Archive for November, 2010

Does Health Care Reform Act impact your dairy farm?

Accounting for profits

By Diane Yesenosky

Did you think your dairy farm would be affected by the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act passed by President Obama?  This Act has more than 2,400 pages and there are two issues that could affect your business.

Small business tax credit

Did you receive a postcard from the IRS?  If so, don’t be alarmed, it’s not a notice, you might be eligible for health care tax credit depending on your qualifications.  If you didn’t receive a postcard from the IRS, it doesn’t mean you are not eligible.

There is a health care tax credit available for your dairy farm, if you meet all of the following criteria:

• less than 25 full-time employees.

• offer health insurance coverage.

• pay at least half of health insurance for your employees.

• average annual wages below $50,000 per full time employee.

This small business tax credit is based on full time employees, so if you have less than 25 full time employees and 2 part time employees, you could still qualify.  If you meet all the requirements listed above, then you might be eligible for the small business tax credit of up to 35 % of your premium costs starting in 2010 to 2013.  This rate will increase to 50% for tax year 2014.  The credit is taken at time of filing your business income tax return, so be sure to discuss this with your accountant to see if you qualify.

New 1099 filing requirement

Currently the IRS mandates that your business should file 1099’s to vendors that have offered services rendered over $600 per year, unless they are incorporated (with the exception of attorneys).  Every year, your accountants have filed 1099 forms to the independent contractors who are not incorporated. Either you or your accountant goes through each transaction to see if one of your independent contractors became incorporated in the filing tax year versus prior year, or else it triggers a notice from the IRS.


The new proposed requirements are in section 6041 of the Internal Revenue Code, which was amended by section 9006 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. The act states that all businesses will have to issue 1099 information tax forms to all vendors in excess of $600 for goods and services starting in 2012 even to corporations. We’ve all heard about this nightmare additional 1099 filing requirement that seems not only cumbersome and overwhelming, but also costly. There is no doubt that it will take extra time to issue 1099 tax forms to all vendors, however, with your assistance you might be able to help reduce some time for your accountant.

What does this mean to your business? For your dairy farm, you or your accountant would have to issue 1099 tax forms to your vendors such as feed, parts and supplies, utilities, fuel and oil, testing, and etc. even if they are incorporated, this is virtually every business transaction.

This would cause a lot of time to get tax identification numbers from every vendor you do business with. In order to help minimize your accountant’s time, the key is to get the tax identification numbers from your vendors when you make your business transactions throughout the year and enter them into QuickBooks or other software to indicate they are an eligible 1099 recipient.

Credit cards?

What about credit card purchases? The only relief I see out of this Act is payments made with credit cards will not be considered as reportable transactions, at least for now. The IRS currently has proposed that they would like to minimize the burden to businesses by not having to report credit card transactions.  The credit card companies will be required to report payments made to all vendors on a new IRS form 1099-K, which should avoid duplicate reporting.

The IRS is hoping…

How is this new 1099 filing requirement connected to the health care reform act? The IRS is hoping to close the $300 billion gap in tax revenue and anticipates raising $17 billion over 10 years, which would help fund the health care reform act.

With these changes on the horizon, you may want to consult with your accountant to see how you can help them in saving time and in turn save costs for you.


Diane Yesenosky, CPA, senior manager, Frazer Frost, LLP, in Brea, Calif. Contact her by e-mail at: or call, 714-990-1040 ext. 115.

Southwest Pulse: The mycotoxin storm is here

Draining effects in productivity, a weakened immune response, poor reproduction and day-to-day problems that can impact a herd without notice: the mycotoxin storm is here. Is your farm caught in its path? It is often hard to tell, even for the experts.

“It is very difficult to detect low levels of mycotoxins in large quantities of feed,” said Karl Dawson, director of worldwide research for Alltech. “Many feed materials will be contaminated at uneven levels, so it is possible to have contamination-causing symptoms without easy detection.”

Mycotoxins are produced by certain species of molds during environmental conditions that challenge or stress the mold. Molds are everywhere and are one of the largest spoilage organisms globally.  In 2001, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) suggested the cost of mold damage to the North American feed industry was $5 billion dollars. This has pushed further research on mycotoxins and as our knowledge of mycotoxins has improved, so has our understanding of their impact on dairy herd health and productivity.

Mycotoxins impact animals in many different ways. They are often referred to as “hidden thieves” because the signs of mycotoxin challenges are disguised as other disease symptoms. Therefore, when producers, nutritionists and veterinarians are struggling to put their finger on a specific challenge, mycotoxins may be the underlying cause.  Mycotoxins generally work through four main channels, including feed intake reduction or refusal, alteration in nutrient content of feed in terms of nutrient absorption and metabolism, effects on the endocrine and exocrine systems and suppression of the immune system.

How do you detect mycotoxin problems? “The simplest and most direct thing that you can do is test your feed,” said Nick Adams, Alltech product champion and student of mycotoxins for the last six years, “You can also (visually) evaluate feeds for mold growth and contamination and observe animal performance, behavior and symptoms.”

A few common warning signs of mycotoxins include a decrease in milk production and butterfat, loose and variable manure, and slowly increasing cell counts and fertility problems.

“Mycotoxins affect protein metabolism,” said Adams. “By affecting protein metabolism, you ultimately affect the immune system and ability to fight disease is reduced.”

According to, mycotoxins are toxic secondary metabolites produced by fungi growing on crops in the field during handling and in storage. They enter the animal production system through bedding or feed in forage, silage or concentrate form. Mycotoxins negatively affect animal performance, animal health and product quality. Mycotoxin control is absolutely crucial for production economics, animal welfare, and food safety reasons.

Mycotoxin contamination can be a serious problem. What are the options if they are found in your feed? According to Adams, you have three options: get rid of contaminated feed, dilute the feed to reduce mycotoxin levels being consumed or put in some kind of binder to alleviate the affects.

“Binders get you back where you want to be,” said Adams. “Mycotoxins decrease production and efficiency, and binders get you back as close as possible to that place.”

There are no safe levels of mycotoxins when it comes to animal health and performance, so adsorbents, also known as binders, are critical tools in maintaining profitability.

“A good adsorbent will bind a range of mycotoxins, be safe, easy to use and well researched, have a feed rate that is realistic and give a clear response in the animal when fed naturally contaminated feedstuffs,” said Adams.

There has been some concern that mycotoxin binders could also bind nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. This risk can be reduced by choosing a binder with a low feeding rate and high surface area. It is also advantageous to have a low feeding rate so that the binder does not take up valuable space in the ration.

“Anything that’s organic (including vitamins and minerals) would probably stick to the surface, but it’s important to note that these are low concentrations, generally at parts per billion,” said Dawson. “At that level, adsorbency of nutrients becomes insignificant as it has no affect on nutrition of feed.”

Mycotoxin binders can be organic or inorganic. Inorganic binders include zeolites, bentonites, bleaching clays from the refining of canola oil, hydrated sodium calcium aluminosilicates (HSCAS), diatomaceous earth and other clays.

“Clay products are very homogenous. They have the ability to bind only certain types of toxins, like aflatoxins, because of their rigid structure. It can’t bind all types of mycotoxins because it doesn’t have the different pore sizes and charges to cover the broad spectrum of mycotoxins. You also need to use a high feeding rate to be effective due to the small surface area,” said Adams. “Yeast cell wall binders are heterogeneous. They have lots of pore sizes and surface area to bind lots of different toxins.”

According to Dawson, not all yeast cell binders are the same. Each type of yeast cell, and probably the conditions used to build the yeast cells, will cause the cells to interact differently. When choosing a mycotoxin binder, look closely at the data. Look for products backed by in vivo studies with live animals in addition to the in vitro studies that are conducted in test tubes.

“It is possible that mycotoxins have become a bigger problem because we’re finally recognizing that mycotoxins play a big role in animal health,” said Dawson. “It’s not really a new problem.”

Mycotoxins were first identified in animals approximately 40 years ago when aflatoxins caused wide spread mortality in a British turkey flock. Scientists have come a long way since then in their understanding of molds and mycotoxins and their impact on animal health and production, but we still have a long way to go before we fully understand how to stop the mycotoxin storm that is sweeping across the country.

“We are more aware of them now because we have better techniques to measure them. We’ve been looking for a way to genetically make plants that aren’t affected by molds for the past 30 years, but we haven’t found one yet,” said Adams. “It’s likely that we’ll see more mold contamination, especially with our high producing crops, minimum tillage practices, unpredictable weather and an increase in other challenges.”

As warnings about the mycotoxin storm flood the media, it is important to be proactive about protection against the affects of mycotoxins. According to the website, mycotoxin contamination in crops can be prevented by planting insect and disease-resistant varieties, practicing crop rotation, avoiding or minimizing plant stress, sealing silos promptly on the day they are filled, inspecting bag or bunker plastic regularly and repairing holes promptly, cleaning feed bunks and fully discarding contaminated crops.

Feed storage is also a major factor in mycotoxin contamination. Pack silages to prevent aerobic instability and use inoculants to minimize silo losses and promote stability through rapid preservation. Since moist feeds are very prone to heating, spoilage and mold formation, cleaning bunks is essential to preventing re-contamination. Keep dry feeds away from moisture and vermin since any damage can promote mold growth, especially in warm, damp conditions. Despite all the best prevention measures, heat can be created once the feeds are mixed together and air is introduced. If this happens, feed smaller amounts more often or add a buffered propionic acid or an inoculant to keep the mix cool. Always contact your veterinarian and/or nutritionist about concerns with mycotoxins.

“People need to realize that if their herd isn’t performing like it should, mycotoxins should be on their list of things to check,” said Adams.

SARA: Necessary evil or a manageable condition?

Sub-acute ruminal acidosis (SARA) is described as a digestive disorder where the pH of the ruminal contents is between 5.5 and 5.8. Historical estimates indicate it costs the dairy industry in North America between $500 million and $1 billion per year.

Many factors cause rumen pH dip

A decrease in rumen pH from the normal range of 6.0 to 6.4 may be attributed to many factors. Some potential causes include:

• Quick diet changes from a lower to a higher concentrate ration,

• Over mixing the TMR,

• High DCAD diets, and

• Diet sorting and errors in nutrient content of feeds.

The decrease in rumen pH is due to increased production of lactate and volatile fatty acids (VFA), which are produced by the rumen microorganisms as feed components are broken down.

After each feeding a drop in pH is expected; however, if sustained below optimum for multiple hours, the negative effects may become apparent. SARA may be difficult to identify and diagnose specifically. It is not a common practice to measure rumen pH, which may be done through rumenocentesis. However, SARA does play a role and commonly exists.

Study results have shown that more than 23% of Holstein cattle sent to slaughter had liver abscesses, an indication of acidosis. Abscesses occur when the level of VFAs present in the rumen increase significantly following a feeding challenge. The VFAs pass through the ruminal wall, enter the blood stream, and are transported and filtered out of the blood. They then remain in the liver where the abscess forms.

SARA is most prevalent in animals in early to mid lactation due to the higher energy content of the rations. Cows in this period are consuming large amounts of dry matter for milk production and maintenance.

Ration imbalance a cause

Also, research has shown that each time the cow experiences a challenge, such as a ration imbalance, the bout of acidosis increases. Cows become more prone to subsequently experiencing acidosis, even if intakes are decreased.

The negative effects of SARA may include: decreased feed intake, displaced abomasum, bloat, milk fat:protein ratio less than one, laminitis, diarrhea and loss of production due to one or a combination of the preceding factors.

Some herd level symptoms that may be present if chronic SARA occurs include:

1) High herd cull rates for inadequately defined health reasons,

2) Poor body condition even with adequate energy intake and

3) Limited response to routine therapy for common health.

Management is possible

A challenge exists in balancing adequate ration energy for the high producing cow to maintain production, while also minimizing the incidence of SARA. However, managing those challenges is possible:

• Separate cows and heifers; at least in the transition period to prevent competition.

• Minimize slug feeding by frequently pushing up feed.

• Provide adequate bunk space.

• Maintain feed access time over 16 hours each day.

• Minimize stress caused by pen moves, diet changes and weather.

• Ensure proper mixing of rations to prevent sorting against larger particles.

• Know the nutrient content of diet components for accurate ration formulation.

• Step up the ration over 4-6 weeks instead of making quick changes.

Nutritionist is key

Communicate with your nutritionist and feeder to be sure everyone agrees to mixing protocol for each ration. Provide training where needed.

While eliminating the occurrence of SARA on your operation may be impossible due to the factors involved, managing the factors under your control minimizes the incidences and associated losses; thus improving herd health and overall productivity.


To contact Texas A&M Dairy Team, call 972-952-9212 or e-mail

Don’t just survive, thrive!

Success Strategies by John Ellsworth

In each of my last two articles, I have focused on being honest with yourself about whether you really wish to stay in the dairy industry and how to develop a plan to move forward in a positive and constructive manner. Since then, I have continued to see a great deal of concern, uncertainty and, overall, fear on the part of some producers. In spite of the many concerns we have, including milk prices that may decrease, feed prices that seem out of control, lenders being less supportive and a somewhat tenuous export market, it is time to move forward. The primary reason is that you cannot stand still. You will either move forward or backward.

Are pessimists realists?

We could spend time blaming the government for its pricing policies and the wild $800 Billion “Stimulus Plan,” but as author Matt Ridley pointed out in his book The Rational Optimist, “Pessimists have always been ubiquitous and have always been feted. If you say the world is going to go on getting better, you are considered embarrassingly mad.” Are the pessimists being realistic?

Could it be time to change our thinking and reconsider the advice offered by former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz when he said:

“I don’t ask the players if they want to win. I ask them if they can live with losing, because if they can that’s exactly what they’ll get because it’s so much easier to have.”

We need to change our focus. Is yours truly optimal? Consider the recent Chilean mine disaster, which USA Today described “As if made for TV, it’s a happy ending.” (10/4/10 issue). It, too, could have been an absolute disaster. Instead, a man described as a “Great Natural Leader,” who had only been with the mining company for two months, stepped forward. He sized up the problem and developed a strategy to overcome the challenges at hand. The odds of surviving were certainly stacked against the miners. However, for 69 days, they worked as a team in everything they did. They established sleeping quarters, bathing areas, and even a prayer location. Their manager guided them to ration their food as long as possible by consuming only two tablespoons of tuna and one half of a biscuit every 48 hours! The item that ultimately saved them, however, was his knowledge of topography and the ability to find fresh water. Think you have it tough? Shift your focus and work on what’s important now. I often remind my clients that they should never let the items that they cannot control stop them from completing the things that they can…

Feeling trapped?

Please allow me to explain why this event in Chile is significant to us in the dairy industry. Haven’t we been through a similar experience these past two years? Many producers have felt trapped with no way out of this mess. They continued to lose money month after month, and, perhaps for the first time in their lives, could not even sell their herd or their facilities. Those who responded with panic or, worse yet, a sense of entitlement, well, they aren’t around anymore…

Just as in the Chilean mine crisis, great leadership will be the key to survival and, eventually, thriving again. A great starting point will be to “size up the problem.” Determine where the “leaks in your ship” are. What will your strategy be?

What are your options?

1.) In the mine crisis, the 33 miners operated as a team. Is your team a fully cohesive unit, where everyone is pulling in the same direction?

2.) The miners examined their surroundings and set up separate quarters for eating, sleeping, bathing and praying. Have you looked at each unit of your operation? After evaluating each one, can you find ways to improve them by 10-20%?

3.) They rationed their food supply as long as possible. Perhaps there is a lesson there for each of us in the areas of cost cutting and conservation.

4.) As I mentioned above, the miners studied their topography and found fresh water, which proved to be the key to their survival. What will be your survival key? New feed sources, different financing, or just some fresh thinking?

The type of thinking that I am suggesting you pursue will help you to not only survive but also thrive in the long term. Consider the advice offered in the accompanying quote from George Bernard Shaw. What’s next? It’s your move.

“Reasonable men adapt themselves to their environment. Unreasonable men try to adapt their environment to themselves. Thus all progress is the result of unreasonable men.”

~George Bernard Shaw


John Ellsworth of Modesto, Calif., is a consultant with the financial and strategic consulting firm Success Strategies. He can be reached at 209-988-8960, or by e-mail:

Conversations: Ask your nutritionist about forage consistency

Feed ingredients and forages can be nutritionally volatile, creating significant starch variation in a dairy ration. As producers and their advisors meet in the conference room (or kitchen), the conversation should lead to a better understanding of this volatility, and how managing it can greatly improve the efficiency of a ration.

By Kevin Leahy

The stability of a herd’s ration directly affects milk production stability and efficiency. Here are some questions dairy producers should consider when evaluating ration consistency, and discuss with their herd nutritionist to consider options to improve the consistency.

1) What are some of the causes of nutritional volatility in a ration?

Nutritional volatility in a ration can be caused by a number of things. Some of the main causes can be a change in the type of feed ingredients being used, the harvest/storage/fermentation of forages included, and even the genetics of the forage crop. Often, these variations can be extreme even within the same bunker or truckload of feed, further adding to the volatility. Forage and feedstuff starch digestibility can vary greatly in both the speed of which it is digested, and where – specifically – in the digestive tract it is broken down. The key is knowing how to manage these differences to reduce negative “volatile” effects.

Consider factors that could change content within a ration. Ask your nutritionist if more frequent tests of ration content would be beneficial.

2) Are there signs that might indicate there is a challenge in a particular ration?

Yes, there can be many signs of trouble. The real challenge is realizing that it is in the ration, and doing so soon enough to avoid a train-wreck. One of the more common, short-term signs may include abnormal fluctuations in herd production – especially in butterfat composition of the milk. Longer-term effects might cause reduced reproductive performance. Unfortunately, the latter often occurs long after the problem began.

Carefully review milk component and production fluctuations and work with your nutritionist to evaluate how these may align with forage input changes in the ration.

3) What options are there for measuring starch content of a ration?

Measuring starch content in a ration has been an important step for nutritionists to evaluate inputs to a ration. Measuring crude – or total tract starch digestibility – can be done very effectively by sending feed samples in to a laboratory. These tests indicate the total amount of starch digested in the rumen and the lower gastrointestinal tract. More recently, we have gained technology allowing a nutritionist to test and balance starch content digested specifically  in the rumen.

Ask your nutritionist for the latest insight and advice on various starch measurements.

4) How should test results and insights be used?

Knowing the starch content and expected speed of digestibility in the rumen is important, because of the potential effect on rumen parameters. For example, pH and the digestibility of other nutrients – and the resulting effect on milk production and component yield – can help guide ration balancing decisions that will allow for more optimal nutrient management. This may even help identify ways ration ingredient costs can be reduced or substituted with less expensive inputs, without sacrificing the nutrition needs for production goals.

Spend time with your nutritionist carefully evaluating your herd performance goals, and how ration changes might help achieve them – while still improving economic efficiency.

5) What can a producer expect as a result of more precisely managed starch?

When rations can be calculated to maintain optimum starch digestibility, improved feed efficiency and stable milk production can be more easily attained. From an efficiency perspective, rations can be developed that maximize production without wasting expensive starch sources, like corn. Or, alternative, less-costly feed ingredient options can be considered if you know what their digestible rumen starch might be, and how the ration consistency can be maintained.

Explore your options for various feed ingredients to help reduce ration cost. Working closely with your nutritionist to better understand rumen starch digestibility might help identify alternative, convenient and less-costly options that would allow you to maximize production goals and further minimize feed costs.


Kevin Leahy is technical services manager for Calibrate™ technologies.  Contact him via phone at 877-595-1361or e-mail:

Miss a 2010 Conversation?

Find these ‘Conservations’ columns at

■ January: Direct-fed microbials

■ February: Lagoon management

■ March: Corn silage quality

■ April: BVD management

■ May: Heifer management

■ June: Udder health

■ July: Pregnancy detection

■ August: A TMR audit

■ September: Transition cow nutrition and management

■ October: Alfalfa seed selection

■ November: Energy status at transition

Western Pulse: CWT committee votes to focus on exports

RENO, Nev. – Members of Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) voted recently to focus the seven-year-old program exclusively on building export markets after 2010.

At the annual meeting in Nevada of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), which manages CWT, the CWT’s management committee determined that an export-centered program was the most appropriate course to follow in the future. This means that CWT will no longer fund any herd retirement rounds, through which CWT member farms are paid to reduce their herds. CWT conducted its 10th and final herd retirement this past summer.

“CWT has undergone several shifts in how it has been operated since it started in 2003,” said Jerry Kozak, president and chief executive officer of NMPF. “The decision to drop the herd retirement program, but to maintain the basic structure of CWT with an exclusive focus on helping sell U.S.-made dairy products in foreign markets, allows CWT to continue making positive contributions to dairy farmers’ bottom lines.”

NMPF’s board of directors voted to support a CWT program that will be funded at two cents per hundredweight, starting Jan. 1, 2011, and running through 2012 (the program currently collects 10 cents/cwt. on its members’ milk volume). Members also determined during the annual meeting that 75% of the nation’s milk supply must be contributing at that level in order for the program to continue. They also voted to take the remaining funds not allocated so far in 2010, and shift those to the export assistance program in 2011.

A presentation by Scott Brown of the University of Missouri showed that the Export Assistance program has provided an excellent return on investment. For every one dollar spent assisting CWT member cooperatives in making export sales, U.S. dairy farmers received $15.53 in additional revenue. CWT’s export activity in 2010 has returned 18 cents per hundredweight, according to Brown’s analysis.

Kozak said that the herd retirement program “has reached a point of diminishing returns, where there were a declining number of member farms that were expecting to use CWT as a means to liquidate their herds. On the other hand,” he said, “the export assistance program has grown in popularity, and has been extremely active in 2010 by assisting members export the milk equivalent of more than one billion pounds of butter, butterfat, and cheese.”

Growing export markets through the use of export bonuses “makes sense from an economic and a political perspective, and helps the U.S. sell products where there is the greatest potential. We’re pleased to see that CWT will remain an important and unique tool going forward.”

Peter Vitaliano, NMPF’s vice president, economic policy and market research, provided an in-depth analysis showing that the dairy disaster of 2009 was not the result of a lack of demand – domestic demand grew by 1% and total world imports grew by 7%. “The crisis of 2009 was caused by a collapse in world prices which caused a collapse in U.S. access to world dairy markets,” said Vitaliano. His analysis showed that the volume of U.S. dairy exports dropped 22% in 2009 primarily due to the inability to compete at the price levels necessary to maintain export sales. The Export Assistance program could have positively affected that situation which more than offset the 1% increase in domestic sales.

Vitaliano noted that exports now represent a major commercial market for U.S. milk and is the fastest growing one contributing twice as much new market growth for U.S. milk as the growth in domestic sales of the major consumer dairy products.

Kozak said that the membership commitment will be 24 months for both cooperatives and individual dairy farmers. This will allow CWT to develop an export assistance strategic plan as to how and when to best utilize the funds committed, he noted.

Smart tools: All the latest in hi-tech dairy equipment

Dairy producers are bombarded these days, with all the latest gadgets, systems and equipment – everything from “Smart phones” to “Smart Farming,” to “Smart Dairy.”

The technical advances made over the past decade are nothing short of mind-boggling. You name it and some company has found a way to do it – sometimes without the need for  manual labor.

Making its debut to the trade recently at the four-day EuroTier show in Hanover, Germany were several innovations under the Smart Farming concept by DeLaval.

The first stop on the Smart Farming tour at EuroTier was herd management because knowledge is key. In the spotlight was Herd Navigator and Delpro 3.0 Herd Management System. According to DeLaval, Herd Navigator lifts heat detection rates to up to 98% with inline sampling it sends early alerts on main health problems. Company officials claim the system can result net profit improvement potential for farmers of $345 to $485 per/cow/year. The DelPro 3.0 combines all sensor, real time and herd management data to give dairy producers better control of their herd profitability.

The next stop was feeding. Profitability is boosted by optimizing the animal’s nutrition and controlling input costs. On display was Optifeeding™, an automated system that loads, cuts, mixes and distributes the right balanced feed for each cow or group of cows automatically – day and night – with a reported labor savings of up to 3 hours per day.

DeLaval also debuted the first ever automatic milking rotary.

“Profitability is not about how many cows farmers milk but how they milk them,” declared Benoit Passard, vice president marketing and communications. The milking area showcased different smart milking systems including the industry-first automatic milking rotary, DeLaval AMR™.

“Adding this revolutionary solution to our existing voluntary milking system (VMS) makes us at DeLaval the ‘home of Automation,’” he added.

Also on display was the company’s next release of the DeLaval voluntary milking system, the VMS 2011, and the heavy duty DeLaval herringbone rotary HBR.

Cooling, milk quality, animal welfare and services completed the seven Smart Farming areas of profitability featured by DeLaval. Some of the solutions featured in these areas were: cooling and cleaning systems designed to boost both capacity and energy efficiency; the latest version of the firm’s swinging cow brush that keeps cows happier, healthier and more productive; and a hoof care solution that combines hoof pre-cleaning detergent, sustainable non-copper treatment and an automated application to reduce water consumption. The company’s InService™ program, designed to help farmers save up to $7 in subsequent expenses for every dollar spent on preventive maintenance was also showcased.

“We are convinced that total farm profitability is more than just automation. It is about creating an on-farm integrated profit-driving system that embraces much more than milking,” Passard concluded.

SMARTDAIRY: BouMatic showcases latest at World Dairy Expo

BouMatic®, a global dairy equipment and chemical manufacturer, introduced its newest version of SmartDairy®, a fully integrated dairy enterprise management system at World Dairy Expo 2010 in Madison, Wis.

According to BouMatic executives, SmartDairy provides profit-driven dairy management with superior command and control of a dairy operator’s milk production, all at the touch of a finger. Engineered in modules, SmartDairy allows dairy operators to build a management system ideal for their dairy and their style of milking.

“We unveiled SmartDairy Management Systems at World Dairy Expo and received an overwhelmingly positive response,” said Mike Connell, director of sales. “We watched the momentum from SmartDairy fuel positive progress both internally at BouMatic and externally in the industry. Our engineers continue to develop new SmartDairy modules that will allow dairy owners wide flexibility to add automation and control to their operations,” he added.

SmartDairy software is the focal point of this management system. Dairy operators are able to see their dairy’s performance in real-time, which provides the tools needed to guide their business, meet their production objectives and measure their success.

Visitors to World Dairy Expo 2010 were able to see and experience SmartDairy software and its companion HerdMetrix™ herd management software.

“SmartDairy has caused the dairy industry to think differently about their dairy business in the last year,” said John Mansavage, director, global marketing services. “There has always been a focus on hardware in the dairy industry. What’s most important about SmartDairy is now a dairy’s major mechanical systems can be controlled and managed from a single point that also collects and manages all output data from those systems,” he added.

In the milking parlor, SmartDairy manages pulsation, meters and detachers so dairy managers can evaluate cows, milk production and employee activity. Efficient cow traffic flow is achieved with SmartDairy controls for crowd gates, stall operation, entrance, exit and sort gates.

Outside the parlor SmartDairy manages and monitors milk flow through receivers, chillers and more all the way to the milk tanker. Cow health and comfort are managed through hoof care, feeding and HerdMetrix herd management systems, Mansavage explained.

BouMatic has dairy equipment sales in more than 40 countries. World headquarters are in Madison, Wis. with sales offices in Remicourt, Belgium; Varde, Denmark and Shanghai, China. For more information visit

GEA Farm Technology: Westfalia Surge

Rely on state-of-the-art technology

There are a lot of structural changes in today’s dairy farms. Larger herds need to be milked, 365 days a year, sometimes even three times a day. That means more cows to be milked per operator per hour.

Parallel milking parlors from GEA Farm Technologies meet these requirements due to customized technology. More than ever, a high level of comfort for both the animals and the operator is expected. GEA Farm Technologies has developed a wide range of parallel stalls to meet all the demands of modern dairy operations.

Regardless of herd sizes, conditions of space or human resources GEA Farm Technologies offers adequate milking parlors, cluster, milk meters and hygiene equipment.

The Magnum 90i parlor with individual indexing is built to meet the toughest demands. Designed for 24-hour operation it offers unparalleled durability and reliability. A wide entry area and gravity-controlled exit gates ensure smooth cow flow and maximize the throughput rates.

Herringbone design

The Magnum 40 herringbone parlor has been developed and designed for 24-hour operations requiring highest stability and reliability.

Magnum 40 can be characterized as particularly comfortable for operator and animal. Providing an emphasis on operator safety.

The cows reach their milking places quickly, comfortably and without any stress. Once the last animal has reached its place, the entry gate closes flush with the last milking stall and the whole group is properly positioned. The following animals are ready and waiting to enter the parlor.

Benefits of group indexing: The breast rail gently indexes the cow back toward the operator after the whole row has been filled. Additionally the cow positioning allows the operator to easily compensate for different sized cows in each row.

The solid angled manure shields are moulded to the physical contour of the cows. The cows have all important space and freedom of movement, thus promoting relaxed milking and optimum milk yield.

Large pneumatic cylinders ensure smooth fast lifting and lowering of the breast rail during the exit cycle.

Your benefits at a glance:

• Group indexing

• High stability for round-the-clock

• Rapid exit

GEA Farm Technology: UV Pure

Ultraviolet (UV) light has been proven to be an effective disinfectant and is a common method of sterilization for many industries. GEA Farm Technologies has adapted UV technology in a unique way, as they introduce the UV Pure™ calf milk purifier.

With UV Pure, dairy producers can purify waste milk to yield a nutrient-rich product for their young calves at a much lower operating cost than heat pasteurization systems. It is fully automated, easy-to-use and is available in several configurations to fit virtually any size dairy operation. Plus, the UV Pure process takes less time and much less energy to purify the milk compared to traditional methods.

“Heat pasteurization is effective at killing bacteria, but it can be time consuming and utilize a significant amount of energy. Heating the waste milk to pasteurization temperature can also degrade the nutritional value of the milk,” said Linda Mrugacz, director, marketing and communications for GEA Farm Technologies, Inc. “The UV light kills pathogenic bacteria, without significantly affecting the nutrient value or the immune factors (IgGs) in fresh milk, which are essential to early calf health.”

Purifying waste milk with the UV Pure provides an easy way to feed a low-cost, yet highly nutritious product to young calves. Dairy producers have the potential to substantially reduce the cost of raising their calves, while promoting optimal calf health during their most crucial growth period.

Rearview mirror: Beware the ‘tight margin’ underpass approaching

National Dairy Perspectives

by Dave Natzke

As U.S. House Democrats leave Washington, D.C., and the nation’s Capitol gets smaller and smaller in their rearview mirrors, the hindsight of a full year probably also brings your 2010 dairy year into better focus. The view has something for everyone.

If you’re a “glass half full” kind of person, you have a lot to look back on. Milk prices were much better than 2009, and dairy export totals were great. Your communication skills improved markedly, especially with your banker, who now knows all your kids – by age and name. You met a lot more nice dairy farmers with common issues, and they all like the same beer. You learned more about dairy ration ingredients and prices, and maybe even a little about “marketing.” You turned the odometer over on your pickup truck.

If you’re a “glass half empty” kind of person, you also have plenty to hang your hat on. The economic balm of 2010 didn’t cover all the financial pain of 2009. You watched everybody else increase cow numbers and milk production as the year progressed. A lot of people talked about volatility, but it didn’t go away; and Congress pushed dairy policy discussions into 2011 (or beyond). You gained weight and developed diabetes from eating all the chocolate in your banker’s candy dish while he studied your financial records. Your lender now knows all your cows – by age and name. You’re sick of reading about M&Ms (marketing and margins). You turned the odometer over on your pickup truck – again.

Don’t stare in the rearview mirror too long, though. There’s big challenges directly out your 2011 windshield. Like driving a 13-foot truck under a 13-foot underpass, the margins during the first quarter or two could be really tight. The global legal tender is corn, and if you’re buying, you’re paying. Figure out now if you can make it through the “tight margin” underpass, or if there are optional routes. Putting the pedal to the metal and hoping you get through probably won’t work.

Make it, and the second half of the year should be better, based on information from dairy financial map readers.

Perhaps my age is showing, but the two biggest revelations for me in 2010 had more to do with people than policy.

First, in what has become virtually a day-to-day pissing match and nearly everything has a political component, I think I could identify about a eight young women who I would trust to fix most things “dairy” (I wouldn’t wish federal milk marketing order reform on anybody). They’re fueled by a combination of brains and passion for the dairy industry – driven by attitude as much as aptitude. I’ll refrain from naming them for fear of putting them in an unwanted spotlight. But maybe more entrenched dairy leaders should be looking in their rearview mirror, too.

Second, I went to a Wisconsin Badger/Minnesota Gopher football game in October, and was reminded of what is was like to be back on the UW-Madison campus I attended 25 years ago. I met a group of students at Babcock House, a cooperative house made up of mostly farm kids. Today, Babcock House is co-ed, with about 25 farm women and men living in the same house. They have a cumulative grade point of 3.64, and are extremely active on campus. (I was on academic probation for most of my college career, was extremely active at watering holes, and it would have taken me and two classmates adding our grade points together to get to 3.64.) Then, I went to the football game and saw the student section. They misbehaved, were vulgar and crude.

On the other hand, they were creative, enthusiastic and fun. Given their current job prospects, if they can maintain those three things, I’m all for it. Sure, I question their work ethic sometimes, but I believe the future will be well-served by the young people (who usually don’t appear on reality television programs), if they are given the opportunity.

While “efficiency” is on the agenda of many dairy organization meetings this fall and winter, there’s at least one area those organizations could get a lot more efficient – producer education opportunities.

I get it that dairy organizations generate money at many of these events through registration fees, renting trade show space and sponsorship fees. These funds help finance important programs and organization operations to benefit their members.

But if the recent past has taught us anything, it’s that duplication of effort and resources – time and money – is wasteful. Yet, I get more press releases and calendar listings for meetings and seminars serving the same regional audiences with the same topics and speakers, chasing virtually the same corporate sponsors.

Dairy organization leaders could do well to sit down with other organizations serving the same region and audience, planning seminars and events that avoid this duplication. How many groups, for example, need separate “social media” training sessions? I’m all a-Twitter.

Undoubtedly, political and personality differences create barriers to collaboration. But as we’ve witnessed in current dairy policy discussions, many more producers are in the same car – looking in the same mirrors and windshields – with their neighbors than ever before. Dairy organization education planners should do the same. It’s about time – and money.


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

Why do we make things so difficult?

Opinions & sacred cows

by Ron Goble

All this to say, we need to rediscover some common sense. Why are we allowing regulators who are anti-business and anti-animal agriculture to dictate our future?

Americans have lost their grasp on common sense. Our nation has been blessed by God beyond our wildest dreams and our founding fathers crafted one of the most amazing documents in history – the United States Constitution – to lay the road map for our republic. Truth is, we’ve taken our eyes off the “map” and lost our way.

Those early generations of Americans were living in real freedom, the likes of which we have never really known. They saw the potential of this great nation and they were free to create, invent, excel and keep the profits their hands had produced. And those early generations of Americans didn’t need a government agency regulating and orchestrating their every move and demanding to have its stamp of approval on a venture before these entrepreneurs could move forward.

Today, we are the most over-regulated people on earth. We are shackled by special interest groups that have a vision for this country that would turn it into a European socialist state. We hear rhetoric about becoming independent of foreign oil, but have no resolve to develop our own oil fields where we have more than enough crude to supply our needs for many generations to come. Thus far, environmentalism has made drilling for oil off limits.

Instead of using the natural resources America is blessed with, we are trying everything else. None of which is much more than a drop in the bucket when it comes to providing energy to run our country.

We have an ethanol industry that uses food for fuel  when much of the world is crying out for something to eat. We have an ethanol industry that relies on taxpayer support through government subsidies. It matters not that the entire scheme fails to pencil out!

It’s time to get back to what made our country great – free enterprise! Get the government out of the ethanol business and allow it to succeed or fail on its own. Get the government out of the automobile business and allow the GMs of the world to succeed or fail on their own. It would become quickly apparent whether Americans want to drive glorified golf carts on the nation’s interstate – or NOT.

Ethanol proponents can rave all they want about the benefits of vehicles using E10 or E15 laced fuel. The Environmental Protection Agency recently decreed “partial approval” of blends up to 15% ethanol in the gas tanks of 2007 model cars and newer. I don’t know why they are worried about vehicle emissions when we have more than 6.6 billion people exhaling CO2 – that dangerous greenhouse gas.

The simple truth is, corn-based ethanol is driving the price for corn as livestock feed through the commodity barn roof. And besides feeding livestock – which helps feed the world – feeding the 6.6 billion people on this planet is going to become the next real big challenge for future generations of Americans.

All this to say, we need to rediscover some common sense. Why are we allowing regulators who are anti-business and anti-animal agriculture to dictate our future. Agencies have a role, but need to adopt policies that make it easier for agriculture to do its job, not harder. It’s time to reign-in the unrestrained authority some regulatory agencies have abused and give the majority of common sense Americans their voice back.

Have an opinion or response? E-mail Ron Goble, Associate publisher/editor, Western DairyBusiness at:

Brillion ‘wing float’ design

Brillion added new “wing float” technology to its Pulverizer product line

Brillion added new “wing float” technology to its Pulverizer product line, allowing outer sections to float independently from the center unit to adjust to changing ground contour. The new design allows for float in two planes, vertically (up and down) and horizontally (fore and aft). In addition, firming weight is increased, from 180 lbs. to 280 lbs. per foot.

Brillion Pulverizers crush clods and firm the seedbed, eliminating air pockets for optimum seed to soil contact. They also control residue by flattening stalks, pressing down root balls and rocks, and pinning plant material to the soil for faster decomposition. Visit Brillion’s website at for more information.