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Team Work = A Productive Dairy Herd

Posted: July 2, 2012

Improvements in forage quality, feed management and labor management equates to a productive Penn State dairy herd.

It was April 2009 when the first article about the Penn State dairy herd and income over feed cost was released. June 2014 will be the last article written in this series. I have stepped down as manager of the Dairy Complex to focus my efforts on extension and research activities. However, when one door closes, another one opens and there will be a new series of articles titled Dairy $ense.

On June 5th, the dairy herd was the first stop of the Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania tour that focused on transition cow feeding. As I prepared for the tour, I compiled data on the herd’s status when I started in 2002 and where the herd is today. There is nothing like seeing the numbers and facts to hit home on what has been accomplished in the past 12 years. Substantial improvements were made in all aspects of the farm operation. This includes forage quality, feeding management, reproduction, milk quality, labor management and herd production. I am proud of our accomplishments because it proves that what is taught in school and implemented properly does work.

Since this is the last article in this series I want to acknowledge three people who I respect and I believe based on their areas of research and practical knowledge provided the keys for my success as manager. Dr. Richard Adams was a nutritionist before his time. His knowledge in nutrition was far advanced even compared to the models being used today. Dr Gabriella Varga’s research in the area of synchronizing protein and carbohydrate balance has served as the basis for many of the strategies I implemented and wrote on over the past five years. Dr. Lisa Holden’s area in labor management was new to me and I implemented everything she recommended. That was probably the biggest learning curve in this entire process, but it did work. There are two additional people that need recognized because they were instrumental in the implementation, Nadine Houck and Travis Edwards. They were responsible for following through on everything. Our success was based on research, common sense and team work. A goal of mine is to work with producers to implement this approach.

June was a quiet month for the dairy herd. The cows were still performing very well on the BMR corn silage. The only major change was moving away from bagged haylage into an upright silo. The quality was similar to what had been fed since last year. With the rainy spring it was good to have a surplus of haylage so that the 2014 material can ferment for several weeks. For the month of June the herd averaged 86.0 pounds with a 3.71% milk fat, 3.07% milk protein, 154,000 SCC and 6.5 mg/dl MUN.

IOFC Results

Month and Year Gross Milk Price/cwt Milk income/cow Feed cost/cow IOFC Average milk lbs Low Benchmark High benchmark
M-13 $20.60 $17.78 $7.23 $10.55 86.3 $7.11 $10.67
J-13 $20.49 $17.91 $7.16 $10.75 87.4 $7.16 $10.74
J-13 $20.54 $16.43 $6.56 $9.87 80 $6.57 $9.86
A-13 $20.47 $16.38 $6.99 $9.39 80 $6.55 $9.83
S-13 $21.06 $17.56 $7.09 $10.47 83.4 $7.03 $10.54
O-13 $21.55 $18.53 $6.57 $11.96 86 $7.41 $11.12
N-13 $21.97 $18.24 $6.66 $11.58 83 $7.29 $10.94
D-13 $22.83 $19.63 $6.51 $13.12 86 $7.85 $11.78
J-14 $24.53 $21.10 $6.17 $14.93 86 $8.44 $12.66
F-14 $26.09 $22.05 $6.90 $15.15 84.5 $8.82 $13.23
M-14 $27.01 $23.31 $6.81 $16.50 86.3 $9.32 $13.99
A-14 $27.03 $23.35 $6.75 $16.60 86.4 $9.34 $14.01
M-14 $26.30 $22.41 $7.70 $14.71 85.2 $8.96 $13.44
J-14 $25.44 $21.88 $7.77 $14.11 86 $8.75 $13.13

IOFC Graph

June 2014

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Article Details

Title

Team Work = A Productive Dairy Herd

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Contact Information

Virginia A. Ishler
  • Extension Dairy Specialist
Phone: 814-863-3912