinarian-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) is defined by the American Veterinary Medical Association as the basis for interaction among veterinarians, their clients, and their patients and is critical to the health of your animal(s). The practical explanation is that it is a formal relationship that you have with a veterinarian who serves as your primary contact for all veterinary services and is familiar with you, your livestock/animals, and your farm operation. This veterinarian is referred to as your Veterinarian of Record (VoR), and both the VoR and the client should sign a form to document this relationship.

    What species are included?

    From companion dogs and cats to backyard poultry, and from rabbits and show pigs to large livestock farms. The same restrictions will apply to all companion and farm animal species.

    How do your health protocols measure up?

    Health protocols are customized for individuals and farm-specific, and practicing veterinarians are often asked to develop and write protocols for individual farms, particularly health protocols. Injectable antimicrobials alone will not work as intended if animals are experiencing pain (drop feed and water intake) and/or dehydration. OSU Veterinary Extension is available to review your health protocols but must submitted by a practicing veterinarian to Dr. Gustavo Schuenemann at schuenemann.5@osu.edu.

    Resources:

    1. Over-the-Counter Antibiotics Will Require Veterinary Oversight (Rx) Beginning in June of 2023
    2. Veterinary Client-Patient Relationship
    3. Veterinary Feed Directive
    4. List of Approved New Animal Drug Applications Affected by GFI #263
    5. PowerPoint Presentation: Dr. Amber McCoig discussing FDA Guidance for Industry #263 and #256
    6. Antibiotic Stewardship for Beef and Dairy Cattle
    7. Antibiotic Stewardship for Poultry
    8. Antibiotic Stewardship Sheep and Goats
  52. Considering Dairy Farm Construction in 2023?

    Jason Hartschuh, Field Specialist, Dairy Management and Precision Livestock, Ohio State University Extension

    Remodeling existing facilities to improve cow comfort can improve the longevity and production of your herd. When remodeling with a few improvements, you may consider free stall size, bedding material, water availability, lighting, floor grooving, and fan placement.

    If an expansion is in your future, many of the same decisions will apply along with alley widths, the distance between cross-overs, and the alley cleaning system. All of these building projects will be affected by the availability and price of construction materials.

    Inflation and rising interest rates are beginning to influence the construction industry, with fewer new construction projects being planned. In October 2022, the architecture billing rates index dropped below 50 which is considered the required amount for construction to remain fully booked (an index above 50 represents an increase in billed architectural plans and below 50 a decrease compared to the prior month). Construction will remain busy through 2023 with a 9 to 12-month lag between a decrease in architecture billing hours and construction projects. Since the architects complete most of their work prior to construction beginning there is a lag. Over the past year, construction has seen a 3.3% increase in total needed employees, but like other industries, it is struggling to attract enough employees which is causing delays in construction project completion.

    Concrete costs have risen 11.6% over the last year and are expected to stay at these levels through most of 2023, with tight supplies of both cement and sand (Figure 1). Lumber prices are remaining strong as of September with soft lumber being up 14.5% and plywood up 19.6%. A few materials have come down, including steel which is 23.8% lower than last quarter but still 200% higher than 2018 prices. Since September, lumber has declined 9% from quarter 3 to quarter 4 of 2022 and is still about 110% higher than in 2018. Construction companies are expected to remain at full capacity through most of 2023 and building costs to not decrease until late into 2023. The location has a great effect on the construction market outlook.

     Figure 1. Construction Connection, Bureau of Labor Statistics https://www.ecmag.com/magazine/articles/article-detail/falling-into-place-2023-construction-outlook

    When installing new free stalls, they should be sized to match the largest 25% of the cows in the group. Compromises do occasionally have to be made if your groups have a high percentage of first lactation cows in the group, especially if there is intolerance for manure on the back of stalls. Mature Holstein cows need 3 to 4 feet of open space in front of the stall for cows to lunge or they will lay at diagonally in your stalls, leaving manure in the corners instead of the alley. Stalls that are against a wall should be 10 feet from the back of the stall to the wall while head-to-head stall platforms should be a total of 18 feet. Even in head-to-head stalls when they are too close together, cows lunge to the side, especially cows who are socially intimidated by a dominant cow. 

    1000-pound cows should have stalls that are 42 inches on center with 64 inches from the curb to the brisket locator and 58 inches from the curb to the neck rail. A 1600-pound Holstein cow needs a stall that is 50 inches on center with 70 inches from the curb to the brisket locator and 64 inches from the curb to the neck rail. Other cow sizes can be found in Figure 2.

    Animal Weight

    Total Stall Length

    Total Stall Length

    Length to Brisket Tube or Board

    Length to Neck Rail

    Stall Width Center to Center

    Height to Top of Partition

    Height to Neck Rail

    Brisket Board or Tube Height

    (lb)

    Closed Front

    Open Front

    (in)

    (in)

    (in)

    (in)

    (in)

    (in)

     

    (inches)

    (in)

     

     

     

     

     

     

    900-1100

    90-96

    78-82

    64-66

    62-64

    41-43

    42-44

    42-44

    4-6

    1100-1300

    96-102

    80-86

    66-68

    64-66

    43-45

    44-46

    44-46

    4-6

    1300-1500

    102-108

    90-96

    68-70

    66-68

    45-48

    46-48

    46-48

    4-6

    1500-1700

    108-114

    96-102

    70-72

    68-70

    48-52

    48-52

    48-52

    4-6

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


    Figure 2. Freestall sizes based on animal weight. Dairy Freestall Housing and Equipment, Midwest Plan Service, Iowa State University, Ames.

    Water availability is another critical component. Cows consume 30 to 60% of their water needs shortly after milking so waters need to be located close to the parlor or robot exits and throughout the barn. The stand-by has been 2 inches of assessable water trough perimeter per cow, but recent research has shown this needs to be 3 to 5 inches per cow, especially in the summer during heat stress periods. Each group of cows should have at least two waters so that more timid cows can access water when a dominant cow is controlling them. Barn crossovers and alleys with water or feed should be 14 feet wide so that eating and drinking cows are not disrupted by cows walking by.

    Figure 3. Distance for fan air plume to reach cows and dissipate. Comparing the fans, the first black fan has a 20-foot gap before it reaches cow height. With a 24-foot spacing, the black, red, and blue fans can be shown to provide the overlap necessary to eliminate dead zones between fans. (The Dairyland Institute, https://thedairylandinitiative.vetmed.wisc.edu/home/housing-module/adult-cow-housing/ventilation-and-heat-abatement/)

    Assessing barn ventilation also is critical during the building process. Stalls should have an air speed of 200 to 400 ft/minute at the cow lying height, about 2.5 ft off the stall surface. Air speeds over 400 ft/minute provide little additional heat abatement benefits. A 48-inch fan previously was used to cover 40 ft, but newer research shows that when these fans are pointed correctly for cooling while cows are lying down, they need to be closer at 24 ft apart or 5 times the blade diameter. It takes about 20 ft for air to reach the cow’s back from the fan, so fans that are 40 ft apart are really covering 60 ft with a 20-ft dead zone (Figure 3). Best wishes with your upcoming construction projects, whether it is a renovation or new construction.     

  53. Leadership Changes in the Department of Animal Sciences at The Ohio State University

      Dr. Pasha Lyvers Peffer has been appointed as Professor and Chair of the Department of Animal Sciences after serving in the interim role since October 2021. Her four-year term began on January 1, 2023. Dr. Lyvers Peffer joined the Department of Animal Sciences as an assistant professor in 2005, becoming an associate professor in 2011, and was promoted to a full professor in 2018. She previously served as undergraduate program leader and chair of Academic Affairs in the Department of Animal Sciences from 2014–2017, as interim Associate Chair of Animal Sciences from 2016–2017, and as acting assistant dean of CFAES Academic Affairs from 2017–2018.

    Since her appointment as Interim Chair, Dr. Lyvers Peffer has worked toward building identity and priorities within the Department. In moving forward as chair, Dr. Lyvers Peffer’s appointment will help provide leadership stability for the Department while continuing important work in solidifying short- and long-term priorities and inclusion of additional faculty from the Center for Food Animal Health. Dr. Lyvers Peffer can be contacted at lyverspeffer.1@osu.edu.

     Dr. Maurice Eastridge has been appointed as Senior Associate Chair in the Department, effective January 1, 2023. He joined the faculty in March 1986 as an assistant professor, was promoted and tenured to Associate Professor in 1991, and was promoted to Professor in 1999. Since June 2018, he has served as Associate Chair in the Department. He will continue working with academic programs and conducting teaching, research, and outreach education in dairy cattle nutrition and management; however, special focus will be on outreach and stakeholder engagement for the Department and College. Dr. Eastridge resides on the Columbus campus and can be reached at eastridge.1@osu.edu.

     Dr. Chanhee Lee has been appointed as Associate Chair in the Department, effective January 1, 2023. He joined the faculty as a researcher in dairy cattle nutrition as an assistant professor in 2015 and was promoted and tenured as an Associate Professor in 2021. He will continue in his research role while also taking on the administrative role. Dr. Lee resides on the Wooster campus and can be reached at lee.7502@osu.edu

  54. Northeast Ohio Regional Dairy Conference

    Dr. Shaun Wellert, Senior Lecturer, Agricultural Technical Institute, The Ohio State University

    The 23rd annual Northeast Ohio Regional Dairy Conference will be held Wednesday, February 15, 2023, at Fisher Auditorium on the Wooster campus of Ohio State University.  This program is hosted by the Killbuck Valley Veterinary Medical Association. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Joao Costa from the University of Kentucky, an expert in animal behavior and precision dairy technologies, and he will be discussing activity monitoring systems for adult cows, automated calf systems, and the how to use the information that these systems provide to improve farm management.  A discussion panel of local dairy farmers who use activity monitoring systems in the management of their farms will be held to allow anyone interested to ask questions and gain more insight about these game changing technologies. Along with the educational portion of the Conference, a trade show of over 50 vendors will be present to update attendees about their products and services.  Thanks to generous sponsorship, the registration is free and breakfast and lunch will be provided. This is a great opportunity for learning and fellowship with fellow dairy farmers and industry professionals. Anyone interested is encouraged to attend, just please register before February 5th to allow an accurate count for meals. For more information and to register, go to NEOdairy.com

  55. Upcoming Dairy Youth Events

    Bonnie Ayars and Sherry Smith, Dairy Extension Program Specialists, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    Youth Dairy Judging Clinic, Saturday, March 11, 2023, 10:00 am -1:00 pm, OSU Animal Science Building, 2029 Fyffe Court, Columbus

    Note: There will be no registration fee for this clinic but there will also be no lunch.  Please plan to eat before or after the clinic on your own this year.  There is a parking fee for the Animal Science parking lot, please be sure you find the parking meter at the northwest corner of the lot and enter through the back door of the Animal Sciences Building on the west side of the building. For more additional information, please contact Sherry Smith at smith.10072@osu.edu, sbgs82@att.netor 330.465.2376.

    Ohio State 4-H Dairy Judging Contest, Thursday, March 30, 2023, Ohio State Expositions Center, Columbus, Coliseum Arena, during Spring Dairy Expo

    Preregistration for the contest will be online at https://springdairyexpo.com/judging-contests/ (available by February 1). Registration will be from 8:00-9:00 am with the contest beginning at 9:00 am. The cost is $7.00 for each contestant if pre-registered, but $10.00 on the day of the contest. Lunch is not included in this fee. This contest will be used to help in the selection of the State 4-H dairy judging team. Individuals who would like to try out for the State team are expected to compete in this contest. For more additional information, please contact Sherry Smith at smith.10072@osu.edu, sbgs82@att.net, or 330.465.2376

    Dairy Palooza, Saturday, April 2023, Wooster, OH

    For 10 different years, Dairy Palooza has offered a wonderful educational opportunity for dairy youth. It grew in success due to excellent financial support and dedicated volunteers. In an effort to update and work on some of the challenges, we will be offering the 2023 Dairy Palooza: Version II. This year, we will make an attempt to teach advisors and kids how to use what they learn. It will be held on a Saturday during late April in the Wooster area. Additional information will be available soon at https://ohio4h.org/statewide-programs/animal-sciences/dairy/events or you can contact Bonnie Ayars at ayars.5@osu.edu or bonnieayars@yahoo.com.

  56. Milk Prices, Costs of Nutrients, Margins, and Comparison of Feedstuffs Prices

    April F. White, Graduate Research Associate, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    Milk prices

    In the last issue, the Class III futures for October and November were $21.95/cwt and $20.92/cwt, respectively. Class III milk closing price for October was slightly lower than predicted at $21.81/cwt, with protein and butterfat prices at $2.45/lb and $3.66/lb, respectively. The increase in component prices compared to the September issue aligns with typical yearly price cycles near the holidays. For this issue, the Class III future for December is $20.16/cwt and the January future is $20.00/cwt.

    Nutrient prices

    It can be helpful to compare the prices in Table 1 to the 5-year averages. Since the September issue, the price of metabolizable protein (MP) has increased by about 5%, alongside a 13% decrease in the price of net energy for lactation (NEL). However, the current prices of NEL and MP are about 23 and 39% higher than the 5-year averages ($0.08/Mcal and $0.41/lb, respectively). These nutrient costs continue to reflect recent trends in ingredient costs, largely following swings in the cost of protein and energy ingredients.

    To estimate profitability at these nutrient prices, the Cow-Jones Index was used for average US cows weighing 1500 lb and producing milk with 3.9% fat and 3.2% protein. For the September issue, the income over nutrient cost (IONC) for cows milking 70 lb/day and 85 lb/day is about $14.32 and $14.85/cwt, respectively. Both estimates are higher than in September and likely to be profitable. As a word of caution, these estimates of IONC do not account for the cost of replacements or dry cows, or for profitability changes related to culling cows.

    Table 1. Prices of dairy nutrients for Ohio dairy farms, November 25, 2022.
    Table

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    Economic Value of Feeds

    Results of the Sesame analysis for central Ohio on November 25, 2022 are presented in Table 2. Detailed results for all 26 feed commodities are reported. The lower and upper limits mark the 75% confidence range for the predicted (break-even) prices. Feeds in the “Appraisal Set” were those for which we didn’t have a local price or were adjusted to reflect their true (“Corrected”) value in a lactating diet. One must remember that SESAME™ compares all commodities at one specific point in time. Thus, the results do not imply that the bargain feeds are cheap on a historical basis. Feeds for which a price was not reported were added to the appraisal set for this issue.

    Table 2. Actual, breakeven (predicted) and 75% confidence limits of 26 feed commodities used on Ohio dairy farms, November 25, 2022. TableDescription automatically generated
    TableDescription automatically generated

    For convenience, Table 3 summarizes the economic classification of feeds according to their outcome in the SESAME™ analysis. Feedstuffs that have gone up in price based on current nutrient values, or in other words moved a column to the right since the last issue, are in oversized text. Conversely, feedstuffs that have moved to the left (i.e., decreased in value) are undersized text. These shifts (i.e., feeds moving columns to the left or right) in price are only temporary changes relative to other feedstuffs within the last two months and do not reflect historical prices. Feeds added to the appraisal set were removed from this table.

    Table 3. Partitioning of feedstuffs in Ohio, November 25, 2022. 

    Bargains At Breakeven Overpriced
    Alfalfa hay - 40% NDF
    Wheat middlings
    Mechanically extracted canola meal
    Feather meal Soybean meal - expeller Whole, roasted soybeans
    Corn silage Wheat bran  
    Distillers dried grains Gluten meal 44% Soybean meal
    Gluten feed
    Meat meal
    Solvent extracted canola meal
    48% Soybean meal
    Corn, ground, dry
    Blood meal
    Hominy Soybean hulls 41% Cottonseed meal
       
    Whole cottonseed

    As coined by Dr. St-Pierre, I must remind the readers that these results do not mean that you can formulate a balanced diet using only feeds in the “bargains” column. Feeds in the “bargains” column offer a savings opportunity, and their usage should be maximized within the limits of a properly balanced diet. In addition, prices within a commodity type can vary considerably because of quality differences, as well as non-nutritional value added by some suppliers in the form of nutritional services, blending, terms of credit, etc. Also, there are reasons that a feed might be a very good fit in your feeding program while not appearing in the “bargains” column. For example, your nutritionist might be using some molasses in your rations for reasons other than its NEL and MP contents.

    Appendix

    For those of you who use the 5-nutrient group values (i.e., replace metabolizable protein by rumen degradable protein and digestible rumen undegradable protein), see Table 4.

    Table 4. Prices of dairy nutrients using the 5-nutrient solution for Ohio dairy farms, November 25, 2022.

  57. USDA Economic Research Service Dairy Outlook: November 2022

    Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Tuscarawas County, Ohio State University Extension

    The United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (USDA ERS) released its Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook on November 16, 2022. The full report is available here: https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/outlooks/105249/ldp-m-341.pdf?v=2499.5. This article will highlight the dairy portion of the report.

    Dairy Supply and Use

    The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reported that milk production in September 2022 was up 1.5% compared to the previous September. Milk cow numbers were 2,000 head less than August 2022, but 6,000 more than September 2021. Per cow milk production was 27 lb higher than the previous September. The graph below summarizes these numbers.

    Chart, bar chart

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    The September all-milk price came in at $24.10/cwt. This is a few cents higher than August, and $6.10/cwt greater than September 2021. The higher milk price (compared to the previous September) also brought higher prices for alfalfa and soybean meal.

    Outlook for 2023

    USDA NASS expects 10,000 fewer dairy cows in 2023, a 30-lb increase in milk production per cow (24,350 lb/cow), and unchanged production of 229.2 billion pounds. The export market for dairy looks positive in 2023. Cheese, butterfat, and dry skim milk exports are expected to be strong.

    Price forecasts for 2023 are summarized in the table below.

    Class

    2023 Projected Price

    III

    $19.65/cwt

    IV

    $20.35/cwt

    All-milk

    $22.60/cwt

    Looking Ahead

    Anticipated milk price decreases and rising input costs make financial analysis, management, and planning even more important. Talk with your accountant, lender, and Extension professional about your financial performance this year and plans for 2023.

    These resources may be helpful as you plan:

  58. Dairy Margin Coverage 2023 Deadline Is Fast Approaching

    Jason Hartschuh, Field Specialist, Dairy Management and Precision Livestock, Ohio State University Extension

    The Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program through the Farm Service Agency sign-up deadline is quickly approaching on December 9th, 2023. DMC has payouts when the margin between the all-milk price and the DMC feed cost falls below the selected protection level of $4.00-9.50/cwt. Now is the time to consider if this program will improve your risk management in 2023. For the current year, 2022, 73.17% of Ohio dairy farms signed up for some level of coverage. While the first half of 2022 had strong margins well above $9.50/cwt, margins fell below the $9.50/cwt level in August to $8.08/cwt and in September was $8.62/cwt. The margins for the rest of 2022 have improved compared to earlier this month, but lower margins are predicted to continue into 2023.

    With margin payouts currently forecasted for most of 2023, reviewing the DMC program could be beneficial for your operations bottom line. Table 1 shows the current forecasted all milk price, feed price, and the forecasted DMC margin for each month of 2023 from the DMC decision tool. The forecasted all milk price has a high of $23.53/cwt in November and bottoms out at $22.37/cwt in July, with a yearly average of $22.86/cwt. At the same time, forecasted average yearly feed cost is $13.59/cwt, reaching its highest in January at $14.53/cwt, and its lowest really depends on next year’s crop but is currently seen in December at $12.92/cwt. After reviewing these milk and feed cost forecasts, the margin forecast ranges from $8.65-10.48/cwt. After reviewing Table 1, you can start to make informed decisions about what level of margin coverage to utilize.

    The DMC is a two-tiered program with you needing to make decisions on your production history below 5 million pounds, separate from your production above 5 million pounds. The premium cost for the first 5 million pounds is much more reasonable, with the $9.50/cwt coverage level costing $0.15 per cwt. With the current forecast on 5 million pounds of coverage, the producer premium is about $7,481, but the net total payout is about $22,200. The premium cost is covered by the payout during the first three months.

    For production over 5 million pounds, the maximum coverage is $8.00/cwt, but the premium is $1.813/cwt. This coverage needs thought about carefully. There are no months below the $8.00 margin level at this time. This means you may only want to use the $4.00 margin coverage that does not have a premium or maybe the $5.00 margin which has a premium of $0.005/cwt in case the margin gets even worse for production history over 5 million pounds. Remember this is only a forecast, so hopefully milk price improves and so does income over feed cost margins so that the program doesn’t have payouts for all of 2023.

    The DMC program does allow producers to participate in the other subsidized risk management programs that are administered through USDA-Risk Management Agency. Those programs include the Dairy Revenue Protection program, which allows producers to use a Class III, Class IV, or component blend futures-based program to set a floor under their milk price by quarter. Another program more like DMC is the Livestock Gross Margin-Dairy that allows producers to use Class III milk, corn, and soybean meal futures to lock in a margin above feed cost. These programs are available to all producers, regardless of pounds of milk shipped per month but could be a much better option for milk production over 5 million pounds.

    Table 1. Forecasted all milk price, feed price, and DMC margin for each month of 2023.1

    Month All Milk Price Forecast ($/CWT) Corn Price Forecast ($/BU) Premium/Supreme Alfalfa Hay Price Forecast ($/Ton) Soybean Meal Price Forecast ($/Ton) Feed Cost Forecast ($/CWT) DMC Margin Forecast ($/CWT)
    Jan $23.45 $6.38 $334 $422.96 $14.53 $8.93
    Feb $23.07 $6.29 $332 $420.27 $14.39 $8.68
    Mar $22.82 $6.24 $310 $417.95 $14.01 $8.80
    Apr $22.72 $6.20 $296 $416.35 $13.77 $8.95
    May $22.39 $6.16 $296 $414.81 $13.72 $8.67
    Jun $22.24 $6.13 $290 $413.54 $13.59 $8.65
    Jul $22.37 $6.10 $287 $412.98 $13.51 $8.86
    Aug $22.50 $6.01 $286 $409.97 $13.38 $9.12
    Sep $22.80 $5.87 $284 $405.04 $13.16 $9.64
    Oct $23.07 $5.78 $283 $399.09 $13.00 $10.07
    Nov $23.53 $5.71 $293 $397.72 $13.07 $10.46
    Dec $23.39 $5.66 $287 $396.83 $12.92 $10.48
    2023 $22.86 $6.04 $298 $410.63 $13.59 $9.28

    1November, 2022 margin forecast from dmc.dairymarkets.org.

     

     

  59. Nuisance Bird Economics, Prevention, and Control for Livestock Farms

    Dr. Dwight Roseler, Adjunct Faculty, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University and Technical Consultant, Purina Animal Nutrition

    “Dashing through the snow” is a phrase to the song Jingle Bells that often brings fun joyful memories this time of year. Dashing into your dairy barns this time of year are sparrows, starlings, and pigeons that bring bad memories of birds leaving a foul-smelling unsightly mess. Ohio has one of the highest breeding densities of European starlings in the US according to survey. Flocks can range from a few hundred to over 10,000 on a single farm.  Starlings are known to fly 15 to 30 miles from roosting sites to a desirable feed source. On dairy farms, starlings consume grain and leave droppings, which results in feed and possibly milk production losses.  The starlings may spread disease through droppings and pose health risks to livestock and humans.

    Feed loss                                                                                                                           

    Starlings consume the grain and protein ingredients in dairy cow diets and reduce the nutrient content of the remaining TMR.  A small flock of 1200 starlings can consume up to one ton of protein and grain per month from a 200-cow dairy farm. Various studies have shown the economic cost of bird infestation in excess of $8,000/year. Health losses and disease risk can increase this loss.      

    Health and disease                                                                                                              

    Ohio State research from 2008 has shown that bird droppings transmit E. Coli, salmonella, cryptococcidia, and histoplamosis.  These diseases reduce cow health and intestinal health and increase risk of mastitis. Several strains of salmonella exist and increase the risk of calf death and disease.      

    Nuisance bird prevention and control                                                                

    Prevention methods of bird infestation must start before snow fall and heavy infestations of birds.  Prevention includes netting, visual scare devices, distress calls, roosting adaptations, and health modifiers.  Check with state wildlife divisions for regulations regarding control of nuisance birds before implementing control measures. 

    Nets will not entangle birds. Netting may be draped across the front of buildings; fasten it tightly from above windows to below the ledge to discourage perching.   Visual scare devices and distress calls must be modified regularly throughout the year to be effective.  Commercial sources of prevention tools can be evaluated at the websites www.birdbgone.com, www.birdgard.com and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR): Division of Wildlife (https://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/ ). Roosting adaptations include modifying the roosting surfaces with an angle of 60 degrees or greater. Birds prefer to perch on flat surfaces and angled surfaces reduce perching.  Wood or metal sheathing cut at an angle can also be added to the problem area. Installation of porcupine wire on ledges and rails where birds roost will reduce roosting.  Thinning tree branches around buildings can remove perch sites and reduce a source of wind protection, which may force the birds to move to another site. Combinations of noise (AM/FM radio, wind chimes, firecrackers, banging pots and pans, etc.) and visual stimuli (colored flags, reflective tape, rotating blank CD’s, revolving lights, balloons, replicas of hawks and owls, etc.) used persistently can evict birds. Control measures should be initiated and modified at various times throughout the year. 

    The ODNR Division of Wildlife provides a list of commercially approved nuisance wild animal control operators in your respective Ohio county.  The Ohio list has over 400 commercial nuisance animal control operators, some of which may be licensed to manage bird control on commercial livestock farms.  The Division also has information on options for prevention of nuisance birds.

  60. Methane Mitigation Strategies for Dairy Farms

    Dr. Maurice L. Eastridge, Professor and Extension Dairy Specialist, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    Greenhouse gas (GHG) production and climate change are constantly before us in the news, political agendas, and environmental sustainability discussions. The three primary GHG are carbon dioxide, methane (CH4), and nitrous dioxide. It has been estimated that agriculture contributes about 10% to the total GHG production in the US. Based on life cycle assessment (LCA), reduction in CH4 production from enteric fermentation and manure provides the greatest opportunity for reducing GHG production from the dairy industry.

    In the December 2022 issue of the Journal of Dairy Science, Karen Beauchemin from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge, Alberta, and co-authors published an article on the “Current Enteric Methane Mitigation Options” for ruminant livestock. In the article, the following options were discussed:

    1. Increased animal productivity: Increased output per unit of input can lead to reduced CH4 per unit of product. This efficiency has been achieved through improved feeding practices, animal management, improved animal health and comfort, genetic advancement, and better reproductive performance.
    2. Selection of low-methane producing animals: Individual differences in CH4 production exist among animals within the same herd and with the same feeding management, but heritabilities of CH4 production are low to moderate in dairy cattle. The use of this strategy to lower CH4 production is challenging because of the difficulty in measuring methane production or developing practical proxies for prediction of CH4 production, and the possible existence of undesirable associations between CH4 production and animal productivity.
    3. Diet reformulation: a) It is well established that level, source, and processing feeds can affect CH4 production by changes in rate of feed passage from the rumen, digestibility, and impact microbial populations; however, the result is not always positive, especially when viewed in context of a LCA. Thus, further research should focus on evaluating total GHG emissions using an LCA for individual farms and geographical regions. b) Dietary lipid supplementation has been shown to decrease CH4 production by the replacement of starch and direct impacts on the microbial population. However, the impact on CH4 and the animal’s performance varies with level and source of fat supplementation. Further research is needed to identify cost-effective fat sources fed at the appropriate level that would reduce CH4 emissions without impairing feed digestibility and animal production.
    4. Forage system: Forage production systems are highly variable and dependent upon farm conditions (e.g., soil type and fertility, water, and climate) and management practices. These factors affect forage yield and nutritive value, carbon storage in soils, animal performance, manure excretion, and ultimately, GHG emissions. Therefore, in all cases, a change in forage management to decrease enteric CH4 emissions needs to be assessed using regionally specific farm-level LCA that account for changes in forage and animal productivity, as well as emissions and sinks from all components of the farming system, including soil carbon.
      1. Increasing forage digestibility usually increases DMI and improves animal performance, which decreases CH4 yield and intensity. Furthermore, ruminant production systems fill the unique niche of consuming high-fiber, low-digestible feeds and crop residues and co-products not suitable for highly productive animals.
      2. Perennial forages fixate N, thus lower requirements for N fertilizer, may sequester more soil carbon than grasses, are lower in fiber than grasses, some legumes contain secondary compounds that reduce methane production, and the higher CP than with grasses reduces purchased protein supplements; therefore, a LCA is necessary with different management systems and geographical areas.
      3. Use of high-starch forages, such as corn silage and small-grain cereals, can increase starch and decrease fiber concentration of diets and thus reduce CH4 production. The greatest potential for high-starch forages to reduce total GHG emissions may take place when replacing another annual forage crop, but a LCA is necessary to take into account soil carbon changes.
      4. High-sugar cultivars of perennial ryegrass have elevated non-fiber carbohydrate concentrations at the expense of CP and/or NDF and this could result in a reduction of CH4 production. Because digestibility and DMI may be increased and varying yields occurs with different cultivars, additional animal studies and a LCA are needed.
      5. Grazing systems vary with climate, plant species, soil types, and livestock, and include season-long continuous grazing, rest-rotation grazing, deferred rotational grazing, and intensively managed grazing. Several of these management practices and the chemical composition of some of the forages can impact CH4 intensity.
      6. The effect of ensiling forage on CH4 production is expected to be highly variable depending upon the resulting forage quality and ensiling practices. Processing of forage by grinding and pelleting reduces particle size, which increases ruminal passage rate, decreases organic matter degradation in the rumen, and shifts fermentation toward propionate production with less CH4 production. However, forage preservation and processing increase the use of fuel for machinery and associated emissions compared with grazing fresh herbage. Before recommending a change in forage preservation or processing for CH4 mitigation, additional inputs required, effects on animal productivity, and whole-farm GHG emissions need to be considered.
    1. Action on the ruminal fermentation:
      1. Ionophores, such as monensin, appears to have limited impact on CH4 production, but its improvement in feed efficiency decreases GHG emissions from feed production and per unit of output.  
      2. 3-Nitrooxypropanol (3-NOP) fed in small amounts can reduce CH4 production, but the impacts on milk production and composition have been variable.  The greatest hurdles for the widespread adoption of 3-NOP or other chemical inhibitors that may be discovered in the future are the additional feeding cost from their inclusion in animal diets, if no consistent benefits in productivity are obtained, and the difficulty of delivering the required dose to grazing ruminants in extensive production systems in a format that works over extended periods.
      3. Macroalgae (seaweeds) have highly variable chemical composition, depending upon species, time of collection, and growth environment, and they can contain bioactive components that inhibit methanogenesis. Use of macroalgae as an antimethanogenic strategy may be feasible, but mechanisms for delivery to animals that do not reduce the efficacy of the bioactive compounds need to be designed.
      4. Alternative electron acceptors are organic (e.g., fumarate, malate) and inorganic (e.g., nitrate) compounds that draw electrons away from methanogenesis and incorporate them into alternative pathways. In general, the effects of fumarate and malate on animal productivity have been inconsistent and are limited by cost because of the relatively high levels of inclusion needed and the relatively small effects on CH4. Although nitrate has been shown to reduce CH4 production and intensity, it can only be used in production systems where feed intake is closely managed due to the risks of acute toxicity.
      5. Essential oils (e.g., oregano, thyme, garlic oil, and others) are complex mixtures of volatile lipophilic secondary metabolites that are responsible for a plant's characteristic flavor and fragrance and may exert antimicrobial activities against bacteria and fungi, including CH4 production. Given the variably of responses and the many different sources of essential oils, additional research is needed before firm recommendations can be made. 
      6. Tannins and saponins are secondary plant compounds in  some forages, e.g., legumes, that may reduce CH4 production. However, given the diversity of management systems with such feedstuffs, additional research in needed in how these compounds could be used to reduce CH4 production without negative consequences.
      7. Direct-fed microbials (e.g., yeasts, fungi, and lactic acid producing bacteria) are live microorganisms that when ingested can modify rumen fermentation.  Although some coculture and mixed culture experiments have generated proof-of-concept that direct-fed microbials can reduce CH4 emissions, these results have seldom been confirmed with research in animals.

    Early stage mitigation strategies are constantly under consideration. The global effort to curb CH4 emissions is driving significant investment and innovation by the private and public sectors. Recent advances in characterizing the rumen microbiome, genome sequencing of rumen methanogens, and an in-depth analysis of the enzymatic pathways involved in methanogenesis are leading to new CH4 mitigation approaches. Most of the research to date has focused on mitigation of CH4 from ruminants in confinement systems, but technologies to reduce emissions from grazing animals would have the largest effect on reducing emissions from global ruminant livestock. Some of the early mitigation strategies being researched include immunization against methanogens, early-life interventions to modify the microbiota in a manner that decreases CH4 emissions later in life, feeding enzymes with activity against methanogen cell walls, elimination of ruminal protozoa, and using a device that attaches to animals to collect CH4 and oxidize it.

    Research continues on various approaches for reducing CH4 production, capturing CH4 on the farm, and effectively utilizing the captured CH4. All of the aspects discussed in this article have potential interest to farmers as they strive to reduce the carbon footprint of dairy production and gain financially from carbon credits.

     

  61. Milk Prices, Costs of Nutrients, Margins, and Comparison of Feedstuffs Prices

    April F. White, Graduate Research Associate, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    Milk Prices

    In the last issue, the Class III futures for August and September were $20.67/cwt and $20.21/cwt, respectively. Class III milk closing price for August was $20.10/cwt, with protein and butterfat prices at $2.14/lb and $3.40/lb respectively. The component price for protein is reduced from the July issue, and butterfat price continues to increase alongside demand as the holidays approach. This issue, the Class III future for October is $21.95/cwt, and the November future is $20.92/cwt.

    Updated Corn Silage Price

    A new corn silage price used throughout this article was calculated this month as corn silage harvest winds down across Ohio. This year’s approximate price for normal corn silage (32 to 38% dry matter), based on a $6.70/bu corn grain price at end of day September 28, 2022, is $71.81/ton. Due to the increased December corn futures this year, corn silage has once again increased in value by ~$11/ton compared to 2021 season ($60.71/ton). However, based on its nutritive value, home grown corn silage continues to be a bargain feed in dairy cattle rations.

    Nutrient prices

    It can be helpful to compare the prices in Table 1 to the 5-year averages. Since the July issue, the price of metabolizable protein (MP) has increased by about 17% alongside a 22% decrease in the price of net energy for lactation (NEL). The current price of NEL and MP are about 15 and 30% higher than the 5-year averages ($0.08/Mcal and $0.41/lb, respectively). These nutrient costs continue to reflect recent trends in ingredient costs, largely following swings in the cost of protein and energy ingredients.

    To estimate profitability at these nutrient prices, the Cow-Jones Index was used for average US cows weighing 1500 lb and producing milk with 3.9% fat and 3.2% protein. For the September issue, the income over nutrient cost (IONC) for cows milking 70 lb/day and 85 lb/day is about $11.52 and $12.12/cwt, respectively. Both estimates are likely to be profitable. As a word of caution, these estimates of IONC do not account for the cost of replacements or dry cows, or for profitability changes related to culling cows.

    Table 1. Prices of dairy nutrients for Ohio dairy farms, September 23, 2022.

    Economic Value of Feeds

    Results of the Sesame analysis for central Ohio on September 23, 2022 are presented in Table 2. Detailed results for all 26 feed commodities are reported. The lower and upper limits mark the 75% confidence range for the predicted (break-even) prices. Feeds in the “Appraisal Set” were those for which we didn’t have a local price or were adjusted to reflect their true (“Corrected”) value in a lactating diet. One must remember that SESAME™ compares all commodities at one specific point in time. Thus, the results do not imply that the bargain feeds are cheap on a historical basis. Feeds for which a price was not reported were added to the appraisal set this issue.

    Table 2. Actual, breakeven (predicted) and 75% confidence limits of 26 feed commodities used on Ohio dairy farms, September 23, 2022.

    For convenience, Table 3 summarizes the economic classification of feeds according to their outcome in the SESAME™ analysis. Feedstuffs that have gone up in price based on current nutrient values, or in other words moved a column to the right since the last issue, are in oversized text. Conversely, feedstuffs that have moved to the left (i.e., decreased in value) are undersized text. These shifts (i.e., feeds moving columns to the left or right) in price are only temporary changes relative to other feedstuffs within the last two months and do not reflect historical prices. Feeds added to the appraisal set were removed from this table.

    Table 3. Partitioning of feedstuffs in Ohio, September 23, 2022.

    Bargains At Breakeven Overpriced
    Alfalfa hay - 40% NDF 48% Soybean meal Mechanically extracted canola meal
    Feather meal Soybean meal - expeller Whole, roasted soybeans
    Corn silage Wheat bran
    Soybean hulls
    Distillers dried grains Gluten meal 44% Soybean meal
    Gluten feed Whole cottonseed Solvent extracted canola meal
    Meat meal   Blood meal
    Corn, ground, dry  
    41% Cottonseed meal
    Hominy    
    Wheat middlings    

    As coined by Dr. St-Pierre, I must remind the readers that these results do not mean that you can formulate a balanced diet using only feeds in the “bargains” column. Feeds in the “bargains” column offer a savings opportunity, and their usage should be maximized within the limits of a properly balanced diet. In addition, prices within a commodity type can vary considerably because of quality differences as well as non-nutritional value added by some suppliers in the form of nutritional services, blending, terms of credit, etc. Also, there are reasons that a feed might be a very good fit in your feeding program while not appearing in the “bargains” column. For example, your nutritionist might be using some molasses in your rations for reasons other than its NEL and MP contents.

    Appendix

    For those of you who use the 5-nutrient group values (i.e., replace MP by rumen degradable protein and digestible rumen undegradable protein), see Table 4.

    Table 4. Prices of dairy nutrients using the 5-nutrient solution for Ohio dairy farms, September 23, 2022.

  62. Ohio Laws Governing Manure and Mud on Roadways

    Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Tuscarawas County; and Peggy Hall, Extension Agriculture and Resource Law Program, Ohio State University Extension

    Fall brings an increase in farm equipment traveling roadways to harvest crops, haul grain, and transport silage from fields to the farm.  This is also a time when tractors and manure spreaders are used to apply nutrients to harvested fields.  During these operations, it is not uncommon to find mud or manure spilled on roadways. 

    An Iowa State University Extension survey found that transportation issues accounted for 28% of manure spills.  A similar study in Wisconsin determined that 30% of manure spills were attributed to transportation issues.  While these happen unintentionally, they do pose potential hazards to the environment and motoring public. 

    Ohio Law

    An Ohio traffic law (https://codes.ohio.gov/ohio-revised-code/section-4511.74) addresses “placing injurious materials” on roadways.   The law states in Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Section 4511.74 that: “No person shall place or knowingly drop upon any part of a highway, lane, road, street, or alley any tacks, bottles, wire, glass, nails, or other articles which may damage or injure any person, vehicle, streetcar, trackless trolley, or animal traveling along or upon such highway, except such substances that may be placed upon the roadway by proper authority for the repair or construction thereof.”  This provision has been applied to cases involving mud, manure, and even grass clippings left on roads, with enforcement by local law officials.  A violation is a first-degree misdemeanor that can lead to no more than $1,000 in fines as well as jail time.   

    Another section of Ohio law, ORC 5589.10 (https://codes.ohio.gov/ohio-revised-code/section-5589.10), also provides criminal penalties and states that “No person shall dig up, remove, excavate, or place any earth or mud upon any portion of any public highway or build a fence upon the same without authority to do so.”  A violation of this section can lead to a fourth-degree misdemeanor charge with a maximum fine of $250 and jail time.

    In addition, mud or manure on the roadway may result in property damage, injury, or death to people or damage to vehicles on the road.  Harmed parties may bring a negligence claim and seek compensation for their personal and property damage.  There was an Ohio case several years ago involving wet manure on the road that was determined to be the cause of an accident, and the farm operator was held liable under a negligence claim brought by the harmed party.  Unfortunately, a person suffered physical injuries and the operator suffered a financial loss—all due to the failure to properly manage the manure on the roadway.

    Your Responsibilities

    The best advice to avoid problems is to practice good manure and equipment management.  Do not overfill tankers or spreaders, ensure that hoses are properly attached, and inspect equipment for leakages.  Maintain field access points to minimize tracking mud onto the roadway.  Be aware of the roads you travel and whether your operations are leaving mud or manure on the roadways.  If you are, you have a responsibility to remove it to prevent environmental damage and an accident.  Where necessary, place safety cones or other warnings around the area until it’s cleared.  If you rely on employees to haul manure or move equipment on roadways, train your employees to follow these practices. And if you receive a call from a local official or law enforcement or a complaint from a resident, act quickly to meet your responsibilities for keeping mud and manure off the roadway.

    OSU Extension Resources

    Ohio State University Extension has several resources if you are interested in more information related to this topic.  We encourage you to visit:

    References

    Manure Spills: What You Need to Know and Environmental Consequences, North Dakota State University Extension, https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/environment-natural-resources/manure-spills-what-you-need-to-know-and-environmental-consequences

    Manure Spill Prevention & Management: https://extension.umn.edu/manure-management/manure-spill-prevention

    Ohio Laws and Administrative Rules, Section 4511.74: https://codes.ohio.gov/ohio-revised-code/section-4511.74

  63. Assessing Milk Price and Risk Management for 2023

    Jason Hartschuh, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Crawford County, Ohio State University Extension

    With harvest well under way to feed the cows for 2023, it is important to make sure we are assessing what the 2023 milk price may be and how to manage the risk of a milk price downturn. Talking to input suppliers for commodity/feed crops, it appears that prices may be higher in 2023 to produce feed. This makes it very important to manage the milk price risk for 2023. The September USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report has both the 2022 and 2023 all milk price forecast being up from the previous month. The current 2022 all milk price forecast is $25.45/cwt, while the 2023 all milk price is less at $22.70/cwt. The increased price was due to slower growth in cow numbers than was originally projected. This may mean a tighter margin year ahead for 2023 as crop input costs increase, while all milk price decreases. When doing your 2023 budgets this fall, it may be best to consider what milk price floor you can protect along with the USDA price forecast.

    The two most common risk management tools used in Ohio are the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program and the Dairy Revenue Protection (DRP) program. The DMC program covers the margin between the DMC calculated feed price and the All Milk price. The table below shows what the prices were that went into the 2022 DMC calculation so far and the resulting margin. The greatest margin was in May at $12.51/cwt and has declined to $9.92/cwt in July. If USDA’s milk price forecast is accurate, this may lead to margins falling above the upper DMC margin of $9.50/cwt. Comparing your feed cost over the first 7 months of 2022 to the final feed cost for DMC each month can help you asses the protection that the DMC program can provide for your operation.   

    Month

    Corn ($/bu)

    Premium Alfalfa Hay  ($/ton)

    Soybean Meal ($/ton)

    All Milk ($/cwt)

    Final Feed Costs for DMC($/cwt)

    Milk Margin Above Feed Costs for DMC($/cwt)

    January

    5.57

    262.00

    421.21

    24.20

    12.66

    11.54

    February

    6.10

    266.00

    480.96

    24.70

    13.72

    10.98

    March

    6.56

    269.00

    493.98

    25.90

    14.35

    11.55

    April

    7.08

    271.00

    476.70

    27.10

    14.81

    12.29

    May

    7.26

    274.00

    441.28

    27.30

    14.79

    12.51

    June

    7.37

    277.00

    445.93

    26.90

    14.98

    11.92

    July

    7.25

    333.00

    467.87

    25.70

    15.78

    9.92

    The second subsidized program to consider is the DRP, which can be used to set a floor under your milk price at your cost of production or lock in a profit if one is available on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). The DRP is managed through USDA-RMA by working with your local crop insurance agency. DRP has many more individual decisions, including being by the quarter instead of for an entire year and the option to cover as much or as little milk as you would want. DRP coverage contracts can be purchased after the close of trading each day. While it is recommended that you study milk futures and don’t cover your entire year’s production at the same time. If you had covered all of your 2023 production on Monday, September 26th using Class III coverage, your average covered Class III price would have been $19.20/cwt with a premium of $0.5790/cwt, making your coverage after marketing $18.62/cwt. Class IV prices have continued to be above Class III. If Class IV coverage was chosen, the 2023 average would have been $20.16/cwt with a premium cost of $0.701/cwt for a coverage after marketing of $19.45/cwt. While it is very possible that the high for each quarter of 2023 has not happened yet. If contracts had been purchased at the current high point, 2023 Class III coverage after premiums would give you protection at $19.44/cwt, and for Class IV, the coverage would have been $19.89/cwt. As a point of reference, Quarter 1 maximum prices so far were reached in April and June of 2022.

    Besides trading futures and options as a method of risk management, you may also want to discuss with your processor if forward contracts are available. While forward contracting is straight forward, it is much more complicated with milk than grain since Class I fluid milk cannot be forward contracted. On the other hand, if you sell into a Class III market, your processor or cooperative has the option to offer forward contrasts.  While 2023 does not currently appear to have as much profit potential as 2022, through careful management of your expenses a profit can still be achieved. Utilizing these risk management tools can help determine what milk price to use as you plan your 2023 budgets.

  64. USDA ERS Dairy Outlook: September 2022

    Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Tuscarawas County, Ohio State University Extension

    The United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (USDA ERS) released its Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook on September 16.  This article will summarize the dairy outlook.  To read the complete report, please visit this link: https://downloads.usda.library.cornell.edu/usda-esmis/files/g445cd121/9w033934q/5138kq43q/LDP-M-339.pdf.

    The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reported July milk production of 19.140 billion pounds produced by an average of 9.416 million head of dairy cattle.  July milk production per cow averaged 2,033 pounds.

    Chart, line chart

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    The all-milk price in July was reported at $25.70/cwt, $1.20 lower than June but $7.90 above July 2021.  Alfalfa hay in July was $31/ton higher than in June and $70/ton higher compared to June 2021, coming in at $276/ton.  The milk-feed ratio has been declining since February 2022.  While the January to June 2022 all-milk price increased, it was more than offset by the increase in feed prices.

    Chart, line chart

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    Dairy Forecast: 2022

    The average number of cows has been reduced to 9.4 million head, but average production per cow came in higher at 24,075 lb/year.  Reduced cow numbers and even production per cow, the milk production forecast has been reduced 0.3 billion to 226.5 billion pounds.

    Type

    Projected Price for 2022

    Class III

    $21.65/cwt

    Class IV

    $24.45/cwt

    All-milk

    $25.45/cwt

    Dairy Forecast: 2023

    USDA ERS is expecting the rate of growth in cow numbers to slow.  For 2023, they are projecting 9,415 million head – a reduction of 20,000 head.  Milk per cow in 2023 is forecasted to be unchanged at 24,300 lb/cow and total milk production revised at 0.4 billion pounds lower to 228.8 billion pounds.

    Type

    Projected Price for 2023

    Class III

    $19.70/cwt

    Class IV

    $20.85/cwt

    All-milk

    $22.70/cwt

    Planning Ahead

    Planning and budgeting are always important, and continued uncertainty makes these tasks even more critical.  Most inputs will likely increase in cost compared to 2022 and USDA is currently projecting a decline in milk price.  I encourage you to utilize OSU Extension Enterprise Budgets (https://farmoffice.osu.edu/farm-management/enterprise-budgets), meet with your veterinarian, consultants, and Extension Educator to critically evaluate the need for each input.

     

  65. Preparing Equipment for Corn Silage Harvest

    Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Tuscarawas County and Jason Hartschuh, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Crawford County, Ohio State University Extension

    Corn silage is a critical ingredient in rations fed to dairy cattle, and in just a few weeks, the harvesting process will begin.  Making high-quality corn silage is time sensitive and breakdowns can be costly. A breakdown in the field can lead to delayed harvest and lower quality silage, resulting in poor milk production and animal performance.  Now is the time to be reviewing, servicing, and preparing equipment used in the silage harvest process so that down time doesn’t decrease your silage quality. 

    Inspection

    All parts of your forage harvester must be inspected from front to back.  The machine was likely cleaned at the end of the last harvest.  If not, now is the time to give it a thorough cleaning.  Check the condition and tension of belts.  Are there any that are worn, loose, or cracked?  If so, adjust the tension or replace with new ones.  Refer to the owner’s manual for areas to lubricate. If an auto lube system is on the machine, check each line and bearing that is lubricated to be sure it is working properly. Did rodents damage any wiring over the winter storage period?  If so, make necessary repairs. While going over the machine, attempt to wiggle any shaft at the bearing. Once belts and bearings are inspected and lubrication is complete, run the machine at a low speed to check moving parts, gauges, and listen for anything that doesn’t sound correct – slipping belts, worn bearings, etc.

    Check engine oil, brake fluid, gearboxes, and any other fluids.  Are there seals or hoses that are cracked, leaking, and in need of replacement?  If safety shields and guards were removed for some reason, make sure they are replaced to provide protection from injury or death.  Check the fire extinguisher to be sure it’s still functional. Machines should carry two fire extinguishers, one that is an ABC dry chemical and another that is a water cannon with foaming agent.  Check lights, back-up beepers, and condition of the slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblem.  Clean and/or replace any of these items that need attention.

    Be sure to inspect wear parts and consider if they have enough hard surface left for the season. For knives, the minimum is 3 mm. Adjusting the cutter bar and knives prior to corn silage harvest so that the cutter bar has its full adjustment range can save on in-season hassles. Checking knife torque prior to harvest is also recommended so that no knives come loose during harvest, causing costly internal damage to the machine. On the corn head, inspect the cleaners so that weeds don’t wrap around the header.

    Kernel processor operation is critical to making high quality corn silage. While the true inspection of kernel processing score comes during harvest, each time you change hybrids, a proper inspection will keep the processor working through the season. Roll spacing, tooth sharpness, and springs should be inspected. Springs can weaken over time and develop cracks that lead to critical failure in-season. The roll gap should be between 2 to 3 mm depending on the processor design. A nickel is 1.95 mm thick and older processors should leave marks in the nickel.  While newer, more aggressive systems should brush a dime off, a nickel/dime stack or feeler gauges can be used to check if rolls are the proper gap. Check multiple areas across the rolls for wear. The in-season inspection of kernel processors is done with a water separation or visual inspection of a 1-quart sample of silage. Both methods look for the number of whole kernels, with a criterion that no more than one whole kernel is present in the sample. The water method uses a 5-gallon bucket to float most of the fodder off the sample to make kernel separation easier. Once fodder is removed, sort kernels looking for any that are not nicked by the processor.      

    Checking Other Equipment

    Besides the harvester, thoroughly inspect and service all other equipment used for harvest, as each plays a critical role in keeping harvest on time. For equipment running on the road, determine whether all brakes, lights, and mirrors are in working order. Lastly, before pulling a silage wagon or trailer on the road, ask yourself if the truck or tractor can, if necessary, stop the load quickly. Just because a machine can move a load does not mean it should.  

    Have a safe and successful harvest.

    Sources:

    Getting Ready for Corn Silage Harvest, Cornell University, https://blogs.cornell.edu/nwny-dairy-livestock-field-crops/2020/09/11/getting-ready-for-harvesting-corn-silage/

    (This article originally appeared in the Farm & Dairy Newspaper)

  66. Corn Silage Price Calculation

    Dr. Seungki Lee, Agricultural Economist and Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, The Ohio State University

    View article at this link: Corn Silage Price Calculation

     

  67. Preparing Your Dairy Herd for the Fall Football Season

    Dr. Dwight Roseler, Adjunct Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University and Dairy Nutrition Specialist, Purina Animal Nutrition, Great Lakes Dairy

    Cows love cooler weather and good forage. Just like an effective football coach, you must prepare and coach your herd to perform properly in the fall and prepare the cow herd to win each game. Corn silage harvest is in the rearview mirror for most Midwest dairy farms, and the best coaches prepare their cow herd, facilities (weight room), and staff to prepare for top performance. The fall season can be difficult on your cow herd and negatively affect milk production if the herd is not prepared. Shorter day length, lingering summer heat, cow fertility, hoof quality, bird infestations, and new corn silage are among factors to prepare. 

    Day Length

    The most consistent research response many university and farm data in the northern U.S. has been the response in milk production to long day lighting. An added 4 to 6 lb/day of milk per cow occurs when 18 hours are provided. Lighting intensity must be a minimum of 20 footcandles across the entire barn along with 6 hours of darkness or red light.  Lights need to be cleaned yearly or upgraded to gain the benefit for the cows.

    Feed Changes

    2022 corn silage across Ohio has higher starch, lower neutral detergent fiber (NDF) corrected to an organic matter basis (NDFom) and similar NDF 30 hr digestion compared to 2021 corn silage. Initial rumen starch Kd will be lower but increase with fermentation time.  These trends will vary by county.  Feeding corn silage that is 60 days fermented or longer is ideal to allow rumen starch and fiber Kd to increase and fermentation to stabilize. Nutrition clients successful in feeding new corn silage without production decline take great care in proper corn hybrid selection (floury), in season plant care (fungicide, plant health), effective kernel chop processing score (>77), rumen starch Kd (20%), and ration formulation [NDF digestibility (NDFd) >60, effective undigested NDF (eUNDF), buffer, etc.]  Diet additives need to be altered from summer to properly prepare for fall [Diflourobenzonon (DBZ), dietary cation-anion difference (DCAD), buffer, minerals, passage rate, enzyme, etc.).   

    Lingering effect of summer heat

    Summer heat and humidity in the Midwest will have a lingering effect on the cows. Cows that peaked in the summer can have lower body condition repletion due to intake and priority of nutrient demand to milk production. As day length shortens, the cow body condition repletion will shift more energy to body condition and less towards milk production. Lower fertility from summer heat results in lower quality embryos and lower fertility of summer bred cows. In addition, longer days open can increase herd days in milk and reduce overall herd production.  Cows that stand excessive hours due to heat stress will have poor quality hoof tissue and more potential lameness. Update diets and intensify reproductive focus and hoof trimming to maintain proper herd performance.   

    Fall health challenges

    As birds mount their annual flocking, they are drawn to indoor feeding and nesting areas in dairy barns.  Birds can transmit disease, dysentery, consume grain from TMR, and reduce performance.  In some herds, fall can result in more confined and unclean calving pens and poor air quality.  This can result in more metritis, mastitis, and respiratory health challenges.  These health challenges can illicit an immune response that can reduce milk production, possibly with severe challenges by 8 lb/day of milk per cow. Feed treatment options are available, some experimental, to reduce health and performance challenges in your herd. Discuss options with your nutritionist.

    Do not overlook the obvious

    There are many factors unrelated to the fall season that affect milk production.  The ABC of air, bunk, and comfort always need to be part of a winning team. Coach up your cow team this fall for a winning season and Go Bucks.

  68. Fall Manure Application and Cover Crops

    Glen Arnold, Extension Field Specialist, Manure Management, Ohio State University

    Corn silage harvest completion is the start of serious manure application efforts by dairy operations across Ohio. For some producers, manure application will continue through soybean and corn harvest this fall. The field application of manure, milking parlor water, outdoor lot runoff, and silage leachate is a necessary part of dairy farming. Manure transport and application is a significant expense on dairy farms and can easily approach $125 to 150/cow annually.

    To best capture the nutrients, manure should be incorporated during application or as soon as possible afterwards. Livestock producers should also consider using cover crops to capture more of the manure nutrients, especially the nitrogen, and to also prevent soil erosion. Another benefit of cover crops that overwinter is the uptake of nitrogen early in the spring when fields are not yet suitable for traffic in March and April.

    The most common cover crops used with livestock manure are cereal rye, wheat, and oats. However, farmers have also used radishes, clover, annual ryegrass, Sudan grass, or almost anything they are comfortable growing. If a farmer is participating in the H2Ohio program, be sure to work with your Soil and Water Conservation District to be certain your cover crop mixture meets the requirement to live through the winter months.

    A cover crop that is excellent at recycling nitrogen is wheat. Like cereal rye, wheat germinates at low soil temperatures, overwinters, and is an easy cover crop to control the following spring or become a forage crop as wheatlage. It will capture large amounts of the available nitrogen from fall applied livestock manure. Dairy producers can spur growth with one or two applications of manure as the wheat grows next spring.

    Cereal rye is the most commonly planted cool-season grass for capturing excess nitrogen. Because rye overwinters, research has shown it can capture and hold 25 to 50 lb/acre of nitrogen, in the organic form as roots and plant tissue. It germinates at lower temperatures than oats so it may be planted later, but less nitrogen will be recycled the later in the fall the rye is seeded. This is another cover crop that could be used as a forage crop in the spring.

    Oats are sometimes used as a cover crop in the fall and need to be planted soon after silage harvest. Drilling oats improves germination and growth before frost. Some farmers in northwest Ohio have had great success surface seeding oats and incorporating with shallow tillage.

    Cover crops can help livestock farmers recapture manure nutrients and conserve soil by reducing erosion. Livestock producers should consider Best Management Practices when applying manure. The goal should be to combine nutrient recovery and to protect water quality. Manure application rules in Ohio are influenced by watershed location. Check with your local Soil & Water Conservation District about the most current rules in your area.

  69. Use 2022 Profitability As a Catalyst for Retirement Savings

    David Marrison, Professor and OSU Extension Educator, Coshocton County, Ohio State University Extension

    Typically as we move into the final quarter of the year, farm managers will start to examine their financial records in order to estimate the potential net farm income for the year and make plans on how to avoid the proverbial ”tax-man.”

    All indications point to positive income returns to the dairy sector for 2022. The September WASDE (World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates) released on September 12 forecasted the 2022 all milk price at $25.45/cwt and estimates the 2023 all milk price at $22.70/ cwt. The remainder of the year looks favorable due to the shrinking U.S. dairy herd and increasing demand for dairy products.

    Additionally, operations may have seen increased revenue due to cash grain sales, in spite of rising input costs. So, if 2022 is looking profitable, what can I do to reduce my income tax obligation? For many farm managers, it typically means prepaying expenses for the upcoming year or by investing in buildings, machinery, and equipment.

    While these strategies all are useful as tax mitigation strategies, I would remind you that it is not a bad thing to have a profitable year and to pay taxes. As an added bonus, earning income and paying self-employment taxes as a farm manager has an impact on future social security retirement benefits.

    For many farmers, social security will make up a sizable portion of their eventual retirement income. To qualify for future benefits under Social Security, an individual must earn 40 quarters or 10 years of wages or net profits. For 2022, the minimum earnings per quarter is $1,510. Individuals can earn up to four credits per year, making the total minimum earnings equivalent to $6,040 for 2022. Getting to 40 credits makes you eligible for benefits, but how much you will receive for retirement benefits is based on your 35 highest years of earnings. If you pay in at the minimum level, your social security retirement will be minimal. In high profitability years, managers should maximize the wages or profit that is subject to social security tax (to help with 35 high year average).

    According to the Social Security Administration, the average (2022) social security income per month for a retired worker is $1,657 or $2,753 for a couple. If a retired couple has a family living of $60,000, then social security provides only 55% or $33,036 of the needed retirement income. So, this leads to the question, how will you make up the remaining amount needed for retirement and account for inflation?

    So, if this year has been profitable for you, I would challenge you to examine ways to invest into retirement for you and your employees. In fact, many would contend the best investment you can make for the junior partner of a farming operation is by putting money in their retirement account, early and often. In a time when labor wage inflation is increasing, having a retirement plan as part of your compensation package is also an excellent employee benefit.

    It is recommended that farmers work with a financial planner who specializes in retirement planning to discuss options. The following is offered as a primer on retirement planning options:

    Individual Retirement Options- Individuals can invest after-tax dollars into certificates of deposits, bonds, stocks, and mutual funds which could serve as income sources for retirement. Individuals can also make contributions to a traditional or Roth individual retirement account (IRA) to help fund their retirement years. Let’s take a closer look at the IRAs:

    Traditional IRA- With a traditional IRA, individuals contribute pre- or after-tax dollars and the money grows tax-deferred. The 2022 contribution limit is $6,000 unless the individual is over the age of 50.  If over the age of 50, the individual can contribute up to $7,000. Individuals need over $6,000 of earned income to be eligible to contribute to a traditional IRA. There are phase out limitations if the individual is eligible to participate in an employer retirement plan. Withdrawals are subject to penalty if withdrawn before 59.5 years old. Minimum distributions are required once an owner is 72 years old (70.5 if you reached this age by 1/1/2020). Withdrawals are taxed as current income. A person’s yearly IRA contribution may qualify for a deduction on the individual’s tax form.

    Roth IRA- A Roth IRA is an Individual Retirement Account to which you contribute after-tax dollars. While there are no current-year tax benefits, the contributions and earnings can grow tax-free, and can be withdrawn tax and penalty-free after age 59½ and after the account has been open for five years. The 2022 contribution limit is $6,000 unless the individual is over the age of 50.  If over the age of 50, the individual can contribute up to $7,000. There are no required minimum distributions.

    Business Retirement Options- Several vehicles exist for small businesses to use to help build retirement for both owners and employees. Let’s take a quick look at a few business options for retirements.

    Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE) IRA- Simple IRAs are for businesses with under 100 employees. These plans allow for an employee to defer up to $14,000 of wages with an additional $3,000 if the person is over the age of 50. The employer must match the employee’s contribution (dollar for dollar) up to 3% or make a nonelective contribution of 2% of the employee’s compensation. Income taxes are paid upon distribution. These IRAs can fund retirement for both owners and employees.

    401(k) Plan- 401(k) plans allow for the elective deferral of up to $20,500 ($27,000 for over 50) of salary. Employers can match 5%, 10%, 20%, or more to bring total contributions to $61,000. The employee’s deferral is limited to 100% of their wages. Employers have the option of adding Roth 401(k)s. It should be noted the percentage match that is made for a contributing owner must be the same for qualified employees.

    Solo-401(k)- These 401(k) plans are for farm sole proprietorship. These plans are for a one-person business that has no full-time W-2 employees. Spouses can also contribute if they work for the business. The overall contribution limit is $61,000 for 2022 ($20,500 employee and $40,500 as employer).

    Simplified Employee Pension Plan (SEP)- These plans allow for employers to set aside retirement for themselves and their employees. Employer contributes an equal percentage for all employees up to 25% of their pay limited to $61,000 in 2022. The percentage for employees has to match what is contributed for the owner. Employer contribution for employees is tax deductible. Employers do not have to make contributions every year, allowing the business some flexibility based on business conditions. 

    Retirement Contribution Limits

    < 50 years old

    > 50 years old

    Regular IRA

    $6,000

    $7,000

    Roth IRA

    $6,000

    $7,000

    SIMPLE IRA

    $14,000

    $17,000

    401(k) Elective Deferral

    $20,500

    $27,000

    Overall 401(k) Contributions (Employee + Employer)

    $61,000

    $67,500

    SEP Contributions for employee (up to 25% of wages)

    $61,000

    $61,000

    SEP Contributions for self-employed individual

    $61,000

    $61,000

    More information about retirement choices for small businesses can be found at: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p3998.pdf and more information about the different type of retirement plans can be found at: https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-sponsor/types-of-retirement-plans

    Other Retirement Sources: Besides social security benefits and individual and business retirement accounts, farm managers can also explore other options for income to fund their retirement years.  Some of these options can be found below:

    • Earnings from work while “retired”
    • Rental of land, facilities & machinery
    • Sale of land, facilities & machinery
    • Crop share lease arrangements
    • Spouse’s retirement program
    • Off-farm pensions plans
    • Saving accounts
    • Dividends from investments
    • Sale of stocks & bonds
    • Sale of personal assets & collectibles
    • Sale of personal residence (downsizing)
    • Off-farm rental properties
    • Reducing expenses
    • Consulting agreements
    • Loans from life insurance
    • My kids will provide support!

    Summary: Increased profits may be realized by dairy farms in 2022. As we enter the last quarter of the year, it is recommended that farm managers crunch their financial numbers to determine whether funding retirement accounts would be a sound and wise investment for their operation. Managers are encouraged to seek professional council from financial professionals in analyzing the pros, cons, and risk of individual retirement options.

    Sources:

    World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, WASDE 628. September 12, 2022.  Access at: https://www.usda.gov/oce/commodity/wasde/wasde0922.pdf

    Choosing a Retirement Solution for Your Small Business.  Source: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p3998.pdf

    Publication 560 – Retirement Plans for Small Businesses.  Access at: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p560.pdf

    Publication 225 – Farmers Tax Guide.  Access at: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p225.pdf

  70. A Farm Advisory Team Can Help You Succeed

    Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Tuscarawas County, Ohio State University Extension

    Managing all the complexities of a dairy farm is no easy task.  Weather, animal nutrition and health, crop variety selection, managing people, and monitoring financial performance are just a few of the items that add to the complexity.  Fortunately, there are several people available as a team of advisors to help you address the challenges and contribute to your success.

    Farm Advisory Team

    You likely are meeting and working with many of the potential team members already, just on an individual basis.  Your veterinarian, nutritionist, agronomist, lender, attorney, and Extension Educator are a few of these people.  Each brings their own set of knowledge, skills, and experience to the table to analyze, diagnose, and provide recommendations to address challenges and the direction of your farm.

    Initial Planning

    Before assembling your advisory team, develop a list of questions, issues, or concerns you want assistance and guidance from your team members.  Divide the list into immediate, short-term (less than one year), medium-term (one to five years), and long-term (greater than five years) goals or issues you wish to address.

    If you’ve never done it before, completing a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) Analysis of your farm business may be beneficial. This analysis can help guide discussion and direction.   

    This is also a time to consider who would be a good person to be the facilitator of the team.  A good facilitator supports the use of teams, is a good listener, can work with groups, and is well organized.  The role of the facilitator is to guide discussion, keep the team focused on their task, and communicate accomplishments and expectations.  The facilitator may also assist with periodic check-ins to monitor progress.

    Getting Started

    Forming the advisory team is not difficult.  Again, you are already working in some capacity with each potential team member.  The goal here is to bring all the members together at the same time.   

    After you have developed your list of goals and completed your SWOT Analysis, now it’s time to invite team members.  A phone call or personal visit with each member is suggested.  This allows you to discuss your reason(s) for inviting them, what you hope to accomplish, gauge their level of interest, discuss time commitment, and identify potential meeting dates and times.  A call or face-to-face visit with the person who you identify as the facilitator is important.  This person is key to the success of the team and needs to understand their role and expectations.

    First Meeting

    A written agenda is strongly encouraged.  This helps everyone see the task at hand and keeps the team focused and on track.

    Begin the first meeting with an introduction of members, including their role.  While most may think they have a good understanding, a brief overview of your farm operation gets everyone on the same page.  Describe farm size, cow numbers, animal housing, etc.

    Following introductions, share with the team your SWOT Analysis and the concerns you’ve identified previously.  Allow members to review, digest, and react to these.  The beauty of an advisory team is that each member will approach an issue from a different perspective and provide possible solutions that others might not have otherwise considered.  Remember…two heads are better than one.  The facilitator will take notes and lead much of the discussion among members.

    Wrapping Up

    As the established ending time approaches, the facilitator needs to summarize the discussion, reference notes they have taken, and identify next steps.  The next steps include the date, time, and location for the future meetings and tasks to complete (along with the person responsible).  These should be sent to all team members.  Depending upon the complexity and number of topics you wish to address with the team, the frequency of meetings may vary.  I believe you should meet with your advisory team at least once a year.  

    Summary

    Farm advisory teams can bring together those with diverse knowledge and skills all focused on your long-term success.  Devote time to completing a SWOT Analysis, developing your goals and areas of concern, and invite team members to join you.

    If you have questions about advisory teams, I encourage you to consult the resources listed below.  Your local Extension Educator is a great resource to help you navigate the process.

    Sources

    An Advisory Team Approach to Your Farm Management, ResearchGate, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273124170_An_Advisory_Team_Approach_to_Your_Farm_Management

    Conducting a SWOT Analysis of Your Agricultural Business, Ohio State University Extension, https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/anr-42

    Dairy Advisory Teams Tools for Facilitators, Penn State University Extension, https://extension.psu.edu/dairy-advisory-team-tools-for-facilitators

    What are Dairy Advisory Teams?  Penn State University Extension,  https://extension.psu.edu/what-are-dairy-advisory-teams

    (Originally published in Farm and Dairy, September 22, 2022)

  71. Milk Prices, Costs of Nutrients, Margins, and Comparison of Feedstuffs Prices

    April F. White, Graduate Research Associate, Department of Animal Sciences,The Ohio State University

    Milk prices

    In the last issue, the Class III futures for June and July were $24.34 and $24.47/cwt, respectively. Class III milk closing price for June was $24.33/cwt, with protein and butterfat prices at $3.42 and $3.33/lb, respectively. The component price for protein is unchanged from the May issue, with butterfat price increasing as we approach Autumn. For this issue, the Class III future for August is $20.67/cwt, continuing to further decrease in September to $20.21/cwt.

    Nutrient prices

    It can be helpful to compare the prices in Table 1 to the 5-year averages. Since the May issue, the price of metabolizable protein (MP) has decreased by about 13%, alongside a slight increase in the price of net energy for lactation (NEL). The current price of NEL and MP are about 75 and 12% higher than the 5-year averages ($0.08/Mcal and $0.41/lb, respectively), and physically effective neutral detergent fiber (pe-NDF) is about 5% lower than the 5-year average ($0.09/lb). These nutrient costs are reflective of recent trends in ingredient costs, largely following swings in the cost of protein and energy ingredients.

    To estimate profitability at these nutrient prices, the Cow-Jones Index was used for average US cows weighing 1500 lb and producing milk with 3.9% fat and 3.2% protein. For the July issue, the income over nutrient cost (IONC) for cows milking 70 and 85 lb/day is about $15.70 and $16.28/cwt, respectively. As a word of caution, these estimates of IONC do not account for the cost of replacements or dry cows, or for profitability changes related to culling cows.

    Table 1. Prices of dairy nutrients for Ohio dairy farms, July 22, 2022.

    Estimate of Nutrient Unit Costs
    Nutrient name   Estimate  
    NEl - 3X (2001)   0.147764 **
    Metabolizable Protein (MP, g/kg)   0.459976 **
    e-NDF   0.085522 ~
    ne-NDF   -0.119643 *
    - A blank means that the nutrient unit cost is likely equal to zero
    - ~ means that the nutrient unit cost may be close to zero
    - * means that the nutrient unit cost is unlikely to be equal to zero
    - ** means that the nutrient unit cost is most likely not equal to zero

    Economic Value of Feeds

    Results of the Sesame analysis for central Ohio on July 22, 2022 are presented in Table 2. Detailed results for all 26 feed commodities are reported. The lower and upper limits mark the 75% confidence range for the predicted (break-even) prices. Feeds in the “Appraisal Set” were those for which we didn’t have a local price or were adjusted to reflect their true (“Corrected”) value in a lactating diet. One must remember that SESAME™ compares all commodities at one specific point in time. Thus, the results do not imply that the bargain feeds are cheap on a historical basis. Feeds for which a price was not reported were added to the appraisal set in this issue.

    Table 2. Actual, breakeven (predicted) and 75% confidence limits of 26 feed commodities used on Ohio dairy farms, July 22, 2022.

    Calibration set
    Name Actual [/T] Predicted [/T] Lower limit Upper limit Corrected 75.0% CI 75.0% CI
    Alfalfa Hay - 40 NDF 20 CP 150 RFV 210 263.233 225.063 301.403 289.744 251.574 327.914
    Blood Meal, ring dried 1630 821.571 750.396 892.746 - - -
    Canola Meal, mech. extracted 481 323.86 308.355 339.365 - - -
    Corn Grain, ground, dry 230 304.954 269.43 340.478 - - -
    Corn Silage, 32-38% DM 60.75 100.31 87.067 113.553 100.31 87.067 113.553
    Cotton Seed Meal, 41% CP 430 389.104 364.367 413.842 - - -
    Cotton Seed, Whole w lint 440 396.189 342.135 450.244 - - -
    Distillers Dried Grains w Sol 250 311.232 285.165 337.299 - - -
    Feathers Hydrolyzed Meal 600 652.305 610.108 694.502 - - -
    Gluten Feed, dry 200 275.17 255.725 294.615 - - -
    Gluten Meal, dry 660 673.063 626.915 719.212 - - -
    Hominy 200 264.144 237.221 291.066 - - -
    Meat Meal, rendered 515 519.284 487.323 551.246 - - -
    Solvent Extracted Canola Meal 481 329.051 312.931 345.172 - - -
    Soybean Hulls 208 148.139 102.68 193.599 - - -
    Soybean Meal, expellers 534 547.72 519.828 575.612 - - -
    Soybean Meal, solvent 44% 460 410.335 388.693 431.977 - - -
    Soybean Meal, solvent, 48% 470 474.25 450.561 497.939 - - -
    Soybean Seeds, whole roasted 530 475.91 443.207 508.613 - - -
    Tallow 1145 709.85 576.69 843.01 - - -
    Wheat Bran 170 171.624 141.065 202.183 - - -
    Wheat Middlings 175 203.483 177.114 229.853 - - -
    Appraisal set
    Name Actual [/T] Predicted [/T] Pred.-Act. 75.0% CI 75.0% CI Corrected
    Alfalfa Hay - 32 NDF 24 CP 190 RFV 0 290.595 290.595 259.472 321.718 370.128
    Alfalfa Hay - 36 NDF 22 CP 170 RFV 0 287.16 287.16 252.723 321.597 340.182
    Alfalfa Hay - 44 NDF 18 CP 130 RFV 0 249.429 249.429 206.636 292.223 249.429
    Alfalfa Hay - 48 NDF 16 CP 110 RFV 0 233.153 233.153 185.126 281.18 206.642
    Bakery Byproduct Meal 0 299.521 299.521 261.036 338.007 -
    Beet Sugar Pulp, dried 0 224.624 224.624 198.274 250.974 -
    Citrus Pulp dried 0 241.904 241.904 218.093 265.714 -
    Fish Menhaden Meal, mech. 0 676.096 676.096 633.738 718.455 -
    Molasses, Sugarcane 0 219.107 219.107 186.075 252.138 -

    For convenience, Table 3 summarizes the economic classification of feeds according to their outcome in the SESAME™ analysis. Feedstuffs that have gone up in price based on current nutrient values or in other words moved a column to the right since the last issue are in oversized text. Conversely, feedstuffs that have moved to the left (i.e., decreased in value) are undersized text. These shifts (i.e., feeds moving columns to the left or right) in price are only temporary changes relative to other feedstuffs within the last two months and do not reflect historical prices. Feeds added to the appraisal set were removed from this table.

    Table 3. Partitioning of feedstuffs in Ohio, July 22, 2022.

    Bargains At Breakeven Overpriced
    Alfalfa hay - 40% NDF 48% Soybean meal Mechanically extracted canola meal
    Feather meal Soybean meal - expeller Whole roasted soybeans
    Corn silage Wheat bran

    Soybean hulls

    Distillers dried grains Gluten meal 44% Soybean meal
    Gluten feed Whole cottonseed Solvent extracted canola meal
    Meat meal   Blood meal
    Corn, ground, dry  

    41% Cottonseed meal

    Hominy    
    Wheat middlings    

    As coined by Dr. St-Pierre, I must remind the readers that these results do not mean that you can formulate a balanced diet using only feeds in the “bargains” column. Feeds in the “bargains” column offer a savings opportunity, and their usage should be maximized within the limits of a properly balanced diet. In addition, prices within a commodity type can vary considerably because of quality differences as well as non-nutritional value added by some suppliers in the form of nutritional services, blending, terms of credit, etc. Also, there are reasons that a feed might be a very good fit in your feeding program while not appearing in the “bargains” column. For example, your nutritionist might be using some molasses in your rations for reasons other than its NEL and MP contents.

    Appendix

    For those of you who use the 5-nutrient group values (i.e., replace MP by rumen degradable protein and digestible rumen undegradable protein), see Table 4 below.

    Table 4. Prices of dairy nutrients using the 5-nutrient solution for Ohio dairy farms, July 22, 2022.

    Estimate of Nutrient Unit Costs
    Nutrient name Estimate  
    NEl - 3X (2001) 0.141102 **
    RDP 0.147803 ~
    Digestible RUP 0.424871 **
    e-NDF 0.103028 ~
    ne-NDF -0.076797 ~
    - A blank means that the nutrient unit cost is likely equal to zero
    - ~ means that the nutrient unit cost may be close to zero
    - * means that the nutrient unit cost is unlikely to be equal to zero
    - ** means that the nutrient unit cost is most likely not equal to zero

     

  72. Recognizing and Managing Heat Stress in Dairy Cattle

    Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Tuscarawas County, Ohio State University Extension

    We have experienced high temperatures and uncomfortable humidity recently. These conditions are especially stressful for dairy cattle. This article will discuss the effects of and tips for managing heat stress in dairy cattle.

    Cows generate heat through normal activities of eating, walking, and producing milk. Animals become stressed when the amount of heat produced is greater than what they can get rid of through breathing, sweating, or by natural or mechanical ventilation.

    Heat stress is a concern because it costs you money. Reduced feed intake, lowered milk production, poor reproduction, and increased disease potential are all reasons to be concerned about the effects of heat stress on dairy cattle.

    When Do Animal Experience Heat Stress?

    Cows begin to feel heat stress at temperatures much lower than do people.  Depending upon their level of production, temperatures as low as 65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit can cause stress.  The table below shows the effects of the temperature-humidity index (THI) on dairy cattle stress levels.

    TableDescription automatically generated
    (Source: University of Minnesota)

    Indicators of Heat Stress

    In addition to air temperature as an indicator of potential heat stress, animals often exhibit signs that indicate their level of discomfort. These include physical appearance, respiration, body temperature, and milk production. Literature from the University of Minnesota is provided below to describe these heat stress indicators.

    Animals breathing with their mouths open and panting with an extended neck are physical signs to observe. Dairy cattle have a normal respiration rate between 40 and 60 breaths per minute. If 10% or more of the animals have a rate exceeding 100 breaths per minute, steps must be taken immediately to cool these animals.

    The normal body temperature of an adult cow is between 101.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If more than 5% of the animals have a body temperature greater than 105 degrees Fahrenheit, this is an emergency.

    Milk production declines as animals experience greater levels of heat stress.  Under mild conditions, a decline of 2.5 lb/head/day is not uncommon.  Under mild to moderate conditions, a loss of 6 lb/head/day can be expected and under moderate to severe heat stress, a decline of about 9 lb/head/day is possible.  A decrease of more than 10 lb/head/day is a life-threatening condition.

    Techniques to Minimize Heat Stress

    Penn State University recommends using heat abatement techniques including shade, air, and water (SAW). Discussion about each of these is provided below.

    Shade is used to protect animals from solar radiation and may include trees, buildings, cloth, or structures. If shade areas are constructed, a minimum of 12 feet in height is recommended.

    Air exchange and circulation are two important considerations. Providing air exchange about every minute or less is critical for removing gases, heat, and moisture from buildings.  Mechanically ventilated buildings accomplish this with fans and inlets. Naturally ventilated buildings rely on proper building orientation and wind speed to maximize air exchange.  Air circulation speeds of 3.5 to 5 miles/hour are accomplished with mechanical ventilation. The key is to use the appropriate size and number of fans strategically placed to maximize animal comfort.

    Water is necessary for drinking and evaporative cooling purposes. According to Penn State University Extension, water consumption by dairy animals can increase as much as 20% during hot weather. Make certain you have adequate supplies of high-quality water available. Water used for evaporative cooling helps increase heat transfer from the animals. There are two types of evaporative cooling systems: direct and indirect. The direct system periodically applies water to the animal’s skin to draw heat from the body. The indirect system reduces the air temperature around the animals to increase the rate of heat transfer.

    Summary

    Heat stress is a concern when managing dairy cattle during the hot and humid months of the year. If not managed, heat stress can result in animal discomfort, health concerns, reproductivity issues, reduced feed intake, and poor milk production. I encourage you to talk with your veterinarian, nutritionist, and Extension professional for additional advice in managing heat stress.

    Sources:

    Heat Stress in Dairy Cattle, University of Minnesota

    Heat Stress Abatement Techniques for Dairy Cattle, Penn State University Extension
    (Originally published in Farm & Dairy, July 15, 2022)

  73. Summer Mastitis – Insights on cause, signs, and prevention

    Dr. Luciana da Costa, Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, The Ohio State University

    Although it can happen year-round, cases of summer mastitis as the name implies increases from June to August, as the combination of wet weather and warmer temperatures encourage fly activity. It can affect beef and dairy cattle (heifers and dry cows as well). Below we briefly discuss the cause, the signs, and prevention measures for this important disease.

    Cause

    The primary causal organism is the bacteria Trueperella pyogenes (previously classified as CorynebacteriumActinomyces and Arcanobacterium) in combination (or not) with other organisms (Streptococcus spp, Fusobacterium spp) to cause infection. Important to consider in the pathogenicity of disease are factors intrinsic to Trueperella pyogenes, such as the presence of virulence factors related to tissue damage (pyolisin) and others associated with mucosal adherence and colonization (neuraminidases, fimbriae, and collagen-binding protein). Additionally, Hydrotaea irritans, an insect closely related to the housefly is commonly considered to be the primary vector for the bacteria to cause summer mastitis in cattle. However, not only the presence of flies can cause the disease, but damage to the teat, trauma and irritation of the udder are also important risk factors.

    Signs and Symptoms

    Summer mastitis is a severe form of mastitis, causing udder damage with cows presenting high temperature and toxemia. Infected quarters become swollen, hard to touch, and not uncommonly lost. When stripping the infected quarter, the content can present a malodorous smell, and curds/traces of blood may appear as the damage to tissue progresses. Other symptoms can include irritability (as large numbers of flies often group around the udder, causing cows to kick frequently), high somatic cell count, reduction in milk yield, and a tendency toward increased culling risk since the recovery rate is low, even when treatment starts at an early stage. Still, some farmers decide to accept a loss in milk yield and sacrifice the infected quarter to save the cow – imperative in those cases is an early start on treatment and careful evaluation to preserve animal well-being. Better yet is to invest in preventive measures to reduce the chance of cows becoming sick.

    Prevention Measures and Treatment

    Not different from other diseases, prevention is the ideal strategy as much as possible. The main topics that should be considered to prevent or ultimately treat those affected cows include:

    1. Fly control is the first line of defense against summer mastitis. In a non-organic system, a pour-on suspension applied early in the grazing season before eggs and larvae start to develop will prevent the fly population from being out of control. Several synthetic pour-on products, such as permethrin and deltamethrin, are available to control flies. Those products that are to be applied along the back of the animal usually will give protection for 4 weeks, but in times when the incidence of summer mastitis is high, they should be considered more frequently. Be aware of withdrawal time that varies among products (meat from 3 to 14 days and milk from 0 to 6 hours). Organic farms cannot apply these products and should rely on other strategies, such as fly traps, grazing management, teat stripping, and isolation of the animal (details below).
    1. Grazing Conditions. Reduce larval habitats attractive to flies by removing overgrown vegetation and tall weeds which can provide cover for flies. Also, keep the area dry by eliminating standing water. Avoid cows to be near areas where likely there will be high numbers of active flies, such as soggy pastures and fields next to dense woods where flies can shelter.
    1. Teat Damage. Monitoring fly numbers surrounding the udder is advised as a great number of flies will increase the likelihood of infection. Animals with any teat damage should be housed if possible.
    1. Isolation of infected animals varies in accordance to the evaluation of condition or teat damage and the number of flies present in the environment. Affected animals should be isolated for better monitoring.
    1. Stripping of the udder should be undertaken as often as practical but could present a challenge due to the painful and edematous teat/gland. Be careful when doing this as kicking is common due to discomfort. When stripping, please use a container (not stripping on the floor) to avoid the risk of spreading infection. More details on stripping can be found in English Stripping to control mastitis - what are the facts behind it_Final_English.pdf (osu.edu) or Spanish Stripping to control mastitis - what are the facts behind it_SPANISH_Final.pdf (osu.edu).
    1. Consult your veterinarian that will consider various drugs, including parenteral antibiotic injections and/or intramammary antibiotics as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce fever, swelling, and pain.
  74. Seeding Perennial Forages in Late Summer

    Dr. Mark Sulc, Professor and Extension Forage Specialist, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, The Ohio State University

    August is the second good window of opportunity of the year for establishing perennial forages, spring being the first good planting time when conditions allow. August is also the ideal time for filling in gaps in seedings made this spring. The primary risk with late summer forage seedings is having sufficient moisture for seed germination and good plant establishment before cold weather arrives. The decision to plant should be made for each individual field, considering soil moisture status and the rainfall forecast. Rainfall and adequate soil moisture in the few weeks immediately after seeding is the primary factor affecting successful forage establishment. It is best to not use a companion crop with new late summer forage seedings because the companion crop can compete for moisture and slow the development of the desirable forage stand enough to compromise its winter survival.

    No-Till Seedings

    No-till seeding is an excellent choice to conserve soil moisture for seed germination in late summer. Make sure that the field surface is relatively level and smooth if you plan to no-till because you will have to live with any field roughness for multiple years of harvesting operations. No-till into wheat stubble would be an excellent option.

    Sclerotinia crown and stem rot is a concern with no-till seedings of alfalfa or red clover in late summer in fields with a recent history of red clover. This pathogen causes white mold on alfalfa and clover seedlings and infects plants during the cool rainy spells in late October and November. Early August plantings dramatically improve the ability of alfalfa to resist or tolerate the infection. Late August or early September seedings are very susceptible to this disease, with mid-August plantings being intermediate.

    In a no-till situation, minimize competition from existing weeds by applying glyphosate burndown before planting. Herbicide-resistant weeds, such as marestail, create a very difficult situation, and there are no effective control options in no-till management, so conventional tillage for seedbed prep is probably a better choice in those situations.  

    Conventional Tillage Seedings

    Prepare a firm seedbed to ensure good seed-to-soil contact. Be aware that too much tillage depletes soil moisture and increases the risk of soil crusting. Follow the "footprint guide" that soil should be firm enough for a footprint to sink no deeper than one-half inch.  Tilled seedbeds usually do not need a pre-plant herbicide. 

    Patching Spring Seedings

    Where gaps exist in seedings made this spring, it is possible to drill in seed now, even in alfalfa. Autotoxicity will not be a limiting factor in alfalfa seedings made this spring. Alfalfa plants that are less than a year old do not release enough autotoxic compounds into the surrounding soil to harm new seedlings of alfalfa. So, this summer is the last opportunity to try to “patch-in” alfalfa in thin areas of alfalfa stands seeded this spring. By next spring, autotoxicity will be a concern.

    Grass and/or broadleaf weeds are probably present in thin or weak areas of new spring seedings. As soon as possible, consider applying a grass herbicide to pure legume stands or a broadleaf herbicide if needed in pure grass stands. If broadleaf weeds are present in legume stands or mixed grass-legume stands, effective herbicide options are much more limited because most broadleaf herbicides labeled for use in alfalfa or other legume forages are only effective when the weeds are quite small. Before applying a herbicide, check the label for pre-plant time intervals that may be required. Use only herbicides with little or no time interval between application and seeding forages. Take a cutting in early August and then immediately drill seed into the thin areas. Try to time drilling the seed when you see some rain in the forecast, especially if the soil is dry.

    The following steps improve the chances for stand establishment success, regardless of what type of seeding you are making:

    • Soil fertility and pH: The recommended soil pH for alfalfa is 6.5 to 6.8. Forage grasses and clovers should have a pH of 6.0 or above. The optimal soil phosphorus level for forage legumes is 30 to 50 ppm Mehlich-3 and for grasses 20 to 30 ppm Mehlich-3. The optimal soil potassium level is 120 to 170 ppm for most of our soils.
    • Check herbicide history of field. A summary table of herbicide rotation intervals for alfalfa and clovers is available at  http://go.osu.edu/herbrotationintervals.  Forage grasses are not included in that table, so check the labels of any herbicides applied to the field in the last 2 years for any restrictions that might exist for forage grass seedings.
    • Seed selection: Be sure to use high quality seed of adapted varieties and use fresh inoculum of the proper Rhizobium bacteria for legume seeds. “Common” seed (variety not stated) is usually lower yielding and not as persistent, and from our trials, the savings in seed cost is lost within the first year or two through lower forage yields.
    • Planting date: Planting of alfalfa and other legumes should be completed between late July and mid-August in Northern Ohio and between early and late August in Southern Ohio. Most cool-season perennial grasses can be planted a little later. Check the Ohio Agronomy Guide for specific guidelines (see http://go.osu.edu/forage-seeding-dates).
    • Planter calibration: If coated seed is used, be aware that coatings can account for up to one-third of the weight of the seed. This affects the number of seeds planted in planters set to plant seed on a weight basis. Seed coatings can also dramatically alter how the seed flows through the drill, so calibrate the drill or planter with the seed to be planted and don’t depend on planter calibration charts. There is an excellent video on calibrating drills available at https://forages.osu.edu/video.
    • Seed placement: The recommended seeding depth for forages is one-quarter to one-half inch deep. It is better to err on the side of planting shallow rather than too deep.

    Do not harvest a new perennial forage stand this fall. The ONLY exception to this rule is perennial and Italian ryegrass plantings.  Mow or harvest those grasses to a stubble height of two and a half to three inches in late November to improve winter survival.  Do NOT cut any other forage species in the fall, especially legumes.

    Scout your new forage seeding this fall on a regular basis. Post-emergence herbicide options exist for alfalfa to control late summer and fall emerging winter annual broadleaf weeds. A mid- to late fall application of Butyrac (2,4-DB), bromoxynil, Pursuit, or Raptor are the primary herbicide options for winter annual broadleaf weeds. Fall application is much more effective than a spring application for control of these weeds, especially if wild radish/wild turnip are in the weed mix.  Pursuit and Raptor can control winter annual grasses in the fall in pure legume stands but cannot be used in a mixed alfal