Archive for the ‘NorthEast DairyBusiness’ Category

Harvest wind-damaged corn for silage

Northern New York producers with corn crops damaged by recent high winds face big harvest challenges, said Mike Hunter, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Jefferson County. Producers reported corn knocked over and flattened by high winds, and some don’t think their equipment can harvest it.
    Hunter estimated about 8,000 acres of corn in Jefferson County were damaged to some degree.
    Rotary corn heads haven’t done a good job of handling lodged corn, especially that which is really flat, Hunter said. Some producers who have installed kits that attach to the head and make harvesting lodged corn easier are pleased with the results. “It has reduced harvest losses and made harvest much easier,” Hunter said.
     Growers should harvest for silage the most damaged corn fields, those with corn stalks broken near the base of the plant, Hunter said. Corn lying close to the ground is in an ideal environment for diseases, especially corn ear molds. The grain would also likely have low test weight if harvested as grain later in the season. 
    Fields with plants leaning or broken off above the ear will still be candidates for grain harvest and can also be harvested for silage.  Monitor these fields closely for dry down and harvest when they reach proper moisture levels.
     The dry-down rate of whole corn plant will be faster than normal, according to Greg Roth, Penn State Extension grain crops specialist. If harvesting corn that is wetter than normal,  store silage in a bunker or plastic silo bag since it may be too wet to store in an upright silo.
      For more information about dealing with wind-damaged corn contact Hunter at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County at 315-788-8450.


Manure solids for bedding

By Mary Schwarz, Jean Bonhotal and Ellen Harrison
Cornell Waste Management Institute

     Scarcity of bedding has pushed farms to explore different bedding strategies. Use of dried manure solids (DMS) as bedding is being considered by many farms. One of the concerns includes possible elevated levels of environmental pathogens that may negatively affect udder health and milk quality. Cornell Waste Management Institute conducted research to study six farms using different DMS bedding strategies. There were three using DMS directly from the separator, two drum and one windrow composted and one digested/separated (Table 1).
      The research found that sand bedding started out “cleaner” than DMS, but once in the stalls, the bacterial load of several organisms was highest in sand. In addition, DMS with the least bacterial numbers in the unused tended to have the highest bacterial numbers in the used bedding. Bacteria in the unused bedding had little to no effect on bacteria in the used, indicating that bacterial levels in used bedding depend more on bacterial levels in fresh manure additions and stall cleanliness than bedding before it is placed in the stalls. Levels of Streptococcus, Klebsiella and gram negative and positive bacteria were significantly higher on the teat ends of cows bedded on DMS vs. those bedded on sand, but SCC and mastitis for those cows did not differ among bedding materials.
     Mastitis differed among farm/bedding strategies (FBS), but bacteria levels and properties of bedding had no effect on mastitis incidence, while lactation number, stage of lactation and SCC did have an effect. Decreased levels of Klebsiella in the used bedding increased the odds of having an abnormal SCC for one FBS, and decreased moisture and fine particles in the used bedding increased the odds of having an abnormal SCC for a different FBS. For all others, abnormal cell counts were affected only by season, lactation number and milk production.

 Table 1: Description of Bedding Practices at the Six Study Farms


Bedding Strategy Employed

A – Drum1

Separated, drum composted 24 hrs., piled one day, spread on concrete 3 times/wk.

B – Windrow

Separated, windrowed under roof for 10 days, spread on mattresses 6x/wk.

C – Digested

Digested, separated and piled. Used on mattresses directly from separator in fresh cow pens. Re-bed 3 x/week. Whole herd now on DMS.

D – Separated1

Separated, piled 7 days or used right from separator, spread in deep beds 2 x/ week.

E – Drum2



3 treatments-Separated, drum composted 3 day, deep beds 2x /wk (5/06 -9/06 only)

Separated, piled, deep beds 2x /wk

Sand in deep beds 1x/week.

F – Separated3

Separated, piled 7 days, deep beds 2x/ wk.


Bacteria in Bedding

An important thing we learned was that just because the level of one bacteria  is high in one type of bedding, does not mean that levels of other bacteria measured will be high, nor will they stay consistently high in that bedding. Therefore, bedding sample analysis for bacterial levels will not necessarily return useful information for enhancing herd health.
      Average levels of Escherichia coli and Klebsiella were very low in all of the unused bedding. There were significant differences between populations of these two pathogens only between sand (significantly less) and two or three of the “green” DMS strategies. There was no E. coli found in unused drum and windrow composted DMS or in sand, and no Klebsiella in unused sand and one of the drum composted bedding materials over the study period.
    E. coli levels in used bedding did not differ (Table 2). Average Streptococcus levels were significantly higher in used sand bedding than in all others except one “green” system. Klebsiella (which was absent from the unused bedding in one of the drum composted strategies) was found in significantly higher levels in the used bedding from that strategy than several other strategies. Although sand started out “cleaner,” used sand had significantly higher levels of the bacteria analyzed (except Klebsiella) than at least one or more bedding types.
     For all bacteria (except Streptococcus), the three Farm E levels did not differ, indicating that bacterial levels in used bedding may be from fresh manure and stall maintenance, rather than how “clean” the bedding is when it is put in the stall. The systems that started out with “clean” bedding tended to have significantly higher levels of bacteria in used bedding indicating the bedding may have started out too clean (i.e. no competition from other bacteria).
    It is often assumed that the cleanliness of the unused bedding has an effect on the bacterial population of the used bedding. But our data suggests that other factors not studied play a more important role.


 Table 2: Average Bacterial Levels in Used Bedding in each Farm/Bedding Strategy (FBS) Over the Study Period on a Volume Basis (log cfu/ml).


Farm A

Farm B

Farm C

Farm D

Farm E

Farm F










E. coli



























Gram negative


















Values in each row with different letters are significantly different.

 Physical Properties in Bedding

As expected, moisture and OM in both used and unused bedding were significantly lower in sand than other bedding. Fine particles were significantly higher in used sand bedding and tended to be lower in DMS in deep beds. DMS in deep beds tends to compress from the cows’ weight, and DMS on mattresses falls off, or spreads out.

 Teat Ends

   There were significant differences for Klebsiella, gram negative and gram positive bacteria (significantly higher counts on cows in the DMS pen versus cows in the sand pen) on the teat ends of cows bedded on green DMS and cows bedded on sand. The percent of fine particles in the used bedding had a significant effect (either by itself or in conjunction with other bedding properties and/or bacteria) on the level of bacteria found on the teat ends for half of the bacteria analyzed. Streptococcus, Staphylococcus and Enterobacter levels all decreased when the percent of fine particles increased in the used bedding. Bacterial levels in the used bedding had an effect on several bacterial levels on teat ends, but only in the case of Klebsiella were they the same bacteria. About 32% of cows on DMS had SCC higher than 200,000, as did 36% of those on sand.


  The odds of getting mastitis for heifers was significantly affected by cell count ( more than 100,000 cells/ml were more prone), while the odds of getting mastitis for cows was significantly affected by FBS, season and abnormal cell count. Bacterial levels and properties of the bedding had no effect on the incidence of mastitis. SCC was a significant variable for all FBS. Stage of lactation, milk production and season also had an effect, but not for all FBS.
    When the three FBS at farm 5 were analyzed together, type of bedding did not have an effect, but the amount of moisture and particles < 2mm in the used bedding, as well as milk production were all positively correlated with mastitis incidence.

    The odds of having an abnormal SCC for cows were affected by FBS, season ( less in winter), lactation (more for higher lactations), and stage of lactation (more for increased days in milk). Abnormal cell count for heifers was affected by FBS and season (less in winter). There was a negative correlation with Klebsiella levels in the used bedding (more Klebsiella, fewer animals) for one drum composted strategy, and a negative correlation with moisture and fine particle for the digested strategy. Both of these are opposite what would be expected. Otherwise, it was season, lactation number and milk production.


    This study suggests that properly managed DMS can provide an economic benefit without compromising herd health. As with any bedding, keeping the stalls free of fresh manure and urine will help insure that DMS bedding is properly managed and will provide cows with a clean, comfortable space in which to lie. In addition, one DMS strategy is no better/different than any other in terms of the product produced, so choose a DMS strategy that is affordable and fits into your normal farm procedures.

Visit our web site for complete study results .

Support was provided by New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, NY Farm Viability Institute, Cornell Cooperative Extension and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Quality Milk Production Services.

 For more information:


• For complete study results:

• The authors wrote about the economics of dairy manure solids in the June issue of PRO-DAIRY’s The Manager. Find the article at

• Jean Bonhotal and Ellen Harrison are senior Extension associates with Cornell Waste Management Institute.  Mary Schwarz is a research support specialist with the institute.






Hay production resources

To help farmers meet the increasing demand for hay, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Washington County, N.Y.,  compiled Hay Production Resources for New York and Similar Climates. 
     The resource collects more than 75 articles, organized into 13 chapters. It’s available on a computer CD ($5) or can be downloaded from this website: (click on “Agriculture” and find it under “Highlights”). 
    There are articles explaining principles and practices covering agronomy, machinery, drying hay, risk management, hay quality and livestock feed requirements and even hay for bioenergy.  “The market for hay is strong and customers are demanding a high quality product,” said Aaron Gabriel of Washington County Extension.  “This resource will help farmers capture the opportunity of a strong hay market.”
   Contact Gabriel at 800-548-0881.

Consider a cover crop now

By Susan Harlow, editor, Northeast DairyBusiness

    Larry Martin, a Bradford, Vt., dairy producer, hasn’t purchased commercial fertilizer, even starter fertilizer, for four years. Manure and nutrients from a cover crop of winter rye provide his 21-acre corn crop with whatever it needs for good yields.
   There’s a lot of encouragement these days for cover crops on cropland. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture is offering growers an incentive payment of $30 an acre to plant a cover crop of annual rye this year. The White River Natural Resources Conservation District (NRCD)  is supplementing that payment with $5 an acre in selected towns along the streams in its area.
  A cover crop provides several benefits:


• Erosion control

• Uptake of nutrients in the fall and early spring that will be available to next year’s crop, after the rye is incorporated as green manure.

• Improved organic matter

• Weed suppression

• Good public relations with the nonfarm public.

            With extra nutrients from cover crops, the cost in fuel and time for tillage may easily be offset by the savings in nitrogen costs these days. Producers in much of northern New England have been slow to adopt cover cropping because late corn harvests and labor shortages have made it tough to get rye seeded in time for sufficient growth before winter. But the development of short season hybrids is making that easier, says Tim McKay, Natural Resources Conservation Service district conservationist.
    Martin has been using cover crops for 10 years. “I think it’s well worth the trouble,” he says. Last year, it cost him $40 an acre to seed winter rye at about 100 lbs. per acre. He has the rye custom-seeded after harvesting corn in the fall. The rye usually get 3 to 4 inches of growth by winter. In the spring, around the first of May, he spreads manure on the rye, then harrows it down.


For more information on the NRCD program, contact Abbey Willard, White River NRCD, 802-828-4493, Ext. 110, or Suzanne Enser, Ex. 112.
For information on the Farm Agronomics Practices program at Vermont’s Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, call Matt Kittredge, 802-828-6908.


 For more information on cover crops, go to:

 Choose a cover crop

A new online decision tool from Cornell University can help you choose a cover crop. It gives the user information on cover crops based on management goals, planting time and/or duration. It includes different cover crops and production instructions.
The cover crop tool is designed to complement the new Cornell Soil Health Test. Find it at

Alternative rotation for less-than-ideally drained soils


By Tom Kilcer, regional crop and soils specialist,
Cornell Cooperative Extension


    Nearly every farm has fields that are less than ideally drained. Some farms switched these fields to reed canary grass with high nitrogen (N) applications. But this system has become uneconomical as N prices nearly tripled over the past five years.
    Another option is to interseed winter forage triticale with red clover, rotated with corn, brown midrib (BMR) sorghum-sudan or teff.
    This is not a perfect crop system but it can boost yields on less-than-ideal soils without breaking the bank trying to buy N fertilizer.


Cornell Cooperative Extension in Rensselaer County has been testing alternative crop rotations specifically for these soil types.  The objectives were to:

• produce high yields of high quality dairy forage;

• work the soil minimally to reduce picking stones, while staying off wet soils in early spring and fall;

• rotate crops between grass and broadleaf species to reduce buildup of disease and insects;

• use a legume in the rotation to replace purchased N and supply the grass component of the rotation. 

An alternative rotation
    After a summer annual such as corn is harvested in early September, minimum till or aerate the soil, then plant winter forage triticale (a cross between wheat and rye) with a conventional drill or a no-till drill.
    In late February or March, when the ground is frozen, broadcast a good variety of medium red clover at 8 pounds of seed per acre into the stand along with about 75 pounds of N. The N feeds early rapid growth of the winter triticale. The frost-seeded clover will come up under the triticale. 
    Harvest the triticale as high quality forage at flag leaf stage (where the flag leaf shows but NO head is showing). This is about May 18 to 23 in lower Rensselaer County, the same time that intensively managed reed canary grass is ready for harvest.
   Following triticale harvest, with normal rainfall, expect two cuttings of  high quality, high yielding clover. Seeding year clover at Cornell’s trials typically yields 2.2 tons of dry matter (DM) per acre.


            For the second year of clover expect 3 to 4 cuttings with yields equal or exceeding the peak years of an alfalfa stand. In Cornell yield trials, second-year clover yielded 4.5 to 5.5 tons DM per acre. By the third year, native grubs will have built up in the clover stand, destroying most of the root system.  You will get a good first cut but the stand will rapidly disappear.

 At this point there are three options to choose from:
    1.  No-till plant a very short season Roundup Ready (RR) corn. Keep in mind that on most fields the first cutting will yield 1.5 to 2 tons of DM even on a runout stand.  This boosts the first year DM per acre to 5.75 to 6.25 tons; or more than 16 to 18 tons of corn silage equivalent. 
   2. No-till BMR sorghum-sudan. No-tilling eliminates most of the stone problems.  It works best with round bale wrapping systems, although it takes a higher level of management and attention to details, thus it is not a crop for everyone.
    3. Apply Roundup and no-till plant teff.  Originally from Ethiopia, teff is a fine-leaved plant that, in a two-cut system, has consistently yielded 3 to 4 tons of DM per acre with only 50 pounds of N per cutting.  It excels in dry weather and makes very high quality hay.  Normally there are two cuttings from this rapidly growing crop.  If no manure is used, it would be excellent feed for dry cows.
 Each of these three choices comes off for the final harvest at the beginning of September and the cycle starts over with a planting of winter forage triticale.


 Problems, Pitfalls, and Possibilities
   Each step has issues that you need to manage for this system to succeed.


    Triticale.  Triticale MUST be in the ground by Sept. 25, earlier in colder areas, and out of the ground by the end of September to protect soil during the winter and establish yield potential for the next spring.  Our research showed that planting later with a higher seeding rate only wasted seed and still had major yield penalties the next spring.     

 The crop MUST be drilled in 1 to 1.25 inches deep.  Broadcast and harrowed-in, it leads to very poor yields and sometimes complete winter kill. Winter triticale is planted at 125 lbs. of seed per acre.  A corn starter supplying 20 pounds of N plus phosphorous and potash if needed will get the crop off to a good start.
  Heavy manure applications before planting supplies too much N, which produces excessive growth susceptible to being killed by winter diseases.  N needs to be applied in the spring. We have been very successful frost seeding both clover and N.  Both are incorporated by the same freezing-thawing system.
 The biggest problem with frost-seeding both clover and N is to remember to do it in late February or early March.  But if you miss the window, you can still put both on after the frost is out.


• Keep an eye on the triticale stand as the flag leaf stage can sneak up on you.  It is ready the same time as intensive managed grass and can go into the same silo.

 The mower should be set with NO shields in the back allowing the tall forage to fly out the back with minimal bunching.  Yields are heavy so if you use a conditioning mower, slow it down to allow the heavier crop to feed through.  Wide-swathed triticale can be ensiled the same day it is mowed, preserving the high sugars the crop naturally contains.  While conditioning does not help the crop to dry, tedding after 1 to 3 hours of drying lifts and loosens the heavy swaths for rapid drydown and same day chopping.
   Forage quality is 4,000 to 4,200 potential pounds of milk per ton of DM, compared to 3,700 to 4,000 potential pounds of milk/ton of DM for high quality corn silage. Triticale still tests high even during wet harvest. Like reeds, triticale has an excellent root system that pumps out a tremendous amount of water, drying the ground and allowing for harvest while minimizing the chance for rutting the field.
    Clover. For haylage, clover has an undeserved reputation as a crop that never dries.   First cut clover starting at the same moisture as alfalfa and mowed wide swath and NOT conditioned dried at the same rate as alfalfa, until about 70% moisture. Tedding clover an hour or two after mowing will move its upper leaves to expose lower levels to sunlight, rapidly drying the crop. But even without tedding, the clover was still ready to chop the same day, only slightly behind the alfalfa.
    One little-known advantage is that the protein in clover is protected, not broken down as with alfalfa. It remains in true protein form which is much more usable by the dairy cow.
   Improved new varieties are much higher yielding than common medium red clover.  No clover will last past the beginning of the third year due to the native grubs that decimate the root systems of clover.

   Short season RR corn. We mean LESS than 80-day corn.   Because short season corn shortens the vegetative stage, plant at 36,000 to 38,000 plants per acre.  A seed protection treatment is highly recommended. After the corn emerges (3 to 4 inches) apply Roundup for season-long weed control. You can also try traditional plowing but at much greater time and fuel cost.


Only 30 pounds of N is needed in the starter for sod fields.


BMR sorghum-sudan. Kill the sod first to starve clover-eating grubs during the summer and then no-till BMR sorghum-sudan directly into the sod. Round bale wrapping, especially with processing, makes tight, solid bales with excellent fermentation characteristics.  Sorghum-sudan responds to conditioning for the heavy stems.  As with the above crops, a tedding after a couple of hours of drying also works well. 


Teff. Teff is a new crop with a C4 photosynthesis like corn and sorghum.  It starts to head about knee high, but the very thick stands produce tremendous yields.  Normally there are two cuttings in a season.  The forage can be dry hay baled, chopped or round bale ensiled. But do NOT mow it to close to the ground on the first harvest.  Regrowth is from leaf tissue. The higher you cut, the faster it regrows. 
   Soil: Most of the wet soils for this rotation have been moldboard plowed when they were too wet sometime in the past 50 years.  The only way to remove the root-limiting pan still there is to deep till.  Then use plant no-till or use the new aerated tillage cropping for  excellent seed beds, good stands and good yields, without having to plow these delicate soils.


Based on research trials, we can estimate this rotation’s production:


•The triticale and clover will yield 4.45 tons of DM in the seeding year.

• The straight clover will yield 4.5 to 5.5 tons of DM in year two. 

• The first cutting of clover haylage and the yield of the short season corn or BMR or teff will yield 7 tons of DM.

This average of 5.5 tons of DM for the rotation is far above the poor yields many farmers tolerate from wet fields.  A bigger factor is that the DM harvested is as good as or better than that of many well drained fields.

 Contact Tom Kilcer at 518-272-4210. Email Or go to this website



Make feed savings a habit

Home-grown grain and a separate accounting enterprise for crops save this New York dairy plenty.

Antimicrobial susceptibility testing plays role in mastitis treatment By Ruben Gonzalez

Since the discovery of antibiotics during the first half of the 20th century, precise bacterial diagnosis has become important as a way to test the susceptibility of pathogens to available antimicrobial drugs. Rational antibiotic treatment is essential: Animal well-being and prolonged usefulness of antibiotics depend upon it.

Antibiotic treatment of mastitis is often started empirically, based on a herd manager’s or veterinarian’s judgment on the most likely bacterium involved. The outcome of treatment in lactating animals depends on several factors: the cow, bacteria, herd management, antibiotic choice and treatment regimen.

Antibiotic susceptibility testing results, provided by a diagnostic laboratory, may serve two purposes: 

To confirm the efficacy of the antibiotic being administered. 

Or to modify therapy if results demonstrate the antibiotic failed against a pathogen.

Antibiotic susceptibility testing results provided before starting treatment may help dairies institute a more judicious therapy, especially for subclinical mastitis.


The disc-diffusion method is the most commonly used procedure to test for a pathogen’s antibiotic susceptibility. It was developed about 40 years ago for use on bacterial isolates from human patients. In the United States, the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) has established guidelines to standardize the method.

The disc-diffusion method follows these steps:

1. Culture a milk sample obtained aseptically from a mastitic quarter on blood agar. (Figure 1)

2. Standardize the concentration of the inoculum.

3. Spread the pure culture on a specific agar medium (Mueller-Hinton).

4. Apply filter paper discs containing standardized quantities of antimicrobial drug onto the agar surface. (Figure 2)

5. Incubate the culture for approximately 18 hours at 35º C. The concentration of antibiotic in the disc varies from drug to drug and, with the exception of ceftiofur, pirlamycin and penicillin-novobiocin, is based on levels attained in human serum following treatment.

6. Measure the zone of inhibition – the area where there is an absence of any visible bacterial growth around each disc. (Figure 3)

By referring the measurement to a chart, the organism is classified into three categories: susceptible (S), intermediate sensitive (I) or resistant (R) to the antimicrobial drug.

The inhibition zone size is drug-specific due to differing diffusion rates of the antibiotics in the agar. This method is used mainly for tests on rapid-growing bacteria such as Staphylococcus, Streptococcus and coliform bacteria. It cannot be used for testing slow-growing organisms such as Arcanobacterium pyogenes.

Value on-farm

No single antimicrobial drug is appropriate for every mastitis-causing organism. Thus, when selecting antibiotics for treatment, it’s important to understand how the results obtained in the laboratory (in vitro) can be used to treat a cow (in vivo) with mastitis.

Two measures are used to determine the efficacy of an antibiotic:

1. Its minimum inhibitory concentration. The MIC is the lowest concentration of an antimicrobial required to inhibit visible growth of bacteria in vitro.

2. Susceptibility breakpoint. This is the concentration of an antimicrobial slightly greater than that required to kill sensitive bacteria.

At this time for mastitis treatment, three antibiotics – ceftiofur, pirlimycin, penicillin-novobiocin – have veterinaryvalidated breakpoints by the Veterinary Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing Subcommittee of the CLSI. These breakpoints can be applied only for the pathogens included on the label.

For other antibiotics, such as amoxicillin, erythromycin, penicillin G, and tetracycline, results are reported based on breakpoints that CLSI has adapted from human medicine. The validity of using antimicrobial susceptibility breakpoints derived from humans to the treatment of mastitis has not been established.

Antimicrobial therapy aims to achieve drug levels in excess of the known in vitro MIC for the target organism at the site of infection and maintain an effective concentration for sufficient time to kill or inhibit the organism. If a laboratory test indicates that an organism is resistant in vitro to a particular antibiotic, that drug must not be used to treat the affected cow because it’s very likely to fail.

On the other hand, if an organism is susceptible in vitro to a particular antibiotic, that drug can be used to treat an affected cow.

However, there’s no guarantee the therapy with that drug will be successful. The clinical outcome depends on a wide range of factors: susceptibility of the pathogen, mechanism of action of the drug, distribution in tissues and milk, physiological barriers such as microabscesses or necrotic tissue, the route, frequency of administration and the duration of treatment.

Antibiotic susceptibility testing data should be used in conjunction with clinical experience, published efficacy data and, where possible, on-farm trials to determine appropriate antibiotics for treatment of mastitis in a given herd.

Although more commonly used for clinical mastitis, testing of isolates from subclinical infections due to Staphylococcus aureus and some Streptococcus species during lactation might help select antimicrobial agents, including those for dry cow therapy, in a mastitis control program.

To be effective, an antibiotic must be present at the site of the infection in sufficient concentration and for sufficient time to kill or inhibit the invading organisms. The final elimination of the infection from the mammary gland depends not only on antibiotic action but also on the activity of the cow’s own defenses and the removal of organisms by milking.

LGM-Dairy now available

LGM-Dairy now available Livestock gross margin insurance for dairy (LGM-Dairy) will be available beginning with the 2009 reinsurance year, said USDA’s Risk Management Agency.

LGM Dairy protects producers against the loss of gross margin – or the market value of milk minus feed costs – on milk they produce. 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 it’s positive.

Because LGM-Dairy covers the cost of both milk and feed, it’s different from traditional options. The policy uses futures prices and state basis for corn and milk to determine expected and actual gross margin.

It may be tailored to any size farming operation. The producer supplies the mix of target milk marketings per dairy cow and target feed rations. That allows the producer to choose feed rations and production levels that best reflect actual production situations.

LGM-Dairy does not insure against dairy cattle death loss, unexpected decreases in milk production or unexpected increases in feed use.

Producers may sign up 12 times per year and insure up to 240,000 hundredweight per year. It will be sold on the third to last business day of each month.

Producers must supply the total number of tons of corn or equivalent and and protein meal or equivalent they expect to feed for each month in which they insure their milk.

Producers in the Northeast states of Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia are eligible, as well as those in some other states in the Midwest and West.

For more information, go to

New test to calculate N needs

The Illinois Soil Nitrogen Test (ISNT), a new tool to help farmers measure how much soil nitrogen (N) is available to corn, can now be purchased commercially.
    Cornell University is working with northern New York producers to calibrate and evaluate the test for New York conditions. The test identifies readily mineralizable soil organic N, organic matter and ammonium-N to predict if extra N is needed.
     Joe Lawrence, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Lewis County field crops educator, says the test can help farmers use manure better and keep from using too much fertilizer.
    The ISNT works better than the Pre-Sidedress Nitrogen Test (PSNT), Cornell says, because the results remain stable for two to three years, samples can be taken at a shallower depth and timing for taking samples isn’t as restrictive as for the PSNT.
     But Lawrence said producers need to know how soil samples are taken in order to use the ISNT and Cornell guidelines effectively.

Find more information in the Cornell Nutrient Management Spear Program fact sheets on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website. Go to the Crops section at <> .

•Agronomy Fact Sheet #35 Nitrogen Guidelines for Corn explains how N recommendations are derived.

• Agronomy Fact Sheet #36 Illinois Soil Nitrogen Test for Corn provides details on how to use the ISNT.

• Agronomy Fact Sheet #4 Nitrogen Credits from Manure details how to deduct manure N credits from the N application recommendations.

Find other resources through the Cornell Nutrient Management Spear Program website at

 Find forms for to submit samples for ISNT evaluation at Testing costs $15 per sample for ISNT and Loss-on-Ignition (LOI) organic matter testing; $10 when the ISNT is added as an extra test to the standard soil fertility testing package. 

Where’s that milk processed?

     The New York Organic Dairy Initiative has developed a postcard to educate consumers on reading the product code on milk cartons. The code tells where the milk was processed.
      The project, called Project 36 (for New York’s processing code), is intended to help consumers find milk processed in New York on store shelves, in light of competition from milk being imported over long distances. But you can find a list of all state processing codes, as well as the postcard, at this website: