Archive for August, 2009

NMPF calls on USDA to implement promotion assessment on dairy imports

Organization says misinformation, pressure from foreign interests causing unnecessary delays

ARLINGTON, VA – The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) called on USDA to finally implement the long-delayed promotion checkoff on dairy imports, seven years after the measure was first passed into law.

The USDA issued a Proposed Rule in May, and invited public comment on the measure, which was first written into law in the 2002 Farm Bill, and was later affirmed in the 2008 Farm Bill. But a year after the most recent Farm Bill was approved, the import assessment is still languishing. Now, some have called for a farmer referendum on the entire promotion checkoff in order to justify the assessment on imports.

“The history of efforts to implement the assessment is filled with denial, disinformation, and delay,” said Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of NMPF. “All we have ever wanted is to have importers of foreign products pay to help promote the U.S. dairy market from which they benefit, the same as our farmers do. But importers continue to grasp at every straw they can to further impede the process.”

Kozak said that some comments submitted to USDA as part of its rulemaking process suggest that the department should hold a national farmer referendum before implementing the import assessment. These comments argue that the promotion program approved in previous referenda is not the same program as will exist once USDA implements the import assessment. Other comments also have expressed concern that state- and regionally-specific promotions, such as those administered by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board and the California Milk Advisory Board, may no longer be allowed if imports are assessed.

NMPF said such comments “are part of the continuing misinformation being spread to scuttle this initiative, and have no merit. There is no valid reason to conduct a lengthy and expensive referendum process that ultimately is paid for by our farmers,” Kozak said. “Given the extensive history behind implementing this import assessment, any referendum would only serve to further delay implementation since any referendum will most certainly pass.”

He said the new producers who would vote in a referendum are the small number of farmers in Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico (the District of Columbia is also covered, but it has no farms) — areas “where relatively few producers produce a limited volume of milk. To conduct a referendum among the entire industry because roughly 20 additional producers will be assessed is a waste of farmers’ money. Producers in these areas have enjoyed the benefits of the promotion program and will now pay into it as producers do in the rest of the country,” Kozak said.

The same is true of importers, although unlike the domestic producers mentioned above, importers account for a very substantial and ever-increasing share of milk on the U.S. market.

Kozak said the contention that the national promotion program as approved in multiple past referenda “is somehow different than it will be once the Proposed Rule is implemented is simply not true. The difference is only that dairy products from all sources, U.S. and foreign, will now be assessed and promoted. Those producers who will now be assessed will also enjoy representation on the National Dairy Board and a say in decisions related to the program.”

He said that regional and state promotions, including those in Wisconsin and California, will continue to drive demand for dairy products, and the program will, in all substantive respects, continue to run as it has. Kozak pointed out that the USDA has stated that the dairy import assessment will be administered so as to continue to permit state and regional promotions.

“To the extent any confusion concerning this matter exists, USDA should review the language of the Proposed Rule prior to implementation to clearly state what USDA has already clarified – that state and regional promotions will continue to be allowed. In fact, the Proposed Rule clearly affirms the ability to direct assessments to qualified national, regional and state promotion programs.

Kozak said that state checkoff boards “are creations of state law. They will continue to exist and operate regardless of what happens with the national program. So nothing occurring with respect to the Proposed Rule prevents state checkoff boards, such as the California Milk Advisory Board or the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, from operating and conducting successful promotions as they have been doing all along,” he said.

The National Milk Producers Federation, based in Arlington, VA, develops and carries out policies that advance the well being of dairy producers and the cooperatives they own. The members of NMPF’s 31 cooperatives produce the majority of the U.S. milk supply, making NMPF the voice of more than 40,000 dairy producers on Capitol Hill and with government agencies. Visit www.nmpf.org for more information.

Wisconsin demand for milk continues to exceed supply

GREEN BAY, WI — In these difficult economic times, the Dairy Business Association (DBA) says only market-based solutions will solve the problem of low milk prices over the long term.
Supply management, milk quota system, high guaranteed minimum prices, government cow buyouts, more MILC, and even a moratorium on large farms have all been proposed by groups seeking short-term relief.  Supply management is not acceptable for world trade agreements and other countries who have previously tried these types of approaches have failed.  These ideas will eventually lead to a nation of producers who depend on government to survive.    Government intervention merely shifts the problem into the future.
“Setting a milk price floor of $18/cwt is illogical and would cause taxpayers to drown in a sea of milk,” said Jim Mlsna, DBA Vice-President.  ”All Wisconsin producers regardless of size are feeling the pain, but quick fixes may make the problem worse.”
Market forces have always influenced the price of milk and, in recent decades, these forces are coming from around the world.  ”Gone are the days when the main factor driving milk prices was the weather’s impact on the feed in the county the milk was bottled in,” stated Laurie Fischer, DBA Executive Director.  ”Our members understand that they are producing a commodity in a global market.  They are doing the best they can to reduce their cost of production and hope they have enough equity and good lenders to allow them to weather this challenge.”
Some say we are producing too much milk, but many Wisconsin cheese makers continue to be looking for additional milk.  ”Dairy producers are facing a difficult downturn in milk prices brought by a weak global economy,” said John Umhoefer, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association.  ”Over-production or a growth in farm size is not the core issue, as national milk production has contracted in recent months.  Wisconsin dairy producers are uniquely positioned to thrive when this cycle turns and prices improve.  A decade of modernization on farms and market/brand building by Wisconsin’s cheese industry has positioned our state’s producers to profit as the global economy improves.  Wisconsin’s demand for fresh farm milk continues to exceed supply, assuring long-term multiple markets for our state dairy producers.”
DBA continues to evaluate every proposal it learns of to address low farm milk prices.  Having a low cost of production, adequate equity, and the prudent use of risk management tools appear to hold great promise for successfully competing in the dairy industry for years to come.
About DBA
The Dairy Business Association is an industry organization comprised of dairy producers, corporate and allied industry supporters. DBA promotes the growth and success of all dairy farms in Wisconsin by fostering a positive business and political environment. For more information about DBA, please visit our website at www.widba.com.

Organization opposes government fixes to low prices

GREEN BAY, WI — In these difficult economic times, the Dairy Business Association (DBA) of Wisconsin says only market-based solutions will solve the problem of low milk prices over the long term.

Supply management, a milk quota system, high guaranteed minimum prices, government cow buyouts, more Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) payments, and even a moratorium on large farms have all been proposed by groups seeking short-term relief.  Supply management is not acceptable for world trade agreements and other countries who have previously tried these types of approaches have failed.  These ideas will eventually lead to a nation of producers who depend on government to survive.    Government intervention merely shifts the problem into the future.

“Setting a milk price floor of $18/cwt. is illogical and would cause taxpayers to drown in a sea of milk,” said Jim Mlsna, DBA vice president.  ”All Wisconsin producers regardless of size are feeling the pain, but quick fixes may make the problem worse.”

Market forces have always influenced the price of milk and, in recent decades, these forces are coming from around the world.  ”Gone are the days when the main factor driving milk prices was the weather’s impact on the feed in the county the milk was bottled in,” stated Laurie Fischer, DBA Executive Director.  ”Our members understand that they are producing a commodity in a global market.  They are doing the best they can to reduce their cost of production and hope they have enough equity and good lenders to allow them to weather this challenge.”

Some say we are producing too much milk, but many Wisconsin cheese makers continue to be looking for additional milk.  ”Dairy producers are facing a difficult downturn in milk prices brought by a weak global economy,” said John Umhoefer, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association.  ”Over-production or a growth in farm size is not the core issue, as national milk production has contracted in recent months.  Wisconsin dairy producers are uniquely positioned to thrive when this cycle turns and prices improve.  A decade of modernization on farms and market/brand building by Wisconsin’s cheese industry has positioned our state’s producers to profit as the global economy improves.  Wisconsin’s demand for fresh farm milk continues to exceed supply, assuring long-term multiple markets for our state dairy producers.”

DBA continues to evaluate every proposal it learns of to address low farm milk prices.  Having a low cost of production, adequate equity, and the prudent use of risk management tools appear to hold great promise for successfully competing in the dairy industry for years to come.

About DBA

The Dairy Business Association is an industry organization comprised of dairy producers, corporate and allied industry supporters. DBA promotes the growth and success of all dairy farms in Wisconsin by fostering a positive business and political environment. For more information about DBA, please visit our website at www.widba.com.

2009 dairy state ag land values decline

By Dave Natzke
Add land values to the things on the decline in major U.S. dairy states. USDA’s 2009 Land Values and Cash Rents report shows the value of agricultural real estate, cropland and pasture declined in most dairy states, but rental rates held fairly steady.
U.S. farm real estate values, a measurement of the value of all land and buildings on farms, averaged $2,100 per acre on
Jan. 1, 2009, down 3.2% from 2008 and the first decline in farm real estate value since 1987.
Among major dairy states, largest farm real estate declines (on a percentage basis) were in Idaho, Florida, California and Oregon.
Regional changes in the average value of farm real estate ranged from virtually no change in the Northern and
Southern Plains regions, to an 11% decline in the Mountain region. The highest farm real estate values remained in the
Northeast, at $4,830/acre. The Mountain region had the lowest farm real estate value, $922/acre.
Among major dairy states, largest farm real estate declines (on a percentage basis) were in Idaho, Florida, California and Oregon.
Both cropland and pasture values are also down from the previous year.
Cropland values declined by $110/acre (3.9%) to $2,650/acre. In the Corn Belt region, the average cropland value decreased 4.0%, to $3,870/acre. However, in the Northern Plains and Delta regions, cropland values rose 1.6% and 0.6%, respectively.
Among major dairy states, largest cropland value declines (on a percentage basis) were in Arizona, Florida, Idaho and Virginia.
Pasture value declined by $20 per acre (1.8%) from 2008, to $1,070/acre. The Mountain region had the largest
percentage decrease in pasture value, 16% less than 2008.
Among major dairy states, largest pasture value declines (on a percentage basis) were in Idaho, Pennsylvania and Florida.
USDA economists cited the contraction in the overall economy for the declines, resulting in less commercial and residential development and recreational and in many regions. Livestock and crop commodity prices also declined from a year earlier, weakening producer and investor interest.
Cash rent
Nationally, cash rent for cropland rose 5.3%, while pasture rents remained unchanged for the 2009 crop and grazing year.
Cropland cash rents paid in 2009 averaged $90/acre, compared to $85.50/acre for 2008.  Pasture cash rents averaged $10.50/acre, consistent with the 2008 average, but above the 2007 average of $10.00/acre.  The increase in cropland rental rates are the result of producers receiving strong commodity prices, while pasture cash rent is affected less by commodity prices and more by land values.
The Northern Plains region had the highest percentage increase for cropland, 7.6% more than 2008.  Cropland cash rents increased $9/acre, to $196/acre in the Pacific region; and $7/acre, to $146/acre in the Corn Belt region.  The Corn Belt and Northern Plains regions account for nearly half of the cash rented cropland acreage in the United States.
The major corn and soybean producing states of Illinois, Indiana and Iowa experienced increases of 4.3%, 4.4% and 5.9%
respectively, for cropland cash rents, averaging $170, $141 and $180 per acre, respectively.
To see USDA’s full report, Land Values and Cash Rents 2009 Summary,  visit http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/current/AgriLandVa/AgriLandVa-08-04-2009.pdf
The values estimated in the USDA report reflect trends reported previously by economists in several Federal Reserve District banks. For summaries of the most recent quarterly updates, visit:
Ag credit conditions change   http://dairywebmall.com/dbcpress/?p=1774
A tough first quarter http://dairywebmall.com/dbcpress/?p=2991

By Dave Natzke

Add land values to the things on the decline in major U.S. dairy states. USDA’s 2009 Land Values and Cash Rents report shows the value of agricultural real estate, cropland and pasture declined in most dairy states, but rental rates held fairly steady (see Table 1, below).

U.S. farm real estate values, a measurement of the value of all land and buildings on farms, averaged $2,100 per acre on Jan. 1, 2009, down 3.2% from 2008 and the first decline in farm real estate value since 1987.

Regional changes in the average value of farm real estate ranged from virtually no change in the Northern and Southern Plains regions, to an 11% decline in the Mountain region. The highest farm real estate values remained in the Northeast, at $4,830/acre. The Mountain region had the lowest farm real estate value, $922/acre.

Among major dairy states, largest farm real estate declines (on a percentage basis) were in Idaho, Florida, California and Oregon.

Both cropland and pasture values are also down from the previous year.  Cropland values declined by $110/acre (3.9%) to $2,650/acre. In the Corn Belt region, the average cropland value decreased 4.0%, to $3,870/acre. However, in the Northern Plains and Delta regions, cropland values rose 1.6% and 0.6%, respectively.  Among major dairy states, largest cropland value declines (on a percentage basis) were in Arizona, Florida, Idaho and Virginia.

Pasture value declined by $20 per acre (1.8%) from 2008, to $1,070/acre. The Mountain region had the largest percentage decrease in pasture value, 16% less than 2008. Among major dairy states, largest pasture value declines (on a percentage basis) were in Idaho, Pennsylvania and Florida.

USDA economists cited the contraction in the overall economy for the declines, resulting in less commercial and residential development and recreational and in many regions. Livestock and crop commodity prices also declined from a year earlier, weakening producer and investor interest.

Cash rent

Nationally, cash rent for cropland rose 5.3%, while pasture rents remained unchanged for the 2009 crop and grazing year.

Cropland cash rents paid in 2009 averaged $90/acre, compared to $85.50/acre for 2008.  Pasture cash rents averaged $10.50/acre, consistent with the 2008 average, but above the 2007 average of $10.00/acre.  The increase in cropland rental rates are the result of producers receiving strong commodity prices, while pasture cash rent is affected less by commodity prices and more by land values.

The Northern Plains region had the highest percentage increase for cropland, 7.6% more than 2008.  Cropland cash rents increased $9/acre, to $196/acre in the Pacific region; and $7/acre, to $146/acre in the Corn Belt region.  The Corn Belt and Northern Plains regions account for nearly half of the cash rented cropland acreage in the United States.

The major corn and soybean producing states of Illinois, Indiana and Iowa experienced increases of 4.3%, 4.4% and 5.9% respectively, for cropland cash rents, averaging $170, $141 and $180 per acre, respectively.

To see USDA’s full report, Land Values and Cash Rents 2009 Summary, visit http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/current/AgriLandVa/AgriLandVa-08-04-2009.pdf.

Numbers reflect bank trends

The values estimated in the USDA report reflect trends reported previously by economists in several Federal Reserve District banks. For DairyBusiness Communications summaries of the most recent quarterly updates, visit:

• Ag credit conditions change http://dairywebmall.com/dbcpress/?p=1774

• A tough first quarter http://dairywebmall.com/dbcpress/?p=2991

LAND VALUE CHART 8.09

Support price rise a detriment?

USDA’s announcement of a temporary increase in the price support program may increase farmers milk checks in the near future, but also raises several questions.

“It’s not going to provide the immediate price relief that USDA promises, just because of the way the lags are in the pricing system,” Alan Levitt, editor of the CME’s Daily Dairy Report, told DairyLine Radio this week.  The August Class I price is already set, but there will be some impact on the August Class III and IV prices.  He estimates the all-milk price may add 50¢ to farmer’s milk checks, bringing some relief by September.

USDA expects to buy 75 million lbs. of cheese, but the spot price has already increased to just under that support level, “So I don’t think we’re really going to see any sales of cheese to the government,” he said.

As for nonfat dry milk powder, USDA said they expect to buy 150 million lbs. in just three months. “That would be huge,” Levitt said. “That’s probably half the powder we would produce in that time period.”

But, he added increasing the support price makes U.S. exports even less competitive than they were before. “It’s going to be interesting to see whether USDA is going to give bigger DEIP bonuses, or if they’re just going to buy a bunch more powder and put it away, and then we’re going to have to figure out how to get rid of that powder later.”

“My guess is the bonuses are not going to increase enough, and that’s kind of unfortunate, because sales to CCC had almost stopped, and now they’ll probably have to pick up again,” he said.

Levitt said the timing isn’t very good because the weak dollar has given the U.S. a little bit of advantage against Europe and Oceana, which is in its off season. “We really had a chance to move a little powder over the next few months, but now we don’t know if that’s going to happen.”

He said the bottom line is it throws more uncertainty into the dairy markets when there was already a lot of uncertainty. Some will be second guessing USDA’s decision, and many questions remain.

“Is the support price increase going to be extended after October?  What signals is it going to send to the farm? Is it going to make farmers hang on longer? What’s going to happen to all that powder in storage?” he asked.

“I recognize that it’s going to improve milk prices in the short term, but in the long term, at some point we have to get rid of these stocks and I don’t know if this move is going to help us do that,” Levitt concluded.

Marketing: Selling milk in a declining feed price market?

By Matt Mattke

Q: Grain prices have fallen tremendously over the last month. If this trend continues will that put additional pressure on milk prices? If so, should I be forward selling my milk?

A: Be careful about making a decision about whether to forward sell your milk based solely on falling grain prices. High grain prices this past year didn’t stop milk prices from falling; who says low grain prices will keep milk prices from rallying?

In the past there have been a number of rallies in milk prices when either grains were low, or grain prices were falling. Corn and soymeal prices still have a long ways to fall yet before prices even return to their longer-term averages. On corn the long-term running average price is $2.29 futures, and on soybeans it’s $5.53 futures.

The latest USDA Agricultural Prices report showed a milk-to-feed price ratio of 1.45 for June, based on a $4.03/bushel corn price, and a milk-to-feed price ratio of 1.65 for July based on a $3.33/bushel corn price. This milk-to-feed price ratio is still historically low and a far ways off from a more neutral milk-to-feed price ratio in the 2.50-3.00 range. In the table below are some different milk-to-feed price ratio possibilities based on lower grain prices.

Different milk-to-feed price ratio possibilities based on lower grain prices

Different milk-to-feed price ratio possibilities based on lower grain prices

The calculations show that even if corn falls to $2.00/bushel, hay to $100/ton, and soybeans to $6.50/bushel, an $11.30/cwt. all-milk price still will not return the milk-feed price ratio back to the more neutral 2.50-3.00 range. At those feed prices, there would need to be a $2.70 higher all-milk price than the $11.30/cwt. that producers are currently getting to get the milk-feed price ratio almost to the 3.00 level.

Historically, the time span between the last time the milk-feed price ratio was at 3.00 and then returned back to 3.00 has ranged from 18 months to 23 months. The last time the milk-feed price ratio was at 3.00 was November 2007, and currently July 2009 is the 20th month since then. Based on historical milk-feed price ratio cycles, the all-milk price is due for a rally, even if corn prices and soybean prices do tank to $2.00 and $6.50 per bushel, respectively.

The bottom line is that the decision to sell or not sell milk at this time should be based on other factors and not based on the anticipation of falling grain prices.

FYI

Matt Mattke

Stewart-Peterson Market360® Adviser

E-mail: mmattke@stewart-peterson.com

Phone: 800-334-9779

Web site: www.stewart-peterson.com.

Production Pointers: CSI (Cow-Side Investigations)

CSI (Cow-Side Investigations)

August 4, 2009

What milk components can tell you about your herd

Your milk check not only provides a lot of information about your herd’s production, components and quality counts, but also gives you insight to monitor health and nutrition.

Butterfat

Healthy butterfat levels can be achieved with the right balance of forages and concentrates in the diet. When rumen bugs break down forage, they produce volatile fatty acids (VFAs). One VFA, butyrate, is used to synthesize half of the fat destined for the udder, which means high-quality forages can dictate butterfat levels.

• Low butterfat (<3.0%)

Rations high in energy from grain concentrates often cause low butterfat levels. These feeds bypass the rumen quickly and provide minimal nutrients for the rumen microbes. Adding forage to the ration can slow feeds from quickly passing through the rumen and allow for proper and complete breakdown by rumen bugs to boost VFA levels.

• Very high butterfat (>4.0%)

High butterfat levels are often seen shortly after freshening, which can be a sign of ketosis. While this is common in early lactation, monitor this group closely to ensure milk fat levels decline to normal level—between 3.5% and 4.0%—and production levels increase. This shows cows are using energy from the diet, rather than fat reserves, to meet production levels.

Protein

The right balance of ration protein and energy is needed to ensure optimal milk protein levels. A fully functioning rumen with a thriving microbial population can provide the essential amino acids and energy needed for enhanced protein production.

• Low milk protein (<2.8%)

Rumen bugs convert dietary protein to bacterial protein, which is the primary source of essential amino acids for the cow. Once converted, these amino acids can be used by the mammary gland to produce milk protein. Energy is needed to complete this process and without the proper levels of energy, amino acids are used as the energy source. This can reduce the supply of amino acids for milk protein synthesis.

In some cases, supplemental amino acids are needed to complement those produced by the cow.

Butterfat: Protein Ratio

In a healthy cow butterfat levels should always be higher than milk protein. If this ratio is inverted, meaning the percentage of milk protein is greater than that of butterfat, the most common cause is rumen acidosis.

The next time you get your milk check, evaluate butterfat and protein levels to ensure your herd is performing optimally and receiving nutrients needed to meet production potential. Work with your nutritionist to maintain and boost component levels, ensuring rumen health is optimized to allow you to reap the greatest component benefits.

Source: Dr. Elliot Block, Senior Manager of Technology, Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition. Visit www.ahdairy.com.

Cow health: where milking, environment and cow comfort meet

During summer we often see small problems exacerbated, becoming much larger challenges. The milk quality trifecta – milking procedures, environment and cow comfort – plays a critical role in maintaining cow health and production throughout the summertime heat and all year long. Three critical areas to monitor include:

1) Manage your evaporative cooling. It’s critical to evaluate the combination of water from sprinklers and air from fans to eliminate excess water that will eventually reach the udder. This can be done by monitoring proper droplet size for the sprinkler, having a timer in place on your sprinklers, and providing enough properly placed fans for effective evaporative cooling.

2) Compromised udder health. Lowered dry matter intakes, less time lying down and more moisture in the cow’s environment all add together to reduce the cow’s ability to fight disease. Because the cow’s immune system is compromised, additional cases of mastitis may occur. By providing the proper comfort and a clean, dry environment, you can help cows fight bacteria by removing it from the environment and boosting immune response.

3) Remove the outside environment. Inside the parlor we’re focused on removing the environment from contact with teats to optimize milk quality and minimize the rate of new infections. To achieve this, focus on drying teat ends and keeping liner heads clean.

Source: Keith Engel is Sales Consultant – Hygiene & Supplies, with GEA Farm Technologies/WestfaliaSurge. Contact him via e-mail: Keith.engel@geagroup.com. To read the full article, visit http://dairywebmall.com/dbcpress/?p=3804.

Elsewhere on www.dairybusiness.com

Industry News

Pfizer Animal Health launches ‘Externship Program’ for veterinary students, schools. The company works with veterinary schools to place first- and second-year students with beef and dairy cattle practitioners for four weeks. Pfizer Animal Health provides a stipend, as well as identifies veterinary clinics willing to mentor students. For universities that already have a veterinary externship program in place, Pfizer Animal Health provides matching funds. To read the full article, visit http://dairywebmall.com/dbcpress/?p=3412.

New Products

Udder Tech introduces waterproof milking sleeve with thumb cover. This sleeve features an extra piece of material that extends the length of the sleeve over the hand and hooks around the thumb to anchor and stabilize the sleeve.  No more wet wrists or debris getting down inside the sleeve!  The Waterproof Milking Sleeve with Thumb Cover works best when worn with a glove on the hand also. Like all Udder Tech  milking sleeves, this sleeve features elastic and Velcro at the top of the sleeve to offer a perfect fit around the upper arm as well. For more information, visit http://dairywebmall.com/dbcpress/?p=3565.

Cow health: where milking, environment and cow comfort meet

By Keith Engel

During summer we often see small problems exacerbated, becoming much larger challenges. The milk quality trifecta — milking procedures, environment and cow comfort — plays a critical role in maintaining cow health and production throughout the summertime heat and all year long.

Manage your evaporative cooling

One of the key elements in maintaining udder health and milk quality is providing your herd with a clean, dry environment to prevent bacteria growth. In the summertime, we try to keep cows cool and comfortable to maintain milk production, but keeping cows’ udders dry can be a challenge.  Mastitis-causing organisms need three things to survive—food, water and heat. In the summer, what was once dry and comfortable for cattle is often wet from humidity and cooling systems, which means bacteria have access to all three key elements for survival, causing additional challenges for optimal udder health.

It’s critical to evaluate the combination of water from sprinklers and air from fans to eliminate excess water that will eventually reach the udder. This can be done by monitoring proper droplet size for the sprinkler, having a timer in place on your sprinklers, and providing enough properly placed fans for effective evaporative cooling.

Compromised udder health in summer months

Cow health is often compromised in summer weather. Lowered dry matter intakes, less time lying down and more moisture in the cow’s environment all add together to reduce the cow’s ability to fight disease. Because the cow’s immune system is compromised, additional cases of mastitis may occur. By providing the proper comfort and a clean, dry environment, you can help cows fight bacteria by removing it from the environment and boosting immune response.

Cow comfort is one way to improve immune response. Check and regulate the following areas on your dairy to ensure cow comfort is maintained through all weather challenges, resulting in improved immunity status.

  • Holding pens. Prior to milking, holding pens can get extremely hot and often are regulated with high water usage. Provide a good combination of fans and sprinklers to cool the cows without soaking the udder.
  • Feed alleys. Cows spend a large amount of time at the feed alleys, and it’s critical to encourage optimized intakes during the summer heat. Minimize cow’s exposure to wet conditions by keeping the feedbunk area clean and dry with proper evaporative cooling.
  • Freestalls. Ensure your current stall bedding and grooming schedule meets the needs of cows by providing a dry, comfortable environment. Change your bedding practices as necessary in the summer to ensure clean, dry and comfortable stalls.

Use teat cleanliness scoring to ensure teat ends are cleaned properly prior to milking. Removing bacteria before unit attachment is critical to minimize new udder infections and reduce the level of bacteria that come into contact with the teat end. Many times it takes a cleanliness test to actually see how much is being left behind on the teat end.

Use teat cleanliness scoring to ensure teat ends are cleaned properly prior to milking. Removing bacteria before unit attachment is critical to minimize new udder infections and reduce the level of bacteria that come into contact with the teat end. Many times it takes a cleanliness test to actually see how much is being left behind on the teat end.

Remove the outside environment

Outside the parlor we’re focused on managing the environment that comes in contact with the udder; inside the parlor we’re focused on removing the environment from contact with teats. Removing the environment is essential to optimize milk quality and minimize the rate of new infections. By paying extra attention to this during the summer months, you’re setting your herd up for success as the cooler weather approaches. To achieve this focus on the following:

  • Drying teat ends. When teats are exposed to high levels of moisture, ensure teats are dried well prior to milking. Make sure milkers wipe in a downward twisting motion, and then flip the towel with thumb in towel to properly clean the teat end. Starting the udder prep process by dry wiping with a towel in the summer months will help to remove moisture and debris and make predip all the more effective.
  • Keeping liner heads clean. Pay close attention to maintaining liner head cleanliness. Have a defined procedure using sanitized water in drop hoses to maintain clean liner heads without overusing water in the parlor.  Make sure milkers focus on cleaning liner heads and vent holes rather than just spraying towards the milking unit.

Optimizing the cows’ environment and the environment’s influence on teats will help maintain cow health, performance and, ultimately, milk quality. Focus on parlor procedures, the cow’s environment and cooling methods to yield high-quality milk, regardless of the season.

FYI

Keith Engel is Sales Consultant – Hygiene & Supplies, with GEA Farm Technologies/WestfaliaSurge. Contact him via e-mail: Keith.engel@geagroup.com

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 www.merial.com.

Elsewhere on www.dairybusiness.com

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 http://dairywebmall.com/dbcpress/?p=3588.

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 http://dairywebmall.com/dbcpress/?p=3748.

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 http://dairywebmall.com/dbcpress/?p=3598.


Agriculture generates $59.16 billion and 353,991 jobs in Wisconsin

Madison, Wis. – Wisconsin’s farms and agricultural businesses generate $59.16 billion in economic activity and provide jobs for 353,991 people, according to a recent study conducted by University of Wisconsin-Extension based on data for 2007.

The study shows that Wisconsin agriculture contributes in a significant way to the state’s economic base despite the acute financial pressures caused by low prices for several products including milk and cheese as well as high input costs. The study’s findings indicate agriculture’s economic activity increased 14.9 percent, up from $51.5 billion, from a similar study conducted in 2004 using data for 2000.

“This study clearly demonstrates agriculture’s huge role in our state’s economy and the importance of having a diverse agricultural portfolio. No other sector is so broadly based across the entire state,” said Rod Nilsestuen, Secretary of Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Here’s how agriculture’s $59.16 billion economic impact breaks down:

  • The direct economic effect of agriculture is $38.8 billion. This figure represents the sales of all farm products and value-added products.
  • Sales of agricultural products create another $13.6 billion in business-to-business purchases for items such as fuel, fertilizer, feed, farm equipment, veterinary services and crop consultants.
  • This business-to-business activity then generates another $6.7 billion in economic activity, because people who work in agriculture-related businesses spend their earnings.

“This study shows that Wisconsin is an incredibly diverse agricultural state that makes many contributions to our food supply and economy,” said Bill Bruins, president of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. “This diversity has helped agriculture and many of our rural communities to stabilize and even grow.”

The research, conducted by Steve Deller UW-Madison professor of agricultural economics/UW-Extension community development specialist and David Williams, UW-Extension associate professor and assistant program leader for Agriculture and Natural Resources, uses a state-of the-art economic model to measure how dollars earned from sales of agricultural products multiply in the state economy. The study also provides an historical look at several economic measures of Wisconsin agriculture and a first of its kind look at the relative strengths of clusters of various agriculture sectors.

“This work represents the very best in the partnership between UW-Extension and the applied research in theCollege of Agricultural and Life Sciences here at UW-Madison,” said Rick Klemme, Dean and Director of UW-Extension, Cooperative Extension.

Molly Jahn, Dean of UW-Madison’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences added, “These data show the strengths within Wisconsin agriculture and the potential opportunities of our various sectors helps us to provide targeted education, research and Extension leadership to the many stakeholders and audiences we serve through our many programs.”

James Robson, Chief Executive Officer, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Inc., said, “This new report is important because it underscores the tremendous economic contribution that our dairy industry makes to our communities and state every year. The milk that’s produced on our dairy farms is the starting point for a $26 billion dairy business that provides jobs, supports our local economies and gives our cheese and dairy processors the ability to craft more than 600 varieties, types and styles of award-winning cheese and hundreds of other nutritious dairy and food products. During the present economic downturn, it’s important to remind all state residents that the future success of America’s Dairyland begins on our dairy farms.”

About 10% works in a job related to agriculture. These occupations include farmers, farm employees, veterinarians, crop and livestock consultants, feed and fuel suppliers, food processors, machinery manufacturers and dealers, barn builders and agricultural lenders. Every job in agriculture supports an additional 0.89 job elsewhere in Wisconsin’s economy.

About 9% of Wisconsin’s total income, or $20.2 billion, comes from agriculture. This figure includes wages and salaries, benefits and profits of farmers and workers in agriculture-related businesses. Each new dollar of agricultural income generates another $1.24 in state income.

The study confirms the tremendous strengths that Wisconsin has in many sectors including dairy production, dairy product manufacturing and animal production and suggests areas for future policy discussion to promote a stable and growing agricultural economy.

Possible plans for future analysis of this data include a more in-depth assessment of regional and county-by-county economic impacts to help policy makers and others as they plan for the future of Wisconsin agriculture.

The study was conducted by University of Wisconsin-Extension in cooperation with the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Wisconsin Agriculture in the Classroom and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. You can read the research report, “Agriculture and the Wisconsin Economy” on line at http://www.uwex.edu/ces/ag/wisag.

Dairy processors push for long-term dairy policy changes

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) said it will continue to advocate for long-term reform of dairy policies in response to Secretary Tom Vilsack’s announcement that USDA will provide additional short-term financial assistance to dairy farmers.

“Dairy farmers are our partners and are critical to maintaining a strong and viable dairy industry,” said Connie Tipton, president and CEO of IDFA. “We recognize that Secretary Vilsack is responding to the current difficulties faced by many farmers, but everyone should be concerned that we will be right back here in a few years unless we review and update existing dairy policies.”

According to IDFA, the current low dairy prices are due to the economic downturn, a decline in global demand for dairy products and an increasing milk supply.  IDFA believes that current dairy policies, which have been in place since the Great Depression, discourages innovation in dairy manufacturing and the use of risk management tools that are routinely used by other U.S. farmers.

Dairy is the only agricultural commodity for which USDA purchases surplus dairy products for government storage and determines prices through government regulation, IDFA said.

“Our members are concerned that an increase in government purchases of products, such as nonfat dry milk, does very little to expand the demand for nutritious dairy products, which is how our industry can grow,” said Tipton.

IDFA chair Paul Kruse, president and CEO of Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries, outlined IDFA’s recommendations for long-term policy changes when he testified before the U.S. House Agriculture Subcommittee on Dairy, Livestock and Poultry, which sets dairy policy for USDA. Kruse told the panel that product innovation and increased global demand are fundamental parts of any solution designed to address the economic conditions currently facing the U.S. dairy industry.

His testimony is available at: http://idfa.org/news/stories/2009/07/kruse_testimony_0713.pdf


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