Buckeye Dairy News : Volume 8 Issue 1

  1. Deconstruction of a Speculative Attack on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Class III Futures Contract

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

    After being out on the road Friday, January 6, I returned to the office on Monday, January 9 and in reading my email news letters, I found these two very interesting discussions. The first was provided by a very knowledgeable colleague and professional in the dairy markets, Mr. Phil Plourd, Vice President Economics, Blimling & Associates. In his January 6 newsletter, Mr. Plourd writes (italics mine):

    "When making a shopping list for commodities to buy early in the New Year, at least one speculative fund apparently decided not to skip the dairy aisle. Not long into Tuesday's first-day-of-2006 action, reports from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) floor indicated that a broker representing a large commission house was eagerly buying February Class III milk contracts.

    It didn't make any difference in the cheese market. Blocks closed the week at $1.3675/lb and barrels at $1.3400/LB - both unchanged. And, no loads of either product changed hands. The buying spree did, however, create more than a little excitement. All morning on Tuesday, prices ratcheted higher, exhausting sell-side interest in the process. A one-two-three closed cheese market session did little to slow things down, as nervous locals stopped selling futures and started buying. By noon, February had traded at as high as $13.20/cwt, up $0.29/cwt on the day. Other months moved higher as well. When the day was done, February had closed at $13.17/cwt, with volume in that month alone at 596 contracts.

    Wednesday saw some follow through from the same buyer. Nervous commercial buyers also seemed to join in the fray, with the market bid higher from the opening bell. On-floor speculators were buyers, as well. The cheese market featured a bid at unchanged for blocks, making some market participants all the more edgy. On Thursday morning, however, speculative buying interest did not materialize early. While an unfilled bid for three cars in the cheese market raised some questions (Is someone short? Where is the sell-side interest?), the rally began to fizzle. Outside selling was gathering above the market and commercial buying was a bit more cautious. Locals began to sell strips of contracts in an effort to quietly lighten their load. By the close, prices were down on the day across the board. For example, after making a new life-of-contract high in the morning at $13.29/cwt, February settled at $13.13/cwt, down $0.12/cwt on the day.

    Opening bell buying by floor traders on Friday morning was beat into a quick retreat by broader outside selling and an absence of commercial buying interest. Values eroded further when no bids were posted in the spot cheese session."

    After reading this paragraph a couple of times to let it sink in, I began to ask myself the following questions: What is a 'speculative fund'? and Why does it have an interest in buying in the dairy futures market?; who are commercial buyers and why would they wish to tag along with the speculative fund?; ditto for on-floor speculators and floor traders (see Figure 1 for the Class III price over its contract life.



    Figure 1. February 2006 Class III Futures Prices.


    So, what is a Speculative or Hedge fund?

    A hedge fund is a private investment limited partnership that invests in a variety of securities. Hedge funds are pooled investments; all the partner's capital amounts are pooled together for the purpose of trading in securities. All hedge funds follow some sort of trading strategy and are pretty much free to use any financial instrument they wish. Hedge funds are similar to mutual funds in that they both are pooled investment vehicles that accept investors' money and generally invest it on a collective basis. Hedge funds differ significantly from mutual funds, however, because hedge funds are not required to register under the federal securities laws. They are not required to register because they generally only accept financially sophisticated investors and do not publicly offer their securities. In addition, some, but not all, types of hedge funds are limited to no more than 100 investors.

    Why would such a fund or pool of investment dollars be interested in the February CME Class III futures contract?

    First of all, note that this is speculative investment money, and second, it is in the market to make a profit. Hedge funds are buying contracts; therefore, they must be of the opinion that the price tomorrow will be higher that the price paid today. As Mr. Plourd points out, this interest and buying behavior received no support from the direction of the CME cheese market. In fact, everything looks like it is slowly sliding in the opposite direction. Last year, at this time, the February contract was trading at $11.50/cwt and finally cashed settled $ 0.39 higher at $11.89/cwt. On a 2,000 cwt contract, this is a gross gain of $780. If repeated this year, this is not a bad return for a marginal investment. Just figure, for each 100 contracts, this is a gross gain of $78,000. Ok in my book. The March contract could be purchased at $11.50/cwt and settled out at $14.49/cwt, with the April at $11.65/cwt and May at $11.65/cwt. The March contract earned a gross $5,980. April's settle was $19.61/cwt, a gross gain of $15,920 per contract and May's $20.58/cwt for a gross gain of $17,860. On a 100 contract batch, this 'strip' of February through May would have earned $3,515,800. Now you can see why the speculative or hedge fund managers are paying attention to the dairy markets.

    So are others. As Mr. Plourd points out, commercial (non-speculators) and local on-floor speculators, guessing that the hedge fund might know something that they had missed, began to buy also. The rally continued through early trading on Thursday. But, without confirming support, that is, without the cash cheese market making a supporting move upward, those same buyers rethought there earlier buying enthusiasm and began to SELL 'strips of contracts' (this is a basket of contracts with different cash settle dates). By not selling just the February contract, which they may have purchased near the peak of the price rally, this 'strip selling' is designed to mask ones panic from the market as one tries to get out of what now appears to be an unsupportable position.

    Is this interest by speculative hedge funds a good or bad development?

    This is a question that I am asked repeatedly. I think folks at Valley Trading in their January 6 market commentary do a good job of addressing this question. Read below the commentary on this same hedge fund activity as presented by the fine folks at Valley Trading. They wrote, in their market news letter covering the week ending January 6, 2006, the following (italics added):

    General Market Comment:
    "When discussing/trading the commodity markets, and specifically the dairy markets, it seems that words like "surprising," "amazed," and "unexpected" are used quite a bit. You would think that when trading commodity futures contracts, we all would expect the unexpected.

    With that said, most were surprised by a sudden rally in the milk futures markets, especially since cheese prices held unchanged all week. No one seems to know for sure what happened, but it appears that a hedge fund came into the milk market as a buyer. As a result, the "locals" reacted and became buyers as well. In the end, without a supportive rally in the cheese markets, the milk market gave back some the early week gains.

    Currently, hedge funds and index funds are active in the commodity markets and recently have been in a buying frenzy. Over the years, these funds have grown tremendously and are becoming a major player in the markets. At times, they create price distortions in a market, which has added an extra variable to commodity pricing.

    As a final perspective, commodity markets are not as flexible when absorbing investment money as the stock market. Case in point, currently the total value of all Google Inc.'s stock in the marketplace is worth ~$135 billion. This is only one company of the thousands listed in the New York Stock Exchange alone. To put this into context, you would "only" need ~$25 billion to be able to purchase the entire 2005 U.S. corn crop!

    With many billions of dollars flowing to these funds each year, they keep looking for markets to trade. Possibly this week, a fund "found" the milk market and decided that it was too cheap. This type of action might become commonplace in the future. As long as these funds remain buyers, it could be a welcome development for dairy producers by possibly creating great selling opportunities, just like this week has been."

    If, after reading the commentary by Mr. Plourd, and my exposition on this hedge fund activity, you are ready to decry the nasty speculator, keep the Valley Trading comment in mind. Hedging requires two sides to the short-sell transaction. Price risk must be transferred to someone, and this requires the speculator, interested in earning a profit, to be willing to BUY the short-sold CME Class III contract, just as it happened last week for the February contract. Last week, the savvy hedger could have locked-in or put a floor under the Class III price above the $13.00/cwt mark. This is substantially above the upper 25% price of $12.56/cwt for February Class III milk. So, keep in mind that without speculative interest and willingness to buy, there would be no opportunity to sell at this higher price and no opportunity to lock in a price or floor a price $1.50 to 2.00/cwt over the long term median price.

    Next time, I will look at what we know about the habits and motivations of small scale speculators. This is a very fascinating topic.

    Check out my website: http://aede.osu.edu/programs/ohiodairy for the latest dairy product and milk price forecasts.

  2. Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 Passed the House

    Dr. Cameron Thraen, Milk Marketing Specialist, The Ohio State University (top of page)

    The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 passed the House on February 1 by only two votes. The Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) provisions are: "Sec 1101 National Dairy Market Loss Payments (MILC Payments)" amends the payment structure and extends MILC payment authority; from 2006 FSRIA: "Payments to a producer under this section shall be calculated by multiplying (as determined by the Secretary) the payment quantity for the producer during the applicable month..."

    ($16.94/cwt) minus (Class I milk price per hundredweight in Boston under the applicable Federal milk marketing order) times (45%).

    The Deficit Reduction Bill substitutes the following for the 45%:

    Ending September 30, 2005, they get 45% of the payment;
    Beginning October 1, 2005, and ending on August 31, 2007, they get 34% of the payment; and
    Beginning on September 1, 2007 and ending September 30, 2007, farmers get 0% of the payment effectively ending the program.

    The maximum payment quantity remains at 2.4 million pounds. It looks like the sign up period and duration of coverage is extended to September 30, 2007. Note that the September 1, 2007 through September 20, 2007 rate is 0.0%. You might wonder why such a convoluted way to end the program. As always, there is method to the madness. If the current farm legislation is extended and a 2007 farm bill becomes a 2009 farm bill, the MILC program will be extended at a rate of 0.0%. Meaning? Any direct extension of the MILC would have to be re-authorized at that time to have a rate of payment greater than 0.0%.

  3. Twin Row Corn Silage Research Plot Results

    Mr. Stephen Foster, Extension Educator, Darke County, The Ohio State University 

    Steve Foster and Harold Watters, both Agricultural Educators for Ohio State University Extension, have been conducting twin-row corn production research plots at the Darke County Research Farm for the last 3 years. Last year, they were asked if corn planted at high populations in a twin row system would be beneficial for corn silage production, so this year they planted a test plot that compared 2 different dual purpose corn hybrids at populations of 34,000 seeds per acre and 50,000 seeds per acre in 30 inch rows and twin rows.

    A Great Plains Precision Plant no-till drill was used to plant the "30" and "twin row" plots. The Precision Plant drill has a seeding mechanism capable of handling seed corn reasonably well. The twin row plots were set up on 30-inch centers, with two rows 7.5 inches apart every 30 inches. Plot sizes planted were 15 feet wide by 300 feet long, with 10 feet of the middle harvested (center four rows of six) for corn yield comparisons.

    The hybrids were chosen based on their characteristics as a dual purpose variety (silage and grain production). Croplan DS107 with Cruiser is a 107-day relative maturity hybrid that has a high tonnage per acre and a high dry matter digestibility rating. It also has a medium high population rating by Croplan. The Seed Consultant SC1082 with Maxim XL is a 112-day relative maturity hybrid with high ratings for grain quality and test weight. It also is ranked high for stress tolerance and it's recommended planting populations for soils with greater than 15 cation exchange capacity (CEC) is 28,000 to 31,000 seeds per acre.

    Planting was done on May 7th and harvest for the silage plots was conducted on September 7th and 12th, 2005. A hand harvested sample was taken from 1/1000th of an acre from each of the 4 replications. The samples were then chopped weighed. Silage samples were collected and analyzed for dry matter (DM) content, NDF, and CP concentrations by The Ohio State University, Department of Animal Sciences. On November 22, 2005, harvesting of all plots was done with a Case IH combine; yield and moisture were determined with an on-board yield monitor.

    Data analysis of the plots indicated that there were no significant differences among any of the treatments for tons of 100% DM produced per acre. The range of 100% DM was 8.81 to 10.03 tons/ac. There also was no difference among the treatments for concentrations of neutral detergent fiber (NDF) and crude protein (CP). The NDF ranged from 52.49 to 60.84% and the CP ranged from 7.59 to 8.52%.

    There was, however, differences among the treatments for corn grain yield. Hybrid DS107 planted at 34k seeds/ac out yielded the DS107 planted at 50k seeds/ac in both the twin row and 30" row plots. Hybrid SC1082 planted at 34k in twin row plots out yielded the twin row plots planted at 50k seeds/ac. Croplan DS107 yielded better at 34k population than the plots planted at 50k seeds/ac in 30" rows. There was no difference between the plots of SC1082 planted in 30" rows and twin rows, planted at 34k and 50k seeds/ac (Table1).

    Table 1. Corn grain yields for two hybrids in two different planting systems
    at two different seeding rates, Greenville, Ohio, 2005.

    Treatment1
    Yield (bu/ac)1
    TR DS107-34k
    136.71
    TR DS107-50k
    109.16
    TR SC1082-34k
    153.24
    TR SC1082-50k
    118.49
    30 DS107-34k
    131.59
    30 DS107-50k
    99.37
    30 SC1082-34k
    149.93
    30 SC1082-50k
    145.65

    1TR = twin row
    2P < 0.10; least significant difference = 11.02 bu/ac.

    Although this study did not indicate any improvement in planting corn silage at high populations and in a twin row system, weather may have been an issue. Extremely hot and dry weather was experienced during the pollination and kernel development stages. As with most on-farm studies, more than one year of data are usually required to determine accurate results of different treatments. Additional studies using different hybrids, under a variety of weather conditions, may be required to prove if this system is beneficial to corn silage production.

  4. Water Usage on Dairy Farms

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

    As we always say "water is the most important nutrient", but all too often it is the most ignored nutrient when we are thinking of nutrition and animal performance. However, it is the first target when environmental risks are being addressed. Therefore, we must constantly monitor water quality and quantity on dairy farms for animal health and performance and for protecting the environment.

    About 80% of the water intake by animals is from drinking and other 20% is consumed via the feed. The amount provided by the feed depends on how much of the diet consists of silage and wet commodities (e.g. wet brewers grains). Animals can not go without water for very long, but it is important to recognize that younger animals are at greater risk for dehydration from water deprivation than older animals; the younger the animal the greater proportion of the body that is water (range for body water content is 70 to 50% for cattle). Lactating dairy cows will respond quickly to problems with water availability and quality, but the most immediate response will be a drop in milk yield (milk consists of 87% water). In a lactating cow, about 24% of the daily water intake is secreted in milk, 12% is in the feces, 10% is excreted in the urine, and the remaining 54% may be lost via evaporation and the extent of water loss by evaporation is highly dependent on environmental temperature and humidity in the animal's living environment (in other words, not just based on the readings from the outside wall of the barn). Typical water intakes are provided in Table 1.

    Table 1. Water intake by dairy animals (gallons/day, unless noted otherwise).1

    Dairy Animal
    Air Temperature
    40oF
    80oF
    Heifer, 300 lb
    2.9
    5.2
    Heifer, 900 lb
    6.8
    11.5
    Cow, dry, 1400 lb
    9.7
    16.2
    Cow, lactating, maintenance2
     
     

    1000 lb

    5.3
    8.1

    1400 lb

    7.0
    10.7
    Cow, lactating, milk production, gal/lb 4% fat-corrected milk2
    0.25
    0.35

    1Taken from Linn, Four-State Dairy Nutrition Conference, 1991, pg. 80-96.
    2The intake for maintenance and milk production must be added together for total daily intakes.

    Intake of water by animals is also dependent on its availability. Generally, it is recommended that 2 linear ft of water space be available for every 20 to 25 cows. The floor surface around the waterers should not discourage animals from approaching them and need to be placed in multiple locations in large sections of free stalls so cows do not crowd around them and so the cow will not have to walk very far to get a drink. Cows usually are thirsty after leaving the parlor, so a water trough should be placed in the return alley from the parlor to the housing area. Oftentimes, this is the trough that water from the plate cooler will be discharged into. Cows drink by sucking water into their mouth, so they should place their nose in the water to get a drink. If you see an animal lapping water, this is abnormal and stray voltage should be suspected. The waterer should be routinely cleaned; tip tanks work extremely well for easy cleanout - the opposite are the water bowls with the floating balls that hide the filth in the bowls.

    Water intake and the animal's performance can be affected by the quality of the water (Table 2). Water can be analyzed at many different laboratories in Ohio (see fact sheet located at http://ohioline.osu.edu/aex-fact/0315.html). Water treatment options do exist, but these are usually quite costly considering the available technology and the quantity of water used on a dairy farm. One of the first approaches to dealing with water concerns in addition to chemical analysis is determining water intake. This can be most effectively done on most dairy farms by placing a meter in the water line (see related article in this issue of Buckeye Dairy News) or by placing a water tank in the facility and recording the amount filled and amount drank by the animals. Sometimes if quality is a problem, locating an alternative source may be the most favorable option (i.e. digging a new well, changing from surface water to a well, or in some cases, using a municipal water source). Well heads should be adequately set back from animal lots and the ground surface should slope away from the well head to prevent surface water from running down the well casing.

    Table 2. General guidelines for water quality for animals.

    Item
    Concentration
    Comments
    pH
    6.8 - 7.5
    May affect intake
      ---------------------- ppm --------------------
    Sulfates
    1 - 250
    May reduce Cu and Se absorption
    Sulfate sulfur
    0 - 83
    May reduce Cu and Se absorption
    Ca or Mg
    0 -200
    Usually not a problem, but really high levels may decrease intake
    Sodium
    0 - 300
    High levels reveal the use of a water softener
    Iron
    0 - 0.3
    May decrease water intake; look for red stains on surface of water holding vessels
    Nitrates (NO3)
    < 20
     
    Nitrites (NO2)
    < 10
     
    Coliform bacteria None (0 counts) for potable water; <1000 fecal counts/ 100 ml tolerated by adult animals

    Water usage on dairy farms also includes that for cleaning the parlor, holding pen, and milking equipment (possibly up to 17 gal/cow/day), and in some cases, for flushing the alleys in the free stall barns. Water from cleaning and any water that comes into contact with manure becomes, by definition, manure. Therefore, it is important to minimize runoff from cow lots by having them under roof and by placing gutters on buildings so the water can be diverted away from coming into contact with the manure. Manure storage should provide at minimum for six months of capacity, but given the typical weather conditions in Ohio, 8 to 12 months of storage capacity is recommended. Other areas of focus for reducing environmental risks pertaining to water is capturing the seepages from silos and making sure that animals do not have direct access to streams.

    Water is an extremely valuable natural resource. The amount needed on dairy farms should be planned, availability and quality for animals continually monitored, and risks for contamination be minimized.

  5. An Experience with Monitoring Water Usage on Dairy Farms

    Mr. Dusty Sonnenberg, Extension Educator, Henry County, The Ohio State University 

    Water is the most important nutrient for any living organism. Wise use and management of that water is and will become an increasingly important function of dairy producers. Vmark, LLC is an Ohio-based company whose corporate theme is "rethinking water management". This organization has recently completed a water metering project at a commercial dairy in northwest Ohio in conjunction with Dr. Mike Brugger of The Ohio State University. Vmark, LLC specializes in the design and installation of water purification systems that are customized for large dairy farms. This organization believes that in order to facilitate wise water management decisions, we must first understand where all the water is going.

    In this project, which started in August 2004, meters were installed on a relatively large, expanding dairy farm operation. The purpose of the metering project was to determine exactly where water is being used in this operation. Reliable data has been generated since January 2005. Through the metering project, valuable data were gained regarding this dairy's operation, such as the actual overall average daily drinking water per cow, the actual average daily waste water per cow, and the actual overall average water used per cow per day.

    Metering the flow of water through this particular dairy's operation proved to be an effective management tool, as demonstrated by detection of an equipment failure (faulty valve), observations of shorter and/or longer wash down cycles, and documentation of shorter than recommended wash down cycles for the bulk tank. Another result of the metering project was the significant reduction of water usage by lowering the flow of water through the plate cooler while ensuring continued proper cooling of the milk. With metering data available, water usage was also reduced by adjusting the daily wash cycles to eliminate an extra security washing that had been completed each day.

    The next goal is to develop and market a water filtration system that cleans the water immediately following its use. This system will be individually designed for each dairy, based on the water usage patterns and the characteristics of the waste water being generated by that operation. Rethinking water management is the most efficient way to conserve our planet's most valuable natural resource, water. The organization believes it has a viable, cost effective, long term alternative to offer commercial dairy farms an opportunity to accomplish this goal. More information can be gained at http://vmarkwater.com.

  6. Genetically Modified Organisms - Feeds and the Food Chain

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

    Biotechnology is part of our everyday lives, whether in the medical community or food industry. However, the word "biotechnology" gives rise to anxiety for some people because it is associated with unnatural changes that lead to unknown implications. Genetically modified organisms (GMO) result from the application of in vitro nucleic acid techniques (e.g. rDNA) or fusion of cells to overcome the natural physiological reproductive or recombination barriers and that are not traditional techniques for breeding and selection (FAO and Food Nutrition Paper, 2004). In other words, they result from the change in genetic makeup other than by traditional breeding and selective practices to achieve desirable characteristics. It is important to understand the benefits of biotechnology and how people and the environment are protected from potential adverse effects of GMO.

    Risks associated with GMO on human health and the ecology are the primary foci for evaluating their potential use. With respect to human health, allergenicity (response to certain proteins), potential toxicity, and simultaneous effects on more than one characteristic of an organism are evaluated. From the ecological perspective, potential effects on nontarget species, effects of gene flow (from one organism to another), and evolution of resistance (e.g. pest resistance to pest-protected plants) are assessed.

    Many years of research are conducted in laboratories before a potential GMO can be considered for public use. During this research, the risks described previously must be reviewed and the total implications to the food chain assessed. For example, a new GMO corn could directly enter the food chain or be fed to animals which results in the need to assess the effects of the GMO on the animals and the animal products that enter the food chain (Figure 1). The regulatory authority for GMO lies with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Drug Association (FDA) , and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (Table 1). These agencies have joined together for working with GMO; see the United States Regulatory Agencies Unified Biotechnology web site: http://usbiotechreg.nbii.gov/. These agencies have developed a "US Database of Completed Regulatory Agency Reviews" that can be found at: http://usbiotechreg.nbii.gov/database_pub.asp. These reviews establish approval for the three following categories of use:

    • "Food" use means that a product has completed an FDA review for consumption by humans, and if the product is a plant that contains a plant-incorporated protectant (PIP), the PIP has completed EPA reviews (cPIP),
    • "Feed" use means that a product has completed an FDA review for consumption by animals and cPIP; and
    • "Planting" use means that a product has completed USDA-APHIS review for cultivation in the United States and cPIP.


    Figure 1. Relationship between research, new plant developments, feedstuffs for animals, and the food chain.

    Table 1. Regulatory authority for genetically modified organisms.1

    Agency
    Jurisdiction
    Laws
    USDA (safe to grow) Plant pests, plants, veterinary biologics Federal Plant Pest Act
    FDA (safe to eat) Food, feed, food additives, veterinary drugs, human drugs, medical devices Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA)
    EPA (safe for the environment) Microbial and plant pesticides, new uses of existing pesticides, novel microorganisms Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide, Act; FFDCA; Toxic Substances Control Act

    1Taken from NRC, 2000.

    Some GMO may fall into the category of Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS), whereby a company has to file a request to FDA for the said GMO to be acknowledged as a GRAS and the burden falls to FDA to identify why the item should not be accepted as GRAS. A list of substances for which GRAS status has been requested and FDA's action is located at: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~rdb/opa-gras.html. The GRAS process relays somewhat on the principle of "substantial equivalence", which embodies the idea that existing organisms used as food, or as a source of food, can be used as the basis for comparison when assessing the safety of human consumption of a food or food component that has been modified or is new (Genetically Modified Crops: Assessing Safety, 2002).

    Some examples of GMO in crops are:

    • Glyphosate (Round-up®) tolerance for soybeans, canola, corn, beets, alfalfa, and cotton {herbicide resistance},
    • YieldGard® (Monsanto, St. Louis, MO) for corn {insect resistance; corn borer; protein from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)},
    • Bollgard® (Monsanto, St. Louis, MO) for cotton (Bt; genetic resistance to tobacco budworm, pink bollworm, and cotton bollworm}, and
    • Hopperguard® (Land O' Lakes, St. Paul, MN) for alfalfa {genetic resistance to potato leafhoppers}.

    These crops can also be fed to animals that then provide foods for human consumption. An example of direct GMO use in the dairy industry is in the use of bovine somatotropin (bST; Posilac®, Monsanto, St. Louis, MO. A plasmid from Escherichia coli is removed, the bovine gene for somatotropin (growth hormone) is inserted into the plasmid, and the plasmid in reintroduced back into the E. coli. The bacteria then are grown in a fermentation system, and afterwards, the bST produced by the bacteria is separated, purified, mixed with a carrier, and dispensed into single use syringes. This bST was introduced in February, 1994 and today, Monsanto is selling the product to about 13,000 dairy producers among the 50 US states (http://www.monsantodairy.com/about/general_info/index.html).

    The US has among the most efficient food production system and the most safe food supply. It will continue to be a high priority to provide for safety of the food supply for humans and animals and to protect the environment, whether it be from influences from GMO or otherwise. Research must continue to provide the scientific foundation for addressing the risks and benefits of biotechnology.

    References

    • Genetically Modified Crops: Assessing safety. K.T. Atherton, ed. Taylor and Farncis, New York.
    • National Research Council. 2000. Genetically Modified Pest-Protected Plants. Science and regulation. Natl. Acad. Press, Washington, DC.
    • Safety Assessment of Foods Derived from Genetically Modified Animals, Including Fish. 2004. FAO and Food Nutrition Paper 79, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO).
  7. Northeast Ohio Dairy Management Conferences, March 29, 2006

    Mrs. Dianne Shoemaker, Extension Dairy Specialist, OSU Extension Center at Wooster

    Formulating a ration to get the same amount of milk production but less manure. Covering the bunker silo in the fall but not having to uncover and handle plastic and tires before feeding. Futuristic? Yes. Impossible? No. Practical? You bet. These topics as well as a panel focusing on harvesting quality forage and a look at managing Johne's Disease in the herd based on results of the newer, more sensitive fecal test results round out your day at the biennial Northeast Ohio Dairy Management Conference.

    Edible, practical, spoilage-reducing bunker silo coverings have been a topic of interest and research for Larry Berger, nutritionist at the University of Illinois for several years. Dr. Berger will share results of his latest field trials and how this technique can be implemented on-farm. Current results show great promise, not only reducing spoilage, but actually adding some feed value from the ingredients of the cover itself.

    Tired of hauling manure? When will the ground be fit? What ground is available? Potential nutrient overload? Bill Weiss, ruminant nutritionist at OSU, will share ways rations can be formulated to maintain milk production but decrease manure and/or manure nutrient secretion.

    Good speakers, interesting discussion with fellow dairy farmers, students and dairy industry types as well as a fine prime rib lunch await those who register for the conference. The Raintree Country Club, just north of the Akron/Canton airport in Stark County, is easily accessible from I-77.

    Full conference details and registration materials will be posted at https://dairy.osu.edu. They are also available at your county Extension office or by contacting Dianne Shoemaker at the Extension Center in Wooster at (330) 263-3799. Registration is $25 per person until March 15th or $35 per person after the early registration deadline.

  8. Neonatal Calf Management Workshop: A Cool Experience for the Serious Calf Raiser

    Mrs. Dianne Shoemaker, Extension Dairy Specialist, OSU Extension Center at Wooster

    The future of every successful dairy operation depends on a steady supply of healthy, productive replacement heifers calving between 22 and 24 months of age. If the dairy is not expanding, sales of excess heifers should be an additional revenue stream for the farm. If the farm is raising calves for others, producing healthy, productive animals is essential to the long-term success of the calf raising enterprise.

    This intense, 2-day workshop focuses on understanding and managing the calf from the calving process through weaning. Sessions on March 21st and 22nd include:

    1) It's a girl!...managing the newborn (the same principles apply for those raising bull calves!);
    2) Health diagnosis, treatment, and prevention;
    3) Nutrition and growth; and
    4) Managing the calf enterprise.

    Hands-on labs include:

    1) Assessing calf health;
    2) Dealing with drugs and administering fluid therapy;
    3) Why did this calf die? Posting a calf and studying calf anatomy; and
    4) Avoiding on-the-job injury.

    For the people working with calves, it is highly rewarding to work with a barn full of healthy, content calves. Dealing with chronic morbidity and mortality is discouraging for the people working with the calves and unprofitable, as well as unsustainable for the farm. From a purely economic perspective, with common calves less than a week old easily selling for $500 to $700 at local sale barns, dairy farms should strive for a death loss well under 5%.

    The Neonatal Calf Management Workshop is designed for calf managers and care-givers who are dedicated to doing the best job possible raising their calves. A detailed agenda and registration materials are available to download at https://dairy.osu.edu or by contacting Dianne Shoemaker at (330) 263-3799. Register early as class size will be limited to assure plenty of hands-on experiences for participants.

    The Neonatal Calf Management Workshop will be held near Wooster on the campus of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. The calf workshop will be followed by another workshop focusing on the replacement heifer from weaning through growing, breeding and freshening in June 2006.