Buckeye Dairy News : Volume 12 Issue 1

  1. Reviewing Nutrient Costs: 2009 vs. 2008 vs. 2007 Harvest Years

    Dr. Joanne Knapp, Principal Technical Consultant, Fox Hollow Consulting, Columbus, OH (top of page) pdf file

    The cost of providing NEl Net Energy of Lactation) in dairy rations this harvest year is closely paralleling the 2008-2009 crop year and is substantially down from the 2007-2008 crop year (Figure 1).  In contrast, the cost of providing MP (Metabolizable Protein) is averaging higher than in the 2008-2009 crop year and twice that of the 2007-2008 crop year (Figure 2).  Much of this cost is due to the price of feedstuffs that supply “bypass” or rumen undegradable protein, including the animal proteins (blood meal, hydrolyzed feather meal, and meat and bone meal), corn gluten meal, and whole cottonseed.  Given the decreases in the livestock and poultry industries in terms of placement and slaughter numbers, the supply of the animal proteins will likely continue to be limited relative to demand and prices will stay up.  However, don’t take these as golden predictions; I’m neither an economist, nor do I have a magic crystal ball!

     

    Fig 1 and 2

    For a cow producing 75 lb milk with 3.7% milkfat and 3.0% true protein, the NEl and MP costs are predicted to currently be $2.30 and $2.64/head/day, respectively. The MP is now the most expensive nutrient in a dairy ration.  To obtain the most value out of the MP fed to your dairy cows, you should work closely with your nutritionist and feed company representative to ensure that the feeds used to provide rumen undegradable protein are high quality (highly digestible and consistent in nutrient content) and that rumen function and microbial growth are optimized.  Balancing for amino acids will also allow the cows to use the MP more efficiently.

    The cost of the key nutrients was estimated using Sesame III software, and break-even prices of commodities and forages used in dairy rations were predicted (Table 1).  The NEl is estimated at 6.6¢, a small decrease from December’s value.  The MP at 50.7¢/lb is down from December, but is still high.  Non-effective neutral detergent fiber (neNDF) and effective NDF (eNDF) are relatively unchanged at –8.7 and 5.5¢/lb, respectively.  It is common for neNDF to be negative, as feeds that have high levels of this nutrient such as by-products like distillers’ grains, corn gluten feed, etc. are discounted in the market relative to other feeds.  Good- to high-quality, home-grown forages continue to be an excellent and inexpensive source of effective NDF.  Overall, we have not seen as many changes in feed prices post-harvest as we would in most years.

    Based on mid December wholesale prices for central Ohio, feed commodities fall into three groups:

    Bargains

    At Breakeven

    Overpriced

    Corn grain, ground
    Corn silage
    Cottonseed meal, 41% CP
    Distillers’ grains w/sol
    Expeller soybean meal
    Feather meal
    Gluten feed
    Meat and bone meal
    Soybean meal, 48% CP
    Wheat midds

    Alfalfa hay, 44%NDF 20%CP
    Brewers' grains, wet
    Cottonseed, whole
    Hominy
    Soybeans, whole

    Bakery byproduct
    Blood meal
    Canola meal
    Fish meal
    Gluten meal
    Molasses
    Soybean meal, 44% CP
    Soyhulls
    Tallow
    Wheat bran

    The usual caveats with Sesame III™ results apply. You cannot formulate a balanced diet using only the feeds in the Bargains column.  These feeds represent savings opportunities and can be utilized in rations to reduce feed costs within limitations for providing a balanced nutrient supply to the dairy cow.  Prices for commodities can vary 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.  Feeds may also bring value to a ration in addition to their nutrient value, e.g. tallow as a “carrier” and dust suppressant in vitamin/mineral pre-mixes and molasses as a source of sugars. 

    The detailed results of the Sesame III™ analysis are given in Table 1.  The lower and upper limits give the 75% confidence range for the predicted Break-Even prices.  Feeds in the “Appraisal Set” are either those that were completely out of price range (outliers) or had unknown prices, such as the alfalfa hays of different nutritional quality.   

    Table 1.  Prices of dairy nutrients, and actual wholesale, breakeven (predicted) and 75%
    confidence limits for feed commodities used on Ohio dairy farms.

    Table 1

  2. MarketView...U.S. Dairy Outlook Brief March 2010

    Dr. Cameron Thraen, Extension Dairy Specialist, The Ohio State University

    The MarketView installment of Buckeye Dairy News, December 2009, discussed the relationship between the annualized rate of change in U.S. milk production and the level of the Class 3 milk price.  In that piece, I stressed the point that in order from U.S. milk prices to move up sharply and get back into the plus $16 level, the United States dairy herd would have to contract to less than 9 million head.  This would contract U.S milk production to the extent necessary for weak domestic and international demand to balance out with supply and produce stronger prices.  Now with the latest USDA milk production report released, it does not appear that we are headed in that direction going into 2010.

    In this edition, I will take a look at the relationship between the change in the number of U.S. milk cows by month and the annualized rate of change in U.S. milk production.  My comments center on the two charts shown below.

    The first chart shows the change in the number of milk cows, from December 2008 through February 2010.  January 2009 was the first month, going back to January 2004, which milk cow numbers in the United States did not increase from the prior month.  Over the next 12 months, the number of milk cows in the U.S. dairy herd declined each month from the prior month.  The total net decline in 2009 over 2008 was 224,000 head.  The decline in average number of milk cows, 2008 to 2009, was 115,000 head.  It is important to recognize that of the 224,000 head removed from the U.S. dairy herd in 2009, 201,500 were removed under the purchase-slaughter program of the Cooperative Working Together (CWT).  The non-CWT removal over the entire year was only 22,700 head.

    Change in Number

    By the end of 2009, the net decline in the number of milk cows in the United States had slowed considerable, with only a 3,000 head reduction in November to December.  With the release of the January and February 2010 milk cow number estimates by the United States Department of Agriculture, the U.S. dairy herd has begun to expand once again, increasing 6,000 head over the December 2009 level.  With strong economic recovery in the domestic market and the international market yet to appear, this is not good for hopes of a stronger milk price in coming months.

    Now look at the second chart.  This chart shows the annualized rate of change, growth or decline, in U.S. milk production over the December 2008 through February 2010 period.  The chart shows a significant production adjustment to support level prices in February 2009 followed by positive but nearly zero growth March through July 2009.   What is also evident from the data is the fact that U.S. milk production growth, while slowing down considerably, did not contract in any meaningful way until the last 6 months of 2009.  Over this period, U.S. milk production capacity contracted at an annualized rate of +0.6 of a percent each month through January 2010.  In February 2010, milk production capacity in the United States ceased contracting and turned in a slightly positive growth.  This is the result of increasing output per cow and more cows in milk.

    Annualized Rate

    The question is what will happen as we move further into 2010?  Has the U.S. dairy financial situation turned a corner, with feed costs, utility and fuel costs enough lower, resulting in a return to marginal profitability for dairy farms?  Is this reversal in the contraction of the U.S. dairy herd merely a short-term pause before regaining momentum for another contraction as happened back in 2002-2003?

    The answer to these questions will determine what market price outlook will be for the rest of 2010.  The USDA reports show that there are considerable dairy product stocks in inventory, especially cheese, and a return to positive growth in dairy cow numbers and with it milk production will mean that the modest gains in prices to date will be unsustainable in the coming months.  If this happens, this will place renewed pressure on the already financial strapped dairy farm sector, and we could very likely see a renewed exodus of milk cows beginning in the second half of 2010, as ag lenders finally close the books on underwater dairy farmers.  It would be a positive sign to see the number of milk cows contract again in the coming months.  The CWT has announced that it will resume export subsidies for cheese in an attempt to remove some of the overburden.  A renewed CWT dairy herd removal would also help at this stage; however, after the significant effort in 2009, this does not appear too likely in the coming months.

    The current Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) futures market is forecasting a Class 3 milk price for the April through December 2010 at $14.50/cwt.  This is down $1.00/cwt over the last 2 months as CME cheese, butter, and non-fat dry milk markets have all lost ground over the past 8 weeks of trading. 

    This would be a good time to learn more about the use of futures and options to protect your milk price should a pricing opportunity arise in the coming weeks or months.  Also, consider learning more about the Livestock Gross Margin Insurance product available to dairy producers.  Each of these programs provides a management tool to assist you in protecting your milk price in 2010 and 2011.  You can find out more about this by visiting my website: http://aede.osu.edu/programs/ohiodairy.  Look for the links to Livestock Gross Margin Insurance or Price Risk Management.

  3. Milk Production for Ohio Dairy Herds

    Dr. Maurice Eastridge, Extension Dairy Specialist, The Ohio State University

    It is always important to monitor the yield of milk and the composition of milk, especially for the individual farmer, because the income of the dairy farm depends on this source of revenue. The yields of protein and fat are the primary determinants of the price received by farmers. The proportions of fat and protein are useful in monitoring cow health and feeding practices within a farm. The income over feed costs (IOFC) and feed costs per hundred of milk are important monitors of costs of milk production.

    The average production of milk, fat, and protein by breed for Ohio dairy herds in 2009 using the Dairy Herd Improvement (DHI; http://www.dhiohio.com) program (official test option only) are provided in the Table 1. Not all herds on DHI are included in the table below because of the different testing options offered by DHI, some herds opt for no release of records, lack of sufficient number of test dates, and given that some of the herds consist of other breeds than the ones shown. Over the past 15 years for official herds on DHI, the number of Ayrshire cows has dropped by about 30%, Brown Swiss and Jersey dropped by about 50%, Guernsey dropped by about 80%, Holstein dropped by about 65%, and the mixed breed has increased by almost two-fold, reflective of the cross-breeding that is occurring today in dairy herds. During the same time period, the number of dairy farms in Ohio has decreased by about 50%.

    Table 1.  Number of herds, milk yield, milk fat, and milk protein by breed for Ohio herds on DHI during 2009.

    Breed

    Number of Herds

    Milk (lb/lactation)

    Milk fat (%)

    Milk protein (%)

    Ayrshire

    12

    16,722

    3.95

    3.20

    Brown Swiss

    16

    19,328

    4.01

    3.38

    Guernsey

    5

    14,481

    4.51

    3.33

    Holstein

    319

    23,287

    3.72

    3.06

    Jersey

    49

    16,914

    4.87

    3.66

    Mixed

    45

    19,365

    3.80

    3.19

    Some dairy industry statistics for Ohio and the US are provided in Table 2. Over the past 15 years, the average herd size in Ohio has almost doubled. The average herd size of DHI herds has increased by 60%, slightly less than the Ohio average. Although the number of herds on DHI has decreased, the proportion of herds on official DHI test has remained about the same over the past 15 years (~15%). It is important to note that many others herds are on other testing options with DHI, which overall has increased the proportion of herds using DHI services compared to several years ago. The average milk yield per cow, whether for all Ohio, Ohio herds on DHI, or for the US, has increased 1 to 2% per year. As has been discussed for a long time, the average milk yield in Ohio is lower that for the US, about 1800 lb in 2009. Some of this has been attributed to forage quality issues in Ohio and a higher proportion of colored breeds (especially Jersey) in Ohio compared to most other states. The average milk yield for Ohio DHI herds is higher than the average milk yield in Ohio and the US.  Over the past 15 years, the average milk yield of Ohio DHI herds has been about 3400 lb higher than the average for all herds in Ohio. Even at $15/cwt, that would equate to about an additional $500/cow per year or $50,000 for a 100-cow herd or $250,000 for a 500-cow herd. But as we know, being average is not the benchmark in being able to survive in today’s dairy industry. The high DHI Holstein herd in 2009 averaged 33,225 lb/cow (150-cow herd) and the high Ohio Holstein herd in 1995 averaged 29,423 lb/cow (123 cows), each being 43% and 50%, respectively above the DHI breed average. With today’s high cost of production, the benchmark has to be set at being above “average”.

    Table 2. Dairy industry statistics from 1995 to 2010.

    All Ohio Herds

    Ohio DHI Herds2

    U.S.


    Year


    #Head1


    #Farms

    Cows/ farm


    Milk/cow (lb)


    # Farms


    Cows/ farm

    Milk/cow (lb)

    Milk/cow (lb)

    1995

    289

    6800

    43

    15,917

    1155

    77

    18,930

    16,405

    1996

    285

    6500

    44

    15,298

    1084

    79

    18,640

    16,433

    1997

    280

    6000

    47

    15,768

    962

    83

    19,580

    16,871

    1998

    264

    5900

    45

    16,705

    905

    85

    19,162

    17,185

    1999

    260

    5700

    46

    17,077

    833

    88

    19,371

    17,763

    2000

    262

    5500

    48

    17,027

    816

    95

    19,808

    18,197

    2001

    260

    5200

    50

    16,519

    736

    91

    19,365

    18,162

    2002

    262

    5000

    52

    17,080

    848

    88

    19,930

    18,608

    2003

    260

    4700

    55

    17,269

    734

    103

    20,718

    17,759

    2004

    263

    4500

    58

    17,338

    742

    114

    20,936

    18,960

    2005

    270

    4400

    61

    17,567

     

     

     

    19,550

    2006

    274

    4300

    64

    17,737

    613

    126

    22,172

    19,895

    2007

    275

    3700

    74

    18,042

    678

    148

    22,754

    20,204

    2008

    280

     

     

    18,321

    573

    130

    22,094

    20,395

    2009

    277

     

     

    18,744

    447

    126

    22,178

    20,576

    2010

    272

    3275

    83

     

     

     

     

     

    1Number of head x 1000.
    2Herds on official DHI test only.

  4. Bovine Calving Management: Impact of Dystocia on Dairy Calves and Cows

    Dr. Gustavo Schuenemann, Extension Veterinarian, Veterinary Preventive Medicine, The Ohio State University 

    Dystocia is defined as an abnormal or difficult birth at any stage of labor. Dystocia has a direct negative impact on calves (e.g., prolonged hypoxia, significant acidosis, vigor, increased stillborn calves, etc.) and dams (e.g., trauma, paresis, metritis, endometritis, etc.). Stillbirth is defined as a calf born dead or dead within 24 hours after birth.1 Based on the degree of difficulty/assistance during calving, dystocia can be classified in five categories (1-5 scores): 1 = births without assistance, 2 = required some intervention by one person, 3 = required assistance of 2 or more people, 4 = required mechanical extraction, and 5 = required surgical procedure.1 The main causes of dystocia are: 1) fetal-maternal size mismatch, 2) fetal malpresentation, and 3) dam related causes (e.g., uterine torsion). The fetal-maternal size mismatch (e.g., bull calves) is the most frequent cause of dystocia in primiparus dams, while fetal malpresentation and/or maternal related causes is the most frequent causes of dystocia in multiparus dairy cows. Overall, the frequency of dystocia (required assistance during calving) is higher in primiparus (19%) than multiparus cows (11%; Figure 1).2 However, in some dairy herds and especially in primiparus dams, more than half (51.2%) of the calves required assistance during calving.1

    Severe dystocia is associated with increased risk of stillbirths, calves’ morbidity (e.g., respiratory diseases) and deaths within 30 days post-calving.1 Additionally, postpartum cows subjected to severe dystocia are at increased risk of uterine diseases (e.g., retained fetal membranes, metrtitis, and endometritis) and are exposed to contamination of the uterus by recognized uterine pathogens (e.g., E. coli, A. pyogenes) that are associated with ovarian dysfunction (e.g., smaller follicle size, lower plasma estradiol and prolonged luteal phase).4  

    Recognizing the signs of calving: The normal calving process is classified into three stages, and recognizing the stages is critical for a successful outcome (for the dam and the calf).

    • Stage I: is characterized by dilation of the birth canal and cervix, and initiation of uterine contraction. Usually, the cow/heifer is off-feed and appears restless. This stage lasts for approximately 2 to 6 hours in mature cows, but it may be longer in heifers.
    • Stage II: is characterized by the appearance of the amniotic sac (or water bag), uterine and abdominal contractions are evident, and this stage ends with the expulsion of the calf (or calves). This stage lasts for approximately 2 hours in cows and up to 4 hours in first calving heifers. It is critical that good progress is observed during this stage to determine whether an intervention is required. If there is abdominal contraction but no calving progress after 1 hour of the water bag appearance, intervention is required.
    • Stage III: is characterized by the expulsion of the fetal membranes (placenta). Usually, the fetal membranes are expelled within 3 hours of delivery. If the fetal membranes are not expelled within 8 to 12 hours post-calving, treatment might be needed.

    When to intervene: Being able to recognize the calving stages (and signs) in a timely manner is critical for positive outcomes. Generally, once the water bag appears (or is broken), birth should occur within 2 hours for mature cows (and longer for heifers; ~2 to 4 hours). As a guideline, the cow/heifer needs intervention when there is not calving progress within 1 hour after the water bag’s appearance. The frequency of observations (approximately every 2 to 3 hours for first calving heifers and 4 to 5 hours for adult cows) is critical to determine when to start counting.

    Guidelines for calving assistance:

    • Hygiene should be a top priority. Wash the perennial region with soap and water, and use obstetrical lubricant and long sleeves.
    • Check the size of the fetus in relation to the size of the birth canal (dam). Call your veterinarian if there is no progress within 30 minutes after your intervention.
    • Use clean and sanitized obstetric chains (free of debris/dirt) and correct any malpresentation and/or malposition before pulling.
    • For first calving heifers, once the nose/feet of the calf are out: help finish.
    • For backward presentation: help out.  
    • Have written calving protocols for your dairy personnel (e.i., frequency of observations, when/how it is appropriate to intervene, etc.).

    Implications: Losses due to dystocia can be very costly to dairy producers through an increased number of stillbirths and injury to dams. However, the impact of dystocia also compromises reproductive performance of lactating dairy cows, leading to increased uterine diseases, ovarian dysfunction, and decreased fertility. Therefore, education of dystocia management (and it effects on calves and dams) to dairy personnel should be a priority.

    For more information, please consult with your local veterinarian or visit our web site (http://cvm.osu.edu/5997.htm).

    Figure 1

    References

    1. Lombard, J.E., F.B. Garry, S.M. Tomlinson, and L.P. Garber. 2007. Impacts of dystocia on health and survival of dairy calves. J. Dairy Sci. 90:1751-1760.
    2. USDA:APHIS:VS:CEAH. 2007. Calving intervention on US dairy operations. Accessed on Mach 19, 2010; http://www.aphis.usda.gov/vs/ceah/ncahs/nahms/dairy/.
    3. Integrated Livestock Management. Colorado State University. Accessed on March 2010; http://www.cvmbs.colostate.edu/ilm/proinfo/calving/notes/home.htm.
    4. Sheldon, I.M., J. Cronin, L. Goetze, G. Donofrio, and H-J. Schuberth. 2009. Defining postpartum uterine disease and the mechanisms of infection and immunity in the female reproductive tract in cattle. Biol Reprod 81:1025-1032.
  5. Weebles Wobble

    Ms. Dianne Shoemaker, Extension Dairy Specialist, Ohio State University Extension (top of page) pdf file

    “Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down” was a popular slogan touting egg-shaped toys popular in the 1970’s. These toys (including a farm set complete with a purple cow) are weighted at the larger end, so even when pushed all the way over onto their sides, they quickly spring back up when released.  Many dairy farms feel like that weeble cow, pushed way, way over by industry pressures.  The question is, can they quickly spring back up when the pressure is relieved?  That isn’t a simple question. While price pressure has eased somewhat, with Class III futures prices for March through July averaging under $13.20 as of this writing, we are looking at potential farm gate prices that will not reach the total cost of production on most farms.  Again - just in time for spring planting, when cash flow demands are highest. So, we have to ask a few uncomfortable questions:  “Where is the point where my dairy can’t bounce back?”  and “What should we monitor to know if we are getting close to that point?”  I would suggest several key numbers should be calculated and monitored:

    Key Numbers

    Competitive Level

    Debt to asset ratio

    < 40%

    Debt per cow

    $2,500 to $3,500 per cow

    Scheduled debt payment per cow (annual)

    < 15% of gross receipts
    -or-  < $500 per cow

    Working Capital

    15 to 25% of annual expenses

    Why?  On average, dairy farms added $1,000 of debt per cow in 2009, just for the privilege of continuing to milk cows.  While this number will vary from farm to farm based on costs of production, cash reserves and milk pricing strategies, this additional debt has to be carefully managed.  Like it or not, this has huge ramifications for future profitability.  Unless the debt will be repaid by some other non-cow source of income, we have to ask our cows to work harder simply to repay 2009’s additional debt.  These key numbers are relatively simple to calculate.  “Dairy Excel’s 15 Measures of Dairy Farm Competitiveness” lays out the formulas, including an example calculation and information for each key number.  The 15 Measures bulletin is available through your Extension office, or easily downloaded at https://dairy.osu.edu.  Look under the “New Publications” heading on the home page.  A final, critical key number for your dairy farm business is the cost of producing milk per cwt.  Knowing this number gives you a pretty specific indicator of when the dairy is likely to return to profitability based on projected milk prices.  A set of worksheets to guide you through the process of calculating both historic and projected costs of production is also available at https://dairy.osu.edu under the “Timely Articles” heading.  The cost of production number, combined with the 4 key numbers above will help each farm define the point where the business is unlikely to be able to bounce back.What a miserable topic.  However, on an individual farm basis, an important one.  We are not just talking about dairy farm businesses in an abstract sense.  We are talking about people, families, lives.  People who have committed to building or carrying on a dairy farm business because they love cows and farming.  People who are providing jobs to other people and families.  So why talk about it?  Because it does involve people and what they have worked hard to build.  Because it is better to anticipate and proactively deal with the potential situation and preserve as much of the equity that people have built through the years than to wait until it is all gone and someone else makes the decision for you.

  6. Bovine Calving Management Training: Dystocia and Calf Care

    Dr. Gustavo M. Schuenemann, Extension Veterinarian, Veterinary Preventive Medicine, The Ohio State University

    This bovine calving management course available from Veterinary Extension within the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine offers educational knowledge and skills in a face-to-face and hands-on workshop environment for dairy personnel (Spanish- and English speaking workers). The course provides a framework to develop applied skills on bovine calving management for immediate use. Identification of calving signs, normal and abnormal presentations, techniques for assisting delivery, record-keeping, good hygiene practices, and management of the newborn will be covered in this short course. The course includes classroom instruction, followed by a hands-on wet lab in which participants will practice delivery techniques and newborn care management practices. The course lecture materials and notes will be available in Spanish and/or English. For more information, contact Dr. Gustavo Schuenemann at schuenemann.5@osu.edu or 614-292-6924.

  7. 2010 Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference

    Dr. Maurice Eastridge, Extension Dairy Specialist, The Ohio State University

    The 19th annual Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference will be held April 20 & 21, 2010 at the Grand Wayne Center, Ft. Wayne, IN. The objective of the Conference is to disseminate current information on the nutrition and feeding of dairy cattle, primarily to individuals who provide nutritional advice to dairy farmers. Feed industry personnel, nutrition consultants, Extension personnel, veterinarians, and interested dairy producers are encouraged to attend. The Conference is sponsored by The Ohio State, Michigan State, and Purdue Universities and allied industries. The registration fee is $165 per person (discounts are available for groups of 5 or more) and is due by April 9, 2010. Registration after the deadline and at the door is $195. The registration fee includes refreshments during breaks and the reception, one breakfast, and a copy of the Proceedings. Additional copies of the Proceedings will be available at $20/copy.

    A free pre-conference program is sponsored by Zinpro. This program takes place from 8:30 to 11:30 am on April 20, with a complimentary breakfast starting at 7:30 am. Registration for the TSDNC begins at 11:00 am on April 20, with the program starting at 12:50 pm. The Conference concludes at 12:30 PM on April 21. The themes this year are Nutrition and Animal Health; Heifer Management; and Feeding Program Management.
    For additional information on the Conference or to register, contact Michelle Milligan at OSU (614) 292-7374 or go to our web site: http://tristatedairy.osu.edu. Additional information also is available by contacting: Dr. Maurice Eastridge, The Ohio State University, (614) 688-3059; Dr. David Beede, Michigan State University, (517) 432-5400; or Dr. Tamilee Nennich, Purdue University, (765) 494-4823.

  8. 2010 Midwest Dairy Challenge

    Dr. Maurice Eastridge, Extension Dairy Specialist, The Ohio State University

    The sixth annual Midwest Dairy Challenge drew 66 dairy and animal science students from 15 universities and colleges to the Shisler Center in Wooster, Ohio, February 11-13, 2010. This year’s contest was hosted by The Ohio State University and the allied dairy industry.  Students from Ohio State participating in the contest were Ryan Conklin, Annie Eilenfeld, Heather Moff, Amanda Paulhamus, and Teresa Smith.  Working in four- or five-person, mixed-university teams, students assessed all aspects of a working dairy farm and then presented their highest priority recommendations to a panel of judges and the dairy business owners. Judges chose three teams as Platinum winners, the contest’s highest distinction. The individuals who comprised these teams were Holly Bruns, South Dakota State; Ryan Conklin, Ohio State; Sabrina Eick, OSU-ATI; Andrea Eilenfeld, Ohio State; Allison Flinn, Iowa State; Tricia Gates, Lakeshore Technical College; Nathanial Guy, OSU-ATI; Katherine Harmelink, UW-Madison; David Hutchinson, UW-Platteville; Darci O’Brien, UW-Madison; Brenda Reiter, University of Minnesota; Stephanie Retz, UW-River Falls; Natalie Schreyer, Kansas State; and Ed Weisgarber, OSU-ATI.

    The host farms for the 2010 Midwest Dairy Challenge were Steinhurst Dairy and Ayers Family Dairy. Steinhurst Dairy is a seventh-generation dairy farm.  Myron Steiner and his three sons, Carlton, David and John, started with a 25-cow dairy in 1959. As time progressed, David and John took over the day-to-day operations. The family formed an LLC in 1995 with John, David, and David’s sons, Eric and Kurt. After the untimely death of David Steiner last February, the operation reorganized its leadership with John, Kurt, and Eric. All three of them are involved in various aspects of the operation.  Currently, the farm consists of 410 milking cows and 1,200 acres. The Ayers Family Dairy is certainly a family-operated dairy farm. Carl Ayers returned home in 1968 to assume management responsibilities along with his brother, Steve, and parents Ed and Ina. Carl’s wife Janet and Steve’s wife Deb help manage the dairy full-time as well. Kathy Davis returned to help manage the farming operation full-time in 1994.  Jesse Ayers returned to help manage the farming operation full-time in 2002. David Ayers is currently helping with the farming operation and taking agronomy courses in crop and soil science at OSU-ATI.  Today, the herd consists of 693 cows and 630 heifers. THANKS is extended to the Ayers and Steiner families for hosting this outstanding program.