Buckeye Dairy News: VOLUME 19, ISSUE 4

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

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

    Milk Prices

    In the last issue, the Class III price for March and April closed at $15.81 and $15.22/cwt, respectively. For the months of May and June, the Class III price was projected to be stagnant at $15.20 and $15.30/cwt, respectively. The Class III component price for the month of May actually closed slightly higher at $15.57/cwt, and then increased about 90¢/cwt in June ($16.44/cwt). The price for July is expected to be similar to June at $16.58/cwt, followed by an over $1/cwt drop to $15.29/cwt for the month of August.

    The Class III prices for this summer have been quite optimistic, especially when we look back at the price of milk in June 2016 (Class III $13.22/cwt). The increased price is also in spite of total milk produced for the Federal Milk Marketing Order No. 33 (includes Ohio) being increased about 7% compared to one year ago. The higher amount of milk produced is probably sparked from both higher pounds of milk per cow and more cows being milked in Ohio. According to the USDA, the national production average is estimated to be 65 lb/day per cow with a total of 9.39 million milking cows compared to 62 lb/day per cow with a total of 9.33 million milking cows one year ago. The USDA projects cow numbers will continue to rise nationally up to 9.44 million, but the average cow production to decrease and slow overall growth in total milk production.

    If the USDA is right and we extrapolate national trends to Ohio, one can expect the Class III price to stay around the $14.50 to 16.00/cwt range for the remainder of the year. However, why average milk production (lb/cow) would decrease below the previous year in Ohio is unknown. Rather, I would project production to continue to increase and surpass last year’s production. The resulting milk price would then be expected to be at the lower end of this predicted range. Realize predicting the price this far in advance is a long shot at best. Many economic (and political) changes will likely occur within the next 4 to 5 months and can affect the price.

    Nutrient Prices

    As in previous issues, these feed ingredients were appraised using the software program SESAME™ developed by Dr. St-Pierre at The Ohio State University 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 July 25, 2017. 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.

    In light of my prediction for milk prices to stay stagnant or decrease, nutrient prices continue to remain relatively low as they have been for the past three years. For MP, its current price ($0.37/lb) has dropped slightly from May’s issue ($0.40/lb) and is about 23% lower than the 5 year average ($0.48/lb). The cost of NEL increased about 1¢/Mcal to 9¢/Mcal, but the NEL price is still lower than the 5-year average of 11¢/Mcal. The price of e-NDF and ne-NDF are nearly identical to last month at 5¢/lb and -7¢/lb (i.e., feeds with a significant content of non-effective NDF are priced at a discount), respectively.

    To estimate the cost of production at these nutrient prices, I used the Cow-Jones Index with cows milking 70 lb/day or 85 lb/day at 3.7% fat and 3.1% protein. In the last issue, the average income over nutrient costs (IONC) was estimated at $9.23/cwt for a cow milking 70 lb/day and $9.60/cwt for a cow milking 85 lb/day. For July, the IONC for our 70 and 85 lb/day milk yield for cows will be about 12% higher than May at an estimated $10.40/cwt and $10.78/cwt. These IONC may be overestimated because they do not account for the cost of replacements or dry cows; however, they should be profitable when greater than about $9/cwt. Overall, farmers producing milk in Ohio should be making money.

    Table 1. Prices of dairy nutrients for Ohio dairy farms, July 25, 2017.

    Economic Value of Feeds

    Results of the Sesame analysis for central Ohio on July 25, 2017 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 price. 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.

    Table 2. Actual, breakeven (predicted) and 75% confidence limits of 26 feed commodities used on Ohio dairy farms, July 25, 2017.

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

    Table 3. Partitioning of feedstuffs, Ohio, July 25, 2017.


    At Breakeven


    Corn, ground, dry

    Alfalfa hay – 40% NDF

    Blood meal

    Corn silage

    Bakery byproducts

    Canola meal

    Distillers dried grains

    Beet pulp

    Citrus pulp

    Feather meal

    Gluten meal

    41% Cottonseed meal

    Gluten feed

    Soybean meal - expeller

    Fish meal


    48% Soybean meal


    Meat meal

    Soybean hulls


    Wheat middlings

    Whole cottonseed

    44% Soybean meal


    Wheat bran

    Whole, 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 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.


    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, July 25, 2017.



  2. Acute Bloat Syndrome in Dairy Calves

    Hannah Walczyk, Undergraduate Student, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

    Bloat is a common disorder seen in ruminants, such as cattle. However, bloat observed in young calves is very different from bloat seen in cows. According to Smith (2010), bloat in cows is a result of free gas building up in the rumen (the first component of the bovine’s stomach) and causes distention, or enlargement, of the rumen. This distention of the rumen can impair breathing and result in suffocation of the animal. In contrast, bloat in young calves results from gas build-up in the abomasum, the last of the four compartments of the bovine’s stomach (Smith, 2010). The abomasal bloat observed in young dairy calves is often referred to as Acute Bloat Syndrome (ABS). In a survey conducted by Shoemaker et al. (2007), 276 veterinarians across the country reported ABS to occur on a median of four farms per practitioner. ABS is becoming a widely occurring syndrome, and it is important that dairy farmers are aware of this disorder and remain updated on current research. In order to better understand ABS, it is necessary to know which cattle can be affected, the symptoms associated with the syndrome, the potential causes, the treatments, and the preventative measures for ABS. 

    Acute bloat syndrome occurs in calves. In most cases, calves are usually 4 to 21 days of age (Shoemaker et al., 2007). According to Marshall (2009), ABS occurs sporadically in dairy calves. Some farms will have multiple cases of ABS at one time. Not only is it a good idea to know when calves are susceptible to ABS, but it is also important to recognize the symptoms.

    Understanding the symptoms of ABS is critical because calves that develop the syndrome often die within 6 to 48 hours. According to Van Metre and Callan (2006), the case fatality rate is a very steep 75 to 100%. Although the likelihood of saving the calf is low, it is only possible if symptoms are recognized early. Symptoms of ABS include abdominal distension, depression, colic signs, grinding of teeth and salivation, anorexia, fluid slosh in the abdomen, and dehydration. Less common symptoms include diarrhea and high temperature (Shoemaker et al., 2007). According to Panciera et al. (2007), after experimental induction of ABS in calves, the necropsy showed distention, hemorrhage (internal bleeding), inflammation, mucosal necrosis, and mural emphysema (air build-up in the wall of the stomach). The symptoms of ABS usually include a rapid onset and sometimes are not even observed before death occurs. Calves will eventually die from shock or compromised respiration due to the enlarged stomach, according to Van Metre (2017).

    The causes of ABS are not well understood; however, experimental induction of ABS in calves led researchers to believe that the cause of ABS is large quantities of highly fermentable carbohydrates and high concentrations of bacteria containing enzymes capable of fermenting the substrate (Panciera et al., 2007). As a result of these two factors, high levels of gases are produced in the abomasum, causing distention. Although researchers are not certain which exact species of bacteria cause ABS, Clostridium perfringens, Sarcina spp, Streptococcal spp, Escherichia. coli, and Salmonella typhimurium have been identified in the abomasum of affected calves. Further research must be done in order to determine the specific role these bacteria play in ABS. Other factors that can contribute to ABS are related to nutrition and include high volumes of milk replacer, cold milk, high osmolality of milk, high protein  and fat contents in milk, high-energy oral electrolyte solutions, and inconsistent feedings. All of these can cause a slower emptying rate of the abomasum. According to Burgstaller et al. (2017), feeding practices that significantly prolong abomasal emptying can increase rates of gastrointestinal diseases in calves.  This is because the bacteria have more time to ferment the feedstuff, thus producing more gas in the abdomen. Familiarity with these causes of ABS will aid in proper decision-making regarding treatment and prevention of the disorder.

    Measures for controlling ABS mainly involve dietary management in lieu of medications or procedures (Marshall, 2009). There are no reliable data on whether or not conventional vaccines are helpful. It is thought that vaccines containing inactivated toxins given to pregnant cows will produce antibodies in the colostrum and help protect the calf (Van Metre, 2017). Antibiotics, such as penicillin or oral Beta-lactam which would target Clostridium spp, can be used, but these are not the best treatment option because the species of the ABS-causing bacteria may be different. Other medications that can be given include rumen tonics and anti-inflammatories (Shoemaker et al., 2007). Bloat-relieving procedures, such as placing a stomach tube or puncturing the abomasum to release air, are not necessarily effective treatment options. Since a stomach tube cannot reach the abomasum, the calf’s front end must be elevated in order to allow the gas to pass to the rumen and out the tube (Van Metre, 2017). Puncturing the abomasum must be done while the calf is dorsally recumbent (lying on its back) because there is a high risk of leakage of abomasal contents into the abdomen (Marshall, 2009). For these reasons, procedures and medications are usually not the best treatment options. Dietary management strategies are the preferred ways to prevent ABS. These include feeding the calves multiple, small meals on a consistent basis, mixing the milk replacer correctly according to manufacturer’s instructions in order to lower osmolality, feeding warm milk, and providing adequate amounts of water (Smith, 2010). These dietary management strategies are easy to apply and will increase the passage of feed through the abomasum to the small intestine. Although these are good treatment options and preventative strategies, farms that were rated good to excellent, based on their management practices, still struggled with ABS.

    ABS is a spontaneous and puzzling disease that affects many dairy farms. The calves at risk for ABS, associated symptoms of ABS, the potential causes of ABS, and the treatment and prevention of ABS are important factors that must be studied and understood. Unfortunately, there are still many uncertainties and unknowns about this disorder, and further research is needed in order to learn more about the syndrome and the specific species of bacteria that cause it.

    Works Cited

    Burgstaller, J., Wittek, T., and Smith, G.W. 2017. Abomasal emptying in calves and its potential influence on gastrointestinal disease. J. Dairy Sci. 100:17-35.

    Marshall, T.S. 2009. Abomasal ulceration and tympany of calves. Vet. Clin. North Am. Food Anim. Pract. 25(1):209-2020.

    Panciera, R.J., Boileau, M.J., and Step, D.L. 2007. Tympany, acidosis, and mural emphysema of the stomach in calves: Report of cases and experimental induction. J. Vet. Diagn. Invest. 19(4):392-395.

    Shoemaker, D., Rajala-Schultz, P., and Midla, L. 2007. A survey of bovine practitioners to determine the prevalence of and factors associated with acute bloat syndrome in pre-weaned dairy heifers. Buckeye Dairy News, Vo. 9, Issue 3, The Ohio State University Extension, Columbus. Retrieved June 20, 2017, from https://dairy.osu.edu/newsletter/buckeye-dairy-news/volume-9-issue-3/res...

    Smith, G. 2010. You can prevent bloat in calves. Hoard’s Dairyman, Fort Atkinson, WI. Retrieved June 20, 2017, from http://hoards.com/article-1303-You-can-prevent-bloat-in-calves.html

    Van Metre, D. 2017. Abomasal bloat and abomasitis in calves. Colorado State University, Fort Collins. Retrieved June 20, 2017, from http://veterinaryextension.colostate.edu/menu2/Cattle/Abomasitis.pdf

    Van Metre, D.C., and Callan, R.J. 2006. Abomasitis and abomasal bloat. Western Dairy News, Vol. 6, No. 3. Colorado State University, Fort Collins. Retrieved June 20, 2017, from https://www.cvmbs.colostate.edu/ilm/proinfo/wdn/2006/March%20WDN06.pdf

  3. Milking Excellence

    Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator Wayne County, Ohio State University Extension

                It is a rough go for dairy farmers these days. While milk price has improved a little from the disastrous prices of a couple of years ago, the current price is very close to breakeven production costs for many dairy farms. Profitability depends upon managing costs and doing things that improve production and milk quality. Dianne Shoemaker, OSU Extension Dairy Production Economics Field Specialist, is able to show that each year, regardless of milk price, the top 20 to 25% of dairy producers are able to show some profit per cow.  In low price years, the average producer is going to struggle to break even and probably loses money.  So, what can be done to help improve the odds of being profitable?  I recently came across an article by Dr. Pamela Ruegg, a DVM in the Department of Dairy Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, entitled “The 10 Smart Things Dairy Farms Do To Achieve Milking Excellence”. Here is her list and some excerpts from that article:

    1. Set Performance Goals.  Dr. Ruegg suggests that some of those goals should include zero antibiotic residues in milk, bulk tank somatic cell count (SCC) at least below 250,000 cells/mL, and obtaining individual cow SCC values to manage subclinical mastitis.  Managing subclinical mastitis should focus on controlling new infections with a specific new subclinical infection rate goal of less than 5% per month.
    2. Rapidly Identify Problems.  Develop methods that monitor herd performance and the milking process that can detect problems, such as clinical mastitis, early on.
    3. Milk Clean Cows.  Dirty cows take longer to milk and reduce parlor throughput.  Clean and groom stalls frequently.  Scrape or remove manure from alleyways and isles frequently.  Develop and implement effective pre-dipping routines.
    4. Standardize Milking Routines.  Consistent milking routines are a key to quality milk production.  Communicate and teach those routines to those who milk.  Start by developing a written set of routines and work from that.
    5. Train Staff.  Spend time teaching, training, and periodically reviewing routines and milking procedures.  Make sure employees understand them, which may mean developing some materials in a different language to help with the process.
    6. Maintain and Update Milking Systems.  High quality milk is dependent upon a properly functioning milking system.  The system should be regularly evaluated and updated.
    7. Develop Treatment Protocols.  Treatment protocols define standard treatments for common diseases and injuries.  Involve your veterinarian in developing these protocols.  The judicious use of antibiotics is an important component of a veterinarian/client/patient/relationship (VCPR).
    8. Have a Mastitis Biosecurity Plan.  Keep your dairy cattle safe from contagious mastitis pathogens.  Practice quarantine procedures for any purchased cattle, buy healthy cattle from healthy herds, and culture samples from the bulk tank when new, purchased cattle are entering the herd.
    9. Take Care of Dry Cows.  Provide spacious, clean, and dry environments for non-lactating cows.  Do not group these cows near sick animals.  Provide good nutritional programs.
    10. Use Appropriate Consultants.  Develop a team of people with expertise in various areas to help sort through complex issues and to help make informed decisions.

    The entire document with much more detail is available on line at http://milkquality.wisc.edu/milking-management/.

  4. European Dairy Industry Study Abroad

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

                This marked the fourth year for the OSU Dairy Industry Study Abroad, with the three previous trips occurring in 2007, 2011, and 2014. The first two trips were to the Netherlands, but the two most recent trips included the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium. The group consisted of myself and Dr. Katy Proudfoot, Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, as resident directors and 20 students from Animal Sciences; Agricultural Education; Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering; Agricultural Communications; Zoology; and the Agricultural Technical Institute. The trip occurred from May 7-21, and with our arrival during late spring, we missed most of the tulip blooming season in the Netherlands. However, we were able to observe several fields in bright colors, and we were able to tour the Keukenhof, a park with many beautiful flowers, the week prior to its closing for the season. We certainly ate and/or purchased our share of cheese and yogurt, stroopwafels, Belgium waffles, mussels in Brussels, and fine chocolates. We visited Wageningen University, which is the primary agricultural university in the Netherlands, including a tour of their dairy unit on the main campus and at the Dairy Campus in Leewarden and their livestock metabolic chambers at the Wageningen campus that allows some impressive research on energy utilization and gaseous emissions from animals. We visited Utrecht University, which is the only university in the Netherlands with a veterinary program, that included a tour their food animal clinic with a small dairy herd.   We also visited the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp (Bergen, Germany), Anne Frank house (Amsterdam, Netherlands), Lely manufacturing plants for dairy and forage equipment (Rotterdam, Netherlands), two cheese markets (Alkmaar and Gouda, Netherlands), a cheese plant (Muenster, Germany), Osnabreuck Holstein Genetics (Melle, Germany), and much more.

                During the visit, we toured about 5 dairy cow farms having just a few cows up to about 250 cows. Most of these farms had Holstein Friesian, but one of them had the Blaarkop breed. Two of the farms were organic (or biologic as they refer to such systems) and another one of them was transitioning to become organic. In addition, we visited three university dairy facilities, two that were affiliated with Wageningen University and the one at Utrecht University. The research facility at Dairy Campus aligned with Wageningen was very impressive; it had been totally rebuilt since our visit in 2014, having opened the new facility in May 2016 with 550 cows, a 40-stall rotary parlor, and the capacity for conducting research in nutrition, animal health, animal welfare, environmental sustainability, and housing systems. We visited a cheese processing plant and one of the farms had on-site processing of milk, ice cream, and/or yogurt. Two of the dairy farms had diversified businesses of a restaurant and/or farm games. Technology observed on farms included either the DeLaval or Lely robotic milker units, Lely Juno automatic feed pusher, Lely Discovery barn cleaner, automatic milk feeders for calves, and automated bedding systems.

                We also visited a sheep dairy farm that processed milk for sale at the farm as fluid milk and cheese (aged and fresh) and they had a few cows that were milked by a Lely robot. They were making sheep cheese, cow cheese, and cheese from a mix of cow and sheep milk. We visited a goat dairy that consisted of 1650 Saanen goats with does being milked in a 72-stall rotary parlor. The does averaged about 1200 kg/year with 4.10% fat and 3.54% protein. We visited a farm that milked Belgium mares for selling fluid milk, dried milk, or about 14 human health or cosmetic products. The mares were milked with a DeLaval unit. Although we were unable to visit a farm this year with Belgium Blue cattle, we saw several of these cattle from the roadway and several of the dairy farms were breeding some of their cows with Belgium Blue semen to improve the value of the calf for beef.

                There continues to be increased restrictions in the European Union related to animal health and welfare, such as no tail docking, restricted use of antibiotics, calves have to be 14 days of age to transport, dehorning with hot iron requires an anesthetic which must be administered by a veterinarian, and etc. However, even with these regulations, comfort of cows housed inside is often less than desirable with uncomfortable free stall surfaces, improperly designed and maintained free stalls, and inadequate ventilation. The aesthetic focus on a clean farmstead and cows on pasture is not necessarily reflective of the conditions within animal housing areas. The European Union eliminated the milk quota system in 2015 and the number of cows per farm and thus total milk production have been increasing, resulting in an over supply of milk and weak milk prices. In the meantime, environmental regulations have increased, especially limiting the amount of phosphorus that can be land applied. Thus, even though the milk quota has been discontinued, the environmental regulations have been limiting the expansion of dairy farms. The continued ‘desire of the consumer’ to see cows on pasture and to know where their milk comes from is driving more farmers to use production systems with cows on pasture for 120 to 180 days per year (‘meadow milk’ with about $1.12/cwt premium) or to transition to being an organic farm (similar premium as found in US for organic versus milk from conventional systems).

                It was certainly apparent of the increased focus on energy and natural resource conservation in Europe over the past ten years of the program. There is increased use of solar panels on farms (usually placed on barn roofs), continued focus on wind and water power, and soil nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) balance. Manure storage systems are to be covered to reduce volatilization of nitrogen, and like in the US, research is being conducted at reducing methane production by cows and increasing feed efficiency. 

    2017 Study Abroad

    Pictured- Back row (L to R): Joel Sonnenberg, Louis Liming, Morgan Kessler, Jake Parkinson, Jacquelyn Blanchard, Grace Moeller, and Dr. Maurice Eastridge.
    Middle row: Dr. Katy Proudfoot, Emilia Sgambati, Christine Balint, Marina Sweet, Allison Carpenter, Hannah Jarvis, and Lauren Haney.
    First row: Skylar Buell, Alexandra Houck, Emily Winson, Lydia Flores, Molly Michael, Loren Schmidt, Breanna Sharp, and Taylor Andrews.

  5. OSU Dairy Judging News

    Click on the link below for the OSU Dairy Judging News.