Edited by Dr. Jud Heinrichs, Professor of Dairy and Animal Science, Dairy Digest features articles by Penn State's experts in dairy management, engineering, herd health, and related areas. Dairy Digest has been published by the Department of Dairy and Animal Science and Penn State Cooperative Extension since 1963.
What is the difference between a barn built in 2014 and one built in 2002? It is likely there are multiple opportunities to upgrade an older barn and improve cow comfort.
Inspections are an inevitable part of the routine on most dairy farms. The demand for a safe, high quality product is driven, in part, by consumers who put pressure on producers for transparency and adherence to safety standards. Processors also require a product that consistently meets their standards resulting in the production of a high quality, uniform product on a regular basis. Producers in turn, may be rewarded with premiums for meeting quality standards. But do these inspections correlate with the quality of milk that is being shipped?
Water makes up 87% of the milk given by a cow, and drinking water satisfies 80 to 90% of a cow’s total water needs. Consider how and when cows drink to create a watering system that ensures every cow gets as much water as she will drink.
A 2013 study suggested that US EPA estimates of methane production underestimated true emissions. Penn State scientists collaborated with other experts to examine that claim. Using a method of calculating emissions based on feed consumption, these researchers concluded that the EPA estimates are accurate.
Most of the time when we think about sorting and dairy cows, we focus on the negative consequences of cows selectively eating the finer particles in a diet. But there is growing evidence that cows facing an acidosis challenge will select feeds with high ruminal buffering capacity if given the opportunity.
When it comes to risk management it seems like things are never simple. The new approach in the farm bill appears complicated. However, farms that have developed cash flow plans on their own or with the Extension Dairy Team, already have the tools available to implement the program effectively.
Designed, installed, and operated properly, tunnel ventilation systems can play a major role in keeping cows comfortable and productive during hot weather. Providing enough fan capacity is important, but properly sized inlets – located to supply uniform distribution throughout the animal space – are essential to provide a more comfortable space for the cows.
Successful culling strategies are based on economics and utilize accurate production data. This article discusses metrics that incorporate information from a current test day and for the current lactation.
As group housing systems for calves have gained popularity in recent years, interest in acidified milk systems has also been renewed. This article describes reasons for acidifying milk or milk replacer and examines research on acidified milk feeding systems.
Consistency is one of the biggest goals when feeding calves. Whatever the liquid feed (milk or milk replacer), the temperature, total solids percentage, and nutrient level should be reasonably consistent from feeding to feeding. Large changes in any of these parameters can lead to unwillingness of calves to drink or scours in calves that do drink.
Is the dairy industry ready to move from the past 75 years of artificial insemination (AI) as the primary way of advancing genetic progress, to using genomics, ovum pick-up (OPU), and in vitro fertilization (IVF) as another combination of technologies that could be used routinely to help take the dairy industry to the “next level” of genetic progress?
Prevention of mastitis requires reducing exposure to mastitis pathogens and enhancing the ability of the heifers’ immune system to respond.
The variety of production systems make it difficult for any one farm to truly know the cost to feed its herd when basing prices solely on the prevailing market. Though analysts do a reasonable job approximating the market costs for feedstuffs like corn silage and alfalfa haylage, actual producer costs can vary greatly within the same state. For this reason, it pays to know the true costs to produce the crops fed on the dairy farm.
Preliminary research from Purdue found that on average, farms could spend an additional $7.50 for polled genetics and break even with the average costs of dehorning.
Look for those “grey areas” that may be costing you money and workers. Taking steps to eliminate the grey – creating SOPs that are used and having good conversations daily – can be two steps forward towards a better environment for you and your workforce.
Approximately half of U.S. and one-third of Pennsylvania ag businesses use technology to assist in business management. If you have not yet made the switch to computerized financial records, Penn State Extension provides a comparison of features in the major software packages.
What makes good housing for cows with a robotic milking system? The simple answer is, the rules haven’t changed! Every dairy shelter, no matter the style, needs to provide good ventilation, ready access to high-quality water and feed, a clean, dry, comfortable resting area, and confident footing. It doesn't matter how she is milked, the measures of what makes good housing and husbandry don't change.
The Penn State Particle Separator (PSPS) provides a tool to quantitatively determine the particle size of forages and total mixed rations (TMR). The updated 2013 version of the PSPS adds the ability to estimate physically effective fiber (peNDF) to this tool.
Achieving ideal levels of fecal phosphorus requires attention to several factors. The good news is ideal levels are possible, but they certainly are not the easiest to achieve.
Genetic technologies offer new opportunities to develop precise management plans that will help a farmer capitalize on the genetic merit of each animal in his or her herd.