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.
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.
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.
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.
In March 2015 the FDA released the results of the Bulk Milk Antibiotic survey that began in 2012. In a survey of milk from 1,912 herds, no samples contained residues from antibiotics that are routinely tested under the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance. However, 15 samples contained residues of other antibiotics that are not routinely measured. In light of the results of this survey, producers and veterinarians should review their treatment protocols and withholding times to further reduce the possibility of residues in milk leaving the farm.
Since its inception in the 1950s, the total mixed ration (TMR) is now the most adopted method for feeding high producing, indoor-housed dairy cows in the world. Feeding a TMR helps a dairy cow achieve maximum performance. This is accomplished by feeding a nutritionally balanced ration at all times, allowing cows to consume as close to their actual energy requirements as possible and maintaining the physical or roughage characteristics, which we now refer to as feed particle size, required for proper rumen function. Good feeding management practices must be followed to successfully implement a TMR system and achieve maximum performance from cows.
There is growing interest in the use of activity monitoring systems on dairy farms. This interest is driven by the desire to improve reproductive performance, reduce labor, and reduce the cost of production. This article will address some common questions about activity systems.
Understanding how ovarian follicles develop and the interplay between hormones and other health factors in a non-pregnant dairy cow can be both fascinating and frustrating. When it comes to the question of how to manage reproduction in an early postpartum cow, it pretty much boils down to one big thing: without ovulation of a follicle, reproduction is not possible. Ovulation is the critical event that must function correctly and be responded to in a timely manner in order to see a new pregnancy established.
Most farms used the high milk prices of 2014 to make repairs or to replace machinery and equipment that were past repair. However, some farms also used this year to prepare for 2015, a year that couldn’t realistically parallel the record prices of 2014. This article presents strategies to help your business weather milk price cycles.
Whether it's your farm business or a community organization, if you're looking to lead you have to be able to communicate.
Open cows that aren't cycling normally can hamper successful reproduction. This article, the first in a series on cyclicity, defines the terms anovulation and anestrous. Though similarly problematic, the causes and potential corrective actions for anovulation or anestrous conditions in a dairy cow are different.
Tips to help you get the most out of your financial records. Like any record keeping system, the quality and usefulness of the information you get out depends on attention to detail as data is entered and reports are designed.
A newly published study supports findings from previous research. Calves grew faster before weaning on higher rates of milk or milk replacer, but size differences disappeared after weaning and milk production in first lactation was not affected.
Well, if you answered “NO” to that question then maybe you need to review – or create – job descriptions that you have for key positions. Job descriptions provide the foundation for building strong human resource management practices into the day-to-day management of a dairy farm business.
New research from Penn State shows that feeding a methane inhibitor has potential as a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cattle.