Penn State Extension Dairy Team Offers Best Milking Practices Workshop
The definition of audit is an official inspection of an individual's or organization's accounts, typically by an independent body. Audit is usually associated with financials however it applies very well to a total mixed ration (TMR). The premise of precision feeding is that the same ration is consistently mixed and fed to animals every day. In the real world there are elements influencing how well this practice is implemented. A TMR audit is something every producer should consider.
Penn State Extension Dairy Team has created an online farm margin monitoring tool to help farm managers track their milk margins more effectively and make more informed daily and long-term decisions.
Feeding forage to calves has been the subject of much debate over the years, in part because even though we know that fermentation of grain is essential for rumen development, sometimes in research and on farms calves fed hay have shown improved performance. If we focus on the rumen environment rather than the specific feeds we are providing, we can start to make sense of both the calf's requirements and ways we can meed her needs.
It's been said, "If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there." The same can be true for the information highway, and with the maze of data available today it is easy to get lost. Here are a few key questions to help you focus on the road ahead.
Some of the latest, greatest timed artificial insemination (AI) protocols have become pretty complex, but not without valid reasons. Conception rates with timed AI now commonly exceed what can be expected with the use of traditional heat detection approaches. Ovsynch, one of the foundational timed AI protocols, can lead to reasonable pregnancy results, even without additional treatments. But a number of add-on treatments are standing the test of research and repetition.
Farm employees are relied upon to handle tasks so that the farm owners' time can be focused on management. If employees are to excel, they must know how to handle day-to-day situations. This requires proper training on the protocols and practices for their job. But how do managers accomplish this when a language barrier makes communication difficult? Penn State Extension can help bridge the gap with customized training.
As 2015 comes to an end, the next year appears to be more of the same: tight margins due to low milk prices and feed costs still relatively high. Producers have dealt with both scenarios the past six years, however, a new wrinkle has developed: a cap on the volume of milk shipped.
Cows perform best when they can be kept on a consistent ration and forage quality is excellent. Is it an achievable goal to maintain lactating cows on the same forage ration for 12 months? Most people would automatically respond no to this question. Based on my experience as a dairy producer, dairy manager and nutritionist it can be a realistic goal; however it requires a very committed and focused approach to achieve that end result.
On a cool day in late October, nineteen workshop participants were treated to a full program about hoof health in dairy cattle. A portion of the workshop was held at a Marion Center dairy farm, where everyone had an opportunity to get "hands on" practice.
PCR can be a useful diagnostic aid when combined with other currently available tools and herd data. With advances in research and improvements in the interpretation of assay results, PCR and other molecular biology techniques are likely to gain a more prominent place in mastitis diagnostics in the future. Producers should weigh their options and expectations along with consideration of the means by which the results will be utilized when determining whether to opt for PCR as a diagnostic tool for mastitis on their farm.
Understanding the importance of physically effective fiber and knowing how to measure it accurately can be very helpful in managing high producing cows to avoid sub-acute ruminal acidosis and its negative impact on health and performance.
Forage quality plays a significant role in animal performance and profitability. Producers and nutritionists should be evaluating quality parameters. Ultimately it is the dairy producer who will implement changes to correct any problems.
The dairy industry in 2015 is experiencing a similar down cycle to 2009 and 2012. These volatile market swings are not new or unexpected. There are management practices that can be implemented to help sustain the dairy operation.
Feed cost is one of the largest expenses on dairy farms. In addition to being a major cost, over feeding, under feeding or feeding an improperly balanced diet can impair cow health, decrease milk production, and result in negative environmental impacts. Regular dry matter (DM) testing of feeds and rebalancing the ration to compensate for DM changes ensures that dairy producers are feeding the ration formulated by their nutritionist. Where trade names appear, no discrimination is intended, and no endorsement by Penn State Extension or by the author is implied.
Lighting is often one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to reduce energy use on a farm. While lighting upgrades can be a great energy saving measure, there are a few pitfalls you have to avoid. We'll discuss some of the more common problems you can avoid without too much trouble.
There has been a lot of press recently about genetic selection for production efficiency. Research in this area has far reaching implications with climate change, nutrient management and economics. However, how can feed efficiency (FE) be used on the farm right now?
Pennsylvania summers are notorious for being hot and humid. People and animals are usually tolerant of the initial on-set of these conditions in June, but it becomes problematic when heat stress is prolonged.
At Ag Progress Days, a producer, an experienced industry representative, and members of the Penn State Dairy Extension Team will discuss their experiences with the Transformation process.
The Extension Dairy Team has been working with approximately 60 farms evaluating corn silage quality over time. Within farms, it is amazing how much change is occurring in fiber and starch content and digestibility.