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Dairy Digest

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.

February 12, 2014

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.

February 12, 2014

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.

February 12, 2014

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?

February 12, 2014

Prevention of mastitis requires reducing exposure to mastitis pathogens and enhancing the ability of the heifers’ immune system to respond.

February 12, 2014

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.

December 17, 2013

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.

December 17, 2013

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.

December 17, 2013

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.

December 17, 2013

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.

October 15, 2013

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.

October 15, 2013

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.

October 15, 2013

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.

October 15, 2013

Delegating management of a process or technology we aren’t familiar with to someone else based on their personal strengths can be a way to develop our human resources on the farm. We can rely on the younger generation to help bridge the information and technology gap while providing them with experiences and opportunities to progress our farms at a quicker rate.

October 15, 2013

A few manure piles at the rear of the stalls doesn’t necessarily mean a poorly managed stall, but rather a well-used stall, which is a good thing. Rather than just look at how clean the stalls are, watch and evaluate how the cows use the stalls. In the end a clean, well-used stall is the real goal.

August 21, 2013

Knowing what it costs you to grow corn or beans can allow you to determine what yield levels will be profitable and how much you can afford to pay to rent crop ground.

August 21, 2013

Precision dairy management involves the use of technology to measure indicators on individual animals and the use of automation to perform tasks. These technologies are intended to increase efficiency and improve cow management; ultimately improving farm productivity and profitability. Many of these technologies can be applied to both small and large farms.

June 17, 2013

A new growth spreadsheet that generates a customized growth curve for an individual herd based on that herd’s goal for age at first calving and the mature size of animals in the herd. Using this tool, you will be able to tell at every step of the way whether heifers are on track to calve at the right size and age, eliminating the delay that comes with not measuring heifer performance until first calving.

June 17, 2013

We can't control the weather, but we can make management changes to improve calf comfort and performance as the mercury rises.

June 17, 2013

A growing population and increased incomes from an economic boom are the driving forces behind a surge in dairy product demand in India. One key to the success of recent consumption trends has been an American standby: the refrigerator.

June 17, 2013

On-farm milk culture is a tool that can help you reduce the amount of antibiotics being used, decrease costs associated with clinical mastitis, and increase milk quality and profitability.