Buckeye Dairy News: Volume 7 Issue 1

  1. Dairy Policy and Milk Marketing

    Dr. Cameron Thraen, Milk Marketing Specialist, Ohio State University,
    Additional milk marketing information by Dr. Thraen

    With the beginning of 2005, there is a lot of uncertainty about where the all-important commodity prices (cheese, butter, whey, and nonfat skim milk powder) will be heading over the next 12 months. Currently, the cash markets are very robust for this time of year. Cheese on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) is resisting a fall below the $1.45/lb mark. Likewise, butter on the CME is staying above the $1.58/lb level. With world supplies of skim powder being in tight supply, there is upward movement in the nonfat dry milk commodity market. This strength at the commodity level has forged itself into the CME futures market for Class III. While the futures contract level for 2005 has retreated some from levels reached last fall, there still is a good premium in the market, especially for the January through March contracts. To get a daily update on the premiums or discounts in the CME futures market, check out my website at http://aede.osu.edu/programs/ohiodairy/ and select the heading "2005 Class III Futures Price Premiums".

    Table 1. Dairy commodity price ($/lb) forecasts for 2005.

    Forecast for Planning Year
    Grade AA Butter
    Nonfat Dry Milk
    Cheddar Cheese
    Whey Protein
    2004 Averages
    1.8275
    0.8406
    1.6437
    0.2354
    2005 Quarter I
    1.5286
    0.8848
    1.4630
    0.2343
    2005 Quarter II
    1.5267
    0.8815
    1.4644
    0.2182
    2005 Quarter III
    1.5850
    0.8710
    1.5756
    0.1808
    2005 Quarter IV
    1.4900
    0.8467
    1.4989
    0.1932
    2005 Annual Average Forecast
    1.53
    0.87
    1.50
    0.21

    Table 2. Dairy component ($/lb) and milk check price forecast for 2005 (FO = Federal Order).

    Forecast for Planning Year
    Grade AA Milk Fat
    Protein
    Other Solids
    Nonfat Solids
    Base Milk Value
    Estimated Producer Price Differential FO 33
    Estimated Gross Milk Check Price
    Test@Market %
    3.5
    2.99
    5.6935
    5.9
    $/cwt
    $/cwt
    $/cwt
    2004 Averages
    2.055
    2.601
    0.079
    0.694
    15.421
    -0.03
    15.39
    2005 Quarter I
    1.6964
    2.3961
    0.0776
    0.7374
    13.55
    0.24
    13.74
    2005 Quarter II
    1.6940
    2.4033
    0.0609
    0.7341
    13.47
    0.67
    13.14
    2005 Quarter III
    1.7640
    2.6877
    0.0225
    0.7237
    14.34
    0.75
    15.19
    2005 Quarter IV

    1.6500

    2.5606
    0.0352
    0.6996
    13.64
    0.40
    14.04
    2005 Annual Average Forecast
    1.7011
    2.5119
    0.0491
    0.7237
    13.75
    0.73
    14.48


    Class prices in 2005 will not be as robust as they where in 2004. Table 3 lists the recent 2005 price forecast for Federal Order 33 with a comparison to the 1999 through 2004 prices. The statistical uniform price estimate is based on an assumed historical average utilization for each class of milk during the calendar year.

    Table 3. Comparison of class prices in Federal Order 33 from 1999 to 2004 with a forecast for 2005.

    Calendar Year
    Class I ($/cwt)
    Class II ($/cwt)
    Class III ($/cwt)
    Class IV ($cwt)
    1999
    15.87
    13.15
    12.44
    12.26
    2000
    13.67
    12.65
    9.74
    11.83
    2001
    16.26
    14.42
    12.93
    13.49
    2002
    13.01
    11.56
    10.40
    10.82
    2003
    13.39
    10.76
    11.42
    10.00
    2004
    16.95
    13.69
    15.10
    13.00
    2005*
    16.08
    13.34
    13.75
    12.24
    Statistical Uniform Price Estimate: $13.96/cwt

    *Quarter I through Quarter IV: 2005 forecast.

    It is fair to ask what could alter the dairy product and milk price forecasts for 2005. Let's consider these factors as they may push prices up or down going into 2005. Feed prices are down and the milk-feed price ratio is at its highest point in the last three years. At this time, it appears that 2005 will be another very good year for milk prices and dairy farm income.

    Price enhancing factors:

    First, a return to more aggressive culling and a continued tight heifer replacement market. The current situation shows cull cow prices increasing into 2005. This will provide added incentive to increase dairy cow slaughter over the 2004 level which was down 17% from 2003. Second, the Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) program is slated to remove 49,000 head from the milking herd during the first half of 2005. Put these two together and we have the makings for an even tighter milk supply situation going into the summer of 2005. Couple this with the rebound in the general economy and dairy commodity prices will remain strong. Without any indication that the flow of dairy heifer replacement animals across the U.S. - Canada border will begin anytime soon, these conditions could add another $0.20 to 0.30/cwt to the price forecast.

    Price reducing factors:

    Cow numbers are rebounding from their lows in early 2004, and output per cow is also showing that it is getting back on trend. With the announcement by Monsanto, stating that bST allocations would be increased from 50 to 70 percent on December 1, 2004, we could look for the tight supply - demand situation evident in 2004 to lessen in 2005. If this is coupled with a weakness in consumer demand (due to escalating energy and utility prices and renewed weakness in the investment and employment markets), we could see prices for butter and cheese stay lower than those forecasted. This would remove $0.20 to 0.30/cwt from the current forecast.

    Policy Issues: Mideast Federal Order 33

    This warrants repeating. The number one policy issue facing dairy farm families in the Mideast Federal Order is that of re-pooling and its impact on the Uniform Market price. Emergency hearings to consider re-pooling are complete in our sister orders, Federal Order 30 and Federal Order 32. The proposal period terminated on January 7, 2005. We now await the official notice of a hearing, most likely scheduled for mid to late March 2005. The entire process will culminate in a producer vote on new order language sometime in late spring or early summer. Plan to vote when this referendum is scheduled- it is crucial to your paycheck.

    For a complete update on current market conditions, futures, and options markets, and policy issues of importance to Ohio and Federal Order 33 producers go to my web site, Ohio Dairy Web 2004, and click on Cam's Price Outlook.

  2. Nutrient Prices - Seasonal Increases, High Returns

    Dr. Normand St-Pierre, Dairy Management Specialist, Ohio State University

    Markets of both primary feeds (grains and oilseeds) and by-product feeds (e.g., corn gluten feed and distillers dried grains) have been very steady since the Presidential election. Thus, the implicit prices of nutrients have changed little since November (Table 1). The average cost of energy is slightly higher due to the seasonal rise in the price of fat sources. Rumen degradable protein (RDP) can be sourced through some commodities at much discounted prices. Thus, unless there are other compelling reasons, this is not a time to feed rations with tight margins of safety for RDP. The fiber sub-groups are at about their historical averages.

    Table 1. Estimates of nutrient unit costs.1,2

    Nutrient name
    January 05
    November 04
    January 04
    NEL - 3X (2001 NRC)
    0.082
    0.072
    0.066
    RDP
    -0.072
    -0.066
    0.065
    Digestible RUP
    0.211
    0.180
    0.259
    Non-effective NDF (ne-NDF)
    -0.043
    -0.022
    -0.008
    Effective-NDF
    0.050
    0.060
    0.063

    1NEL = Net energy for lactation, RDP = rumen degradable protein, RUP = rumen undegradable protein, and NDF = neutral detergent fiber.
    2Estimates are for $/lb, except for energy which is at $/Mcal.

    Details on break-even prices of commodities and forages of various qualities as calculated by the software Sesame v3.01 are provided in Tables 2 and 3. Recall that for forages, the column labeled "corrected" uses the correction factors developed by Dr. Bill Weiss at O.A.R.D.C. in Wooster and are probably the best break-even figures to use for forages.

    Table 2. Estimated break-even prices of commodities - OH.

    Name
    Actual ($/ton)
    Predicted ($/ton)
    Lower limit ($/ton)
    Upper limit ($/ton)
    Alfalfa Hay, OH Buckeye D
    110
    109.06
    91.55
    126.58
    Bakery Byproduct Meal
    103
    127.70
    119.76
    135.64
    Beet Sugar Pulp, dried
    155
    106.76
    94.20
    119.31
    Blood Meal, ring dried
    360
    354.51
    333.67
    375.36
    Brewers Grains, wet
    28
    24.61
    21.86
    27.36
    Canola Meal, mech. extracted
    148.5
    113.75
    103.42
    124.09
    Citrus Pulp, dried
    127
    107.60
    100.83
    114.38
    Corn Grain, ground dry
    97
    133.74
    126.15
    141.34
    Corn Silage, 32 to 38% DM
    32
    45.43
    39.87
    51.00
    Cottonseed, whole w lint
    158
    168
    147.65
    188.36
    Distillers Dried Grains, w solubles
    109
    132.49
    121.98
    143.00
    Feathers Hydrolyzed Meal
    235
    260.94
    246.77
    275.11
    Gluten Feed, dry
    79
    111.02
    103.12
    118.91
    Gluten Meal, dry
    310
    294.06
    278.66
    309.45
    Hominy
    87
    113.34
    106.49
    120.19
    Meat Meal, rendered
    220
    200.29
    186.29
    214.28
    Molasses, sugarcane
    125
    92.79
    86.36
    99.23
    Soybean Hulls
    72
    60.52
    42.59
    78.45
    Soybean Meal, expeller
    221.5
    244.52
    233.59
    255.45
    Soybean Meal, solvent 44% CP
    177.5
    154.65
    140.75
    168.56
    Soybean Meal, solvent 48% CP
    186.5
    184.39
    172.15
    196.64
    Soybean Seeds, whole roasted
    225
    225.88
    213.81
    237.95
    Tallow
    350
    337.68
    311.96
    363.40
    Wheat Bran
    72
    68.55
    56.49
    80.62
    Wheat Middlings
    65
    81.58
    71.05
    92.12

    Table 3. Break-even prices of forages - OH (mg = mostly grass).

    Name
    Predicted [$/ton]
    Corrected [$/ton]
    Grass Hay, immature, < 55% NDF
    122.08
    138.06
    Grass Hay, mature, > 60% NDF
    128.45
    71.41
    Grass Hay, mid mature, 55-60% NDF
    121.57
    105.04
    Grass Hay, all samples
    126.20
    84.04
    Grass-Leg Hay, mg, immature < 51% NDF
    121.94
    118.05
    Grass-Leg Hay, mg, mature > 57% NDF
    124.29
    74.52
    Grass-Leg Hay, mg, mid mature 51-57% NDF
    123.26
    99.08
    Grass-Leg Hay, 50/50 mix, immature
    114.99
    125.80
    Leg Hay, immature, < 40% NDF
    106.68
    133.89
    Leg Hay, mature, > 46% NDF
    100.50
    76.23
    Leg Hay, mid mature, 40-46% NDF
    100.05
    103.92
    Leg Silage, immature, < 40% NDF
    49.45
    62.07
    Leg Silage, mature, > 46% NDF
    45.94
    35.21
    Leg Silage, mid mature, 40-46% NDF
    45.17
    46.61

    As usual in this column, we calculated the costs of feeding these nutrients for a 1350 lb cow producing 75 lb/day of milk at 3.6% fat, 3.1% protein, and 5.9% other solids. Component prices used in Table 4 are those paid in Federal Order 33 for the month preceding each column. The cost of providing the nutrients to support this milk production is slightly up ($0.20/cow/day) compared to November 2004, but considerably less ($0.59/cow/day) than the same costs a year ago. This, combined with much above average prices for milk fat, protein, and other milk solids, results in a very high figure for income over nutrient costs (IONC; the historical average is approximately $6.50/cow/day in Ohio). In fact, the IONC for January 2005 is nearly twice the estimate for January 2004. These historical high margins should help our producers recover from the devastating milk prices that they experienced in 2003 and part of 2004.

    Table 4. Nutrient costs, milk gross income, and income over nutrient costs - Ohio.1

    Nutrient
    January 2005
    November 2004
    January 2004
     
    ------------------------------ $/cow/day --------------------------------
    Nutrient costs2      

    NEL

    2.85
    2.49
    2.30

    RDP

    -0.38
    -0.35
    0.35

    Digestible-RUP

    0.48
    0.41
    0.59

    ne-NDF

    -0.20
    -0.10
    -0.04

    e-NDF

    0.54
    0.65
    0.69

    Vitamins and minerals

    0.20
    0.20
    0.20

    TOTAL

    3.49
    3.29
    4.08
    Milk gross income      

    Fat

    5.50
    5.14
    3.70

    Protein

    6.62
    5.54
    5.35

    Other solids

    0.38
    0.30
    0.16

    TOTAL

    12.50
    10.97
    9.20
           
    Income over nutrient costs
    9.01
    7.68
    5.12

    1Costs and income for a cow producing 75 lb/day of milk, with 3.6% fat, 3.0% protein, and 5.9% other solids.
    2NEL = Net energy for lactation, RDP = rumen degradable protein, RUP = rumen undegradable protein, ne-NDF = noneffective neutral detergent fiber, and e-NDF = effective neutral effective fiber.

  3. When is the Best Time to Market Cull Cows?

    Mr. Dusty Sonnenberg, OSU Extension Educator, Henry Count, and Dr. Michael Looper, USDA-ARS

    Ask five dairy producers when they think it is the best time to market cull cows and you will most likely get five different responses. Some may say it is in the fall so they don't use any unnecessary feed, bedding, or barn space needed for the rest of the herd during the winter months. Others will say it is once the cow drops below a specific production point in terms of daily milk production. Still others may say it is while the cow can still get-up and walk on the trailer. Based on the operation's goals, all these responses are correct to a varying degree.

    Another response, however, may be that the best time to market a cull cow is when the cull cow market is at its high point. In the cattle market, like all markets, there are highs and lows throughout the year, and numerous factors exist which impact that market price. There are also product quality factors that impact the price received. Among other things, the body condition score of the cull cow has some bearing on the final price received by the producer.

    Simply taking these two components into further consideration can enable a dairy producer to realize a greater return from the market for the same animal.

    Seasonality is an important aspect of increasing profitability of market cull cows. Data from the USDA over the past 10 years suggest that the best time to market cull cows is not in the fall of the year. Prices are generally lowest during the months of November and December, while the highest prices are received during the months of March, April, and May. The reduced prices in the fall months are attributed to the sale of culled beef cows after weaning calves. Maintaining and feeding market dairy cows until the spring months should increase profit from the sale of market dairy cows.

    Research has also indicated that additional feeding of market cull cows can increase the body condition score, carcass value, and carcass characteristics. A 1997 study at Colorado State University revealed that average daily gain in market cows was less efficient for the first 14 days on feed; however, average daily gains increased consistently from 28 to 56 days in market dairy and beef cows. In addition, fat color whitened within 28 days of feeding. This fat whitening was greatest in dairy breeds in the study. White fat has been associated with increased consumer acceptance of palatable steaks. Market cull cows with moderate body condition yield higher quality carcasses that can be further processed into boneless primal cuts. It is a common misconception that cull cows are used solely for ground beef. Considering the fact that approximately 33% of beef production in the U.S. is from market dairy cows, beef from these animals is often used as entrée items in family steakhouses, on airlines meals, and in sliced beef sandwiches in fast food restaurants.

    In addition to realizing a potentially greater market price due to seasonality of the market and improved body condition score, feeding cull cows has benefits in terms of product quality and reduced potential for drug residue in the meat products entering the U.S. food system. The economics to consider in the additional feeding of cull cows and antibiotic residue withdrawal time from meat tissues will be discussed in a future article in Buckeye Dairy News.

  4. Risk Factors for Early Lactation Diseases

    Dr. Päivi Rajala-Schultz, Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, The Ohio State University 

    Most - if not all - diseases we deal with in dairy production are multi-factorial. In other words, several factors that are often interrelated work together in a complex network to impact the occurrence of a disease. These factors are called determinants of a disease or simply risk factors for a disease. They can be divided into three categories: host, environment, and pathogen related risk factors. Host factors are associated with the cow, such as her age, days in milk, immunological status, disease history, genetics, milk production, etc. Environmental factors can include, for example, geographical location, season of the year, housing (type of stalls, bedding, stocking density, and social groups), and nutrition. Pathogen risk factors are related to infectious diseases and include the ability of the organism to cause severe disease and its ability to be transmitted among animals. Let's take a look at some of these factors.

    Transition period, starting two to three weeks prior to calving and continuing two to three weeks after calving, is the most stressful time in the lactation cycle of a dairy cow. She goes through a number of profound physiological changes due to the increasing demands of the fetus and the development of the mammary gland and initiation of milk synthesis. Besides the hormonal and metabolic changes, cows often go through changes in ration as well as in social groups during the transition period. Stress caused by these changes weakens the immune system of the cow and makes her susceptible to diseases. Therefore, it is no surprise that disease occurrence peaks around calving and early lactation.

    The most common diseases that occur at and around calving are dystocia (difficult calving), milk fever, retained fetal membranes, metritis (infection of the uterus), mastitis, ketosis, displaced abomasum, and other digestive disorders. It is important to realize that diseases do not occur independently of each other, instead they are often strongly interrelated. A great example of a disease involved in such an intertwined network is milk fever. Hypocalcaemia, i.e., milk fever (either clinical or subclinical), increases the likelihood of cows experiencing difficulties with calving (due to decreased muscular tonicity). This increases the risk of retained fetal membranes and uterine infections, which in turn increases the likelihood of infertility problems later on. A cow with milk fever has difficulties rising up and teat injuries can occur in conjunction with the unsteadiness. Cows with teat injuries have been reported to be 8 times more likely to contract clinical mastitis than cows without them. Cows with milk fever are also at 30% higher risk of experiencing ketosis during the lactation. Cows with ketosis, on the other hand, can be 6 times more likely to develop displaced abomasum than cows without it. This association can go both ways - abomasal disorders can also increase the risk of ketosis. Clinical ketosis increases also the risk of silent heat, cystic ovaries, and other infertility disorders. So, once the disease process starts, there is a cascade of events that can have a profound effect on the entire lactational performance.

    Occurrence of most diseases in early lactation is directly or indirectly influenced by nutritional factors. Dry matter intake decreases and cows require more energy than they can consume, resulting in a negative energy balance, mobilization of body tissues, and loss of body condition. This is a normal and necessary process to help the cow meet the energy requirements of the lactation. It is not until some weeks after the peak milk production that dry matter intake reaches its maximum and the cow can regain the lost body weight. In addition to this, cows typically go through several ration changes during the transition period and unless these changes are gradual enough and the rumen microbes are provided enough time to adjust to the new ration and the ration is well balanced to meet the nutritional demands of the cow, digestive disorders and other diseases easily follow.

    Mastitis is also an excellent example of a disease with multifactorial background. Risk factors in all three groups (host, agent, and environment) contribute to the occurrence of the disease. The rate of new intramammary infections is typically higher during the dry and transition periods than during the rest of the lactation. This is one of the reasons that has prompted the use of routine antibiotic dry cow therapy in control of the disease. However, focusing the control efforts on the agent is usually not enough. For effective mastitis control, we need to remember also the host (cow) and environmental factors. After the cessation of milking, the teat ends continue to be exposed to environmental pathogens, but the flushing effect of milking is gone. A dry, clean environment is extremely important to a dry cow. Recent studies have shown that even in cows that have been treated with antibiotics at dry-off, the risk of having a new infection during the dry period, or at least one quarter infected with environmental pathogens at calving, increases significantly with increasing milk yield at dry-off. The higher the milk production of the cow at the time she is dried off, the more likely she is to be infected at calving. Increased intramammary pressure from a full gland may cause leaking of milk, and the teat canal is more likely to stay open longer into the dry period. The slower formation of the protective keratin plug in the teat canal allows entry of the environmental pathogens into the mammary gland. It has been shown that cows that leak milk following dry-off are four times more likely to develop clinical mastitis during the dry period. Reducing the level of milk production prior to dry-off may directly help to reduce the rate of new intramammary infections during the transition period and increase the resistance of the mammary gland in the early dry period.

    In conclusion, the transition period is probably the most important time in the production cycle of a cow in determining her health, lactation performance, and longevity in the herd. Good balanced nutrition and a dry, clean environment during the transition period can not be emphasized enough in maintaining healthy cows. It is also extremely important to remember that everything works in a complex network and in solving, or preferably in prevention, of health problems the entire, complex picture with all factors need to be considered.

  5. Best Management Practices for Winter Manure Application

    Over the past several years, manure application to farm fields has come under additional scrutiny, particularly the applications of manure to frozen and/or snow covered ground. Livestock producers and custom manure applicators should always exert extreme caution, follow best management practices (BMP) and utilize best available technologies (BAT) when applying manure, particularly when field conditions are less than ideal, which would definitely include winter-time application. The top priority of any application of nutrients to the land should be to protect water quality.

    No matter the size of a livestock, dairy, or poultry facility and if it is an animal feeding operation (AFO), it may be designated a CAFO, if after being inspected by a permitting authority, it is found to be adding pollutants to surface waters. It is also important to note that the US EPA permit will cover both the production and land application areas.

    These types of situations could be avoided by following standards established by the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in its Waste Utilization Practice Standard (#633), which may be accessed by logging onto http://www.ohleap.org/FactSheets/index.html.

    By adopting and following this respective USDA-NRCS Practice Standard, livestock farmers and custom manure applicators can significantly reduce the risk of pollution problems, but they should keep in mind that with fluctuating weather conditions, application of manure can still be risky and pose a threat to water quality.

    Application of manure to frozen or snow covered ground is not recommended unless it becomes necessary due to extreme situations. Such situations typically arise from a lack of storage capacity (a minimum of six months capacity is recommended; one year is ideal). If manure application becomes necessary on frozen or snow-covered soils, only limited quantities of manure should be applied to address storage limitations until non-frozen soils become available.

    If wintertime application becomes necessary, applications are to be made only if ALL of the following criteria are met:

    • Application rate is limited to 10 wet tons/acre for solid manure more than 50% moisture and 5 wet ton/acre for manure less than 50% moisture. For liquid manure, the application rate is limited to 5,000 gallons/acre.
    • Applications are to be made on land with at least 90% surface residue cover (e.g. good quality hay or pasture field, all corn grain residues remaining after harvest, or all wheat residue cover remaining after harvest).
    • Increase the application setback distance to 200 feet "minimum" from all grassed waterways, surface drainage ditches, streams, surface inlets, and water bodies. This distance may need to be further increased due to local conditions (e.g., higher slopes, or sensitive or high quality streams in the area).
    • The rate of application shall not exceed the rates specified in Table 4 of USDA/NRCS Practice Standard 633 - Determining The Most Limiting Manure Application Rates for winter application.
    • Additional winter application criteria for fields with significant slopes more than 6% include manure shall be applied in alternating strips 60 to 200 feet wide generally on the contour, or in the case of contour strips, on the alternating strips.

    Livestock farmers and custom manure applicators need to note that USDA-NRCS Practice Standard 633 allows for winter manure application; however, it is not recommended, particularly for operations that produce significant volumes of manure. A manure management plan should not include routine winter application. If winter application is unavoidable because of extenuating circumstances, only apply enough to address storage limitations until non-frozen soils are available.

  6. 2004 Ohio Dairy Management Conference - Recap of Ray Nebel's presentation: Keys to a Successful Reproductive Management Program

    Ms. Amanda Hargett, Dairy Extension Associate, The Ohio State University

    The 2004 Ohio Dairy Management Conference was held December 2 & 3, 2004 in Columbus, OH. There were approximately 135 dairy industry personnel, dairy producers, and Extension and agribusiness personnel gathered for information on topics such as herd management, communicating with employees and family, and reproductive management. Plan now to attend the December 2006 Conference! See below for a recap of Dr. Ray Nebel's talks on "Keys to a Successful Reproductive Management Program". For a copy of the Proceedings, please contact: Ms. Amanda Hargett, 222C Animal Science Building, 2029 Fyffe Rd, Columbus, OH 43210, or 614-688-3143.

    Several factors can affect reproductive performance, and the keys to managing these factors were discussed by Dr. Ray Nebel during the Ohio Dairy Management Conference. The key areas addressed were: herd health, management, cow fertility, and insemination procedures. However, before any producer addresses these issues, there are a few questions that should be asked before any changes are made: 1) How is CURRENT performance? 2) Is it getting worse or better? 3) If it is "broken", what needs to be "fixed"? 4) Are there predictable patterns you can apply resources to?, and 5) Are you willing to make changes? The last question is probably the most important question.

    Some traditional tools that are used for measuring reproductive performance and their goals are as follows: 1) days open: 130 days, 2) days to first service: 75, 3) pregnancy rate: >20%, 4) conception rate, 1st service: >40%, 5) heat detection rate: >60 %, and 6) age at first calving, 24 months.

    Several factors can affect reproductive success; some are easily manageable, and some are not. Those areas that are easily influenced are personnel, cow comfort/facilities, heat detection, nutrition, insemination technique, timing of insemination, semen handling, and transition cow management. In the management of space and time, focus on one area and probably one of the most important ones: Personnel. A producer wants someone who enjoys working with the cows, is motivated to do a good job, is a team player, and also knowledgeable. Remember though that individuals can be taught about cows, but you cannot teach them to love the cows and to want to do a good job. While writing up Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and policies can be very time consuming and often are not high priorities on many farms, they can help you manage your employees much better.

    For more details, see the Proceedings of the 2004 Ohio Dairy Management Conference.

  7. The Marks of a "Real" Ohio Dairy Producer,

    Mr. Tim Demland, Dairy Extension Associate, The Ohio State University

    Ohio has more than 3600 dairy producers; 2638 grade A producers and 1050 manufacturing grade producers. Some milk in parlors, some in stanchions. Some milk 30 cows, some 300, and others 3,000. Some cows are housed in free stall barns and others are grazed. Many producers chose to market milk through a co-op, while many others chose to ship milk as independents. Some even market products directly to consumers. There are indefinite numbers of ways that one can define or label dairy farmers.

    Other than obvious physical classifications, one can also categorize dairy farmers by their core goals. Some are milking cows because that's what they have always done or that it is all they know. Others milk as a hobby or as a secondary occupation because "It's Fun". Some view dairying as a temporary arrangement, while others are in it for one generation, and still others endeavor to create an entity that will endure from generation to generation.

    Get Real!

    Regardless of what definition is used, to be a real dairy producer, dairy farmers need to pay attention to more than just business management, nutrition, breeding, forage, cow health/care, labor, and milk marketing. They also need to be aware of some things that they may not have considered to be very important.

    As margins shrink, price fluctuations increase, competition grows, public opinion wavers, and regulatory pressures continue to mount, Dairy Producers Need to Invest Time, Energy, and Resources and "Get REAL"!

    The marks of a "R" "E" "A" "L" dairy producer are defined by their participation in Regulation, Research, Education, Awareness, Activity, and Legislation. A producer's involvement in these areas determines whether or not they are, in fact, a "R E A L" complete dairy producer.

    R - Regulation & Research

    "REAL" dairy producers actively participate in the development and implementation of new regulations. They also initiate, support, and direct new research which will be beneficial to dairy production. In Ohio, this can be done by contributing to the Ohio Dairy Research Fund.

    E - Educated, Engaged, and Environmental

    "REAL" dairy producers are continually seeking educational opportunities and developing their managerial abilities, especially when it comes to the environment. They also use their knowledge to become actively engaged in the problem solving process.

    A - Awareness & Activity

    "REAL" dairy producers are truly aware of the issues that affect their day to day operations, as well as the entire industry. This includes the management roles of planning, organizing, staffing, directing, and controlling, as well as traditional tasks such as feeding and breeding. Not only are they aware of the issues, but they are active participants in them.

    L - Legislation and a Loud Voice

    "REAL" dairy producers have a legitimate legislative presence and use a loud voice to express their concerns. They understand that in order to effectively communicate their point, they need to join in the political process, regardless of how ugly it appears. They also understand that the people in the State House are going to make decisions regardless of who speaks up.

    So in other words "REAL" dairy producers are members of state dairy commodity groups like the Ohio Dairy Producers (ODP) or the Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania (PDMP) organizations.

    The ODP is a group of non-partisan dairy producers from every geographic region of the state who, regardless of size, marketing preference, breed, or production strategy, share a genuine concern for the future of Ohio's dairy industry. It is our mission to optimize profitability and productivity by addressing issues that affect dairy producers.

    Over the past two years, ODP has been particularly successful in developing important regulatory and legislative contacts, while tirelessly monitoring a myriad of regulatory issues. We are especially proud of our ground breaking initiative as we seek federal market order reform that will address the negative affects of "depooling" and exaggerated negative producer price differentials.

    Membership dues are not just another business expense; they are an investment in the continued growth and strength of Ohio's dairy production industry.

    The ODP organization has set as our goals for 2005 to become even more active in addressing Research, Regulations, Education, Environmental Management, Awareness building Activities, and as well Legislation.

    Without the support, participation, and involvement of producers and allied dairy industries, the ODP would be severely handicapped. Without a collective voice, the well being of all Ohio dairy producers will continue to be even more severely challenged in the future.