Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

2011 dairy outlook a mixed bag

By Dave Natzke

USDA’s World Ag Supply & Demand Estimates report, released Jan. 12, left estimated 2010 U.S. milk marketings (fat basis) unchanged, at 191.8 billion lbs. In addition, imports were reduced another 200 million lbs., to 4.1 billion lbs.

The report reduced expected 2011 milk marketings by about 100 million lbs., to 194.5 billion lbs., and reduced imports by 200 million lbs., to 3.9 billion lbs.

Export projections for 2010 (fat basis) were reduced by 100 million lbs., to 8.1 billion lbs., but increased from previous projections by 100 million lbs. for 2011, to 6.4 billion lbs.

With the WASDE report, USDA calculated final average milk and dairy product prices for 2010. In addition, USDA provided forecasts for 2011, lowering expected prices for cheese and Class III milk, but raising expected prices for butter, dry whey, Class IV and all milk.

The 2010 (actual) and 2011 (forecast) prices averages (respectively) include:

• cheese – $1.5226/lb.; $1.510-$1.590/lb.

• butter – $1.7020/lb.; $1.545-$1.655/lb.

• NDM – $1.1687/lb.; $1.22-$1.28/lb.

• dry whey – 37.16¢/lb.; 37.5¢-40.5¢/lb.

• Class III – $14.41/cwt.; $14.35-$15.15/cwt.

• Class IV – $15.09/cwt.; $14.90-$15.80/cwt.

• all milk – $16.30/cwt.; $16.10-$16.90/cwt.

Impacting cull cow prices, the WASDE report raised estimated placements of cattle in feedlots during the fourth quarter of 2010, which will be ready for slaughter during mid-2011. However, the cattle price forecast for 2011 was raised to reflect continued strong demand for cattle and tightening supplies of fed cattle. USDA will release its Cattle report on Jan. 28, providing an indication of producer intentions for heifer retention in 2011 and feeder cattle availability.

For an outlook of 2010-2011 dairy feedstuff supplies and prices, visit

Onset moisture sensor

Onset’s new 10HS Soil Moisture Smart Sensor.

Onset Computer Corp. expanded its line of research-grade soil monitoring solutions with the new 10HS Soil Moisture Smart Sensor. The 10HS sensor measures soil moisture over a large volume of soil to provide a more accurate picture of average soil moisture in a given area. Its plug-and-play design reduces deployment time, saving users time and money. Users can simply plug the sensor into an Onset HOBO® U30 or H21 Weather Station and begin monitoring without having to spend time wiring or programming. Visit Onset at

DPAC: More frequent dairy reporting needed

The Dairy Policy Action Coalition is pleased to see Congress moving forward on mandatory electronic price reporting for dairy via the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Bill and through language included in the House and Senate Agriculture Committees’ reauthorization of existing electronic reporting for beef and pork.

“Testimony at the USDA / DOJ Dairy Competition Workshop in Madison, Wis. last month identified the CME cash cheese exchange as being too thinly traded and not a good price discovery vehicle,” said DPAC chair Cliff Hawbaker, a dairy producer from Chambersburg, Pa. “We are pleased to see Congress taking important steps in the right direction to establish electronic reporting for dairy, and we urge lawmakers and USDA to continue moving forward to achieve price reporting that is daily, not weekly, and which reflects more of the products in the marketplace that are made with the milk produced by America’s dairy farmers.”

On Tuesday, July 27, the House Ag Committee passed H.R. 5852—The Mandatory Price Reporting Act of 2010. The five-year reauthorization bill directs USDA to establish an electronic reporting system for dairy products within one year of passage.

“Mandatory price reporting programs ensure that producers have access to transparent, accurate and timely market information that helps them make the best decisions for their businesses,” said chairn Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), who introduced H.R. 5852, in an official statement about the committee’s approval of it.

On July 28, Senate Ag Committee chair Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and ranking member Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) introduced a bill with similar language for dairy, stating that the purpose of the Act is to “guarantee transparency… and help improve producers’ ability to access fair market prices.” (According to the National Milk Producers Federation, that bill was approved by the Senate Ag Committee, Aug. 4.)

While the reporting is daily for wholesale beef cuts—and the new mandate for wholesale pork cuts is also daily—the new language on reporting for wholesale dairy products, on the other hand, is described as weekly in H.R. 5852, and would be released every Wednesday for the previous week’s sales.

The Senate Appropriations Committee, on July 15, also included a section on Dairy Price Reporting within its Agriculture Appropriations bill, encouraging the Secretary of Agriculture to consider the recommendations of the Dairy Industry Advisory Committee (DIAC) regarding implementation of Section 1510 of the 2008 Farm Bill, which already provides the authority for electronic reporting of dairy products that is “more frequent” (daily) versus weekly, and auditing the reports quarterly instead of yearly.

The July action by the Senate Ag Appropriations Subcommittee, chaired by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), follows a May 3, 2010 letter authored by Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), a member of the Subcommittee, and Rep. Tim Holden (D-Pa.), vice-chair of the House Ag Committee, and signed by 24 members of Congress from 12 states. The letter conveyed bipartisan support for the inclusion of $1 million to fund the “more frequent” electronic reporting system.

“Congress wrote Section 1510 into the last Farm Bill, with the words: ‘pending funding.’” said Dennis Wolff, a consultant for DPAC who worked on this issue as a former state ag secretary and who is also a lifelong dairy farmer. “DPAC has been working to move that funding forward so this section of the last Farm Bill can be implemented.”

According to Dairy Industry Advisory Committee (DIAC) vice-chair Erick Coolidge, who was in Elizabethtown, Pa. for a community forum hosted by the local Grange on July 27, the DIAC’s subcommittee on dairy profitability meets in Washington D.C. next week, and dairy price reporting is on the agenda.

In June, Wolff and DPAC vice-chair Rob Barley, a dairy producer from Lancaster, Pa., presented DPAC’s “Cornerstone for Change” to the full DIAC at their second meeting in Washington, D.C. The primary focus of their comments was market transparency and price discovery and the role of daily electronic reporting to improve the timeliness and accuracy of USDA-reported prices and sales volumes for wholesale dairy products.

According to the DIAC June meeting minutes, USDA officials said the cost to dairy processors is estimated at $381 per plant per year to electronically submit sales data on a daily basis, as is currently done by beef processors.

“The value centers in the dairy industry are changing with new products and new uses,” said Barley. “To make business decisions as dairy producers, we need price reporting that reflects daily negotiated trades, not a volatile and thinly-traded CME exchange, where less than one percent of U.S. cheese and less than 2% of U.S. butter is traded. Under the current system, this market of last resort is captured in the weekly NASS Survey that is a week old by the time we farmers see it.”


DPAC is a coalition of grassroots dairy producers actively participating, with a unified voice, in the policies and issues affecting milk pricing. The coalition, formed in November 2009, is organized into action groups and is funded by donations to represent the grassroots community of dairy farmers across the U.S. DPAC has a 20-member charter board made up of active dairy producers from Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York, along with ad hoc members—to-date—from Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Indiana, and Wisconsin. They have contracted the consulting services of Dennis Wolff, a former state ag secretary and lifelong dairy farmer who is now a partner in Versant Strategies. DPAC is corresponding with producers and organizations in 23 states. In its first eight months of existence, the coalition has received donations by individual dairy farmers and producer organizations, accounting for a combined 6,500 dairy producers in 12 states. DPAC has also received substantial donations from agribusinesses that supply and provide services to the nation’s dairy farms. Combined, these contributing businesses account for thousands of jobs. For more information, visit or call 800.422.8335.

CWT expands export assistance product list, accepts bids

ARLINGTON, VA – Following an economic evaluation of the competitiveness of U.S. butter and anhydrous milkfat (AMF) prices, Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) added these two products to those currently eligible for assistance under the CWT Export Assistance program.

In the past month, the butter price at the CME has moved up to more than 13¢/lb. As a result, the prices of butter and AMF in the U.S. have moved above the world price for these two commodities. Providing export assistance on these two products will allow CWT members to maintain market share in light of the increase in the U.S. price.

Following the decision, CWT accepted four bids from Dairy Farmers of America and three bids from Land O’Lakes for 1,714 metric tons (3.78 million lbs.) of butter and AMF to Europe, the Caribbean, South America and the Middle East. Delivery will take place from July through November.

CWT also accepted two bids from Dairy Farmers of America for 97 metric tons (213,848 lbs.) of cheddar cheese to Europe and Asia. This product will be delivered from August through November 2010.

Since CWT reactivated the Export Assistance program on March 18, 2010, it has assisted members in making export sales of cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Gouda cheese totaling 17,330 metric tons (38.2 million lbs.) to 23 countries on four continents. The totals have been adjusted due to the cancellation of a bid for 38 metric tons of cheese to Africa.

Production Pointers: Reproduction

August 3, 2009

Reproduction efficiency feeling the heat?

The anxiety about reproductive performance rises with the temperature. Heat stress can greatly affect the ability to get a cow pregnant, making summer breeding progress difficult for producers.(1) But, by understanding the effects of heat stress and ways to combat the challenges, producers can regain profits that might otherwise be lost.

“Higher temperatures usually mean decreased conception rates among dairy herds(1),” said Dr. Tom Van Dyke, manager, Merial Veterinary Services. “Producers need to battle heat stress for a number of reasons, but the effects hot weather can have on fertility may be one of the most important.”

In a study, ovulation failure was 3.9 times higher in cows inseminated during warm months (May to September) than in cool months (October to April).(1) These inefficiencies occur when an animal is exposed to a high temperature-humidity index (THI).(1) THI combines ambient temperature and relative humidity in an index to measure the heat’s impact on an animal.(1) A high THI can cause cows to have interruptions in their estrous cycles resulting in failed ovulations.(2) In addition, heat stress reduces growth of the dominant follicle in the ovaries and causes incomplete dominance, which leads to an increased growth of inferior follicles.(3)

“The good news for producers is that a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) can be used to treat a leading cause of reproductive failure — ovarian follicular cysts,”(4) Dr. Van Dyke said. “GnRH helps clear the ovary of cysts that form from old follicles so new ones can take their place.(4) This activates the process leading to estrus.”(4)

Ovarian cysts cause reproductive problems in all weather types, but as a GnRH treats this disease, it can help induce ovulation during times when breeding is most difficult — like during the heat of summer.

“When treating this fundamental source of reproductive failure, a GnRH causes the release of both luteinizing hormone (LH) and, to a lesser extent, follicle stimulation hormone (FSH), which leads to ovulation,”(4) Dr. Van Dyke said. “Ovulation clears out the problem cyst and helps keep cows calving on a schedule that is profitable and convenient for producers.”

Along with administering a GnRH to keep ovaries healthy and cows calving, Dr. Van Dyke recommends other common practices to help raise conception rates during the summer months.

“Proper ventilation, cooling systems and hydration are obvious concepts to remember when helping cows avoid heat stress,” Dr. Van Dyke said. “Keeping cows cool can influence a major source of their health and productivity — feed intake.”

Cows tend to consume less feed when heat stressed,(2) which can set off a chain reaction of negative effects. Consuming less feed results in less milk production and less energy. Less energy means cows move around less, making it more difficult for producers to detect cows in heat when breeding. Overall, keeping cows cool is important to more than just reproduction.(2)

Dr. Van Dyke adds that using a trusted and leading GnRH gives producers a tool to help keep cows reproductively healthy in all weather conditions. Along with fundamental nutrition and cooling techniques, a GnRH can be the boost a dairy herd needs to beat the summer heat.

“Although there may be a number of factors contributing to lower conception rates, there are ways to reduce the reproductive loss resulting from heat stress,” Dr. Van Dyke said. “Profits and reproduction go hand in hand, and a better summer breeding program can mean certain returns in an uncertain economic time.”

(1) Science Daily. Heat stress influences low conception of dairy herds. September 7, 2007.

(2) NCSU Dairy Extension News. Summer 2005. North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.

(3) Al-Katanani YM, Et al. Effect of season and exposure to heat stress on oocyte competence in holstein cows. J Dairy Sci 2002;85:390-396.

(4) Martinez MF, Mapletoft RJ, Kastelic JP, Carruthers T.The effects of 3 gonadorelin products on luteinizing hormone release, ovulation and follicular wave emergence in cattle. Can Vet J 2003;44:125-131.

Source: Merial. Visit

Elsewhere on

Ordering from the menu of dairy breeding programs

During the past 30 years, a number of factors have contributed to the modern dairy cow showing decreased signs of estrus (“heat”). It has become harder to accurately identify cows to breed and, therefore, also harder to achieve pregnancy.

Not surprisingly, various breeding programs have developed over this time period to help address this concern. Many of these programs are referred to as “synch” programs because they enable producers to synchronize the ovulations of the cows, making timed-artificial insemination (AI) breedings possible. The plethora of options available may result in producers finding themselves feeling like everything but the kitchen “synch” has been thrown at them.

“The menu of program options can be very confusing and encourages the idea that the newest, latest synch will be the best program yet. This may not be the case for that dairy and a change may actually result in poorer reproductive efficiency. Neither is it true that any one ‘cookie cutter’ approach will work predictably on every dairy,” said Gavin Staley, DVM, DiplACT, Senior Fresh Cow Reproductive Manager, Pfizer Animal Health. The most important decision to make is which program can be reliably and reasonably implemented, within the existing constraints of dairy management, with outstanding compliance, again and again and again.

To read the entire article, visit

New Products

Vigortone Ag Products introduces Preg-Saver

Vigortone announces a new addition to its dairy product line, Preg-SaverTM with I.C.E.* Technology. University research and field trials have shown that when feeding Vigortone Preg-Saver with I.C.E. Technology during periods of heat stress, dry matter intake is higher, milk production is higher, respiration rates are lower, and pregnancy rates are higher. For more information, visit

AJCA approves IGENITY analysis for horned/polled Jerseys

The breed-specific horned/polled analysis from IGENITY® is now available for Jersey cattle. The American Jersey Cattle Association (AJCA) board of directors has approved the IGENITY analysis as the only DNA product currently accepted for determination of Jersey cattle as heterozygous or homozygous for the polled genes. For more information, visit

August 2009: Pro-Dairy

The Manager: Feed Decision Making


The Manager, a special section prepared by PRO-DAIRY specialists, appears in Eastern DairyBusiness 12 times a year. In keeping with the PRO-DAIRY mission, The Manager helps strengthen the management skills of dairy producers and increase the profitability of the dairy industry. PRO-DAIRY, an educational program begun in 1988, is a joint venture of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Northeast agriservice organizations. For reprints of PRO-DAIRY’s The Manager, contact Heather Howland, 272 Morrison Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853. Phone: (607) 255-4478 Email:



August 2009 features include:


Welcome to the wild world of sourcing feed 

How dairy producers tackle decisions on whether to buy or grow
commodity feeds has changed a lot in the last decade

By Tom Overton and Larry Chase


To contract or not to contract

There’s no crystal ball to help make foolproof decisions on contracting
feed. But there are tools that help improve decision making

By Tom Overton and Larry Chase


How do I price forages?

Pricing forages? That perennial question asked by dairy producers can
be answered using any of these methods

By Tom Overton and Larry Chase


Dairy consultant Q & A

Drawing on a wealth of experience, Corwin Holtz offers ideas on
making sound feed-buying decisions

By Eleanor Jacobs

Can you afford metritis?

     Metritis can cost a large dairy herd nearly $80,000 a year in culled cows, lost milk and reproductive losses, said Michael Overton of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia and John Fetrow of the University of Minnesota, in a paper given to the 2008 Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council convention in Omaha, Nebraska.
The study found these costs for each case of  metritis:
• Culling in first 60 days in milk (DIM) – $85.
• Milk loss – $83.
• Reproductive problems – $109.
• Treatment – ranges from $53 to $109.
Depending on the treatment used, the authors estimated the cost per case to range from $358 to $386.
The average risk of metritis in a dairy herd is 10% but can run as high as 30%.
    Overton and Fetrow looked at the economics of metritis by studying a large California herd with 500 cows that were diagnosed with metritis in the first 10 DIM. They concluded that a 1,000-cow herd with a 22% incidence of metritis can lose $79,000 a year. In today’s economic climate, that makes it well worth your while to pay close attention to transition cow management.


10 ways to make the most of your manure

By Karl Czymmek, senior Extension associate, Cornell Pro-Dairy Program, and Quirine Ketterings, associate professor, Cornell’s Nutrient Management SPEAR Program

Whether you have enough manure to fertilize all fields or not, here are some good ideas to consider this fall:   
• Stalk test.  Conduct a corn season post-mortem: Take stalk samples for the late season stalk nitrate test from second or higher year corn fields to assess your nitrogen (N) management this season.

• Soil test.  Take soil samples this fall (before manure application) to see where P and K are needed most. Then, prioritize fields that need N and are low to medium in P, K to take advantage of all three macronutrients in manure.

• pH.  There is still way too much corn grown on low pH soils- don’t use fertilizer to compensate for a poor liming program- lime is cheaper than ever compared to fertilizer!

• ISNT.  When you take soil samples for pH, P and K analyses, also run the Illinois Soil Nitrate Test (ISNT), a great investment at only $10 per sample.  The ISNT will tell if some of your corn fields do not need ANY additional N. Fields with a long-term manure history are potential candidates.   

• Third and fourth year corn.  These fields are most likely to need the highest N rates.  If a soil test tells you that they need P and K too, then they are excellent targets for manure. 

• Plant fall cover crops after corn silage harvest to protect soil and scavenge nutrients.

• Decide which hayfields will be plowed for corn next year. If the stand is healthy and well managed, the first year of corn will not require any N beyond 10 to 30 pounds per acre starter.
•Manure storage.  Storage allows farms to take advantage of the ammonia-N in manure if handled properly.  Spring incorporating or injecting manure before corn planting essentially doubles the N credit to that crop, halving the rate of manure required and allowing you to cover more acres or sell some to a neighbor.  Fall incorporation does not offer this N conservation benefit.
• Manure testing.  Are you making major fertility decisions with only one or two manure samples per year from a manure storage?  Ever wonder if the thicker manure at the bottom of the storage was any different nutrient-wise than that at the top?  Take more samples and build a nutrient analysis database to track what happens from top to bottom and season to season with your manure.  

 • Not convinced? Try some test strips in your fields to see for yourself!

   For more information on these topics, see the Cornell Agronomy Factsheet Series at


Producers can insure dairy ‘margins’ in 2009

USDA’s Risk Management Agency announced availability of Livestock Gross Margin insurance for Dairy Cattle (LGM Dairy), beginning with the 2009 livestock reinsurance year.

LGM Dairy protects against loss of gross margin (market value of milk minus feed costs) on milk produced from dairy cows. The indemnity at the end of the 11-month insurance period is the difference between the gross margin guarantee and the actual gross margin (if positive).

The policy uses futures prices and state basis for corn and milk to determine expected and actual gross margin, and may be tailored to any size farming operation.

LGM Dairy is different from traditional options in that it is a bundled option covering the price of both milk and feed costs. Producers can sign up 12 times per year and insure up to 240,000 cwt. per year.

Dairy producers in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming will be eligible for LGM Dairy insurance.

Midwest DairyBusiness carried preliminary details of the program in its November 2007 issue. Find a copy of that article on the MidwestDairyBusiness web site link.

For more information, visit