Buckeye Dairy News: Volume 8 Issue 6

  1. Ohio Dairy Manager's Conference

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

    The Ohio Dairy Producers and The Ohio State University, Department of Animal Sciences are jointly hosting the 2006 Ohio Dairy Manager's Conference on October 17. The Conference will feature Steve Larson, Hoard's Dairymen, as the keynote speaker to address "Today's Dairy Issues", and other recognized dairy experts in milk markets and pricing forecasts, production strategies, and quality milk production. This will be a great opportunity to obtain information on current issues facing Ohio's dairy industry and to network with others in the industry. The Conference will be held at The Arden Shisler Center on the OARDC campus in Wooster from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm. For more information, go to https://dairy.osu.edu and click on "Ohio Dairy Manager's Conference" or contact Tim Demland, Ohio Dairy Producers, (614) 890-1800 Ext.123, TDemland@drink-milk.com.

  2. Changes to Federal Order Pricing Rules May Lower 2007 Milk Prices

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

    On November 20, 2006, the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service, Federal Order Branch, announced changes to the Class IV and Class III pricing rules. These changes are to the make allowance values, i.e., those values, expressed on a dairy product pound basis, which processors are allowed to deduct before arriving at the fat, protein, other solids and skim solids values to be paid to producers. You can access the complete Federal Order decision document at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/dairy/proposals/classIII_IV_make_all.htm

    I have posted a copy of the expected price impacts by components and milk class on my Ohio Dairy 2006 website at this address: http://aede.osu.edu/programs/ohiodairy/ . The bottom line is that milk producers will begin receiving less value for their milk as early as February 2007, or possibly March 2007. A positive referendum will require a 2/3 majority of producers voting individually or block voted by their cooperative association to approve the changes. Remember, that as stipulated under Federal Order procedural rules, the vote is to approve the new language authorizing the increased make allowance values. A 'no' vote is a vote to terminate your Federal Order. Not a small matter to consider.

    Looking ahead, the time-line for implementation on this decision is:

    November 22, 2006: Federal Register publication of the Tentative Final Decision (TFD) is adopted on an Interim Final and emergency basis. The 60-day comment period started on November 22, 2006 and runs to January 22, 2007. With the finding of an emergency basis, there will be a referendum concluded no later than 30 days from November 22, 2006, which was December 21, 2006. On December 22, a producer YES or NO vote is recorded. If the TFD is approved, then sometime shortly after this date, a Interim Final Rule(IFR) will be issued and the make allowance changes can go into effect for as early as February or March 2007. After the comment period closes on January 22, 2007, the comments will be reviewed and a Final Decision will be issued. This will be followed by a second referendum and the issuance of a Final Rule.

    There are two very important items on the Federal Order agenda. On December 5, 2006 in Washington DC, the USDA held an information program on the issue of class pricing rules and proposals it has received for more changes to these pricing rules. Also scheduled for December 11, 2006 in Pittsburgh, PA, there was begun a national hearing on proposals to change Class I and Class II pricing rules. If you would like more information on these hearings, contact your Federal Market Administrator at 330-225-4758.

  3. Cost of Nutrients and Benchmarks of Profitability for Ohio Dairy Farms

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

    Feed markets have dramatically changed the dairy nutrition landscape this Fall. Corn prices buoyed by the increased demand from ethanol plants, combined with an exuberant interest from speculators, and have risen to heights historically seen in low production years (e.g., 1996). The dramatic changes that will result from the phenomenal growth in ethanol production will require substantial and significant changes to the way that we approach dairy nutrition and ration balancing. We will discuss these in a future issue of Buckeye Dairy News. For now, dairy producers and their nutritionists should at least ensure that feeds used on their farms, either as commodities or as ingredients used in commercial feeds, are justified on an economic basis. To assist in the process, we evaluated current commodity markets in central Ohio using the software SESAME (available at www.sesamesoft.com). The appraisal would be slightly different for other Ohio regions, but not markedly so.

    Compared to May 2006, prices of nutrients (Table 1) show:

    1. A 17% increase in the unit cost of dietary energy,
    2. A 7¢/lb drop in the cost of degradable protein,
    3. An increase of 5 ¢/lb of digestible rumen undegradable protein (RUP),
    4. A drop of 1.4¢/lb of non-effective neutral detergent fiber (NDF), and
    5. No change in the price of effective NDF.

    Table 1. Prices of nutrients, central Ohio.

    Nutrient name
    May 2006
    November 2006
    Net energy for lactation - 3X (NRC, 2001; $/Mcal)
    Rumen degradable protein ($/lb)
    Digestible-rumen undegradable protein ($/lb)
    Non-effective neutral detergent fiber (NDF; $/lb)
    Effective-NDF ($/lb)

    From a historical standpoint, net energy lactation is currently very highly priced (10-year average is about 7¢/Mcal), whereas rumen degradable protein (RDP) is much below its historical average of about 0¢/lb. Therefore, as a general rule, it is currently wise to reduce the safety margins of dairy rations for net energy of lactation. Meanwhile, the markets are willing to pay you for using additional rumen degradable protein and non-effective NDF. In practical terms, this means that there are some high RDP and high fiber by-products that are currently bargains.

    In Tables 2 and 3, we report the results for 27 feed commodities traded or available in central Ohio. Table 2 conveniently groups commodities into three groups: bargains, at breakeven, and overpriced. If many ingredients in your rations are from the overpriced column, it is time to question your nutritional plan. Details of commodity pricing are shown in Table 3. In this table, the column labeled "actual" is the price for tractor trailer loads FOB central Ohio. The "predicted" column is the calculated breakeven price per ton; lastly, the "lower limit" and "upper limit" are the 75% confidence range for the breakeven price.

    Table 2. Grouping of feed commodities, central Ohio, November 2006.

    At Breakeven
    Corn silage Bakery byproducts Alfalfa hay - 44% NDF
    Whole cottonseed Brewers grains - wet Beet pulp
    Distillers dried grains Corn grain Blood meal
    Feather meal Cottonseed meal Canola meal
    Gluten feed Soybean hulls Citrus pulp
    Gluten meal 48% soybean meal Molasses
    Hominy Roasted soybeans 44% Soybean meal

    Meat meal

    Expeller soybean meal Wheat bran  
    Wheat middlings    

    Table 3. Commodity assessment, central Ohio, November 2006.

    Actual ($/ton)
    Predicted ($/ton)
    Lower limit ($/ton)
    Upper limit ($/ton)
    Alfalfa Hay, 44% NDF, 20% CP
    Bakery Byproduct Meal
    Beet Sugar Pulp, dried
    Blood meal, ring dried
    Brewers Grains, wet
    Canola Meal, mech. extracted


    Citrus Pulp, dried
    Corn Grain, ground dry
    Corn Silage, 32 to 38% DM
    Cottonseed Meal, 41% CP
    Cottonseed, whole w lint
    Distillers Dried Grains, w solubles
    Gluten Feed, dry
    Gluten Meal, dry
    Meat Meal, rendered
    Molasses, sugarcane
    Soybean Hulls
    Soybean Meal, expeller
    Soybean Meal, solvent 44% CP
    Soybean Meal, solvent 48% CP
    Soybean Seeds, whole roasted
    Wheat Bran
    Wheat Middlings

    Appraisal Set
    Actual ($/ton)
    Predicted ($/ton)
    Corrected ($/ton)
    Alfalfa Hay - 38% NDF, 22% CP
    Alfalfa Hay - 48% NDF, 17% CP
    Blood meal, ring dried
    Fish Menhaden Meal, mech.

    Nutrient prices and milk component prices can be used to calculate a benchmark for feed costs and income over nutrient costs. Results are presented in Table 4. The cost of feeding for a milk yield of 75 lb/day has gone up by $0.12/cow per day since May and is $0.20/cow per day greater than at the same time last year. This occurred while the price of corn went up from $32/ton (90¢/bu) in May 2006 to $45/ton ($1.26/bu) in November 2006. This indicates that although prices of traded commodities move up or down in "sympathy" with the corn/soybean markets, they do have markets of their own.

    Table 4. Nutrient costs and income over nutrient costs, central Ohio.1

    November 2005
    May 2006
    November 2006
    ------------------------------ $/cow/day --------------------------------
    Nutrient costs2











    Vitamins and minerals



    Milk gross income





    Other solids



    Income over nutrient costs

    1Costs and income for a 1400 lb cow producing 75 lb/day of milk, with 3.6% fat, 3.1% protein, and 5.9% other solids. Component prices are for Federal Order 33, August 2005.
    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.

  4. Handling and Transporting Neonatal Calves

    Dr. Naomi Botheras, Animal Welfare Program Specialist, The Ohio State University 

    Traditionally, most dairy cattle lived on one farm from birth to death. However, transportation of young animals has now become a routine management practice on many dairy farms. Heifer calves are frequently moved off the farm to separate rearing facilities within the first week of life, and then perhaps moved again during the first year, before returning to the farm prior to calving. Furthermore, most bull calves are also transported off the farm very early in life, typically either to a grower facility to be raised for veal or dairy-beef production. Research suggests that handling and transport can be a severe stress for animals, and the welfare of calves may be at particular risk during transport. The welfare of calves during handling and transport has been comprehensively reviewed by Trunkfield and Broom (1990), and several other reviews of cattle transport are also available (Tarrant, 1990; Hemsworth et al., 1995; Grandin, 1997; Knowles, 1999; Eicher, 2001).

    Transportation can be subdivided into several elements: handling, loading and unloading, mixing of unfamiliar animals, confinement and space limitations, unfamiliar environment, feed and water deprivation, fluctuating and/or extreme temperatures, and motion of the vehicle during transit. The ability of the animal to cope with these elements of transport varies with age, and importantly, the immune status of the animal influences the animals' coping response.

    Loading and Unloading

    Two of the greatest difficulties with handling and transporting very young calves are that they are often unable to walk without assistance, and they also fail to display following behavior, thus preventing them from being effectively herded. Consequently, these young weak animals are often difficult to handle and herd, and in many cases, forced movement results in the calves being mishandled and roughly treated when trying to move them on the farm and load and unload them from transport vehicles. Use of an electric prod or biting dogs to force calves to move, and throwing or dragging calves on or off trucks, all represent totally unacceptable ways of managing young calves. Loading and unloading of calves appear to be the most stressful stages of transport, as indicated by rises in the blood concentration of the stress hormone cortisol during this transport event (Trunkfield and Broom, 1990; Eicher, 2001). Calves find it difficult to navigate ramps and inclines, and calves often fail to remain upright during unloading from trucks, particularly if the unloading ramp is steep. The welfare of calves falling or sliding down a ramp is compromised, and in many situations, bruising may also occur, with welfare and economic consequences. In one study of 7,500 transported calves, an average of 80% of calves failed to remain upright during unloading from decks with a ramp incline of 18.8° (Bremner et al., 1992), and in another study of 16,400 transported calves, 50% of the calves had bruised stifles (McCausland et al., 1977).

    Mortality and Shipping Fever

    Transportation of calves has been shown to increase mortality rates of calves (Hemsworth et al., 1995; Knowles, 1995). However, few calves usually die during transport, but succumb to a secondary infection within the following 4 weeks. Neonatal animals are usually immuno-suppressed, and this makes it more difficult for the animal to cope with the additional stress of transport. A strong negative correlation exists between age at transport and mortality rate, such that mortality rates are reduced as calf age at transport increases. While death is an extreme consequence of transport, the welfare of a significant number of other calves is also likely to be compromised when mortality rates are high. Transport or shipping fever, also known as bovine respiratory disease, is generally considered to be caused by stress-induced changes in the immune system during transport, which increases susceptibility to viral and bacterial infections. Hence, transport may increase the rates of illness and disease. Furthermore, preliminary evidence suggests that calves are particularly vulnerable to transport stress at 4 days of age. Calves shipped at 4 days of age show a much lower immune response and ability to fight pathogens than calves transported before and after that age, suggesting that transporting calves at 4 days of age should be avoided.

    Weight Loss

    During transport, calves may lose weight. It appears that this weight loss results from food and water deprivation, and defecation and urinary losses, which can lead to acute dehydration and hypoglycemia (Trunkfield and Broom, 1990). Calves that are subject to long journeys are increasingly susceptible to acute dehydration and chronic hypoglycemia, and transportation is often associated with problems of scouring, which in turn may also lead to dehydration. Electrolytes given orally during or after transport, or subcutaneously after transport, have both been found to be beneficial, particularly in the young calf. The major effects are reduced dehydration, earlier return to interest in eating and improved growth rates, immune stimulation, and reduction of losses in both liveweight and carcass weights (Knowles, 1999; Eicher, 2001).

    Physical and Environmental Effects

    Neonatal calves prefer to lie down during transport, so sufficient space needs to be provided to allow animals to do this. A suitable bedding material, such as straw, also needs to be provided so the animals are comfortable, warm, and dry. Calves have little natural tolerance of the cold, so protection from wind chill and rain during transport in cold weather is very important. However, adequate ventilation must still be maintained to ensure suitable air quality. Care must also be taken when handling and transporting calves in hot weather, and particularly, if it is also humid. It may be necessary to reduce stocking density in such conditions, and extra patience when moving animals to prevent overexertion is important. The length of the journey, and thus the length of feed and water deprivation also need to be considered. It is suggested in the Australian Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Land Transport of Cattle (2002) that all calves must be fed as close as possible to, and at least within 6 hours of, the time of transportation, and calves must not be deprived of appropriate liquid feed or water for more than 10 hours in total, including the mustering and holding period prior to transport, the actual transport, and the time after unloading. The Canadian Recommended Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farm Animals: Transportation (2001) recommends that calves be provided with suitable feed and water at least every 12 hours. The metabolic (feeding) needs of the young calf have been linked to critical body temperature, so the need to maintain the critical temperature of the neonate is apparent. Colostrum also increases a calf's tolerance to cold temperatures.


    Transport has various effects on the calf, and the evidence suggests that many are adverse. The extent to which calves are able to cope with transport, and the extent of their suffering, are questions which must be answered if good welfare of calves in transit is to be ensured. Due to the difficulties in handling and transporting very young calves, and the associated welfare (and economic) risks, it has been suggested that calves should not be transported until they have dry, withered navel cords, and that they must be fit and strong enough to be transported, i.e., calves must be bright and alert, robust, and able to rise and walk without assistance (UK Welfare of Animals (Transport) Order, 1997; Canadian Recommended Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farm Animals: Transportation, 2001; Australian Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Land Transport of Cattle, 2002). The importance of all calves (heifers and bulls) receiving an adequate quantity of high-quality colostrum as soon as possible after birth, preferably within one hour, also cannot be emphasized enough. Providing an adequate volume of high-quality colostrum is critical to calf health and is the single most important factor to prevent illness of young calves. Studies have indicated that as few as 20% of calves entering veal production units in the United States have acquired adequate transfer of Immunoglobulin G from colostrum (Wilson et al., 1994).

  5. Managing Colostrum and Waste Milk on Farms with Johne's Disease

    Drs. William P. Shulaw and William B. Epperson, Extension Veterinarians, The Ohio State University 

    In recent months, the topic of colostrum management in herds with Johne's disease has surfaced frequently. We have known for some time that the causative organism, Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP), may be found in colostrum and milk taken from the udders of infected cows. Work done in Ohio and published in 1995 reported that MAP was isolated from the colostrum of 22% of infected cows and from the milk of about 8% of infected cows. Cows that were heavy fecal shedders of MAP were more likely to shed the organism in their colostrum than were light fecal shedders. Research done in Pennsylvania showed a slightly higher shedding level in milk (11.6%) and shedding in milk was also more likely in cows that were heavy fecal shedders. Colostrum was not examined in that study. It is important to note that the numbers of MAP recovered from milk in these studies would be considered quite low -- from 2 to 8 colonies from a 50 ml (cc) milk sample.

    In recognition of both the potential risk that infected colostrum might pose in establishing an infection in a newborn calf and the importance of colostrum in protecting against other diseases in young calves, some producers and veterinarians have attempted to identify cows that might be of higher risk of having MAP in their colostrum in order that their colostrum might not be used for heifer replacements. Although it was designed to be a screening test to select HERDS (and animals) for additional testing using a more definitive test, such as fecal culture, ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) is commonly being used for this purpose because it is cheap and fast relative to culture. It is usually performed at dry-off.

    To our knowledge, only one research study has attempted to address the ability of ELISA to detect cows that are shedding MAP through their mammary gland. In that work, Sweeney and colleagues reported the results of tests on samples of feces, supramammary lymph nodes, milk, and serum taken at slaughter from 86 cows not showing clinical signs of Johne's disease. The samples were tested by culture (feces, lymph nodes, and milk) and complement fixation, ELISA, and agar-gel immunodiffusion (AGID; done on blood serum).

    Relevant findings included:

    • Heavy fecal shedders of MAP were more likely to have culture positive milk and lymph nodes than intermediate or light shedders, and "The trend for an increased proportion of culture-positive milk or supramammary lymph node samples with an increased fecal shedding rate is significant (P < 0.05)." In this study, 7 of 37 (19%) cows that were heavy fecal shedders had MAP in their milk.
    • "There is a significant difference (P < 0.001) in the ELISA scores between cows with culture-positive and -negative lymph nodes, but no difference was demonstrated for milk samples." This implies that ELISA might be useful to detect cows with MAP in the mammary lymph nodes but not the milk.

    The authors concluded "Thus, the serologic status of the cow [as assessed by ELISA, AGID, or complement fixation] appears to be of little use in predicting the risk of milk or supramammary lymph node infection." It is important to note that the ELISA technique used in this study was not the same as current ELISA in use in the USA today, although it is similar to them.

    The current practice of discarding colostrum from ELISA-positive animals seems to stem from our observations that these animals are most likely to be moderate to heavy fecal shedders of MAP, and the inference from the studies cited is that heavy shedding animals are more likely to have MAP in their milk. Although on the surface this approach seems appropriate, there are several significant cautions of which producers should be aware. The first of these is that currently available ELISA probably only detect about 70% of heavy shedders (including from unpublished Ohio observations, 2006). This means that up to 30% of heavy shedders will not be detected by ELISA. Furthermore, ELISA detection of low to moderate fecal shedders is variously reported to be only 2 to 30% (including from unpublished Ohio observations, 2006). In the Sweeny study, 1/9 (11%) intermediate fecal shedders and 1/31 (3%) light fecal shedders DID have positive milk samples. In addition, 2 of 9 intermediate shedders (22%) and 2 of 33 light shedders (6%) had culture positive supramammary lymph nodes.

    In light of these observations, it would seem well for producers to be aware that ELISA-negative animals may have a risk of having MAP in their milk similar to that of ELISA-positive animals.

    Secondly, in the milk and colostrum culture studies cited above, samples were collected from the udder after thorough teat end cleaning and disinfection of the skin. Therefore, the results reflect the status of the mammary gland itself. Because fecal material from infected cows in amounts as small as a gram (about the size of a large pea) may contain billions of MAP bacteria, a few infected animals can contaminate the dairy environment to a very significant degree. Work done on farms in Ohio in 2005 and 2006 has shown that contamination of the environment with MAP in an infected herd can result in heavy contamination of the skin of the teat and udder - in some cases in a very high percentage of the herd. In fact, skin swabs taken from the skin of the teat and udder of fecal culture-negative cows, using just a 4-inch square gauze sponge, have yielded MAP upon culture in amounts equivalent to fecal samples taken directly from the rectum of infected cows. A very small amount of this contamination can result in a bucket of colostrums, potentially containing an infectious dose of MAP for every calf fed from it. Consequently, If producers are not paying close attention to teat and udder cleaning at the time of colostrum (or milk) collection, small amounts of fecal contamination from environmental sources could completely wipe out any value of assessing an individual cow's infection status with either blood or culture tests. This very real potential for bacterial contamination during harvest has recently been shown.

    Some producers may wish to consider the purchase of a pasteurizer for waste milk and colostrum. Some studies have shown significant economic and calf health benefits from pasteurization of waste milk. Although there are mixed results from studies examining the efficiency of pasteurization of milk or colostrum to kill MAP, most studies have shown at least a 99.9% reduction in MAP numbers. In addition, recent work has shown that heating colostrum at a lower temperature for a longer time than typical batch pasteurization may fully inactivate MAP without turning it into a semi-solid and without major losses in antibody content (1400 F for 60 to120 minutes). Because some of this work was done in a laboratory setting, it will need to be determined whether these study findings can be successfully replicated using commercial on-farm batch pasteurization equipment. However, these results are very encouraging and suggest that, for some producers, on-farm pasteurization may be a very useful tool to reduce MAP in colostrum and waste milk.

    The "take homes" are:

    1. ELISA-positive cows are more likely to be heavy shedders of MAP than ELISA- negative cows, and removing ELISA-positive cows as colostrum/calf milk donors may decrease the burden of MAP in the colostrum/calf milk pool, since some (8 to 22%) of these positive cows may shed MAP in colostrum.
    2. However, ELISA will not identify the majority of MAP-positive cows shedding intermediate or low levels of MAP in their manure, yet from 3 to 11% of these cows appear to shed MAP into milk. Because there are usually many more intermediate and low shedders in a herd than heavy shedders, they may be responsible, collectively, for more direct mammary gland shedding of MAP than the heavy shedders identified by ELISA. In addition, ELISA will not identify all heavy shedders.
    3. The level of MAP in the manure (organisms/ml) of infected cows is potentially millions of times HIGHER than in milk. Therefore, fecal contamination of the colostrum/milk at milking is probably a greater factor driving the level of MAP in milk/colostrum than MAP infection originating in the udder and subsequently shed directly into milk.
    4. Finally, MAP infection in a herd can result in TREMENDOUS contamination of cow contact surfaces. Cows not infected with MAP have been shown to have large numbers of MAP on their teat and udder skin (picked up from fecal contamination in the environment) so even milk/colostrum from truly uninfected cows may be contaminated with MAP if milk is contaminated at milking (i.e. pre-milking preparation is inadequate).

    Using ELISA testing to identify cows to remove from the colostrum/calf milk pool will decrease the MAP burden but will likely do so in a relatively small way. In herds infected with MAP, data suggest that fecal contamination remains the main way colostrum/calf milk is contaminated. A focus on environmental management (clean cows) and meticulous pre-milking cow preparation should remain centerpieces of a MAP control program. Pasteurization offers a promising adjunct to provide a method to greatly reduce contamination of colostrum/calf milk.

    *A complete list of research references is available on request.

  6. Update on Footbaths for Dairy Cattle

    Dr. William B. Epperson, Extension Dairy Veterinarian, The Ohio State University 

    Footbaths are used as a tool to assist in control of infectious diseases of the claw and interdigital area of the foot. Foot rot and hairy heel warts are the main infectious diseases of the foot, and each respond only partially to footbath use. Both diseases are directly related to the level of environmental hygiene. Footbaths are generally viewed as helpful when disease is present at a low (<10%) level. When more animals are affected with disease, such as hairy heel wart, other methods must be employed for treatment.

    Environments that are mostly free of manure buildup offer very little challenge to foot health, and therefore, require less footbath use and maintenance. If more than 50% of cows are clean (area between coronary band to ½ way up hock shows only small drop splashing of manure), then footbath use may be constrained to 2 days/week or much less. This might be typical of well managed tie stall housed cows. Many dairy farms with freestalls will not have this level of hygiene (though it can be achieved) and will require footbath use the majority of days, and maybe continuously. Obviously, a focus on frequent cleaning will improve hygiene, and will improve many aspects of health - foot, mammary, and reproductive.

    If footbaths are necessary, consider targeting higher risk groups to limit costs. Early lactation cows seem most at risk for infectious foot disease, so intense use of footbaths for cows in this stage of lactation may be justified. Later lactation cows may require 50 to 75% the frequency of footbath use as for the early lactation groups.

    Improving design and function of footbaths may improve their effect and limit the need for repeated treatment. Size the treatment bath to be at least 8 and preferably 10 feet long. Maintain a 5-inch solution depth. Locate the bath in the return ally, far enough away from the parlor to avoid a "cow jam" leaving the parlor.

    If feet are clean entering the bath, the disinfectant solution has a better chance to work. A 2 stage footbath is an option, with the first stage footbath being water and detergent to clean the feet, followed immediately by the treatment footbath containing the active disinfectant.

    When not in use, route cows around the footbath. If that is not possible, put something in the footbath. An empty footbath can create a manure pit cesspool that cows must walk through.

    Using chemicals strategically can also limit disinfectant costs. Footbath solutions really have 2 potential functions: 1) assist in simple cleaning of the foot, and 2) disinfect the skin of the interdigital space. These are separate functions, and each contributes to foot health.

    Soaps and rock salt are among those additives that assist mostly in cleaning. When dispersed in water, they help remove debris. This is helpful in exposing the foot to oxygen and inhibiting the bacteria that typically produce foot rot and heel warts. But, they have little disinfecting action.

    Disinfectants include copper sulfate, zinc sulfate, formalin, and a number of commercial products. Antibiotics are sometimes used in footbaths when a heel wart outbreak is occurring. Antibiotic use in footbaths is an extralabel use and requires veterinary direction. Following a course of antibiotic treatment, footbaths are then maintained with a disinfectant. Most footbath chemicals are effective for around 150 to 200 cow passes.

    Copper sulfate at 5 to 10% has been the most common disinfectant used in footbaths. Substituting a cleaning agent for copper sulfate on some days will reduce use. Additives can also be used to extend copper sulfate (check with your chemical/equipment supplier). Some acid additives claim to allow a lower concentration of copper sulfate (i.e. 2%) to be used. Ask your supplier about effectiveness of the products; some available products have little efficacy data available, so it may be difficult to predict which ones will work.

    Zinc sulfate at 5 to 10% can be used to replace copper sulfate, but it is hard to get dissolved into solution when mixed with cold water. Again, there are commercial solutions containing zinc sulfate that alleviate this problem. Some commercial solutions, such as Double Action (West Agro, Inc.) have been tested and shown to be effective in footbaths, and may be used as replacements. Formalin (2 to 5%) is used in footbaths, but it should be handled with caution, as it is a carcinogen and irritant. While formalin does appear to be an effective disinfectant, its use in a food production setting is difficult to justify.

  7. Health Insurance Deductions and Health Savings Accounts

    Mr. Donald J. Breece, Farm Management Specialist, OSU Extension Center at Lima

    Health insurance costs are a major farm family expense. As a result, much attention is focused on adopting a health insurance strategy that will save on taxes. For any given strategy, the effect on Social Security (both Self Employment and FICA tax) must be considered in addition to income tax savings.

    Sole proprietorships, partnerships, and LLC's taxed as a partnership, are not allowed to provide tax-free fringe benefits (other than qualified retirement plans) to the proprietor and family. The farm operator is not an employee. However, the farmer can employ the spouse and the dependents. This may be done under IRS Code Section 105. The spouse must be a bona fide employee and must be paid a reasonable salary plus benefits, based upon the duties performed. With this strategy, the farmer may deduct the cost of family health insurance (in the spouse's name) as a business expense, thus saving both income tax and self-employment tax. However, the spouse's wages are subject to Social Security (FICA) and Medicare taxes. If the spouse is not employed by the business, the farmer can claim self-employment health insurance as a deduction on line 28 of the Form 1040. Under this deduction; however, self-employment tax is not reduced.

    If a partnership pays the health insurance for the partner, the payment is treated as income to the partner for both income and self-employment taxes. The partner can claim the self-employed health insurance deduction, same as the sole-proprietor. The S Corporation rules for fringe benefits are much the same as a partnership, however, unlike a partnership, no social security (FICA) tax is imposed on the value of the premiums. Thus, the total tax liability is less for an S Corporation shareholder-employee than that for a partner or LLC member receiving the same health insurance benefits.

    A farmer can achieve the most favorable tax treatment of fringe benefits by utilizing a C or regular corporation. The corporation furnishes the health insurance and deducts the premiums. However, no income is attributed to the shareholder-employee. Also, no FICA or Social Security tax is imposed on the health insurance benefit.

    Health Saving Accounts (HSA) first became available in 2004, under IRC Section 223. The HSA are custodial accounts or tax-exempt trusts that are created to pay qualified medical expenses for the account holder, spouse, and dependents. Contributions to HSA are deductible if made by an eligible individual, an employer, or both. Distributions from the HSA are tax-free if they are used to pay for qualified medical expenses. In addition, investment earnings are not taxable. Distributions used for non-medical expenses are taxable and subject to a 10% penalty.

    Eligibility requirements for an HSA include:

    1. Must be covered by a high deductible health plan (HDHP). A HDHP must have an annual deductible of at least $1,050 for individual coverage and $2,100 for family coverage, and an annual out-of-pocket expense limit of $5,250 for individual coverage and $10,500 for family coverage.
    2. Can not be covered by other health plans that are not a HDHP.
    3. Can not be entitled to Medicare benefits.
    4. Also, can not be eligible to be claimed by another taxpayer.

    The maximum contribution to a HSA is the lesser of the annual deductible of the HDHP or for self coverage $2,700 in 2006 (each year will be adjusted for inflation) and $5,450 for family coverage (also to be adjusted for inflation). Individual policyholders and covered spouses who are 55 or older are allowed a "catch-up" amount of $700 for 2006 (this will increase by $100 per year to $1,000 by 2009).

    There is no "use-it-or-lose-it" provision for HSA. Therefore, unused contributions can be carried forward and used for eligible medical expenses after the beneficiary has retired. The beneficiary can also withdraw funds penalty-free after age 65, thus treating the HSA as the equivalent of a traditional IRA.

  8. Quality Milk and Quality Beef

    Dr. Steve Boyles, Extension Beef Specialist, The Ohio State University

    Dairy cows are a major source of beef. Cows marketed to slaughter can represent up to 15% of a dairy's income. Meat packers are implementing Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point plans and are focusing on the quality of cattle coming into the packing plant.

    Dairy producers contribute to the beef supply through elimination of cull cows and bulls (non-fed beef). Approximately one-third of the total non-fed beef production originates from dairy cows, and one-half of all cows processed for beef in the U.S. are dairy cattle. Dairy producers were losing approximately $70 for every cow and bull marketed due to quality defects.

    Some people think that the beef from cull cattle is used for ground beef. Products from the rib and round areas are used to form deli and steak sandwich meats. Ribeye steaks and tenderloins from cull cows and bulls are marketed to "family" steakhouses. There are strategies that producers may use to prevent monetary losses and improve the quality of beef from culled animals.

    Injection Site Lesions

    A Colorado State University (CSU) study found 58% of rounds from dairy carcasses had at least one injection site. A majority of these abscesses were in the back of the leg and were the result of intramuscular injections. Avoid intramuscular injections when possible (i.e., use subcutaneous). If no alternative exists, consider injecting products in the neck or shoulder region. No more than 10 cc of any product should be administered in any one-injection site.

    Drug Residues

    Dairy cows and veal calves are the two classes of cattle with the greatest violation of antibiotic residues according to the USDA National Residue Monitoring program. Withdrawal time is often not the same for meat and milk.

    Lame Cattle

    An average of $70 is lost for every disabled or non-ambulatory cow processed. Processing costs increase because of carcass trimming due to increased bruising and the likelihood that the carcass will be condemned. Decrease the incidence of downer cows by selling cull animals prior to deterioration of health.

    Hide Damage

    Hide defects among dairy cows cost producers $5.21 per head, or 16.6 million dollars annually. Damage to hides usually results from brands, scratches, and (or) insect/parasite infestation. Eliminate sharp, protruding objects in milking and handling areas. An external parasite program should reduce insect and parasite damage to hides. If possible, move the brand from the rib to the rump region and this will reduce the amount of leather that tanners have to remove from the hide. Most folks don't want your cow number in the middle of their leather car seat!

    Body Condition

    Cows in poor condition are more susceptible to bruising. Cows with excess body fat must be trimmed in order to market a more desirable carcass. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) audit calculated the following value losses due to carcass characteristics:

    Value Lost per Animal
    Yellow external fat
    Dark cutting
    Inadequate muscle
    Over fat
    Light weight

    Source: NCBA/CSU, 1999.

    Consider putting market cows that are in poor body condition on feed for a short time before marketing them. Feed the refusal feed from the milking string plus a little grain. If a cow is lame, it gives her time to heal. Keeping them on a dirt lot would be great.

    A Cornell study found that fattening cows from 70 to 90 days prior to marketing could add body weight, result in a more desirable fat color, and give producers the opportunity to watch for higher market price days to sell.


    Dairy cows at the end of their productive lives have been considered cull cows. These cows can contribute one last time to the bottom line of a dairy farm.

  9. Using Manure with Growing Crops

    Mr. Glen Arnold, Extension Agriculture Educator, Putnam County

    Applying animal manure to a growing crop can add an additional window of time rarely utilized for manure application. Also, applying animal manure to a growing crop allows the farmer to capture more of the manure's nutrients and potentially save on purchased fertilizer. The OSU Extension has applied swine manure to growing crops on several research plots in recent years in an attempt to make maximum use of the available nitrogen.

    In addition to phosphorus, potassium, and a host of micro nutrients, livestock manure contains organic nitrogen and ammonium nitrogen. More than half the nitrogen in liquid livestock manure is typically ammonium nitrogen. The ammonium nitrogen and approximately one third of the organic nitrogen in livestock manure is available to growing crops during the season of application. The OSU Extension research plots attempted to determine if the nitrogen in livestock manure could replace the purchased nitrogen normally applied to corn and wheat.

    Three replicated research plots were undertaken in 2005 and 2006, comparing swine manure to 28% nitrogen as a sidedress nitrogen source to a growing corn crop. Sidedress nitrogen was applied at the agronomic rate needed by the growing crop according to pre-sidedress nitrogen testing. This was typically 150 units per acre. Manure application equipment was calibrated, as closely as possible, to match the amount of nitrogen applied as 28%. Generally, plots required 3000 to 4000 gallons per acre of manure. The manure was applied using a tanker fitted with narrow wheels and an AerWay toolbar with rolling tines that incorporated the manure.

    There was no statistical yield difference between the corn plots receiving purchased 28% nitrogen and the corn plots receiving swine manure in 2005 or 2006. One of the plot replications in 2006 involved "spiking" the livestock manure with 28% nitrogen to cut the needed manure application rate in half. Approximately 16 gallons of 28% nitrogen was added to a 3500 gallon manure tank to double the acreage the manure could cover and still provide the needed nitrogen rate. Plot yields using the spiked manure were similar to the other plots.

    Swine manure was also applied to a growing wheat crop in Putnam County in the spring of 2006 and compared with urea as a source of nitrogen to topdress wheat. The manure and the urea were both applied in early March and the plot was replicated four times. Approximately 100 units of nitrogen was applied as urea and approximately 3250 gallons per acre of manure was applied using an AgCo AgChem Grassland Applicator. The tool cut a narrow slot in the ground at 7.5 inch spacing using a smooth coulter. A boot located immediately behind the coulter allowed the liquid manure to flow into the slot.



    The wheat top dressed with manure out yielded the wheat top dressed with urea by approximately eight bushels per acre. There was no difference in harvest moisture or test weight of the wheat in any of the replications.

    These plot results indicate livestock manure is an excellent source of nitrogen for growing crops. However, the large volume of manure needed to meet the nitrogen needs of the growing corn crop makes it difficult to efficiently apply using current technology.

    Research plots in 2007 will focus on applying livestock manure as a sidedress to corn after the crop is planted but prior to emergence. Depending on soil temperatures, a window of 7 to 15 days could be available to apply manure as a sidedress using a dragline system immediately following corn planting.

  10. Feeding Calves to Grow in Cold Weather

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

    Growing and staying healthy - 2 universal objectives for raising calves from birth to weaning. As the seasons change, so must our management practices to achieve these two goals. Why?

    First, a calf is born with approximately 3% body fat. There is barely enough of that fat available to the calf to meet her energy requirements for the first 18 hours of life. Colostrum has twice the level of fat than normal milk to start addressing the calf's need for energy at birth.

    Second, there is a finite range of temperatures where an animal does not require additional energy to simply maintain the body. In other words, the body functions properly, but neither gains nor loses weight. Calves are the most sensitive to external temperatures of any bovine age group.

    Newborn calves (from birth to 7 days,) have a lower critical temperature of around 55°F. In other words, when the temperature in their environment drops below 60°F, Calves require additional nutrients to simply maintain their body temperature (and weight). After the first week of life, they can handle a few more degrees of cold.

    How much extra milk or milk replacer is needed simply to maintain body weight? The following table shows the increasing amounts of 20:20 (Protein:Fat) milk replacer required to meet maintenance requirements of different size calves at varying environmental temperatures.

    Remember, these increases represent maintenance requirements. We also want the calf to grow. Additional milk replacer or milk must be fed to achieve your desired growth rates.

    Amount of Milk Replacer/Milk Dry Matter Required to Meet Maintenance Requirements
    Body weight, lb
    Temperature, oF
    Taken from VanAmburgh, 2006.


  11. Students Represent Ohio State at National Dairy Judging Competitions

    Ms. Laurie Winkelman, Dairy Program Specialist, The Ohio State University 

    The Ohio State University Dairy Judging Team recently completed its 2006 season. The dairy judging season officially started during the Ohio State Fair in August when students worked extremely long hours in the milking parlor and dairy cattle barn during the run of the Fair. Over Labor Day Weekend, the students traveled to Timonium, Maryland and judged more than 20 classes at the Maryland State Fair.

    Before Fall Quarter classes started, 2 teams were sent to contests in Viroqua, Wisconsin and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Four undergraduate students represented The Ohio State University by competing in the Accelerated Genetics Intercollegiate Dairy Judging Contest in Viroqua, WI on September 16. After placing 10 classes and preparing 5 sets of oral reasons, the team placed 16th overall and 5th in Brown Swiss. Team members included Allison Stammen (New Weston, OH), Danielle Hulit (Mansfield, OH), Brian Hartschuh (Bloomville, OH), and Matt Jackson (Muskingham Co.). The team was paced by Stammen, who placed 27th overall. Kelly Epperly from Anna, OH, a recent graduate from the Department of Animal Sciences, served as Assistant Coach and traveled with the team to Wisconsin.

    On the same weekend, four other undergraduate students competed in the All American Intercollegiate Dairy Cattle Judging Contest in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on September 18. After placing 10 classes and preparing 5 sets of oral reasons, the team placed 12th overall, 5th in linear evaluation, and 8th in Jersey. Team members included Dan Ziegler (Belleville, WI), Cade Stockberger (Utica, OH), Michele Lahmers (Ashland, OH), and Sheryn Schlairet (Mt. Vernon, OH). Stockberger led the team by placing 33rd overall.

    The Harrisburg team also represented Ohio State at the National Intercollegiate Dairy Judging Contest at World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin. During the first week of October, the students traveled to Madison and participated in numerous farm practices before World Dairy Expo. In an extremely high scoring contest, the OSU team placed 14th overall out of 21 teams. The team placed 9th in Ayrshire and Red and White Holstein. At the World Dairy Expo contest, Ziegler was 8th in Milking Shorthorn, 15th in Brown Swiss, 28th in Guernsey, and 11th in Linear Evaluation. Stockberger placed 3rd in Ayrshire and 29th in Guernsey. Schlairet and Lahmers placed 22nd and 24th, respectively, in Red and White Holstein.

    The season wrapped up with the North American International Livestock Exposition Intercollegiate Dairy Judging Contest in Louisville, Kentucky. At the beginning of November, Stammen, Hartschuh, Schlairet, and Hulit joined forces to participate in the contest. In a challenging contest, the Ohio State team placed 14th overall out of 16 teams. The team was led by Stammen, who placed 22nd overall, 2nd in Holstein, 15th in Brown Swiss, and 17th in Guernsey. Schlairet placed 6th in Brown Swiss. Hartschuh was 20th in Ayrshire.

    The team is coached by Laurie Winkelman, Dairy Program Specialist for The Ohio State University. The team wishes to thank COBA/Select Sires for their continued financial support of the team, and the many farms that opened their doors for practices during the judging season.

    2006 World Dairy Expo team: Dan Ziegler, Sheryn Schlairet, Michele Lahmers,
    and Cade Stockberger.

    2006 Louisville Team: Allison Stammen, Sheryn Schlairet, Danielle Hulit,
    and Brian Hartschuh.

  12. Ohio 4-H Judges Excel in Fall Competitions

    Ms. Laurie Winkelman, Dairy Program Specialist, The Ohio State University 

    Eight dairy youth from throughout Ohio had the opportunity to travel this fall as members of the Ohio 4-H Dairy Judging Team. Two teams comprised of 4 youth per team represented Ohio at 3 national competitions in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Madison, Wisconsin; and Louisville, Kentucky.

    The dairy judging season started with an intense practice over Labor Day weekend. Eleven youth vying for 8 team spots traveled to Timonium, Maryland and judged more than 20 classes at the Maryland State Fair. After a few more local practices, the teams were selected and continued preparation for the national contests.

    The first competition was the All American 4-H Dairy Cattle Judging Contest in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in the middle of September. The Ohio 4-H Dairy Judging team placed 3rd overall (tied for 2nd, with tie broken on oral reasons), with 15 teams competing in the contest. The team placed 3rd in linear evaluation, 4th in Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, and Holstein, and 3rd in Jersey.

    At the Harrisburg contest, the team was led by Neil Duncan from Warsaw, Ohio (Coshocton Co.). Duncan, who is a first-year student at OSU-ATI in Wooster, placed 5th overall, 1st in linear evaluation, 1st in Jersey, 10th in Guernsey, and 13th in oral reasons. Kaleb Kohler of Baltimore, Ohio (Fairfield Co.) placed 11th overall, 9th in Ayrshire and Guernsey, and 12th in oral reasons. Joel Bourne of Ansonia, Ohio (Darke Co.) was 13th high individual overall. Rounding out the team was Matthew Weeman, freshman in the Department of Animal Sciences at OSU, from Orrville, Ohio (Wayne Co.) placed 3rd in Ayrshire and was 27th overall.

    The same four youth represented Ohio at the National 4-H Dairy Judging Contest at World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin during the first week of October. The team placed 8th overall out of 31 teams. The team placed 11th in Ayrshire, 13th in Brown Swiss, 8th in Jersey, 9th in Holstein, and 6th in Jersey.

    At the Madison contest, the team was again led by Duncan who was the High Individual Overall. The last time Ohio 4-H had a high individual in the contest was in 1999, when OSU alumnus Emily Stammen from New Weston, Ohio (Darke Co.) won the contest. Duncan was also 16th in Brown Swiss, 11th in Guernsey, and 15th in Holstein.

    Weeman placed 29th overall and was 5th in Jersey. Kaleb Kohler of Baltimore, Ohio (Fairfield Co.) placed 17th in Ayrshire, 20th in Brown Swiss, and 20th in oral reasons.

    Four different youth made up the Ohio 4-H team that competed at the North American International Livestock Exposition 4-H Dairy Judging Contest in Louisville, Kentucky during the first week of November. In a challenging contest, the team placed 8th out of 23 youth teams. In breed competition, the team placed 5th in Holstein and 7th in Jersey.

    The Louisville team was led by Jason Miley of West Salem, Ohio (Wayne Co.). Miley placed 16th overall and was 10th high in oral reasons. He was also 8th in Holstein. Other team members included: Sherri Gress, sophomore in the Department of Animal Sciences at OSU, of Wooster, Ohio (Wayne Co.) who placed 38th overall, 30th in oral reasons, and 19th in Holstein; Tom Grim from New London, Ohio (Lorain Co.) who was 3rd in Brown Swiss; and Amanda Hoover from Tiffin, Ohio (Seneca Co.) who placed 9th in Ayrshire.

    This year's team had support from numerous businesses and individuals, including the Ohio Purebred Dairy Cattle Breeders' Association, COBA/Select Sires, Smith Dairy Products Co., and Brewster Cheese. The Ohio 4-H Dairy Judging Team is coached by Laurie Winkelman, the Dairy Program Specialist at The Ohio State University. If you would like more information about becoming a part of the Ohio 4-H Dairy Judging Team, please contact Ms. Winkelman at 614-688-3143 or email winkelman.6@osu.edu.

    2006 4-H Louisville team: Tom Grim (Lorain Co.), Amanda Hoover
    (Seneca Co.), Sherri Gress (Wayne Co.), and Jason Miley (Wayne Co.).

    Matthew Weeman (Wayne Co.), Joel Bourne (Darke Co.), Neil Duncan
    (Coschocton Co.), Kaleb Kohler (Fairfield Co.), and Laurie Winkelman, coach.

  13. Fall 2006 Ohio Dairy Challenge Contest

    Dr. Maurice L. Eastridge, Dairy Nutrition Specialist, The Ohio State University 

    The Fall 2006 Ohio Dairy Challenge was held November 9-10 and was again sponsored by Cargill Animal Nutrition. The Dairy Challenge provides the opportunity for undergraduates at Ohio State University to experience the process of evaluating management practices on a dairy farm and to interact with representatives in the dairy industry. The program is held in a contest format whereby students are generally grouped into teams of three to four individuals, and the first place team received $800, the second place team $300, and the third place team $200 from Cargill Animal Nutrition. The farm selected for the contest this year was Shipley Farms in Newark, OH, and it is owned by Phil, Tim, and David Shipley and their families. Returning to the farm after receiving her B.S. degree in March 2006 from Animal Sciences at Ohio State, Stacey Shipley and her father, Tim, were the primary hosts. Actually, Stacey was a member of the Ohio team that placed in the top category of the 2005 National Dairy Challenge. The Shipleys have a herd of about 250 cows that are housed in free stalls and are milked in a double-12 parallel parlor. The contest started by the students and the judges spending about two hours at the farm on Thursday evening, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the operation by interviewing the owners and examining the specific areas of the dairy facility. On Friday, the teams spent four hours reviewing their notes and farm records to provide a summary of the strengths and opportunities of the operation in the format of a MS PowerPoint presentation. The students then had 20 minutes to present their results and 10 minutes for questions from the judges. The judges were Mr. Ryan Aberle (Cargill Animal Nutrition), Dr. Todd Birkle (Cargill Animal Nutrition), Dr. Maurice Eastridge (Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, OSU), and Dr. K. Larry Smith (Professor Emeritus, Department of Animal Sciences, OSU). The students among the teams that participated were: Team #1 -Erin Cole, Brooke Downey, Becky Schoellman, and Eric Weitzel; Team #2 - Mary Beth Fulk, Danielle Hulit, Jackie Lennartz, and Adam Shipley; Team #3 - Craig Link, Jessica Smith, Jesse Whinnery, and Adam Zimmerman; and Team #4 (Second Place) - Nate Cooley, Lara Gilligan, Anton Henry, Ben McClure, Jamie Schneider, and Kyle Uhlenhake; Team #5 - Sally Adams, Maria Menchaca-Howell, Amanda Pettit, and Amanda Prouty; Team #6 (First Place) - Brian Hartschuh, Colleen Lyden, Jason Nuhfer, and Steve Otte; Team #7 - Jarred Converse, Matt Jackson, Daryl Pena, and John Schroeder; and Team #8 (Third Place) - Gina Berry, Paige Gott, Alicia Kissell, and Sheryn Schlairet. The top 4 individuals for the contest that were selected to potentially represent Ohio at the 2007 National Contest were Gina Berry, Brian Hartschuh, Jason Nuhfer, and Steve Otte.