Buckeye Dairy News : Volume 9 Issue 4

  1. Dairy Policy and Market Watch

    Dr. Cameron Thraen, Milk Marketing Specialist, The Ohio State University 

    Market Watch

    For dairy farmers, the milk price has been outstanding over the past 8 months.  Will this price strength continue into 2008?  To address his question, we will consider where this price strength has come from and what may lie ahead.  Table 1 provides the Class 3 and Class 4 milk price for the months of May 2006, July 2007, and the last month, October 2007.  In Table 1, you will find the contribution, both in dollars per hundredweight and as a percent of total milk price, by each commodity making up the price.  For example, back in May 2006, the Class 3 price was announced at it lowest point, $10.83/cwt.  The butter market contributed $4.40 (41%), the cheese market $5.72 (53%), and whey $0.71 (7%).  Now look at the second column, July 2007.  The whey market had taken off in an upward soar and contributed 15% or $3.15 to the Class 3 price.  The butter market was adding $5.64 to the Class 3 price, and cheese was adding a whopping $12.58.  Between July and October, the whey market had softened substantially and was contributing only $1.30 to the Class 3 price of $18.71.  Butter had returned to the May of 2006 level, while cheese continued to add $12.47 to the milk price.

    In the lower section of Table 1, you will find the same dissection of the Class 4 milk price.  Back in May 2006, this was only 50 cents less than the Class 3 price.  By October 2007, the Class 4 price had overtaken the Class 3 price as the all important Class 1 mover.  Looking at Table 1, you can see that the dramatic rise in the price of nonfat dry milk (NDM), $0.82/lb in May of 2006 to $2.06/lb in October 2007, was responsible for 77% or $16.37 of the Class 4 price of $21.31.
                           
    Table 1. Classes 3 and 4 milk prices ($/cwt; NDM = nonfat dry milk).
    Table 1

    Now looking ahead, it is clear that we need to focus on the four commodity prices, butter, cheese, whey, and NDM, to anticipate where the Class 3 and Class 4 milk prices may be headed.  With butter price back down toward levels equal to May 2006, we cannot expect this commodity to carry the load.  Whey has retreated from its July high and is currently nearing $0.40/lb.  No real help from that commodity.  This leaves cheese and NDM.  Cheese is currently staying quite strong just above $1.91/lb.  The NDM may have peaked during the week of November 3 at $2.06/lb and is currently trading at $1.92/lb.  

    Why are these two commodity prices staying high?  Cheese demand is only fair at these prices.  Cheese manufacturers are reluctant to increase production with these high milk prices.  Cheese inventories are light, and this means that cheese manufacturers must buy to cover holiday contracts.  Cheese export sales are strong with USDA Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) reporting that for the first 9 months of the year, exports of cheese and curds are up 37% over the same period last year.  We can expect some decline in the cheese price after the holiday season, but if the export demand remains strong, the market should not weaken dramatically.  Therefore, the driver for Class 3 is the cheese market; where it goes, so will the Class 3 price.

    Turning to the Class 4 milk price, it is apparent that NDM market has been phenomenal over the past six months.  This has been driven by an almost insatiable export demand.  Now, we are beginning to see some weakness in this market.  Domestic NDM production and inventories are heavy as could be expected with plus $2/lb prices and domestic demand has slowed.  According to the USDA FAS, export volumes are fulfilling past contract obligations, and new contracts are slow to materialize.  Export sales for the first 9 months have declined by 18% as compared to the same period in 2006.  Domestic cheese manufacturers will increase NDM use as the price falls below $1.90/lb, and this will help provide support.  The driver for the Class 4, and also Class 1, is the NDM market.  Where the NDM market goes over the next 6 to 8 months will determine what happens to the Class 4 price.  

    For more information on the dairy industry, prices, and policy, link to my OhioDairyWeb 2007 at: http://aede.osu.edu/programs/ohiodairy/

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

    Dr. Normand St-Pierre, Dairy Management Specialist, The Ohio State University. (top of page)

    Who would have ever thought that $4.00/bu corn would be a bargain!  Although corn prices have reached and exceeded $4.00/bu in the past, these have always been associated with expensive corn, not cheap corn.  But, we have entered a new era in feed prices and as our analysis will show, corn priced at $4.00/bu is currently a bargain feed.
    As we do in all issues of this newsletter, we used current market prices of 29 feed commodities traded or available in Ohio to determine the implicit costs of nutrients and estimate break-even prices of all these commodities using the SESAMETM software developed here at Ohio State.  Results for the nutrient costs are reported in Table 1.

    Net energy for lactation is still at a very high price, close to two times more expensive than at this time last year.  Feed markets are currently discounting rumen degradable protein:  each additional pound of RDP in a feed results in an average reduction of $0.21/ton.  Conversely, digestible rumen undegradable protein is priced at a historical premium being implicitly priced at $0.39/lb versus a historical average of $0.18 to 0.20/lb.  The effective and non-effective fiber fractions are currently in their normal historical range. Thus, from a formulation standpoint, attention should be given to dietary energy (NEL) and digestible rumen undegradable protein, making sure that rations contain minimum margins of safety.

    Table 1. Prices of nutrients, central Ohio.

    Nutrient name
    November 2006
    September 2007
    November 2007
    Net energy for lactation - 3X (NRC, 2001; $/Mcal)
    0.088
    0.136
    0.144
    Rumen degradable protein ($/lb)
    -0.055
    -0.173
    -0.212
    Digestible-rumen undegradable protein ($/lb)
    0.193
    0.252
    0.385
    Non-effective neutral detergent fiber (NDF; $/lb)
    -0.032
    -0.076
    -0.065
    Effective-NDF ($/lb)
    0.055
    0.070
    0.073

    At this time last year, corn was priced in the $3.50 to 4.00/bu, prices that were well above the estimated breakeven price for dairy.  Thus, corn was then expensive, both from a historical perspective as well as when compared to other feed commodities available on the market.  The situation has changed dramatically this year (Tables 2 and 3).  In essence, a great number of other commodities have seen substantial price increases, some over-shooting what would be a normal equilibrium price (e.g., tallow).

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

    Bargains
    At Breakeven
    Overpriced
    Corn grain Alfalfa hay - 44% NDF Beet pulp
    Corn silage Bakery byproduct Blood meal
    Cottonseed meal Brewers grains, wet Canola meal
    Distillers dried grains Whole cottonsed Citrus pulp
    Feather meal Corn gluten meal Soybean hulls
    Corn gluten feed Meat meal Soybean meal, 44% CP
    Hominy Molasses Soybean meal, 48% CP

    Expeller soybean

    Roasted soybeans  
    Wheat middlings Tallow  
      Wheat bran  

    Table 3. Commodity assessment, central Ohio, July 2007.

    Name
    Actual ($/ton)
    Predicted ($/ton)
    Lower limit ($/ton)
    Upper limit ($/ton)
    Alfalfa Hay, 44% NDF, 20% CP
    140
    147.81
    115.02
    180.60
    Bakery Byproduct Meal
    200
    213.03
    196.99
    229.07
    Beet Sugar Pulp, dried
    230
    186.84
    161.60
    212.08
    Blood Meal, ring dried
    665
    603.63
    561.79
    645.46
    Brewers grains, wet
    37
    37.99
    32.59
    43.39
    Canola Meal, mech. extracted
    201
    166.89
    146.64
    187.13
    Citrus Pulp, dried
    271
    183.04
    169.39
    196.69
    Corn Grain, ground dry
    150
    229.68
    214.36
    244.99
    Corn Silage, 32 to 38% DM
    50
    74.31
    62.87
    85.75
    Cottonseed Meal, 41% CP
    205
    242.04
    224.94
    259.15
    Cottonseed, whole w lint
    253
    255.41
    213.18
    297.65
    Distillers Dried Grains, w/solubles
    154
    219.09
    198.17
    239.99
    Feathers Hydrolyzed Meal
    355
    417.08
    388.96
    445.21
    Gluten Feed, dry
    136
    171.60
    156.09
    187.10
    Gluten Meal, dry
    512
    502.41
    471.52
    533.31
    Hominy
    140
    190.05
    176.25
    203.86
    Meat Meal, rendered
    325
    308.11
    280.15
    336.07
    Molasses, sugarcane
    150
    156.93
    143.99
    169.87
    Soybean Hulls
    171
    105.54
    69.61
    141.47
    Soybean Meal, expellers
    337
    416.04
    394.17
    437.91
    Soybean Meal, solvent 44% CP
    297
    226.65
    199.06
    254.25
    Soybean Seeds, solvent 48% CP
    307
    282.21
    257.92
    306.51
    Soybean Seeds, whole roasted
    365
    353.72
    329.25
    378.19
    Tallow
    620
    592.04
    540.55
    643.53
    Wheat Bran
    106
    107.06
    82.96
    131.16
    Wheat Middlings
    99
    128.59
    107.55
    149.62

    Appraisal Set
    Name
    Actual ($/ton)
    Predicted ($/ton)
    Corrected ($/ton)
    Alfalfa Hay - 38% NDF, 22% CP
    160
    145.86
    167.77
    Alfalfa Hay - 48% NDF, 17% CP
    130
    152.18
    137.44
    Fish Menhaden Meal, mech.
    970
    471.64
    --

    As usual, we used these results in combination with component prices for Federal Order 33 to calculate a benchmark for feed costs (which are really nutrient costs) and income over nutrient costs (Table 4).  Gross income from a cow producing 75 lb/day at 3.6% fat and 3.1% protein is close to $5.00/day greater than it was at this time last year, but has dropped by $0.88/day from September due in large part from the drop in other solids prices.  Income over nutrient costs (IONC) is $3.28/day greater this year than last year, but it has dropped by $1.35/day from September.  Thus, compared to the 10-year IONC average of $6.00 to 6.50/cow/day, the current figure of $9.06 appears very strong and would indicate good profitability in the dairy industry.  Other costs of production, such as energy and transportation, have risen substantially in the last 12 to 18 months, such that a target IONC of $7.00/cow/day is probably a more realistic figure for a probability benchmark.  It is doubtful that the current profitability position of our industry will be maintained in the long-run.  Wise producers should make good use of the extra income to shelter themselves from the next storm.

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

    Nutrient

    November 2006

    September 2007

    November 2007

    Nutrient costs2

    ----------------------- $/cow/day ----------------------

         NEL

    2.93

    4.71

    5.01

         RDP

    (0.44)

    (0.92)

    (1.13)

         Digestible-RUP

    0.56

    0.57

    0.87

         ne-NDF

    (0.19)

    (0.35)

    (0.30)

         e-NDF

    0.71

    0.76

    0.80

         Minerals and vitamins

    0.20

    0.20

    0.20

         TOTAL

    3.77

    4.97

    5.44

    Milk gross income

     

     

     

         Fat

    3.82

    4.29

    3.80

         Protein

    4.83

    9.16

    9.69

         Other solids

    0.90

    1.93

    1.01

         TOTAL

    9.55

    15.38

    14.50

    Income over nutrient costs

    5.78

    10.41

    9.06

    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, October 2006.
    2NEL = Net energy for lactation, RDP = rumen degradable protein, RUP = rumen undegradable protein, ne-NDF = noneffective neutral detergent fiber, and e-NDF = effective neutral effective fiber.

  3. Busted: rbST Milk Myth Machine is Revealed

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

    If you believe the headlines of most major newspapers and magazines, the U.S. consumer is against the use of biotechnology in agriculture and prefers that his/her food be grown in a natural and organic fashion. 
        
    Recently, a few milk purchasers and resellers, including the Kroger Company, used this argument in deciding to stop purchasing milk from farms that use recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST), a hormone produced by Monsanto using recombinant-DNA under the trade name of Posilac®.

    Perspective

    From the perspective of one who has spent over 25 years of his life working on improving dairy productivity and profitability by using modern management, nutrition, and biotechnology tools, this perception by the U. S. consumer would be disheartening if it was anywhere close to being true.

    In a June 29 guest editorial in the New York Times (hardly a bastion of conservatism...), Henry I. Miller advocated "... the use of rBST to help increase the supply of milk and decrease current fluid milk price to consumers." 

    Miller was quick to point out that: "Bad-faith efforts by biotechnology opponents to portray rBST as untested or harmful, and to discourage its use, keep society from taking full advantage of a safe and useful product.  The opponents' limited success is keeping the price of milk unnecessarily high." 

    Irony

    The sad think is that no milk is free of BST; all milk contains BST and numerous other hormones, all produced naturally by our cows. In fact, all milk contains some hormones, and human milk can contain significantly greater amounts of progesterone and/or estrogen than good old bovine milk.

    But, is there really a consumer worry?

    For 12 years, the International Food Information Council (IFIC) has commissioned Cogent Research, an independent survey firm, to conduct a quantitative assessment of consumer attitudes toward food biotechnology and safety.  The last survey was conducted at the end of July 2007.  The study found that "consumer familiarity and overall impression of food biotechnology remains little changed from a year ago".  Thus, the situation is certainly not deteriorating.  In fact, changes were almost all in a positive direction.

    Favorable

    Favorable impression of animal biotechnology increased by 26% between 2006 and 2007.  Nearly two-thirds of respondents answered that they were "somewhat" or "very likely" to buy meat, milk, and eggs from animals enhanced through genetic engineering.

    In addition, two-thirds of consumers (66%) said that they had a positive impression of animal biotechnology when informed that "animal biotechnology can improve quality and safety of food", up from 59% last year. These numbers hardly support the claim by some that consumers are opposed to biotechnology in general and rBST in particular.

    So who is stirring the pot?

    What must be realized is that a small but very vocal group of activists have seized this issue in an effort to divide the dairy industry. In case you have never been a proponent of rBST and are considering its removal by so-called "market forces" a kind of a blessing, you may want to find out with whom your position on this issue associates you.

    Opponents

    Who are some of the opponents to the use of rbST?  On the goveg.com website, you would find out that: "To keep producing milk, cows are forcibly impregnated through artificial insemination every year.  The cow's babies are generally taken away within a day of being born - male calves are destined to veal crates, while females are sentenced to the same fate as their mothers." 

    "Mother cows on dairy farms can often be seen searching and calling for their babies long after they have been taken away.  The mother cow will be hooked up several times a day to machines that take the milk intended for her calf.  Through genetic manipulation, powerful hormones, and intensive milking, she will produce about three times as much milk as she would naturally."

    You may want to reflect on this the next time that you hook up a cow to one of these horrible milking machines. And it gets worse.

    Freegans

    Freegans are also strongly opposed to biotechnology.  In case you didn't know, freeganism is the latest lifestyle that is gaining notoriety. Freeganism is defined as a strategy for living "based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimum consumption of resources." The lifestyle in question consists in salvaging discarded, unspoiled food from supermarket dumpsters that has passed the expiration date but is still edible.

    According to Drover's Magazine, "Freegans claim that people sincerely committed to living the cruelty-free lifestyle espoused by vegans must strive to abstain not only from eating, wearing, and using animal skins, secretions (e.g., milk and its byproducts), flesh and animal-tested products, but must attempt to remove themselves from participation in the capitalist economy altogether as workers and consumers."

    I suppose you can meet them near your local Kroger dumpsters, although it is unclear whether discarded milk from farms using rbST - still the norm at your Kroger store - can be consumed by freegans. Meanwhile, I'll keep drinking my hormone-laced milk produced by genetically manipulated cows, artificially inseminated, and milked by a horrific, nasty and awful milking machine. 

  4. Tax Advantaged Retirement Planning

    Mr. Donald J. Breece, Farm Management Specialist, OSU Extension at Lima (top of page)

    In general, people do not put enough money aside for retirement.  Furthermore, with life expectancies increasing, the nest egg required to fund a retirement has also continued to grow.  Medical costs are increasing twice the rate of inflation, and Social Security will not be enough for a comfortable retirement.  What should a person do?  At least, fully fund Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA), such as 401(k) or 403(b) plans, and if self-employed a SIMPLE IRA or Simplified Employee Pension (SEP).  Often, money put into these plans are tax deferred or deductible, and at times, Uncle Sam even pays for some of it by an income tax credit.

    For example, the Pension Protection Act of 2006 permanently extended the IRC Section 25b saver's credit.  The non-refundable credit is calculated as a percentage of the qualified contributions made to a retirement account. The credit ceiling for any individual is $1,000. The percentage is based on annual gross income and filing status, and the credit phases out as income increases. Contributions qualifying for the credit include those made to traditional IRA, or Roth IRA, plus elective deferrals to I.R.C. 401(k) plans, I.R.C. 403(b) annuities, I.R.C. 457 governmental plans, SIMPLE IRA, SARSEP, and voluntary after-tax contributions to a qualified plan, such as the federal Thrift Saving Plan.

    Form 8880, Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions, is used to calculate the amount of the credit, which can be used to offset both income tax and alternative minimum tax. The income limits for each credit percentage increased for 2007 returns.
                                                      
    As an example, if a person that is married and files jointly with an adjusted gross income of $32,000, 20% of a $4000 IRA contribution would be eligible for a $800 tax credit. Even if a Saver's Tax Credit is not available because of higher adjusted gross income levels, the tax deferred aspect of retirement plan savings is still a valuable consideration (Table 1).  For how much a person can contribute to various plans, see Tables 2 and 3.

    Table 1. Savers Credit.1

    Credit Rate

    MFJ Income

    Head of Household

    Single/MFS Income

    50%

    Up to $31,000

    Up to $23,250

    Up to 15,500

    20%

    $31,000 to 34,000

    $23,251 to 25,500

    $15,501 to 17,000

    10%

    $34,001 to 52,000

    $25,501 to 39,000

    $17,001 to 26,000

    1MFJ = Married filing jointly and MFS = married filing separate.

    Table 2. Retirement plan contribution limits.1

    Year

    IRA

    Simple

    401(k), 403(b) & SEP

    2006

    $4,000

    $10,000

    $15,000

    2007

    $4,000

    $10,500

    $15,500

    2008

    $5,000

    TBA

    TBA

    1IRA = Individual retirement account, SEP = simplified employee pension, and TBA = to be announced.

    Table 3. Age 50 catch-up contribution limit.1,2

    Tax Year

    IRA

    Simple Plans

    All Other Plans

    2006

    $1,000

    $2,500

    $5,000

    2007

    $1,000

    $2,500

    $5,000

    2008

    $1,000

    TBA

    TBA

    1The limit is adjusted annually for inflation in $500 increments.
    2IRA = Individual retirement account and TBA = to be announced.

    Some farm families are experiencing high incomes and should consider this as an opportunity to save for retirement.  In the long run, it may pay a lot better than buying depreciable assets as a strategy to save tax dollars.

  5. Now is the Time for Tax Planning

    Mr. Donald J. Breece, Farm Management Specialist, OSU Extension Center at Lima (top of page)

    This time of year is a good time to do an income tax estimate.  Cash basis tax payers have the opportunity to adjust income and expenses before December 31st.  For example, if you are experiencing a low income year, consider selling enough farm products to take advantage of the standard deduction (Single is $5350 and Married is $10,700) and personal exemptions ($3400) which represent a “zero tax bracket” opportunity.  Also, if livestock (other than poultry) held for any length of time for draft, breeding, or dairy purposes are sold because of weather-related conditions, the gain realized on the sale does not have to be recognized if the proceeds are used to purchase replacement livestock within 2 years from the end of the tax year in which the sale takes place. The 2-year replacement period is extended to 4 years if the weather condition that caused the excess sales also caused an area to be eligible for assistance by the federal government.

    For farmers receiving crop insurance or disaster payments, there is an exception to the general rule that payments must be reported in the year they are received.  It allows a cash-basis farmer to postpone reporting a crop loss payment by 1 year. (It does not allow the taxpayer to accelerate reporting the payment if the payment is received the year after a loss.)  To qualify for the exception, a taxpayer must use the cash method of accounting and must be able to show that, under the taxpayer’s normal business practice, the income from the crop would have been reported in a year following the year of the receipt of the payment.

    Farmers with high income have a number of options to save tax dollars.  If they have children (that work on the farm), wages paid to them is a farm expense and is not subject to social security if the child is less than age 18.  The single standard deduction is $5350; therefore, the child will pay no federal income tax up to that amount.  Wages above this amount would be subject to a lower tax bracket than the parent as well. 

    If you use the cash method of accounting to report your income and expenses, your deduction for prepaid farm supplies in the year you pay for them may be limited to 50% of your other deductible farm expenses during the year (all Schedule F deductions except prepaid farm supplies).  For livestock producers, you cannot deduct in the year paid the cost of feed your livestock will consume in a later year unless you meet all the following tests:  1) The payment is for the purchase of feed rather than a deposit, 2) The prepayment has a business purpose and is not merely for tax avoidance, and 3) Deducting the prepayment does not result in a material distortion of your income.  Cash rent for next year can not be a prepaid expense; advanced payments must be deducted in the year that they apply.  

    The Small Business and Work Opportunity Tax Act of 2007 (SBWOTA), enacted May 25, 2007, increased the annual I.R.C. § 179 expense limitation and phase-out amounts for tax years that begin in 2007, 2008, 2009, or 2010.  The increased maximum annual expensing amount for the I.R.C. § 179 deduction is $125,000 for 2007 (subject to the phase-out threshold of $500,000).

    Income averaging, using Schedule J, may also be an option for farmers with extra high income in 2007.  It allows an elected portion of income for this tax year to be equally spread back over the previous three tax years, thus allowing unused, lower tax brackets from previous years to be applied to 2007 income.

    Here are useful tables for your income tax planning:

    Table 1. Married individuals filing joint returns and surviving spouses.

    If taxable income is:

    The tax is:

    Not over $15,650

    10% of the taxable income

    Over $15,650 but not over $63,700

    $1,565 plus 15% of the excess over $15,650

    Over $63,700 but not over $128,500

    $8,772.50 plus 25% of the excess over $63,700

    Over $128,500 but not over $195,850

    $24,972.50 plus 28% of the excess over $128,500

    Over $195,850 but not over $349,700

    $43,830.50 plus 33% of the excess over $195,850

    Over $349,700

    $94,601 plus 35% of the excess over $349,700

        
     Table 2. Single individuals (other than surviving spouses and heads of households).

    If taxable income is:

    The tax is:

    Not over $7,825 

    10% of the taxable income

    Over $7,825 but not over $31,850

    $782.50 plus 15% of the excess over $7,825

    Over $31,850 but not over $77,100

    $4,386.25 plus 25% of the excess over $31,850

    Over $77,100 but not over $160,850

    $15,698.75 plus 28% of the excess over $77,100

    Over $160,850 but not over $349,700

    $39,148.75 plus 33% of the excess over $160,850

    Over $349,700

    $101,469.25 plus 35% of the excess over $349,700


     Table 3. Capital gains rates (noncorporate taxpayers).

    Category of Gain

    Tax Rate

    Gain on collectibles

    28%

    Unrecaptured Depreciation I.R.C. § 1250 gain

    25%

    Net long-term capital gain 

    15%

    Reduced long-term capital gain rate if ordinary tax rate is 10% or 15%

    5%

     

  6. Recommendations for Special Needs Facilities

    Mr. Gene McCluer, OSU Extension Educator, Hardin County (top of page)

    As dairy producers plan to build new dairy facilities, a lot of time is spent on selecting and sizing the milking parlor and cow housing. A similar amount of time is well spent in designing special needs facilities.  Special needs cows are cows and heifers from 21 days prior to calving (close-up) to 16 days after calving (fresh cows).  This also includes high-risk lactating cows: those cows that produce milk which can be sold but need special attention, such as lame cows, older cows, slow milkers and cows that have just been released from the sick pen.  These facilities also can be used to isolate mastitic and sick cows which have been treated, and from which milk must be withheld. 

    Special Facilities Needed for Special Animals           

    The transition from pregnancy to lactation represents the period of greatest challenge to the health and productivity of the dairy cow. The majority of metabolic and infectious diseases the cow will experience will occur in the first weeks of lactation. The sudden onset of milk production outpaces the animal’s ability to increase intake of nutrients placing the animal in negative balance for vital nutrients such as energy, protein and calcium.  Cows failing this metabolic challenge can develop milk fever, ketosis and displaced abomasum. The hormonal changes associated with calving have a suppressive effect on the immune system of the animal, increasing its susceptibility to infectious diseases such as mastitis and Salmonellosis. To reduce disease and improve the productivity of the cow, we must design facilities and strategies to maximize feed intake and reduce “stress” on the transition cow.
                 
    Facilities for a number of activities will be needed in the special needs area.  Special needs facilities may utilize lockups, a chute, palpation rails, a shipping area, a milking parlor, and maternity housing.  The decision to use or not to use headlocks needs to be made early in the design process. If headlocks are installed along the feed barrier, many activities may be carried out in headlocks. The planning team must determine how all the activities are going to be performed by the management team. This facility must ensure the safety and well being of employees and minimize the stress on the dairy animals.
     
    Grouping for Critical Nutritional Requirements

    Close-up dry cows and springing heifers differ in nutritional requirements. Close-up cows have greater intakes and are more likely to develop milk fever than heifers.  Close-up cows should be moved into a close-up pen 21 days prior to calving. The diet in this pen typically has greater concentrations of protein and energy as compared to the far off dry cow diet. In addition, the diet should be low in calcium and potassium or contain anionic salts with appropriate amounts of calcium and potassium to prevent milk fever.

    Springing heifers may also benefit from a longer transition period than is normally allowed for cows. Thus, heifers and dry cows should be separated if possible. Milk fever is generally not a problem with heifers, but heifers may benefit from receiving the typical transition diet for 5 weeks rather than 3 weeks if they won’t get too fat. Thus, feeding a diet with higher levels of protein and energy without anionic salts for 5 weeks prior to freshening would be beneficial for heifers. Allowance in the special needs facilities must be made during the initial planning process if heifers are to be housed 28 to 35 days prepartum rather than 21 days.

    Immediately (24 to 48 hours) prior to calving, close-up cows and heifers should be moved into a maternity pen with a well bedded area. Following calving, cows and heifers may be co-mingled or kept separate until the milk can be sold. This is the only area in the special needs facility where cows and heifers may be housed together. If the facilities allow, keeping the cows and heifers separated during this period is recommended. Cows and heifers should be segregated when they move out of the fresh non-sellable pen into the fresh pens. Cows and heifers should be housed in fresh pens for 14 days where rectal temperatures, dry matter intakes and general appearance can be monitored on a daily basis.

    Additional Grouping Needs

    Other pens for mature cows and heifers in the special needs facility can be a sick pen used to house cows treated with antibiotics and a high risk pen for lame cows and slow milkers producing sellable milk. An additional pen can also be supplied as a holding area for cows to be culled, dried off, or moved to another group of cows. Generally, a dry lot pen should be conveniently located near the shipping area.  Space is needed near the maternity area to process and house calves after calving. Calf housing should be provided for the number of calves that will be born in a 24-hour period or sized according to the farm’s or calf grower’s pick-up arrangements.

    With freestall housing, cows and heifers in the special needs facilities are housed in either free stalls or loose housing. There are advantages and disadvantages to the two different housing systems. Loose housing maximizes cow comfort but requires additional space, bedding material, and labor to maintain a sanitary environment. This is particularly true when organic bedding is used.  Freestalls reduce the labor cost of maintaining the resting area.

    Siting Special Needs Facilities

    One of the issues with special needs facilities is where they will be located within the dairy facility. They will either be located near the milking parlor or at the back of the dairy barn. Locating these facilities near the milking parlor reduces walking distance to and from the milking parlor. It also allows employees who work in close proximity to the Parlor, to observe close-up cows. The advantage of locating the facilities at the back of the dairy barn is that it allows for easy movement to and from the special needs facilities of far-off dry cows, cull cows, and cows that have been dried off.  Locating these facilities away from the main parlor may necessitate the need for a hospital milking parlor.

    Handling Facilities for Special Needs Animals

    Some guidelines have been established for handling facilities.  A palpation rail is used to position a group of cows for rectal examination or insemination.  The rails are 4 feet apart, with the neck rail about 32 inches high and an upper bar about 18 inches above it.  The rump rail should be about 40 inches high. There needs to be 2 feet of space for their heads in front of the forward rail, and about 4 feet of working space behind the cows.  Single lane chutes should be about 32 inches wide with walkways high enough on the sides so workers can reach over the fence, rather than through it.  Squeeze chutes should have at least 3 or 4 feet of space all around.  Space should be included for tools and medications used when handling cows.  A tilting hoof trimming table requires an area of about 12 x 12 feet of floor space for the table and work area.
     
    A pen for a sick cow should be at least 12 x 12 square feet, with water and feed provided.  The pen should include a lockup and gate arrangement that allows one worker to catch the cow.  There should be special equipment for supporting and manipulating sick or downer cows, and access from outside for delivery or removal of non-mobile cows.

    For close-up and maternity pens, a typical herd will need space for 5% of the mature cows at any one time.  To allow space for close-up heifers, increase this to about 7% of the herd size.  Even more space may be required for herd growth or for non-uniform calving intervals.

    A bedded area can allow groups of 6-10 cows to stay through calving.  These pens should provide 150-200 square feet of well bedded area per cow.  This is in addition to any area that is scraped along the feed bunk.  A bedded area for 6-10 cows can have 100-150 sq. ft./animal if there is an adjoining 12’ x 12’ box stall for calving.  Freestall housing for pre-fresh cows can be used, with adjacent maternity pens where cows are moved for calving.  This method requires round the clock observation to prevent calving in free stalls.  Freestalls should be larger than standard sizes for lactating cows to allow for their larger, pre-fresh size. 

    Post Fresh Housing

    For post-fresh cows, during the two weeks following calving, providing a separate group and extra attention will typically result in improved performance throughout their lactation.  This could be 5 to 6% of the milking herd.  If using freestalls, provide extra large stalls with plenty of alley space for cow comfort. For cows unstable on their feet, a well bedded area with 75 to150 sq. ft. per cow is a good alternative.  Good bedding maintenance is important to keep the enlarged udders clean.  If headlocks are used, they should be 30 inches on center.  It is best to use hospital or low curb headlocks to prevent further injury for a downed cow.

    The special needs area also provides an excellent opportunity to reduce the risk of antibiotic contamination of milk, as treated animals can be effectively isolated from the lactating herd.  This area can also be used to hold dry-off cows while they get a reduced ration for several days before milking is stopped, or if they are milked intermittently during the last week of lactation.  This area should hold 0.5 to 0.7% of the milking herd and should provide feed, water, resting, and access to a loading chute.
     
    Biosecurity Considerations

    The special needs area provides an opportunity to manage risk through disease control measures. Animals housed in these facilities are particularly vulnerable to contracting new infections. This is especially true for fresh cows, which have suppressed immunity around the time of calving. The newborn calf is at risk to contract Johne’s disease (Mycobacterium paratuberculosis). Cleanliness and daily maintenance of the calving area and the special needs facilities are critical.

    The highest risk for introduction of new disease into the herd comes from bringing in new cattle. An effective program of prescreening and isolation of new arrivals is an key element of an effective biosecurity program. A location for accepting, processing and quarantining new arrivals should be located at least one-half mile from the closest animal facility.

    An additional biosecurity risk exists with movement of animals within multiple site operations. Consideration should also be given to cattle movement, people movement, vehicles and equipment, feedstuffs, birds, rodents, wild ruminants, and water and manure management. An effective biosecurity program needs to be provided in a written form and be clearly communicated to employees, consultants and visitors. Dairy farms should have appropriate signage to alert and remind people of the dairy’s policies and a drawing depicting the traffic flow plan for all activities on the farm.

    Access to the special needs facilities should be limited to only those personnel that are necessary to carry out the daily activities.  This minimizes the transfer in or out of organic material or contaminated equipment that could spread infectious diseases. Veterinarians, hoof trimmers, service persons, sales people and any other visitors to the dairy farm need to have easy access to defined areas where they are to perform their service.

    References:

    Proceedings of the 5th Western Dairy Management Conference, 2001, J.F Smith, Kansas State University and others.
    Dairy Practices Council, Guidelines for Facilities for Special Needs Animals, No. 88, 2007, Robert Engle, Westfalia-Surge Inc., and Robert E. Graves, Penn State University.

  7. Soybean Meal - They're Not All the Same

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

    Soybean production is among the top for cash receipts for agricultural commodities in Ohio. In 2006, soybeans ($1.4 billion) ranked second to corn ($1.6 billion) for cash receipts. However, during this same time period, 1.5 more acres of soybeans were planted in Ohio than acres of corn. With the demand for corn to use in ethanol production, the balance between acreage of soybeans versus corn in Ohio has been titling more toward increasing production of corn, yet soybean production remains high. Right behind corn and soybeans relative to agricultural cash receipts in Ohio is dairy and poultry. Although we’re not just using a local, in-state market for soybean based products, the dairy and poultry industries in Ohio utilize a lot of the soybean meal (SBM) as a valuable animal feed. The value of this relationship between the crop and animal industries in the State is vital. If you haven’t noticed, the Ohio and American Soybean Associations have been advertised heavily during recent months the importance of the livestock industry to the market for soybean products.

    Soybeans contain about 40% protein and 20% fat [dry matter (DM) basis]. Soybean meal has been a staple in animal diets for many years, to the extent that it is often not even viewed as a by-product from the oil extraction process. The “vegetable” oils that you purchase in the local grocery store are primarily soybean oil. The oil is primarily removed through a solvent extraction process, and this is very through in removing most all of the fat (about 1.5 to 3.0 % fat remains). The hull of the seed is removed, the seed is ground or flaked, the solvent hexane is used to extract the fat (hexane is then removed from the fat), and the meal is ground for uniform particle size. If the hulls remain separated (sold as a separate commodity), then the meal contains about 48% crude protein (about 54% CP, DM basis), but if the hulls are added to the meal, then the meal contains about 44% CP (about 50%, DM basis). These two feeds are readily available on the market. The protein in SBM is of high quality (based on amino acid profile), but much of this is degraded in the rumen compartment of ruminants. Increasing the supply of this high quality protein to the small intestine for digestion and absorption is worthwhile, and one of the ways to accomplish this is by heat processing of the SBM. Mechanically extracted SBM results whereby soybeans are reduced in particle size and exposed to extreme pressure to remove the fat. This process differs from solvent extraction in that more heat is generated, thus more of the protein becomes what we refer to as rumen undegradable protein (RUP), and less fat is removed (6 to 10% fat may remain depending on the processor).

    Because of the value of RUP, mechanically extracted SBM may be worth 60% more than 44% CP SBM or 40% more than 48% CP SBM. The mechanically extracted SBM also contains more fat than solvent-extracted SBM which adds energy value to the feed. Why is this discussion so important at this time? There are two reasons: 1) with the increase in biodiesel production, more soybean oil is being extracted by mechanical extraction, even by small processors, and 2) with the high feed prices caused by the corn market for ethanol production, purchasing feed ingredients based on nutrient provided and costs is extremely important to farm profitability, especially when you consider that feed costs contribute more to the cost of food animal production than other variables. Some commercial sources of high RUP SBM are available, and some biodiesel producers are making efforts to market the resulting mechanically extracted SBM as a premium product. Some general considerations for purchasing such SBM sources are:

    1. Although some heat application is good for increasing RUP, overheating during processing can reduce digestibility of protein in the small intestine. The SBM product should be deep yellow to light brown in color as a visual indicator for extent of heating.
    2. Considerable variation can occur within a plant/facility on the efficiency of the extraction process, resulting in a variable amount of heat applied and amount of fat removed. For example, the amount of fat in mechanically extracted SBM in about 3 to 4 times more variable than in solvent-extracted SBM. So putting it in context, if you are purchasing the product based on relative high RUP and fat and the concentrations drop, then you are being over-priced for the feed. Assuring consistency of the product by the processor is very important to you as a buyer.
    3. Some of the biodiesel producers are still refining their process, yet they have “product”, and some are quite small for the amount of SBM that they can provide relative to your needs. So your market can be quite valuable to them because you should be looking for a consistent supply of a high-quality product. Disruption in either of these two principles (supply and quality) means risk for you that must not be overlooked in pricing of the product by the processor. You are likely to be financially ahead by contracting SBM needs for a year from a large supplier than making intermittent purchases from a small processor and buying additional SBM on a non-contract basis from a large processor.
    4. Current value of the SBM should be compared relative to the availability of other feeds based on nutrient profile and price (see price comparisons elsewhere in this newsletter in the article titled "Cost of Nutrients and Benchmarks of Profitability for Ohio Dairy Farms". All too often, feeding decisions are based on always feeding a certain commodity rather than from the approach of meeting the nutrient needs of the animals using more economically-price ingredients.

    The SBM will remain an important feed ingredient for animal agriculture, and with the fuel production processes underway using oils and starch, some additional (new suppliers and increased amounts) protein feeds will be available to livestock producers.

  8. Feed Sorting and Acidosis

    Dr. Bill Weiss, Dairy Nutrition Specialist, The Ohio State University (top of page)

    On a semi-regular schedule, recent research that is interesting (at least to us) and may have direct application to dairy farms will be reviewed for the Buckeye Dairy News.  The three abstracts discussed below were presented at the joint Dairy/Animal/Poultry Science meetings held this past July (J. Dairy Sci. 90, Suppl. 1).

    A study from University of Minnesota (Endres and Espejo, Abstract 341, page 230) evaluated factors that promoted diet sorting.  They collected data from 50 freestall herds in Minnesota.  Sorting was quantified by measuring the particle size of the TMR (Penn State Particle Separator) when it was delivered to the pen, three times during the day, and immediately before new TMR was delivered. 

    1.   On average, particle size of the diet increased as time after feeding increased.  In other words, cows had a preference for small particles and left larger particles in the bunk.  Larger particles tend to be forage and since forage usually contains more fiber than concentrate, intake of fiber would have been less than anticipated. Lower fiber diets and diets with inadequate particle size (i.e., insufficient ‘chewable’ pieces’) are associated with acidosis and its related problems, including hoof problems and milk fat depression.  However, in this study at the herd level, there was no statistical relationship between sorting and milk fat percent or between sorting and cud chewing.
     
    2.   Sorting increased as the concentration of hay in the diet increased.  Therefore, replacing a less coarse forage (for example, silage) with hay may reduce intake of fiber and chewable pieces and increase the risk of acidosis. 

    3.   Sorting tended to increase as bunk space increased.  If competition for bunk space was less, cows probably had more time to stand in front of the bunk and sort feed.

    A study lead by Canadian and Swiss scientists (DeVries et al. and Dohme et al., abstracts 898 and 899, page 653) examined effects of diet and acidosis on sorting and cumulative effects of repeated bouts of acidosis.  In those studies, cows were fed diets with 45 or 60% forage and after 2 weeks were given an ‘acidosis challenge’.  The challenge consisted of restricting TMR intake for 1 day and then offering about 9 lb of a barley/wheat mixture to each cow.  Cows were allowed to recover for 14 days and the challenge repeated two more times.

    1. As in the Minnesota study, cows fed either diet selected against long particles, but cows fed the low forage diet also selected against very fine particles (in the pan of the 3-sieve Penn State separator).  Cows apparently prefer to consume medium-sized particles, thus avoid extremes when formulating TMR.

    2. After cows were challenged with acidosis, cows on the low forage diet selected for long particles and selected against fines to a greater degree than when not undergoing acidosis. 

    3. Severity of acidosis was greater for cows fed the low forage diet than the high forage diet.

    4. Severity of acidosis increased as cows were exposed to more acidosis challenges.  This occurred even though cows consumed less of the barley/wheat mixture after each acidosis challenge.  During the first challenge, all cows consumed all of the wheat/barley mixture, but during the third challenge, only 3 of the 8 cows consumed all the grain.  This means that cows become more susceptible to acidosis with repeated exposure, even though they attempt to remedy the situation by consuming less grain.  The effect of repeated exposure to acidosis was greater for cows fed a diet with 45% forage compared with those fed a diet with 60% forage.

    Take Home Messages:

    1. Do not rely on a single measurement (e.g., sorting, cud chewing, milk fat, etc.) when assessing either the risk for acidosis or the presence of acidosis.

    2. Adding hay to a diet can increase sorting and may increase the risk for acidosis.  Avoid extremes in particle size of TMR (both long pieces and fines).

    3. Repeated bouts of acidosis, even when separated by two weeks, have cumulative negative effects. 

  9. Feeding Newborn Calves to Thrive in Cold Weather

    Mrs. Dianne Shoemaker, Extension Dairy Specialist, OSU Extension Center at Wooster (top of page)

    The average temperature across northern Ohio last year was slightly more than 50°F.  If the average temperature was the usual temperature, we would usually have decent conditions for raising neonatal calves.  The lower critical temperature for calves from birth to 7 days of age is 55°F.  In other words, calves do not require extra nutrients for maintenance until the temperature drops below 55° F assuming they are housed in a clean, dry, draft-free environment.  Maintenance means the calves neither gain nor loose weight with all body systems functioning properly while maintaining a normal body temperature.

    Between 7 and 30 days of age, calves can stand a little more cold stress before needing to consume extra nutrients to meet maintenance requirements, with the lower critical temperature in the 46° to 50°F range.  After 30 days of age, the lower critical temperature drops to ~44°F.

    As all calf feeders and anyone else who works outside on an Ohio dairy farm in winter knows, temperatures do not typically average 50°.  Looking at the National Weather Service’s Climate Graphs for northern Ohio, Mansfield’s weather was fairly representative of conditions across the state with Toledo averaging a degree higher and Youngstown a degree lower. 

    In 2006, the average daily temperature was 32° F or less from mid-December thru February.  Daily lows continued to dip below 32° F regularly thru mid April.  To compound feeding challenges, temperatures fluctuated widely within that time period, with temperatures between January and March fluctuating from -8° F in February to 71° F a month later.

    Maintenance Requirements for Neonatal Calves

    So, how do we need to adjust nutrition for calves less than 3 weeks old in cold weather?   Using the National Research Council (Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle, 7th rev. ed., 2001. Versions 1.0 computer program, 2000), let’s look at maintenance requirements first.  With a 90 lb calf (Holstein heifer) and a 60 lb calf (Jersey heifer) as examples, we can see that a critical need for additional nutrition occurs as temperatures drop toward freezing (Table 1).

    Table 1. 20:20 milk replacer dry matter (DM) needed to meet maintenance requirements for newborn calves.

    Temperature,°F

    60°

    32°

    15°

    -5°

    90 pound calf

    0.75

    1.15

    1.26

    1.40

    1.56

    60 pound calf

    0.55

    0.85

    0.93

    1.07

    1.15

    Traditional industry milk replacer feeding recommendations are to feed large breed calves 1.0 lb of milk replacer powder split between two feedings per day (hence, the 8 ounce “cup”).   When the weather is warm, that rate of feeding not only meets the 90 lb calf’s maintenance requirements but will also allow her to gain 0.5 lb/day of body weight. 

    However, as soon as the temperature drops, maintenance nutrient needs change dramatically.  Between 60° and 32° F, both calves need 50% more milk replacer (DM basis) to simply meet maintenance requirements.  Additional milk replacer must be fed beyond that if we expect the calf to grow.  While the most dramatic change occurs in that first drop of almost 30° F, maintenance demands continue to increase as the temperature continues to drop.

    During the first few weeks of life, nearly all of the calf’s nutrients come from their liquid diet, whether it comes from fresh milk, milk replacer, or a combination of the two.  While we encourage starter consumption, it will not provide significant nutrients for the very young calves.  Therefore, we will evaluate only milk-based diets in the following discussion.

    Several factors are critical for newborn calves to thrive.  An easy delivery in a clean, dry environment; quick feeding of enough quality colostrum leading to a successful transfer of passive immunity; and clean, dry and draft-free housing are just a few.  Whether those factors were all met, or if the calf was stressed in some way, adequate nutrition will help her to maintain body condition and grow into a healthy calf that is able to fight off multiple challenges.

    How Must Nutrition Change in Cold Weather?

    Quite simply, the calf has to eat more.  If she isn’t offered the nutrients, she simply won’t get them.  If she doesn’t get enough nutrients, she will not grow in a “best case” scenario.  More likely, if the deficiency lasts for any period of time, she will loose weight and her ability to fight off additional weather and disease challenges declines.

    How much more milk or milk replacer these calves need is a function of temperature and our target rates of gain.  Tables 2 through 4 illustrate DM requirements for our 60 and 90 lb calves receiving a 20:20 MR diet:

    Table 2. Pounds of 20:20 milk replacer dry matter needed for maintenance and gain for a 90 lb heifer calf at declining temperatures.

    Temperature, °F

    Rate of gain

    60

    32

    15

    5

    -5

    0.0 lb/day1

    0.75

    1.15

    1.26

    1.40

    1.56

    0.5 lb/day

    1.00

    1.45

    1.50

    1.70

    1.80

    0.75 lb/day

    1.25

    1.55

    1.65

    1.85

    1.95

    1.0 lb/day

    1.60

    1.70

    1.80

    2.00

    2.20

    1.5 lb/day

    2.20

    2.30

    2.30

    2.40

    2.50

    1Maintenance diet.

    Table 3.  Pounds of 20:20 milk replacer dry matter needed for maintenance and gain for a 60 lb heifer calf at declining temperatures.1

    Temperature, °F

    Rate of gain

    60

    32

    15

    5

    -5

    0.0 lb/day1

    0.55

    0.85

    0.93

    1.07

    1.15

    0.5 lb/day

    0.90

    1.10

    1.20

    1.30

    1.40

    0.75 lb/day

    1.20

    1.20

    1.30

    1.40

    1.50

    1.0 lb/day

    1.50

    1.60

    1.60

    1.60

    1.70

    1Maintenance diet.

    Occasionally you will see the same amount of milk replacer supporting the same amount of growth at more than one temperature.  In Table 3, this happens more than once.  The given diet provides a finite amount of energy and protein available for growth once maintenance requirements are met.  If protein is the limiting nutrient for growth, excess energy in the diet is stored as fat.  Beyond an adequate body condition, we do not want to raise calves that are growing fat.  We want them to add non-fat muscle, bones, etc.  In the case of the 60 lb calf, if we desire a 1.0 lb/day rate of gain, the 1.6 lb of 20:20 milk replacer DM requirement provides enough protein for that level of gain.  However, there is excess energy available which is sufficient to meeting increasing demands for energy to maintain the body during increasing cold stress until the temperature drops to 5° F where that diet is very well balanced.  In other diets, energy is the limiting nutrient, and excess protein fed will be excreted by the calf.

    Some farms feed fresh milk and may or may not pasteurize the milk.  The exact composition of this milk will vary from day to day and farm to farm.  The NRC program used to generate these tables provided fresh milk values of 3.175% protein and 3.85% fat.  In milk with 12.5% solids, this would be equivalent to a 25:31 milk replacer analysis.  Table 4 shows the milk dry matter maintenance and gain requirements for our 90 lb calf fed fresh milk.

    Table 4.  Pounds of 25:31 whole milk DM (3.175% protein and 3.85% fat) needed for maintenance and gain for a 90 lb heifer calf at declining temperatures.

    Temperature, °F

    Rate of gain

    60

    32

    15

    5

    -5

    0.0 lb/day1

    0.66

    1.02

    1.11

    1.29

    1.38

    0.5 lb/day

    0.90

    1.25

    1.35

    1.50

    1.60

    0.75 lb/day

    1.00

    1.40

    1.50

    1.65

    1.75

    1.0 lb/day

    1.30

    1.50

    1.65

    1.80

    1.90

    1.5 lb/day

    1.75

    1.85

    1.95

    2.10

    2.20

    1Maintenance diet.

    Assuming that a typical calf bottle holds approximately half a gallon of liquid and if it is filled with fresh milk, it would deliver about a half pound of dry matter to the calf.  On a per volume basis, the fresh milk at 25:31 provides more nutrients to our calf than a 20:20 milk replacer.

    As temperatures spend more time near and below freezing, nutrition programs must be adjusted to provide calves nutrients for both maintenance and gain.  While it is tempting to short the calves on milk or milk replacer dry matter to “force” them to eat starter and/or “save” money on milk replacer, calves less than three weeks old will start to eat grain, but will they either not gain or loose weight if underfed milk.  Calves raised in those conditions will not have nearly the ability to deal with cold stress and fight off disease challenges that properly fed calves will.

    How Should Additional Milk be Fed to Calves?

    Healthy calves can easily eat more than the typical bottle or half gallon of milk or milk replacer fed at 12.5% DM per feeding. Actually, they would like to eat more than that.  Large calves can and will eat a gallon per feeding.  Small breed calves can handle a half to ¾ of a gallon with no adverse effects.  If they have eaten most of their diet, but do not care to finish, do not force feed an otherwise healthy calf.

    Calves are designed to handle 12.5% DM liquid diets (equivalent to fresh milk).  Keeping diets close to this concentration is less likely to cause digestive issues than trying to concentrate more powder in a given volume of water.  There is some suspicion that concentrated DM in liquid diets can contribute to the incidence of acute bloat syndrome, an infrequent, but usually fatal disease in neonatal calves.

    Additional liquid intake will result in loose manure which should not be mistaken for scours.  While calves can still contract scours when their manure is simply loose from a higher liquid intake, they will maintain a good appetite.

    Feeding calves to gain does not decrease the need for good housing; clean, dry, fluffy bedding that calves can nestle down in; and top-quality care.  Invest time and adequate nutrition in these calves.  They are the future of your dairy farm business.

  10. Release of eXtension for Dairy Cattle

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

    eXtension (http://www.extension.org) is an educational partnership of more than 70 universities to help you improve your life every day with access to objective, research-based information and educational opportunities. The features of eXtension are: 1) provides information to you any time, any place, any format and on any Internet-ready device, 2) is available to you 24/7/365, whenever you need to make decisions to improve your life, to answer life questions, or to learn more about any topic available, 3) has the national shared strength of the Land Grant University System customized to focus on your needs where you live, 4) its content is dynamic and evolving, offering you timely information on topics that matter to you, and 5) complements and enhances the community-based Cooperative Extension System of the land-grant universities, a resource you now have at your fingertips. The topical areas in eXtension are referred to as Communities of Practice (COP). The internet content for the COP for Dairy Cattle (http://www.extension.org/dairy_cattle) was released on October 1, 2007, just in time for debuting at the World Dairy Expo.

  11. Job Description Generator

    Dr. Maurice Eastridge, Extension Dairy Specialist, The OhioStateUniversity

    Human resource management on a dairy farm is very critical to the success of the operation, and writing job descriptions for a position is important in the recruitment, hiring, and evaluation of farm employees. Penn State University, through their Dairy Alliance program, has developed an on-line resource for generating job descriptions. This resource may be of help to you and is located at: http://dairyalliance.psu.edu/hr/. 

  12. Results of State 4-H and Collegiate Dairy Judging Teams

    Mrs. Bonnie Ayars, Dairy Program Specialist, The Ohio State University

    For Ohio’s 4-H dairy judges, it was a very good year!  After hours of practice in and around Ohio, the Ohio State Fair, Kentucky, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Wisconsin, over 3000 miles, and 40 plus host farms, 4-Hers took the spotlight at the Pennsylvania All American Contest.  Not only did they emerge as the high team, Laura Gordon was high individual overall, and Jason Miley was high in reasons and 6th individual overall.  Contributing to the team’s success were Curtis Bickel and Elizabeth Grim.  All four combined to earn 1st in Guernsey, 3rd in Brown Swiss, and 4th in Jersey, and 5th in oral reasons. Individually, Laura was 3rd high in Ayrshire and 4th in Guernsey while Jason was 2nd in Guernseys.

    At the national contest held in conjunction with World Dairy Expo, a team of Laura Gordon, Jason Miley, Curtis Bickel, and Greg Heiby placed 4th overall and 7th in reasons out of 30 teams competing. Jason achieved a rank of 7th high overall and proved that he could give reasons better than any other gentleman since he was 6th overall in reasons with 5 ladies above him.  Laura placed 13th overall and was 19th in reasons.  Laura and Jason both achieved “All American” status since they were in the top 25. For individual breed performance, the team was 5th in Ayrshire, 2nd in Guernsey, 4th in Holstein, and 9th in Brown Swiss.

    The Ohio State University Dairy Judging team made up of Sherri Gress, Erin Bardall, Annie Specht, and Matthew Weeman also spent hours in and around Ohio, the Ohio State Fair, Kentucky, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Wisconsin.  These road trips covered 4000 miles and over 50 host farms!  Not only did they travel with the 4-Hers, but they also spent time together with the ATI dairy judging team members in New York and at the Big E contest in Massachusetts.  At this contest, Annie Specht was 2nd high individual.  At the Pennsylvania All American contest, the team placed 4th.  Annie earned 3rd place overall, with only 5 points separating her from the top score.  She was also high individual for Brown Swiss and 6th in Guernsey.  Erin Bardall achieved the high honors for the Holstein breed and a score of 49 for her reasons.  The team was 2nd in Guernsey and 3rd in Holstein.

    At the World Dairy Expo contest, 23 teams participated and after rescoring the contest  two times, Annie concluded her dairy judging career as 6th high individual overall and 6th high in reasons.  The team finished in the middle, but was 3rd high in Guernsey, 7th in Milking Shorthorn, and 8th in Red and White.

    It was an absolute honor to travel with these fine young people. Coaches Bonnie Ayars and Bernie Heisner and assistant Kelly Epperly only have high praise for the experience. Much was learned about judging, but we also laughed and had fun, despite many late night sets of reasons. Points were scored at the contests, but also high marks were earned for the character of Ohio’s next generation.  We would once again like to thank everyone for any of your input or contributions to the judging program.                  

    4-H Dairy Judging Team (pictured): Jason Miley, Curtis Bickel, Elizabeth
    Grim, and Laura Gordon. Coaches: Bonnie Ayars and Bernie Heisner.

    Collegaite Dairy Judging Team (pictured): Matthew Weeman, Erin Bardall,
    Sheri Gress, and Annie Specht. Coach: Bonnie Ayars.

  13. Dairy Management Workshops Planned

    Mr. Chris Zoller, OSU Extension Educator, Tuscarawas County

    It may seem a long way off, especially as you are managing the fall harvest, but winter will be here before we know it and along with it comes a variety of outstanding Extension workshops and educational seminars to help you be a better dairy producer. This winter will be no different. A team of Ohio State University Extension educators and specialists applied for and successfully obtained a grant from the USDA North Central Risk Management Education Center to develop a three-day workshop to address three important topics all dairy producers will face. The workshops will be conducted at four locations across Ohio and are targeted at those producers who expect to be in the dairy business for the next twenty years.

    Each day has its own theme and will address specific issues related to the successful management of a dynamic dairy industry. I am a Manager, is the theme of day one at all locations. This session will provide you the opportunity to learn more about yourself and those around you by completing a “Colors” exercise, identifying goals for your business, and developing a mission statement for your farm.

    The theme for day two is Information I Need to Be a Better Manager and will focus primarily on the economics of dairy production and what future managers will need to know and understand as the industry changes. Topics will include determining your cost of production, evaluating business alternatives, and developing budgets for the business.

    The final day is titled Managing for the Future. This session will focus on two important functions of operating a dairy business: having a well developed business plan and the need to manage labor.

    Along with funding from the North Central Risk Management Education Center, an excellent group of co-sponsors has realized the need for this educational program and have agreed to assist with promotion and recruitment efforts. Our co-sponsors include: Farm Credit Services, Ohio Dairy Producers, Dairy Farmers of America, Land O’Lakes Purina Feed and Affiliated Dealers and Co-ops, and the Ohio Dairy Veterinarians Association.

    Registration details will be available soon. If you have questions about the workshops, please contact Chris Zoller (330-339-2337) or Dianne Shoemaker (330-263-3799).

  14. 2007 Ohio Dairy Challenge Contest

    Dr. Maurice Eastridge, Extension Dairy Specialist, The OhioStateUniversity

    The 2007 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 receives $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 Miedema Dairy in Circleville, OH, and it is owned by Andy and Itske Miedema. They built the facility during 2002 and began milking in it on December 24, 2002. The parlor is a double-12 parallel, and a second freestall barn was build in 2003. At present, they have about 550 cows, and construction is underway for a new free-stall barn whereby their herd can grow to 1000 cows. The Miedema’s have always welcomed students to their farm, e.g. they hosted the contest previously in 2004 and several faculty have taken classes to the facility or students in individualized training. The contest started by the students and the judges spending about two hours at the farm on Friday afternoon, assessing the strengths and opportunities of the operation by interviewing the owners and examining the specific areas of the dairy facility.  During Friday evening, the teams spent about 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, and their final presentation had to be turned in on Friday evening. On Saturday morning, the students then had 20 minutes to present their results and 10 minutes for questions from the judges. The judges were Mr. Fred Martsolf (Cargill Animal Nutrition), Dr. Charles Garnder (Cargill Animal Nutrition), Dr. Maurice Eastridge (Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, OSU), and Dr. K. Larry Smith (Professor Emeritus, Department of Animal Sciences, OSU). There were 6 teams and 25 students that participated in the program. The Awards Banquet was held on Friday, November 16 at the Buckeye Hall of Fame Café. The students among the teams that competed were: Team #1 (Second Place) – Kristen Heller, Stephanie Metzger, Danielle Stout, and Dionne Young; Team #2 (Third Place) – Sheryn Bruff, Alicia Kissell, Jeff Riethman, and Kyle Uhlenhake; Team #3 – Paige Gott, Grace Hill, Mark Lyons, and Renee Starkey; Team #4 – Erica Beathard, Sara Cole, Michele Runyon, Julie Schrader, and Marjorie Turpening; Team #5 – Matt Jackson, Craig Link, Jesse Whinnery, and Adam Zimmerman; and Team #6 (First Place) – Anton Henry, Allison Stammen, and Eric Weitzel. The top 4 individuals for the contest that were selected to potentially represent Ohio at the 2008 National Contest to be held April 4-5 and hosted by the University of Wisconsin were Anton Henry, Stephanie Metzger, Eric Weitzel, and Jesse Whinnery. The coach for the team will be Dr. Maurice Eastridge in the Department of Animal Sciences at Ohio State.