Buckeye Dairy News : Volume 18, Issue 2

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

    Mr. Alex Tebbe, Graduate Research Associate, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    The Ugly Side: Milk Prices

    In the last issue, the price of class III milk closed at $14.47/cwt for January and the February future price was expected to fall even farther to $13.64/cwt. Fortunately, February closed slightly higher than expected at $13.80/cwt, but April futures are expected to drop slightly to $13.74/cwt. The Class IV futures prices are below the Class III at $12.75/cwt. These lower prices probably explain the 11 and 32% increase of cheese and butter, respectively, in cold storage since one year ago (according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service). The USDA did report, however, that US cows produced around 79 lb/cow more milk for the month of February compared to February of 2015, but this likely was due to the extra day we get for the leap year. According to Robin Schmahl, commodity broker and owner of AgDairy LLC, US and internationally analysts are continuing to push back price recovery into 2017 and this, in effect, may significantly reduce milk production for 2016.

    However, we are not the only ones struggling with low milk prices in the world. Across the pond, British dairy farmers have taken their struggle with low milk prices by protesting in the streets of London, cows and all. Let’s keep our cows at home along with the hoof trimmer, and instead, take this time to gain profit by improving herd genetics, maximizing feed efficiency, or focusing on the oncoming planting and hay season.

    The Good Side: Nutrient Prices

    Feed prices have continued to stay low, and as in the last issue, the cost of metabolizable protein is continuing to drop. However, the cost of alfalfa hay went up $10/ton and is now on average $240/ton for 20% crude protein. Hopefully, producers have stored enough hay to carry themselves into the first cutting. It may also be profitable to limit alfalfa in rations by substituting other sources of physically effective fiber and protein until that time. If you choose this approach, be mindful of your milk fat percentage because it is currently the highest $/lb of all milk components.  

    As in previous issues, these feed ingredients were appraised using the software program SESAME™ developed by Dr. Normand St-Pierre at Ohio State to price the important nutrients in dairy rations, to estimate break-even prices of all commodities traded in Ohio, and to identify feedstuffs that currently are significantly underpriced as of March 28, 2016. Price estimates of net energy lactation (NEL, $/Mcal), metabolizable protein (MP, $/lb – MP is the sum of the digestible microbial protein and digestible rumen-undegradable protein of a feed), non-effective NDF (ne-NDF, $/lb), and effective NDF (e-NDF, $/lb) are reported in Table 1. For MP, its current price ($0.312/lb) has decreased from January’s issue ($0.437/lb) and coming within spitting range of the 6-year average ($0.28/lb).  This is good in counteracting the jump of NEL from last month ($0.083/lb) to $0.095/lb this month.  The jump is still slightly lower compared to its historical 6-year average of about 10¢/Mcal NEL. The cost of ne-NDF has also went up from last month from -7¢/lb to -6¢/lb, but it is still a market discount (i.e., feeds with a significant content of ne-NDF are priced at a discount). Meanwhile, unit cost of e-NDF is also at nearly 4 times its 6-year average, being priced at 11.5¢/lb compared to the 6-year average (3.3¢/lb).  Fortunately, a dairy cow requires only 10 to 11 lb of effective NDF, so the daily cost of providing this nutrient is only about $1.27/cow/day (i.e., 10.5 lb × $0.115 per lb).

    To estimate the cost of production at these nutrient levels, I used a target cow milking 70 lb/day at 3.7% fat and 3.1% protein eating 50 lb/day. In this model, the average costs should be around $5.80/cow/day or $8.29/cwt of milk.  The same cow producing 85 lb/day will increase average feed costs to $6.36/cow/day but lower the cost to $7.95/cwt of milk. Our efficient cows that produce more milk and maintain a high milk fat percentage are currently the best cows on the farm given that both butterfat $/lb and energy $/lb are higher than in the past. In essence, our Jersey herds have a bright future if the current feed and milk markets are maintained. I must note, however, these costs neither include the costs of feeding the dry cows nor the replacement herd. All in all, this is about the same as it was in January.

    Table 1. Prices of dairy nutrients for Ohio dairy farms, March 28, 2016
    Table 1
    A blank means that the nutrient cost is likely equal to zero
    ~ means that the nutrient cost may be close to zero
    * means 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 March 28, 2016 are presented in Table 2. Detailed results for all 27 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 price. One must remember that Sesame compares all commodities at one point in time, mid March in this case. Thus, the results do not imply that the bargain feeds are cheap on a historical basis.

    Table 2. Actual, breakeven (predicted), and 75% confidence limits of 27 feed commodities used on Ohio dairy farms, March 28, 2016.
    Table 2

    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 or in other words moved to a column to the right since the last issue are in red. Conversely, feedstuffs that have moved to the left (decreased price) are in green.

    Table 3. Partitioning of feedstuffs, Ohio, March 28, 2016.

    Bargains

    At Breakeven

    Overpriced

    Bakery byproducts

    Hominy

    Alfalfa hay – 40% NDF

    Corn, ground, shelled

    41% Cottonseed meal

    Beet pulp

    Corn silage

    Whole cottonseed

    Blood meal

    Distillers dried grains

    Soybean meal - expeller

    Brewers grains, wet

    Feather meal

    Tallow

    Canola meal

    Gluten feed

    Wheat bran

    Citrus pulp

    Meat meal

     

    Fish meal

    48% CP soybean meal

     

    Gluten Meal

    Wheat middlings

     

    Molasses

     

     

    Soybean hulls

     

     

    44% CP soybean meal

     

     

    Roasted soybeans

    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 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 below.

    Table 4. Prices of dairy nutrients using the 5-nutrient solution for Ohio dairy farms, March 28, 2016.
    Table 4
    A blank means that the nutrient cost is likely equal to zero
    ~ means that the nutrient cost may be close to zero
    * means the nutrient unit cost is unlikely to be equal to zero
    ** means that the nutrient unit cost is most likely not equal to zero

  2. Spring Alfalfa Stand Evaluation

    Mr. Rory Lewandowski, Extension Agriculture Educator, Wayne County, The Ohio State University Extension

    The 2015 season was hard on some alfalfa stands. We had an extended period of rainy weather from the later part of May until about July 19. During this time, many alfalfa fields were harvested under wet soil conditions, resulting in soil compaction and damage to alfalfa crowns. Plant roots that I dug in some fields during that time period exhibited root rot symptoms and diminished root systems. Then, to add insult to injury, it turned dry and alfalfa stands struggled to re-establish root systems and exhibited drought-stress symptoms. Depending upon fall harvest management, alfalfa stands could have entered winter dormancy in a weakened state as a result of these compounding stressors. The question is “How will alfalfa stands recover and respond in 2016?”  To help answer this question, alfalfa growers should be doing a stand evaluation when there is 3 to 4 inches of growth on the plants.

    An alfalfa stand evaluation should include a stand count, a stem density count, and a plant root health assessment. I suggest doing stand and stem density counts in 4 to 5 random locations within a field. A stand count is simply a count of living alfalfa plants (crowns, not stems) within a one-foot square area.  The following table is taken from an Iowa State University Integrated Crop Management newsletter article from March of 2013:

     

    Plants Per Square Foot

    Stand Age

    Good

    Marginal

    Consider reseeding

    Year after seeding

    +12

    8 to 12

    Less than 8

    2 years

    +8

    5 to 6

    Less than 5

    3 years

    +6

    4 to 5

    Less than 4

    4 years and older

    +4

    3 to 4

    Less than 3

    The next part of the evaluation is to determine the amount or density of stems per crown. Once again, this evaluation should be done in at least 4 to 5 random locations within the field. Stem density counts provide an indication of the yield potential of the stand. The following table is taken from University of Wisconsin Extension publication A 3620; “Alfalfa Stand Assessment: Is this stand good enough to keep?”:

    Stem number/square foot

    Expected result or action

    Over 55

    Stem density not limiting yield

    40 to 55

    Some yield reduction expected

    Less than 39

    Consider stand replacement

    If stand counts and stem density counts indicate that the alfalfa stand will be productive, then the final evaluation step is a plant root health assessment.  This is done by digging up some plant roots and splitting them open.  Consider digging up 5 to 6 plants in 4 to 5 random locations within the field.  This plant root health assessment can provide an indication of how the plant will hold up to stresses in the coming growing season.  Split the plant open.  A healthy root will have a creamy white color and no to very little discoloration at the crown.  These are also plants that have a lot of shoots and the shoots are evenly distributed across the crown of the plant. 

    Plant roots that have health problems are discolored when split open. They are a darker white, tending towards a tan color. There may be obvious areas of root rot and crown rot that are a dark brown to black in color. There may be streaks of brown running down the root. These are plants that have fewer stems coming out of the crown and those stems may tend to be more numerous on one side of the crown as compared to the other. These are plants that may appear to be productive, but because of their compromised root system, they may not survive the entire production year, especially if we have a hot, dry year. 

    In general, if more than 30% of the roots that are dug and split have brown streaks running down the root and/or black areas of root/crown rot that cover greater than 30 to 50% of the roots diameter, yield potential is significantly reduced.  The grower may want to consider alternative production options, such as terminating the stand after first cutting and planting to corn for silage or possibly to a warm season annual forage crop, such as sudangrass or a sorghum x sudangrass. The previously mentioned University of Wisconsin publication has a root health rating system, along with color photo illustrations that can be used to make a root health assessment.

  3. Establishing Alfalfa and Weed Management

    Mr. Jeff Stachler, Extension Agriculture Educator, Auglaize County, The Ohio State University Extension

    Due to excessive rainfall in 2015, many alfalfa stands went downhill and were destroyed or will be destroyed this spring.  Now, new seedings need to be established.  Have you thought about what needs to be done to successfully establish alfalfa?

    The first task is to obtain a soil sample or samples. If the field is less than 15 acres, then a single soil sample will suffice. If the field is larger than 15 acres, take multiple samples based upon management zones or based upon a grid pattern.  Management zones can be based upon soil type, topography, soil organic matter, or a combination of these. If a field has been in no-till and the field will remain untilled, obtain two soil samples per field, zone, or grid, one at a 4” depth for pH and another at an 8” depth for fertilizer recommendations.

    For good establishment of alfalfa, soil pH needs to be 6.8 for mineral soils having subsoil pH less than 6.0 and 6.5 for mineral soils having subsoil pH greater than 6.0.  Bray P1 soil test phosphorus (P) concentrations should be between 25 and 50 ppm. The Mehlich III soil test P concentrations should be between 40 and 79 ppm.

    The recommended rate of potash is based upon the soil test level in ppm, the cation exchange capacity, and yield goal.  If lime is required and the Bray P1 soil test value for phosphorus is below 25 ppm, delay planting until the fall or next spring as stand establishment will likely be poor.  Fertilizer and lime should be incorporated to maximize efficiency. If you are surface applying lime and fertilizer, it is even more important to wait a year before establishing alfalfa. 

    Select varieties having the best disease resistance (the best way to fight diseases), good forage quality, best fit to soil types, and high yields. Have seed inoculated with nitrogen-fixing bacteria and treated with fungicides to manage seedling diseases, especially when planting in the spring. 

    Prepare a proper seedbed. A smooth firm seedbed allows for good soil to seed contact, leading to improved establishment. Control all weeds prior to establishment.  Control perennial weeds the year before establishment.  For no-tillage seedings, control grass sod with glyphosate at least one month in advance of seeding and manage previous crop residue for good soil to seed contact.

    Seed alfalfa as early in spring as possible. For southern Ohio, target March 15th and for northern Ohio, target April 1st.  For fall seedings, plant as close to August 1st as possible. Seed alfalfa to a depth of ¼ to ½ inch in clay and loam soils and ½ to ¾ inch in sandy soils.

    Control weeds for best establishment of alfalfa. Alfalfa yields may be improved at least 8% over the life of an alfalfa stand if weeds are controlled in seedling alfalfa. To control the most weed species in non-Roundup Ready alfalfa, apply Raptor at 4 to 6 fluid oz/ acre to 1 to 3 inch weeds. Raptor controls lambsquarters, annual grasses, and ragweed more effectively than Pursuit.  Include ammonium sulfate or urea ammonium nitrate, along with a methylated seed oil at 1 to 1.5 pints/acre. In Roundup Ready alfalfa, apply glyphosate at 0.75 lb/acre of acid equivalent (22 fluid oz of a Roundup product) to 3 to 4 leaf alfalfa.  Include ammonium sulfate at 8.5 lb/100 gal of spray mixture. It is critical to properly manage leafhoppers in seedling alfalfa. Successful establishment ensures the healthiest, longest lasting, and highest yielding alfalfa.

  4. USDA Releases DAIRY 2014: Dairy Management Practices in the United States

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

    The Dairy 2014 study was conducted in 17 of the US major dairy states and refers to estimates for the calendar year of 2013. Data collected for the study represented 76.7% of U.S. dairy operations and 80.3% of US dairy cows at the time of the study interview. Farm size was defined as very small (< 30 cows), small (30 to 99 cows), medium (100 to 499 cows, and large (> 500 cows). An overview of the findings provided by the study is shown below.

    Operation Types and Productivity: Conventional dairy operations (non-grazing) made up 58.8% of all operations and they increased as herd size increased. Of very small operations, 47.8 % were a combination of conventional and grazing operations; overall, more than 25% of operations were a combination of conventional and grazing operations. Compared with 5 years ago, very small operations reported a 24.3% reduction in herd size in the next 5 years and small operations reported a 5.4% reduction. Conversely, medium and large operations had a 12.4 and 23.6% increase in herd size, respectively. The operation average percentage change in herd size 5 years from now is expected to increase in all herd size categories, with an overall increase of 25.7%.
     
    Overall rolling herd average (RHA) milk production was 19,932 lb/cow. RHA milk was highest for conventional operations (21,862 lb/cow) and for a combination of conventional and grazing/other operations (17,815 lb/cow). RHA milk for grazing and organic operations was similar (14,513 and 14,758 lb/cow, respectively).

    The overall operation average age of cows at first calving was 25 months. Days dry averaged 57.1 days, while the calving interval was 13.1 months. Overall, 88.4% of operations milked the majority of cows two times per day. More than 80% of very small, small, and medium operations milked the majority of cows two times per day. The majority of large operations (56.8%) milked cows three times per day.

    Record-Keeping Systems: A record-keeping system was used to track individual animals by 95% of all operations and 100% of large operations. More than 70% of very small, small, and medium operations used handwritten records. Almost all large operations (94%) used an on-farm computer record-keeping system. Almost all cows (99.1%) were housed on operations that used a record-keeping system. Overall, 56.3% of operations participated in the Dairy Herd Information Association; participation increased as herd size increased. The highest percentage of operations (85.7%) used a record-keeping system to monitor breeding history and genetic improvements.

    Use of Technology: Overall, 47.5% of operations had accessed the Internet for dairy information during 2013. Internet use generally increased as herd size increased, with 31.6% of very small operations accessing the Internet for dairy information compared with 89.7% of large operations.

    Quality Assurance Programs: Almost half of all operations (45.9%) participated in any quality assurance program; 55.2% of medium operations and 75.6% of large operations participated in a program.

    Herd Additions: Almost 30% of operations introduced new cattle to the operation during 2013. Within each cattle class, the percentage of operations that brought in cattle was similar across herd sizes. Pregnant dairy heifers and lactating dairy cows were introduced onto farms by 11.4 and 11.9% of operations, respectively. Only 9.6% of operations quarantined any new additions on arrival. On operations that did quarantine added cattle, 29.3% of new arrivals were quarantined for an average of 20.9 days. Information on the herd of origin of new animals was required on 27.3% of operations. A lower percentage of small operations (24.7%) required herd-of-origin information compared with large operations (42.0%). Overall, 22.7% of operations that added cattle to the operation required or performed individual-animal testing before adding cattle to the operation. A higher percentage of large operations (70.6%) required or administered vaccines to new additions compared with small and medium operations (23.1 and 42.0%, respectively). Overall, 39.1% of operations vaccinated new additions. The majority of operations that added new cattle (60.2%) obtained the cattle directly from other dairy operations. Markets/auctions were sources of new cattle for 28.4% of operations that added cattle. The percentage of operations that obtained new additions was similar across herd sizes for each source.

    Source of Heifer Inventory: The percentage of operations in which dairy heifers were born and raised on-site ranged from 62.4% of large operations to 97% of small operations. Overall, 91.8% of operations raised some heifers on-site. On almost half of large operations (46.4%), heifers were born on-site but raised off-site. An off-site rearing facility was used for at least some calves by 12.4% of operations.

    Calf Sales and Rearing: The majority of operations (90.2%) sold bull and steer calves, while only 26.4% of operations sold heifer calves. There were no differences across herd sizes in the percentage of operations that sold heifer calves. Heifer calves were raised off-site with retained ownership on 11.7% of operations, while bull and steer calves were raised off-site on 1.8% of operations. The percentage of operations that raised heifer calves off-site ranged from 5.5% of small operations to 44.3% of large operations. A slightly higher percentage of large operations raised bull calves off-site with retained ownership (5.6%) compared with small and medium operations (1.3% each). The percentage of operations in the West region that raised heifer calves off-site was more than three times the percentage of operations that raised heifers off-site in the East region (30.6 and 9.8%, respectively).

    Heifer Rearing and Movement: For small and medium operations that sent heifers off-site to be raised, the majority (84.9 and 59.0%, respectively) sent heifers that were weaned but not pregnant to the off-site raising facility, while most large operations (62.8%) sent heifers as preweaned calves. Overall, 55.7% of operations sent heifers to rearing facilities as weaned calves, and 69.6% of operations primarily brought back pregnant heifers. Across herd sizes, more than 50% of operations that sent heifers to an off-site rearing facility sent the heifers to a single facility in which heifers had contact with cattle from other operations.

    Bull/Steer Rearing and Movement: The majority of small and medium operations (68.3 and 57.7%, respectively) sold bull/steer calves through an auction. Approximately one-third of large operations (32.5%) sold bull/steer calves to a calf ranch or heifer raiser and did not bring them back to the operation; 37.7% sold bull/steer calves through an auction. Almost two-thirds of all operations (61.8%) sold bull/steer calves through an auction.

    Calving Area: The use of a multiple-animal calving area/pen increased as herd size increased. Overall, 58.7% of operations had some cows calve in a group calving pen. A higher percentage of small operations (34.1%) had some cows calve in an individual pen cleaned between each calving compared with medium and large operations (20.0 and 21.6%, respectively). A similar percentage of operations across herd sizes used individual calving pens that were cleaned after two or more calvings. Of the 74.4% of operations that reported testing for Johne’s disease, 7.3% allowed test-positive cows in the calving area. About one-fourth of operations (24.2%) removed cows from the calving area within an hour of calving. More than half of all operations (57.5%) removed cows from the calving area from 1.1 to 14.0 hours after calving.

    Births and Stillbirths: Overall, 94.4% of calves born were alive at 48 hours and 5.6 % were stillborn. A higher percentage of calves born on small and medium operations (6.8 and 6.4%, respectively) were stillborn compared with calves born on large operations (5.1%).

    Colostrum Management: The average age of heifer calves at the first feeding of colostrum was 3.6 hours. Large operations fed colostrum sooner following birth (2.1 hours) than small and medium operations (3.8 and 3.9 hours, respectively). The majority of small and medium operations (74.2 and 58.3%, respectively) fed 2 quarts or less of colostrum at the first feeding, while almost half of large operations (48.4%) fed 4 quarts or more at first feeding. Only 21.8% of all operations fed 4 quarts or more at the first feeding. The majority of all operations fed an additional 2 quarts or more of colostrum in the first 24 hours. The amount of colostrum fed to heifer calves in the first 24 hours increased as herd size increased. The majority of small operations (51.1%) fed 4 quarts in the first 24 hours, while the majority of large operations (56.2%) fed 6 quarts or more. Almost 90% of operations (87.5%) fed 4 quarts or more of colostrum during the first 24 hours. More than one-third of large operations (38.3%) routinely monitored serum proteins. Less than 10 percent of all operations (6.2%) routinely monitored serum proteins to evaluate their colostrum management program. More than one-third of heifer calves (35.3%) were on operations that routinely monitored serum proteins.

    Preweaned Heifers: Individual outside hutch or pen was used by 37.9% of operations, while individual inside unheated hutch or pen was used by 25.1%. The use of nonmedicated milk replacer increased as herd size increased. Medium operations represented the highest percentages of operations that fed medicated milk replacer or any milk replacer (49.2 and 63.9%, respectively). Slightly more than one-third of all operations (37.6%) fed at least some calves medicated milk replacer. Milk-replacer medications used by the highest percentage of operations were lasalocid (12.7%), decoquinate (11.5%), and a combination of neomycin and oxytetracycline (9.0%). Medications in milk replacer were not reported for 8.0% of operations.

    The use of unpasteurized milk (saleable or nonsaleable/waste) decreased as herd size increased, ranging from 72.9% of very small operations to 26.3% of large operations. Overall, 55.7% of operations fed at least some calves unpasteurized milk. Pasteurized milk was fed on a higher percentage of large operations (43.8%) than very small, small, or medium operations (5.1, 1.5, and 9.9%, respectively). Acidified milk was fed on 1.7% of operations, with no differences across herd sizes. A higher percentage of very small, small, and medium operations (91.6, 97.2, and 93.9%, respectively) fed preweaned heifers twice a day compared with large operations (84.4%). A higher percentage of large operations fed preweaned heifers three times a day compared with the other herd sizes. The majority of preweaned heifers (88.9%) were fed twice daily, while 6.8% of preweaned heifers were fed three times daily.

    The majority of all operations (57.7%) fed preweaned heifers 2 quarts of milk or milk replacer at each feeding, while 22% fed 4 quarts or more at each feeding. The percentage of operations by the amount of milk or milk replacer fed at each feeding was similar for very small, small, and medium operations. More than half of all operations (53.3%) fed 4 to 5 quarts per calf per day, while more than half of preweaned heifers (54.5%) were fed 6 or more quarts per day. The overall average weaning age for preweaned heifers was 9 weeks. Very small operations weaned heifers at an older age (11.6 weeks) compared with the other herd sizes. The majority of small and large operations (51.4 and 54.8%, respectively) weaned heifers based on reaching a target age. About one-fifth of operations (21.5%) weaned their heifers if they were eating at least the recommended 2 lb of starter for 3 consecutive days. A higher percentage of medium operations than large operations (26.1 and 14.9%, respectively) weaned based on starter intake.

    The percentage of operations that vaccinated preweaned heifers against any disease increased as herd size increased, ranging from 37.0% of small operations to 81.3% of large operations. Overall, 49.3% of operations vaccinated heifers against any disease. The most common vaccines administered to preweaned heifers were infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (34% of operations), parainfluenza type-3 (32.8%), and bovine respiratory syncytial virus (28.2%). Overall, 4.7% of operations, representing 22.2% of heifer calves, routinely tested heifer calves for BVD. The percentage of operations that routinely tested heifer calves for BVD increased as herd size increased, ranging from 1.0% of small operations to 26% of large operations.

    Weaned and Pregnant Heifers: The two most common types of housing for heifers were open/dry lot with barn or shed (21.9% of operations) and multiple animal inside area/barn (32.7%). Housing weaned heifers in tiestalls or stanchions decreased as herd size increased. A higher percentage of large operations than the other herd sizes used open/dry lot housing without barn or shed to house weaned heifers. The primary housing types for pregnant heifers were open/dry lot with barn or shed (27.8% of operations), freestall with access to open/dry lot (18.5%), multiple-animal inside area/barn (15.0%), and pasture (12.6%). A lower percentage of small operations (65.2%) vaccinated weaned heifers against any disease compared with medium and large operations (85.0 and 89.9%, respectively). The four diseases vaccinated against by the highest percentages of operations were infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (64.1%), BVD (63.8%), parainfluenza type 3 (58.4%), and bovine respiratory syncytial virus (56.8%). Overall, 61.1% of operations administered vaccines to pregnant heifers. More than 40% of operations vaccinated pregnant heifers against five different diseases: infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (47.0%), BVD (46.9%), parainfluenza type 3 (44.7%), bovine respiratory syncytial virus (44.1%), and leptospirosis (41.5%). The percentages of operations that vaccinated against rotavirus, Salmonella, E. coli, and clostridia increased as herd size increased.

    Cow Housing: Overall, tiestall or stanchion was the primary housing type used for lactating cows on 38.9% of operations. One-fifth of operations (20.0%) housed lactating cows in freestalls with no outside access. The majority of large operations (51.5%) housed lactating cows in freestalls with no outside access. Pasture access for lactating and dry cows decreased as herd size increased. Overall, 59.5% of operations allowed pasture access for lactating cows and 72.3% allowed pasture access for dry cows. The percentages of lactating and dry cows that had access to pasture decreased as herd size increased. Overall, 19.9% of lactating cows and 34% of dry cows had some pasture access.

    The majority of all operations (82.6%) used a covered structure or building to provide lactating cows shelter from the sun. Sprinkler or mister use for lactating cows increased as herd size increased, and 25.2% of all operations used sprinklers or misters. A lower percentage of small operations than medium and large operations used fans to cool lactating cows, and a higher percentage used tunnel ventilation. Of all operations, 72.5% provided dry cows with a covered structure/building and 51.8% provided shade. Sprinkler or mister use for dry cows increased as herd size increased, and 10.7% of all operations used sprinklers or misters. About half of all operations (49.7%) provided fans for dry cows, and a higher percentage of large operations than small and medium operations provided fans.

    Milking Facilities: Parlors were used to milk cows on 79.4% of medium operations and 99.8% of large operations. Milking facilities for very small and small operations were similar, with the highest percentages of these operations using tiestalls or stanchion barns. A slightly higher percentage of all operations milked cows in a tiestall or stanchion barn than in a parlor (52.6 and 45.8%, respectively). Overall, 86.6% of cows were milked in a parlor and 13.1% were milked in a tiestall or stanchion barn. The majority of cows on very small and small operations were milked in a tiestall or stanchion barn, while the majority of cows on medium and large operations were milked in a parlor.

    Cow Nutrition: For all operations, 92.0% fed lactating or dry cows alfalfa hay/haylage; 89.4% fed corn silage; 76.9% fed soybeans—whole, meal, or hulls; and 90.3% fed corn—whole, meal, cracked, or flaked. The percentages of operations that fed lactating or dry cows clover, soybeans, or oats generally decreased as herd size increased, while the percentages of operations that fed cottonseed, wet brewers/distillers grains, canola, wheat, straw, or blood meal generally increased as herd size increased.

    The use of an independent nutritionist to balance rations increased as herd size increased, while the percentage of operations in which the operator/owner balanced rations decreased as herd size increased. A higher percentage of small and medium operations used a feed company nutritionist to balance rations (41.0 and 48.4%, respectively) compared with large operations (30.5%). Water tanks or troughs were used to provide drinking water for cows on more than three-fourths of operations, regardless of herd size. In addition to water tanks or troughs, 73.6% of small operations provided water via a cup/bowl waterer. The percentages of operations that used a cup/bowl waterer or a lake, pond, stream, or river as a water source for cows decreased as herd size increased. The majority of operations (93.6%) sourced water from a well. Ground water and municipal water were used by similar percentages of operations across herd sizes. Surface water was used by a higher percentage of very small and small operations than medium and large operations.

    Breeding Bulls: About half of all operations (51.5%) had bulls used for breeding dairy cows. Beef bulls were used for breeding dairy cattle on 5.5% of operations, while dairy bulls were used on 48.1% of operations. A lower percentage of small operations used dairy bulls or any bulls (45.8 and 48.2%, respectively) compared with large operations (61.6 and 62.8%, respectively).

    Cow Vaccination: The percentage of operations that administered vaccines to cows increased as herd size increased. Overall, 73.8% of operations administered any vaccine to cows. More than half of operations administered vaccines against BVD (68.0%), infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (60.2%), parainfluenza type 3 (55.8%), bovine respiratory syncytial virus (54.8%), or leptospirosis (51.5%).

    Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin (rbST): The percentage of operations and the percentage of cows for which rbST was used increased as herd size increased. Overall, 9.7% of operations used rbST, and 14.7% of all cows received rbST during the most recent lactation.

    Management of Nonambulatory Cows: For this study, nonambulatory cows were defined as cows unable to rise for at least 24 hours. In 2003, nonambulatory cattle were banned from entering the food supply after the first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy was discovered in the United States. The percentage of operations with at least one nonambulatory cow during 2013 ranged from 38.8% of very small operations to 98.4% of large operations. Overall, 76.5% of operations had at least one nonambulatory cow. On large operations, 2.1% of cows became nonambulatory. Overall, 2.6% of cows became nonambulatory during 2013. In total, 30.0% of nonambulatory cows recovered, 49.7% were euthanized, 2.5% were slaughtered for home consumption, and 17.7% died.

    Permanent Removals, Death, and Euthanasia: Overall, 28.4% of cows were permanently removed from operations during 2013. A lower percentage of cows were permanently removed on small and medium operations (26.0 and 26.3%, respectively) than on large operations (29.7%). A similar percentage of cows died across herd sizes. Overall, producers reported that 4.8% of cows died in 2013. Of operations that euthanized cows, 91.7% used a gunshot.

    Use of Veterinarians: Of the 6.2% of operations that did not use a veterinarian, 66.1% reported that a veterinarian was not needed on the operation. Only 3.1% of operations that did not use a veterinarian reported that there was no local veterinarian. Of operations that used a veterinarian, 91.3% used their veterinarian for emergency services, 85.7% for reproductive management, 85.1% for disease diagnosis and treatment, and 84.6% for drug sales. Overall, the top three producer-reported services were reproductive management (71.0% of operations), emergency services (51.2%), and disease diagnosis and treatment (44.9 %).

    Source of Drugs: Most operations (76.1%) obtained prescription drugs directly from the operation’s veterinarian. Nonprescription drugs were primarily obtained directly from a veterinarian (31.9% of operations) and directly from a farm/ranch/feed store (38.2%).

    Additional information about the study and the tabular data are available at:
    https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/nahms/dairy/downloads/dairy14/Dairy14_dr_PartI.pdf

    Source: Dairy 2014: Dairy Cattle Management Practices in the United States, 2014. February 2016, USDA–APHIS–VS–CEAH–NAHMS, Fort Collins, CO, 970-494-7000, http://www.aphis.usda.gov/nahms

     

  5. Milk Production of Ohio Dairy Herds

    Dr. Maurice Eastridge, Extension Dairy Specialist, Department of Animal Sciences, 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 2015 using the Dairy Herd Improvement (DHI; http://www.dhiohio.com) program are provided in 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. In comparison, the average of milk yield for all cows (268,000) in Ohio for 2015 was 20,573 lb milk with 3.77% fat.

    Table 1. Number of herds, milk yield, milk fat, and milk protein by breed for Ohio herds on DHI during 2015.

    Breed

    Number of Herds

    Milk (lb/lactation)

    Milk fat (%)

    Milk protein (%)

    Ayrshire

    10

    17,646

    3.86

    3.22

    Brown Swiss

    15

    20,662

    4.18

    3.42

    Guernsey

    6

    17,893

    4.77

    3.37

    Holstein

    279

    25,014

    3.69

    3.06

    Jersey

    62

    17,465

    4.91

    3.66

    Mixed

    30

    19,780

    4.05

    3.35

     

  6. Workshop on Responsible Antibiotic Use for Dairy Herd Health

    Mr. Rory Lewandowski, Extension Agriculture Educator, Wayne County, The Ohio State University Extension

    OSU Veterinary Extension, Wayne County Extension, and OSU-ATI are sponsoring a “Responsible Antibiotic Use for Dairy Herd Health” workshop.  The workshop will be held at the OSU-ATI dairy facility located at 2332 Barnard Rd outside of Apple Creek.  Use Wooster as the address for GPS navigation. Dr. Gustavo Schuenemann, OSU Extension dairy veterinarian, will teach this workshop on April 21 and April 22. The workshop will provide hands-on training to dairy producers, managers, and dairy farm employees to give them the knowledge and skills to identify and diagnose some common health problems, including metritis and mastitis in cows and pneumonia and diarrhea in calves.  Participants will also learn how to determine if an antibiotic is needed and will learn how to responsibly use antibiotics by following a set protocol, including record keeping.

    The April 21 meeting will be in English and the April 22 meeting will be conducted in Spanish for native Spanish speakers.  Many dairy farms are utilizing Hispanic labor and by offering a session in Spanish, those employees that attend may be in a more comfortable learning environment. Class size is limited each day.  There is a registration cost of $10/person which includes morning refreshments, lunch, and materials.  Pre-registration is required and the registration deadline is April 15.  Register by calling the Wayne County Extension office at 330-264-8722 or sending an email to: lewandowski.11@osu.edu, and please indicate which day you will be attending.

  7. Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference

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

    The annual Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference will be held April 18-20, 2016 at the Grand Wayne Center in Ft. Wayne, IN. You will not want to miss this year’s program as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Conference! The program begins on Monday, April 18 with presentations by undergraduate and graduate students and an Animal Monitoring Technology workshop (registration required), followed by a dinner (registration required) hosted by the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS) for students, university personnel, and feed industry personnel. On Tuesday, the annual pre-conference program will be hosted by Pioneer with the focus on silage quality.  The Conference presentations begin on Tuesday afternoon and go through mid-day on Wednesday, with speakers from the US and Canada. The themes for this year’s conference include feed efficiency; nutrition and animal health; and on-farm feed production and quality. A couple of new features this year include a hot topics breakfast on Wednesday morning sponsored by Micronutrients on the topic of “Are We Feeding too Much Copper?” and a post-conference program hosted by Balchem on milk protein. Over 70 exhibitors are expected for the trade show (highest ever), and on Tuesday pm, the veterinarian dinner (sponsored by DiamondV) and nutrition consultant dinner (sponsored by Elanco) will be held. The early registration fee deadline is April 1; program and registration information is available at: http://tristatedairy.org/agenda.htm.