Archive for the ‘Eastern DairyBusiness’ Category

PDPW 2011 Business Conference is March 15-16

There’s still time to register for the 2011 Business Conference, March 15 and 16, hosted by Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin (PDPW).

This year’s Conference carries the theme “Pathways to Profit,” focusing on areas where dairy producers can turn the latest thinking into better financial performance.

Keynote speaker Dr. Michael Boehlje headlines the profit-focused discussions with his session, “Managing the Business in 2011 and Beyond.” Boehlje will share some key directions and indicators for future dairy profit, followed by an open Q&A session.

Other profit-centered sessions include a panel moderated by business coach Dr. David Kohl, “Navigating Today’s Economic Whitewaters,” which will feature two producers who will share what changes they have made the last two years to control costs and cut losses as well as the lessons they have learned and the impact of the changes on their bottom lines. Producer panelists are John Koepke of Koepke Farms, Oconomowoc, Wis., and John Noble, president of Noblehurst Farms Inc., a multi-family farm corporation in New York that has 24 shareholders.

Another featured producer roundtable will look at entering the dairy business from two polar opposite starts: a family transition situation and a non-farm family background. Matthew Berge of Valders, Wis., hails from a family of dairy farmers and will share his journey of transitioning into the family business while Mark Mayer of Fredonia, Wis., will outline his successful start-up without a farm background. Moderator George Twohig, an agricultural attorney, will take the lead as theses two discuss their experiences regarding getting into the world of dairy farm management and ownership.

Register in advance at, by calling 1-800-947-7379, or walk in on either day of the conference for on-site registration. Cost to register for both days of the 2011 PDPW Business Conference is $250/person for PDPW members and $350/person for non-PDPW members. Individuals wishing to attend just one day of the conference may do so for $175/person for PDPW members or $250/person for non-PDPW members. Registration for high school and college students is $100 for both days or $50 for one day.

Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin is a dairy-producer founded organization that provides educational programs and services to fellow dairy producers. PDPW’s mission is “to share ideas, solutions, resources, and experiences that help dairy producers succeed.”


Even God can’t hit a 1-iron

USDA’s Dairy Advisory Committee gave it a shot

By Dave Natzke

Several years ago at a gathering – mainly of dairy farmers and ag engineers, so it must have had to do with manure – a debate arose.

One faction argued that God must be an electrical engineer, given His role in designing the human brain and nervous system.

Another faction argued that, in witness of the human heart and circulatory system at work, God must be a mechanical engineer.

A third faction, however, contended The Almighty was a civil engineer, because only a civil engineer would run a liquid waste disposal system through a perfectly good recreational area. I’ll pause while you meditate on that one.

One thing missing from this story was that nobody argued God was a social engineer, probably for good reason. Social engineering seems to be a human creation, and with all the layers of committees, commissions, governments and courts, we have certainly complicated the process, if not perfected the system.

So despite all His engineering prowess, there is general consensus there are a couple of things God can’t do. First, in a widely held notion publicly expressed by golfing legend Lee Trevino, even God couldn’t hit a 1-iron. Second, under the realm of social engineering, it’s apparent even God couldn’t develop congregational unity on federal dairy policy. It’s an area He wisely stayed out of because, after all, it’s not as simple as parting the sea.

Imagine, then, the wilderness USDA’s Dairy Industry Advisory Committee (DIAC) wandered into, guided by the staff of history and a few dairy economists and policy experts. Seventeen tribal leaders and a multitude of hosts, forevermore arguing … but I digress.

Anyway, in substantially less time than it took to cross a desert, DIAC emerged on the other side. Whether they reached the Promised Land is open to interpretation. However, they have reached the doorstep of U.S. ag secretary Tom Vilsack’s office with a list of 23 items (give or take one slightly controversial issue) – presumably contained on at least four stone tablets or one slightly lengthy PowerPoint presentation, and an Adobe pdf document with supporting materials.

DIAC members voted on their final recommendations on March 5.

Nothing contained in the final recommendations is especially flashy. Many items found nearly unanimous agreement among those who ventured up this mountain. Some suggest doing away with ideas created by former dairy scribes. Some are a testament to new thinking, as the world is now again considered “flat.”

Those receiving the greatest agreement were more or less guidelines, and the Devil (you knew he’d make an appearance, right?) will be in the detail.

They included:

• recommending a review of federal milk marketing orders; simplified and improved risk management products;

• improvements in federal loan programs;

• development of triggers and actions for emergency intervention;

• explore eliminating the dairy product price support program and dairy export incentive program;

• elimination of end-product pricing;

• better collection and publication of competitive pay prices;

• development of risk management margin lines of credit;

• modification of the Milk Income Loss Contract program, and providing a margin insurance option;

• creation of special tax-deferred dairy farmer savings accounts;

• support of competitive markets through oversight by the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice;

• maintaining and expanding programs for export market development;

• support the reduction of the somatic cell count standards to 400,000 cells per milliliter;

• encouraging USDA to explore impacts of California-type fluid milk fortification standards;

• restrictions on use of dairy terms when labeling products not made from dairy;

• development of educational programs and technical assistance to accommodate unique value-added dairies;

• increase funds available for environmental practices;

• continue the Environmental Quality Improvement Program (EQIP) and grant programs for energy audits, infrastructure development for value-added processing and distribution, among others;

• a phaseout of ethanol subsidies;

• creation of a dairy herd health program to eradicate bovine tuberculosis and Johne’s disease; and provide a legal means for dairy farms to employ year-round, long-term immigrant labor.

Less consensus, or rather a downright split, regarded adoption of a growth (or supply) management program.

Some of the recommendations will run directly counter to other federal policies. Smoothing the terrain for immigrant labor, for example, is a hot potato facing opposition from Homeland Security and other border protectors. Ethanol subsidies have support from energy security advocates and crop producers. Federal funding for export market development, as well as many conservation programs, already face the budget ax. And, any program will have to face the abacus of budget scoring.

We’ll see how they’re received, and how they’ll fair alongside other dairy policy engineering efforts from the likes of the International Dairy Foods Association, National Milk Producers Federation, Dairy Policy Action Coalition, National Dairy Producers Organization, and many others. Then, there’s the little matter of taking it to the temple of Congress.

It’s highly unlikely DIAC’s delivery on the steps of USDA will contain all things necessary for communal living in the dairy industry. We do, after all, have quite a large number of replacement heifers in need of care – literally and figuratively. However, it was a noble effort and undoubtedly a guide for the future.

So, did you hear about the time Moses and Jesus skipped a breakout session during an Old Testament Conference to go golfing? Eyeing up a rather lengthy second shot on a par five hole, Jesus asked for his 1-iron, to which his caddy, Peter, denying his request, replied, “Even God …


■ To offer your own opinion or response, e-mail Dave Natzke, national editorial director, DairyBusiness Communications, e-mail:

Human Resources: Parlor efficiency

Many factors impact benchmarks and goals

By Felix Soriano

Felix Soriano is a labor management and human resource consultant with APN Consulting LLC, Warrington, Pa.


How do you measure parlor efficiency? Does having less milkers means my parlor is more labor efficient? Am I paying too much to my milkers and that makes my parlor labor efficiency poor?

These are some of the questions I usually get from clients looking to improve parlor performance and efficiency.

Last year, I surveyed six dairies where I did parlor audits and milker training schools, and evaluated parlor efficiency. All six had fairly modern parallel or herringbone parlors and varied in cow numbers from 380 to 3,000. Most of the dairies were located in the Northeast (Pennsylvania, New York and Vermont), with one in New Mexico.

Soriano surveyed six dairies where he did parlor audits and milker training schools, and evaluated parlor efficiency.

From this survey and personal experience, I believe there are three factors affecting parlor efficiency the most. Of the three, only one has to do with labor. These main factors are:

• Cow numbers. The more cows that need to be milked, the more diluted parlor operating costs will be.

• Average milk production per cow. As shown in survey, the higher the individual milk production, the more we can reduce labor cost per cwt.

• Milking speed. This is the one labor-related factor. By constantly working and training milkers at the dairy we can have a positive impact on parlor efficiency.

Let’s pay particular attention to this last point. The bottom line is how fast can we get cows milked, and the best way to keep track of this parameter is by monitoring

• cows/hour or turns/hour

• number of cows milked/milker per hour

Dairies with the highest number of cows milked per milker per hour were the most labor efficient. We can see from this data that the most efficient dairy is the one from New Mexico, with only 22¢/cwt. labor cost, followed by one of the New York dairies, with a 47¢/cwt. labor cost.

For any of these parameters, it’s important to set up your own benchmarks and goals according to the type and size of your parlor. Geographical area, weather conditions and other factors will have an impact.

However, don’t focus only on milking speed. Milking quality, attention to the cows while milking, and adequate udder prepping and milking routine are crucial to the success of your milking program as well.

What should be monitored when it comes to parlor efficiency? The two parameters I suggest monthly monitoring are:

1) Labor cost per cwt. It’s hard to compare large Western dairies to dairies in the Northeast because of cow numbers. However, it is important to define your own goals based on where your dairy stands today. Some dairies in the Northeast have been able to obtain numbers under 50¢/cwt. of labor cost throughout 2010. It’s not about salary, but most importantly how many cows can each milker milk in 1 hour. A reasonable target in some dairies with a full milking routine could be between 70-75 cows per milker per hour. In dairies with minimal prepping procedures, targeting around 140-150 cows per milker per hour wouldn’t be unreasonable.

2) Pounds of milk per stall per hour. This is an excellent parameter to evaluate parlor efficiency. Once again, base your benchmarks and goals according to your herd size, type of parlor and individual milk production per cow.

Finally, push your milkers to keep a fast pace while in the parlor. However, always remember that it’s important to have a good balance between speed and work quality.

This balance may differ according to location of the dairy. Due to climate, a dairy in New Mexico may have less environmental-related health problems than a dairy in Pennsylvania or Florida. The type of facilities, stalls and bedding are important when it comes to defining the right milking routine and milking pace expected by your milkers. Also, expected employee turnover rate can be important when defining those goals.

Consider all these factors when establishing your own milking program and setting parlor efficiency goals. Always discuss them with your veterinarian and external consultant.


Felix Soriano is a labor management and human resource consultant with APN Consulting LLC, Warrington, Pa. Contact him via phone: 215-738-9130, e-mail: or visit

People Power: Performance feedback — Use the ‘5 Whys’

By Robert Milligan

This month we resume our look at feedback related to inadequate performance, starting with questions.

1) How do we find the root cause of inadequate performance?

When we experience inadequate performance or unacceptable behavior, a small (or sometimes loud) voice asks, “What punishment does he or she deserve?” This is the wrong question, because we have not yet determined the reason. The appropriate question is “What is the cause?”

Too often, we treat symptoms, not the real problem. A great, but simple, tool to get beyond the symptoms is the “5 Whys.”

For a problem – for example, low milk production, high SCC, inadequate employee performance – keep asking “Why?” until the answer:

• is definitely not a symptom

• identifies something – usually involving people – that can be changed to likely solve the problem.

The process is called “5 Whys” because the root cause will almost always be identified with five or less repetitions of asking “Why?” (For an example worksheet, e-mail:

2) What is the suggested process for providing redirection feedback?

Our human tendency to blame others when performance or behavior does not meet our expectations is dangerous and potentially damaging in situations where redirection is the appropriate type of feedback. Redirection feedback is appropriate when the unacceptable performance is determined to be caused by the situation – not by the employee’s lack of motivation or focus. Any action that states, hints or even implies blame will be seen as unfair.

Redirection feedback is difficult to deliver, because the employee is already on emotional alert, both because of the failure to meet the expectation, and an anticipation that they will be unfairly blamed.

Four-step process to redirection

Use the following four-step process to deliver redirection feedback:

Step 1: Prepare for the discussion by identifying (from your perspective) the causes for failure to meet expectations, and what must change to meet expectations. The “5 Whys” approach can be used here.

Step 2: Gain the employee’s perspective on the behavior or performance that has not met expectations. Listen and ask questions as appropriate. Together you could complete or expand on what you have done with “5 Whys”.

Step 3: Based on the discussion, modify your ideas for what must change, and discuss those changes with the employee. You must be certain the employee understands:

• the failed expectations was not their fault

• change is required

• you will work with them – training, coaching, supporting – so they can succeed.

Step 4: Work with the employee to establish a realistic plan, goals and timeline to meet and exceed the expectations

Let’s apply this redirection feedback to the following example: The expectation for the dairy feeder is to complete morning feeding of the milking cow groups by 10 a.m. Fulfilling this expectation has been problematic, getting  worse with additional computerized technology that should assist with both accuracy and speed.

Following the four steps above:

Step 1: The supervisor observes the feeder appears to lack the confidence required to do the job quickly and correctly. Additional  requirements to use the new computerized technology seem to confuse him, despite what you thought was sufficient training.

Step 2: Although the feeder seems very worried as you sit down, his engagement in the conversation increases as he sees you are interested in helping him succeed. Together you complete a “5 Whys” worksheet and confirm he is not yet comfortable with the new technology, and also that changes in herd health have created a backup for the feeder.

Step 3: Together, you decide additional training is needed and the feeding sequence must be adjusted. You also realize increased high-quality positive feedback will increase the feeder’s self-confidence.

Step 4: Together you commit to a training and coaching plan and develop a new feeding sequence. You commit to additional positive feedback.

3) What is the suggested process for providing negative feedback?

When redirection feedback does not result in improved performance, you are left to conclude it’s the employee’s motivation, focus, or concentration, and negative feedback is required. The process for negative feedback is similar, but recognizes the situation is not the cause of the performance problem:

Step 1: Prepare for the discussion by identifying (from your perspective) employee behaviors – motivation, focus or energy – that are lacking, and identify potential consequences if  poor performance continues.

Step 2: Gain the employee’s perspective on the behavior not meeting  expectations. Listen and ask appropriate questions. Unless you hear something that causes you to reconsider the need for negative feedback, do not acquiesce to the employees attempts to blame the situation.

Step 3: Based on the discussion, modify  your ideas on what is causing the poor performance. Provide the employee with a choice to: 1) change his or her behavior resulting in satisfactory performance; or 2) incur the consequence you are specifying. The consequence must provide sufficient discomfort to the employee to cause a change in behavior. You must be certain the employee understands:

• the failed expectations cannot be explained by the situation

• change in their behavior is required

• you will work with them so they can succeed.

Step 4: Establish a realistic goal for improvement and a timeline to meet this goal. If the goal is not met, the consequence will be implemented.


, senior consultant with Dairy Strategies LLC, can be reached via phone: 651-647-0495; e-mail:, or website:

In their words: A (dairy policy) path too familiar

Solve real problems, don’t patch old ones

The author, an Indiana dairy farmer and member of the Dairy Policy Action Coalition, shares his thoughts on federal dairy policy.

By Dave Forgey

Dave Forgey is an Indiana dairy producer and member of the Dairy Policy Action Coalition (DPAC).

I fear we are headed down the  same old paths when it comes to reforming dairy policy. Proposals, such as the National Milk Producers Federation’s “Foundation for the Future,” do not adequately recognize the changes in an industry still largely operating under rules written in the 1930s and 1940s.

Back when many provisions of current dairy policy were first written, there weren’t many exports. The legislation was set up to subsidize producers, through government price supports, to serve the domestic fluid milk market. It still basically does.

This program is outdated because distribution infrastructure and product standards have changed over the decades.

Since the U.S. government is still subsidizing milk, producers in the rest of the world – who have milk or dairy products to export – typically set their margins just below the U.S. price. The net result is countries seeking to import dairy products, primarily China, can buy product specific to their needs, on a more consistent basis, for a lower price than from the United States.

And, with the dairy product price support program in place, processors haven’t had an incentive to innovate and make products sought by international buyers, even though those buyers are becoming a bigger part of the marketplace.

Even with these barriers in place, the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) says we’re exporting 14% of our domestic production – with our less desirable products – because the world can’t get anything else.

To their credit, NMPF’s Foundation for the Future (FFTF) program addresses one of the two major issues, calling for the elimination of the price support and product storage program.

The problem is, FFTF then skirts other issues with patches that are only temporary fixes. It’s time to implement changes to bring milk pricing and product development and distribution into the 21st century.

Two challenges

FFTF fails to address two major challenges:

1) Why is there manipulation in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) markets?

2) Why is the U.S. not the innovator in producing dairy products the world demands?

The answer to the first question is  there are so few traders on the CME, and so few products actually sold, that manipulation is rampant. USDA National Ag Statistics Service  reporting is only weekly, and auditing is almost non-existent.

Recent dairy product and milk price swings illustrate some of the problems. Earlier this year, there was extreme pressure on the CME to bring milk prices down, and futures prices indicated levels of stored products were still excessive. That manipulation worked to bring expected producer prices for January and February 2011 milk well below prices seen in the fall of 2010.

However, in the first weeks of February, the markets exploded when the “powers that be” could no longer hold the prices down.

The Dairy Policy Action Coalition would like to see more CME price transparency, with more products reported in the NASS survey – more than just cheddar cheese, butter, nonfat dry milk powder and whey – and quarterly auditing. In a recent meeting, House Ag Committee staffer John Goldberg said the reason increased auditing was not implemented – as already approved under Section 1510 of the 2007 Farm Bill – was the $3 million cost.

DPAC member and North Carolina dairy farmer Ben Shelton suggested producers would gladly pay that cost. I calculated the cost for the 189 billion lbs. marketed in the United States annually would cost $0.0016/cwt.

The answer to the second question is that processors currently have a guaranteed “make allowance,” with no incentive to develop new products. Our less desirable products only fit the market when the world has a higher demand than Oceania can supply.

Also, a large percentage of U.S. imports come here because they are innovative, allowing our food manufactures to develop unique foods. They are products U.S. food manufacturers can’t access domestically, because our dairy processors don’t make them.

It is unique, then, that NMPF supports a supply management program, but not product innovation for balancing production with world trade.

On the other side of the coin, the International Dairy Foods Association resists supply management because that would take away market imbalances being used to suppress prices on the CME – very notable early in 2011 –  that would give them a price advantage.

Neither organization discusses how we will develop and produce products demanded in the world. Without that development, we must look to the government for margin insurance and supply controls.

A margin insurance tool already exists with the Livestock Gross Margin (LGM)-Dairy program. Rather than add the national margin insurance proposed under FFTF, the LGM tool could be improved to allow more access. LGM allows producers to choose their options. NMPF’s margin insurance also doesn’t give the regional options offered by LGM-Dairy.

The role of imports

It is well accepted the U.S. domestic market currently utilizes about 85% of our domestic milk production. The problem lies with the other 15%. It is a very cloudy picture what happens to that percentage, as well as how much dairy products are imported. My question is: Are they equal, or could we actually be a deficit production country already?

Order reform: Questions remain

DPAC invested in dairy policy analysis done by Mark Stephenson, director of dairy policy analysis at UW-Madison; and Chuck Nicholson, from the department of agribusiness at California Polytechnic Institute, San Luis Obispo, Calif. DPAC would like to see more comparisons and the inclusion of the federal order reform NMPF promises. But until we see what reforms NMPF has proposed, we can’t have a lengthy discussion. There are things I believe should be included.

One would be to allow higher cost areas of the country, such as the Southeast, to gain over-order premiums at least worth the transportation costs to bring in Class I milk from another area.

I believe there should be only two classes of milk under the federal order system. I would define Class I as the combination of the current Class I and Class II, essentially covering all fresh products for the domestic markets.

The new Class II could be storable manufactured products (current Class III and Class IV) that are used domestically and exported.

My idea of a new Class I (current Class I & II products) would encompass nearly 50% of the current milk supply, and the surplus production areas could gain the Class I price for Class II (current Class III & IV) milk by sending it to the deficit areas, with deficit area processors paying the freight, while paying the producers from their area the equal value of freight as premiums for all their Class I milk.

Under current utilization, we would have 50% of our current U.S. milk priced in the new Class I. We could then find common ground for a competitive price on the new Class II, meeting at least the cost of importing desired types of manufactured powdered products.

The issue I can’t defend is how long it would take U.S. processors to develop the more desirable powders, or whether they would use our excess production to reduce the price, rather than make them to meet the demand.

I wish the California producers would see the value in this, as they are as close to the Asian market as Oceania. They have the potential to make these products, and could supply them at world market prices, reducing U.S. surpluses (if they do exist). It would be a better price than shipping it East, as ocean freight is cheaper than highway freight.

These issues need to be brought to the surface by the dairy media, so the facts are known – both by producers and our governmental entities. Let’s solve the real problems and don’t patch the old programs.


Dave Forgey is an Indiana dairy producer and member of the Dairy Policy Action Coalition (DPAC). Contact him via e-mail:; or visit his website:

Related article:

DPAC unveils ‘Cornerstones for Change’ dairy policy proposals

CSI-Dairy: A mysterious ‘positive’ test

Numerous ‘culprits’ exist on dairy farms, robbing herd performance and injuring the dairy’s bottom line. Identifying and arresting the offender isn’t always easy, and often requires a full investigation, gathering and analyzing evidence on the farm and in the lab. This mystery reveals how a small detail can open the door to a ‘hot’ problem.

By Norm Stewart, D.V.M., M.S.

Dr. Norm Stewart is a dairy technical services veterinarian for Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health.

Ed Smith, owner of A Plus Dairy, worked diligently with his veterinarian, Dr. Heartly, for more than 20 years, developing and implementing residue prevention and treatment protocols for his dairy. They knew the harm a single positive milk or meat residue test could cause the dairy’s reputation and business, in addition to the dairy industry’s high-level of consumer confidence.

With recent public attention to the issue rising, Ed reminded his employees to adhere to residue prevention and treatment protocols, and all other on-farm protocols to produce wholesome products. Dr. Heartly oversaw all protocol development, and together they conducted on-farm training, so all employees knew and understood the protocols.


Then, one day, a cull cow tested positive for antibiotic residue. Ed called Dr. Heartly in disbelief. He was sure it had to be a mistake, since they always observed the milk and meat withdrawal periods. Dr. Heartly agreed to meet with Ed, review the records and begin his own investigation.

Physical evidence

Dr. Heartly and Ed reviewed their treatment protocols and records for the cows treated that week. In addition to the “positive” cow, they noticed 11 other cows received a particular antibiotic that day, and a total of 18 had received it that week.

A review of the records supported Ed’s belief employees had administered proper dosage according to the product label, and meat and milk withdrawals times were observed.

Drug inventory records confirmed the correct amount of product was used. All product was properly labeled and inventoried. There have been no positive bulk tank milk tests for the antibiotic – or any product – in the last eight years.

Dr. Heartly visited with the two workers who treated the 18 cows. They confirmed the cow in question received the correct dose, outlined in the treatment protocol. The remaining 17 cows treated that week re-entered the milking line following their respective milk withhold periods.

Dr. Heartly observed employees administer antibiotics, as well as other products. He noted that proper restraint for the animals wasn’t always adequate.

Laboratory evidence

Dr. Heartly talked to the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service personnel. They  confirmed the cow, selected randomly, tested positive – greater than 4.0 ppm in the liver – for violative residues of the antibiotic.

Dr. Heartly also contacted the antibiotic manufacturer to ask that pharmacovigilance records be checked to see if they received any complaints of animals testing positive at processing for the antibiotic. No such complaints for tissue or milk residues were on record.

The culprit

Following a thorough review of the physical and laboratory evidence, Dr. Heartly and Ed concluded this one-time antibiotic tissue residue occurred inadvertently, due to improper animal restraint, thereby leading to improper administration of the antibiotic. Dr. Heartly hypothesized the cow was able to have enough movement when restrained, whereby the product was accidentally administered intramuscularly, not subcutaneously, as labeled by the manufacturer. This could have caused a longer meat withdrawal than the labeled prescribed.


Dr. Heartly retrained all employees in animal-restraint protocols for each class of animal, by location, including calves in hutches, calves in large pens, lactating cows, dry cows, and others. The on-hands training helped  employees maintain and build their confidence, in addition to maintaining animal and employee safety by properly and humanely restraining animals.

He also stressed that if an employee believed they incorrectly administered a product, they should tell the manager, so it can be documented and dealt with to avoid an inadvertent milk or meat residue.

The extra attention to detail gave everyone more confidence another drug residue problem could be avoided.


• Dr. Norm Stewart is a dairy technical services veterinarian for Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health. Contact him by phone: 815-479-8872 or e-mail:

Each month, DairyBusiness Communications will check the case files of lead dairy  ‘investigators’ to uncover  another ‘CSI-Dairy’ mystery. Episodes are archived at

Northeast Dairy Digest: March 2011

Pennsylvania Grazing Conference registration closed

Registration for the 14th Annual Northwest Pennsylvania Grazing Conference on March 15, in DuBois, Pa., has sold out. Overwhelming awareness about this year’s keynote speaker Dr. Temple Grandin has resulted in a capacity crowd for the event.  For any questions, contact Headwaters RC&D at 814-375-1372 Extension 4.

Penn State Dairy Digest online

The February 2011 issue of Dairy Digest is now online at

In this issue:

Pennsylvania Dairy of Distinction applications due April 15

Lighting changes coming in 2012 with government ban

What is AMDUCA and what is the FDA up to?

Study reports long-term effects of calfhood events

Producers can create cash flow plan at Dairy Alliance workshop

How to create cow-friendly tie stalls

For a pdf of this issue, go to

Dairy webinar to address heat stress

Now is the time to consider modifications to dairy housing to address upcoming summer heat events and their impact on milk production and herd health.

“Heat Stress Abatement in Freestall and Tie Stall Dairies” is the topic of the next session of the Technology Tuesdays webinar series presented by Penn State Dairy Alliance. The online session will be offered, free, on March 8, 8:30-10 a.m., Eastern time.

Dan F. McFarland and John Tyson, Penn State Extension engineers, will lead the session. “Heat abatement has become more important than ever with today’s high-producing cows. However, the issue on the farm is which method or methods best fit the dairy’s facilities and management, while being a good economic investment,” explains McFarland. “We’ll look at some ways to sort through the options to get the one that’s the best fit for your farm,” notes Tyson.

Technology Tuesdays is a free webinar series designed for dairy producers, their employees, and agri-business professionals. The webinar format lets participants enjoy an educational program in real-time from the comfort and convenience of their office computer or laptop.

Although there is no fee to participate in the program, advance registration is required. To register, contact the Dairy Alliance office, toll-free, at 888-373-7232 or email

Participants must have a high-speed internet connection and speakers on their computer in order to see and hear the presentation. More information is available at:

Advance dairy reproduction workshop offered

Penn State research shows that reproductive performance is one the most common bottlenecks to profitability on

Pennsylvania dairies. Reproductive performance impacts the bulk tank as longer days open and extended calving intervals lead to fewer days of peak milk production.

To address these bottlenecks to profitability, Penn State Dairy Alliance is offering a series of Advanced Reproduction Workshops at sites across the state in March. This workshop is for dairy producers, their employees, and interested dairy industry personnel. Participants in the Advanced Reproduction Workshop will receive in-depth training in heat synchronization methods, the use of BioPRYN(r), using genomics to improve herd genetics, and managing reproductive diseases.

Instructors will include: Penn State Extension educators Robert Goodling, Gary Hennip, Brian Kelly and Amber Yutzy, and Dr. Robert Van Saun of the Penn State Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences.

The workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the following dates, at

these locations:

* Huntingdon County: March 15, 2011. Penn State Cooperative Extension Office in Huntingdon County, 10722 Fairgrounds Road, Huntingdon, PA.

* Lancaster County: March 17, 2011. Shady Maple Smorgasbord, 129 Toddy Drive, East Earl, PA.

* Mercer County: March 22, 2011. Penn State Cooperative Extension Office in Mercer County, 463 N. Perry Highway, Mercer, PA.

* Bradford County: March 24, 2011. Blast Central Intermediate Unit, 33 Springbrook Drive, Canton, PA.

Advance registration is required. Thanks to a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Pennsylvania producers and their dairy employees may attend at the discounted rate of $25 per person. The registration fee is $50 per person for all others. To register, call the Penn State Dairy Alliance Office, toll-free, at 888-373-7232, or register online with a credit card at This workshop qualifies for two SmartStart credits through AgChoice Farm Credit.

Monthly conference call discusses LGM for Dairy margins, markets and risk management

Join Alan Zepp, risk management program coordinator at the Center for Dairy Excellence, leads “Protecting Your Profits” calls the last Wednesday of every month. The calls are intended to provide regular updates on dairy markets and margins current available through the Livestock Gross Margins (LGM) for Dairy. The calls are held just ahead of the monthly LGM sales date, which is the last business Friday until the following day, Saturday, at 9 p.m.

Call the Center for Dairy Excellence at 717-346-0849 or e-mail to register or find out more information about the call.

Southeast Dairy Digest: March 2011

Florida Dairy Production Conference is March 30

The 47th Florida Dairy Production Conference will be held March 30, at the Best Western Gateway Grant, Gainesville, Florida.

The agenda includes:

9:45 a.m.    Welcome – Geoff Dahl, University of Florida

10  a.m.     Implications of Evolving Dairy Markets and Policy for the Florida Dairy Industry – Andrew Novakovic, Cornell University

10:50  a.m.     Producing Quality Milk in Florida – David Bray, University of Florida

11:30  a.m.     Dairy Youth Update – Chris Holcomb, University of Florida

12:00 p.m.  Luncheon

1:15  p.m.      Identifying and Treating Uterine Disease in Dairy Cows – Klibs Galvaõ, University of Florida

1:50  p.m.      Application of Daily Milk Weights, Daily Components, and Body Weights in Dairy Management – Eric Diepersloot, University of Florida

2:25  p.m.      Dairy Lending: A Lender’s Perspective – Jeffrey Spencer, Farm Credit of Florida

3  p.m.      Refreshment Break

3.30  p.m.      Feeding Cows with Increasing Feed Costs:  Efficiencies, Feed Options, and Quality Control – Charlie Stallings, Virginia Tech

4:20   p.m.     Reproductive Programs for Florida Dairy Herds – José Santos, University of Florida

5  p.m.      Reception

For more information, contact Dave Bray, or Albert De Vries,

The Best Western is near I-75 exit 390.  For more information, including registration information, visit

Winter Forage Field Days set in Florida

Programs highlighting forages for dairy will be held in Florida in early March.

March 4 – Winter Forages for Florida Featuring Triticale. Triple G Dairy, Highlands County, FL.  9 a.m. to noon.  Contact Randy Gornto at Highlands County Extension Office (863) 402-6540.

Program highlights:

• Overview of winter forage systems at the Florida dairy located in Highlands County.

• Discussion on winter forage production, quality and nutrient management.

• Tour the triticale experimental breeding lines and other cool season forage varieties adapted to Florida

March 8 – Winter Forages Field Day. Shenandoah Dairy, 16540 68th Place, Live Oak, FL.  9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  Contact Mary Sowerby, (386) 362-2771 (office) or (865) 250-7761 (cell).

Program highlights:

• History and Use of Forages on Shenandoah Dairy / Ted Henderson

• What Works and Why in Variety Selection for Dairies / Ann Blount

• Testing Triticale /Ryegrass Blends on Dairies / Cheryl Mackowiak

• Walking tour of plots / Ron Barnett, Bill Smith, Ann Blount and Cheryl Mackowiak

• Use of Triticale and Other Winter Forages in Dairy Rations /

• Noon Field equipment demonstration

March 11 –  Winter Forages for Dairies. Start at Bubba Que’s Restaurant,  116 N Main Street, Chiefland, FL .  11:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Contact Mary Sowerby, (386) 362-2771 (office) or (865) 250-7761 (cell).

Program highlights:

• Forage Research for Dairies

• Ryz-up Research plots

• Winter forage plots at Alliance Dairy

• Tour of Alliance Dairy (optional)

Kentucky Dairy Partners to meet

The Kentucky Dairy Partners annual meeting will be held March 1-2, at the Cave City Convention Center, Cave City, Ky.

A reception and Exhibit Hall open the event’s activities, March 1, 6-8 p.m.

The March program begins with registration at 8:30 a.m. Workshop topics and speakers include:

9:30 a.m. – Nature vs. Nurture: Cow comfort and its effects on animal health, by Fabian Bernal, Alltech

10:00 a.m. – A new approach to dairy’s image, by CHeryl Hayn and Terry Rowlett

10:40 a.m. – Lowering SCC is not a guessing game, by Jeff Reneau, University of Minnesota

11:10 a.m. – What’s new in University of Kentucky Dairy Extension, Research and Teaching, by Bill Silvia, UK

11:40 a.m. – Kentucky Dairy Development Council annual business meeting

1:30 a.m. – McDonald’s: A dairy destination, by Diane Leanard, DMI

2 p.m. – Lowering SCC makes cents for you, by Jeff Reneau, University of Minnesota

2:30 p.m. – Raising the standard on milk quality, by Beth Jones, Brad Bertram and Jeremy Kinslow

3:30 p.m. – Adjourn

Registration is $25/person at the door. No registration fee for Kentucky dairy producers, with a limit of two per dairy permit. For more information, visit

Midwest Dairy Digest: Feb. 24, 2011

UW-Madison dairy judges first at Southwestern Intercollegiate Dairy Judging Contest

UW-Madison team members (left to right) include Ty Hildebrandt, Chelsea Holschbach, Brian Coyne, Ben Sarbacker, and assistant coach Brian Kelroy.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison dairy cattle judging team took top honors at the Southwestern Intercollegiate Dairy Cattle Judging Contest held Jan. 16 in Fort Worth, Texas as part of the 2011 Fort  Worth Stock Show. Nine teams  from across the country competed in the contest.

The UW’s team’s four seniors dominated the field, placing first in Brown Swiss, Jerseys and Oral Reasons on their way to winning the overall high team award. Team members included: Brian Coyne, Spring Valley, Dairy Science; Chelsea Holschbach, Baraboo; Ben Sarbacker, Verona; and Ty Hildebrandt, Hustisford.

Coyne placed first in oral reasons and second in Brown Swiss, and had the highest individual point total.

OSU Extension offers two ways to learn about composting livestock

Composting dead farm animals can save farmers money, protect the environment and return animals slowly to the earth – and two OSU Extension programs in March will feature composting techniques.

Livestock Mortality Composting Workshops are being offered March 7 in Carey, about 60 miles south of Toledo; and March 8 in Newark, about 40 miles east of Columbus. Registration costs $10 and can be done at the door. A composting manual is included.

Proper composting – done without odors, vermin or objectionable gases – is the focus. The program will be the same at both places.

The livestock industry is faced with discovering innovative and economical ways to dispose of mortality losses, which has been brought on by the disappearance of rendering plants, concerns over groundwater pollution from burial and the economic and environmental issues of incineration.

But, composting dead animals is an option available to all livestock producers.

Speaking will be experts from Ohio State University Extension and from area Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs).

The March 7 workshop runs 7-9 p.m. at the Wyandot County Recycling Center, 11385 County Highway 4, Carey. Call Ken Stucky at 419-447-7073 or Chris Bruynis at 419-294-4931 for more information.

OSU Extension’s Wyandot County office and the Crawford, Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot SWCDs are the hosts.

The March 8 workshop runs 7:30-9:30 p.m. at the office of the program’s host, OSU Extension in Licking County, 771 E. Main St., Suite 103, Newark. For details, contact Howard Siegrist, 740-670-5315,

OSU Extension, which brings the resources of Ohio State directly to the people of Ohio, is the outreach arm of the university’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Missouri offers dairy business planning grants

The Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority (MASBDA) is accepting applications for the 2011 Dairy Business Planning Grant Program. Deadline to apply is March 25.

This funding will enable Missouri’s dairy producers to work with qualified dairy business planning professionals to develop a business plan to facilitate startup, improve profitability, increase production and encourage modernization and expansion of dairy farms in Missouri. Funding for the grant is being provided by the Missouri Soybean Association and the Missouri Dairy Growth Council.

Grants are capped at $5,000 and/or may not finance more than 90% of the cost of the business plan, whichever is less. The dairy producer is required to pay at least 10% of the cost of the work done. Applications will be scored competitively.

Applications are online at For more information, contact MASBDA via phone: 573-751-2129; or e-mail

Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference scheduled at Fort Wayne

The 2011Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference will be held April 19-20, at the Grand Wayne Center, Fort Wayne, Ind.

For more information, contact:

• Michelle Milligan, phone: 614-292-7374 or e-mail:

• Herb Bucholtz, phone: 517-230-0120 or e-mail:

• visit

Wisconsin dairy tax credit advances

The Wisconsin State Senate passed a bill to help grow and modernize Wisconsin’s dairy and livestock industries.

Senate Bill 9, authored by State Sen. Dan Kapanke (R-La Crosse) was passed on Feb. 22. It extends the dairy and livestock modernization tax credit that was to expire at the end of 2011 through 2017. The income and franchise tax credit can be claimed on 10% of the amount paid for the construction, improvement and acquisition of buildings and facilities, or acquiring a variety of equipment used for dairy and livestock production.

Holterman to speak at 9th Annual Western Wisconsin Heart of the Farm Conference

The 9th Annual Western Wisconsin Heart of the Farm – Women in Agriculture Conference will be held March 3, in Chippewa Falls, Wis.

This conference provides farm women with the opportunity to network with other farm women and learn about balancing farm, family, and personal priorities; organizational skills; social media; how to have a voice in agriculture; and LGM-Dairy. A musical duet by two local musicians will be played during lunch and the conference will end with a Beer and Cheese tasting by Leinenkugel’s Brewery.

Topics and speakers include:

• Balancing Act – Or Is It a Three-Ring Circus? Randy Knapp, UW-Extension Chippewa County agriculture agent and Jenny Vanderlin, Asst. Director, UW-Extension’s Center for Dairy Profitability.

• I Want to Be More Organized – But Where Do I Begin? Sally Hayden, owner, Hayden’s Bookkeeping Solutions.

• Thank You, Michael Pollan OR Never Underestimate the Power of a Farm Tour. Daphne Holterman, dairy farmer and World Dairy Expo Woman of the Year, 2009.

• How Much is Your Dairy Farm Willing to Spend to Avoid the Next Financial Disaster? Mark Stephenson, Director of Dairy Policy and Analysis and UW-Extension’s Center for Dairy Profitability.

• Social Media Universe. Laurie Boettcher, Boettcher Speaks, Eau Claire, WI.

For more information contact: Randy Knapp,, 715-726-7950, Jenny Vanderlin,, 608-263-7795 or visit the Heart of the Farm website at .

Covey to be featured at PDPW Annual Business Conference

Most people are familiar with “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” one of the two most influential business books of the 20th Century authored by Dr. Stephen R. Covey. At the 2011 Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin Business Conference “Pathways to Profit,” March 15-16, Madison, attendees will have the opportunity to hear Covey’s son, Stephen M.R. Covey, who is making his mark in the business world for his insight on trust and how trust can make organizations more profitable, people more promotable and relationships more energizing.

Stephen M.R. Covey is the author of his own book, “The Speed of Trust,” that is quickly gaining the same groundswell of followers as his father’s book. This groundbreaking book challenges the assumption that trust is merely a soft, social virtue and maintains that trust is, instead, a hard-edged economic driver.

“Nothing is as fast as the speed of trust,” Covey relates, “and the ability to establish, grow, extend, and restore trust with all stakeholders is the critical leadership competency of the new global economy.”

Stephen M.R. Covey will zero in on the trust issue when he delivers the opening keynote address at the 2011 PDPW Business Conference, March 15, in Madison. During his “Building Your Future on Trust” keynote, Covey will outline why and how to make building trust an explicit goal, how individuals perceive the trustworthiness of others and how to use the “language of trust” as an important cultural lever. He’ll also explain how to create action plans to build “trust accounts” with all key stakeholders—at home, at work, within the industry and with consumers.

“This keynote will cut to the core of what accelerates or terminates every relationship in our professional and personal lives: trust,” states Eric Hillan, PDPW president and dairy producer from Ladysmith, Wis.  “Trust is a leadership challenge, and we so often take this critical intangible for granted. I’m anxious to hear from the trust expert and learn what I need to know to reap the dividends of high trust.”

Hillan adds that, in addition to Covey delivering the opening keynote address, he will also head up a two-hour afternoon specialty session, “Get Your Business on the Fast-Track to Sustainable Success.”

“PDPW’s 2011 Business Conference is jam-packed with specialty sessions, and attendees can pick and choose from among the 15 topics and decide which sessions they want to participate in,” Hillan explains. “We’re talking a variety of topics and all delivered by industry experts. It’s like having 35-some consultants or resources in one place for two days and all are ready to share information to help us become better business people.

“And that’s not even counting the value of networking with fellow dairy producers and allied industry partners who attend the Business Conference. I learn a lot every step of the way at the Business Conference.”

To learn more about the 2011 PDPW Business Conference or to register for dairy’s premier educational conference, visit or call 1-800-947-7379.

Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin is a dairy-producer founded organization that provides educational programs and services to fellow dairy producers. PDPW’s mission is “to share ideas, solutions, resources, and experiences that help dairy producers succeed.”