Our list of top 25 articles of 2016, as measured by web traffic, was published in the Dec. 12, 2016, issue. Check it out here. We asked our team of editors and copy editors to select a favorite article (or article series) of the year that didn’t make the top 25. See their picks below.
My pick: China: The elephant in the dairy barn
When it was published: Aug. 7, 2016, print issue
Why it’s my top pick: Karena Elliott did a fantastic job of outlining the culture of China and what the future holds for its dairy industry. Five dairy consultants give their take on the "overnight phenomenon" that's the Chinese dairy industry. The only thing in the Chinese people’s way is experience, which is why they hire American dairy consultants to teach them. The Chinese are eager to learn, though getting past the old way of doing things is always a challenge. While the U.S. dairy industry doesn't have much to worry about for now, the U.S. should still keep an eye on the Chinese as they become more experienced and grow.
I particularly like this article because of the sheer amount of work that had to go into it. Elliott outdid herself, and the staff at Progressive Publishing invested a lot into this article. I happened to have copy edited the e-book version, and I learned a lot about the Chinese and their dairy industry. Elliott also wrote individual articles for each of the consultants she interviewed, if you haven't seen those already in our enewsletters.
My pick: Package of articles on nontraditional cross-ventilation systems
Cross ventilation with a modification: Curtain baffles control airflow at Double S Dairy
Cross ventilation with a modification: Trillium Hill Dairy builds cross-vent barn, no baffles
Baffles vs. no baffles – which design is right for you?
When it was published: July 19, 2016, print issue
Why it’s my top pick: Two Wisconsin dairy farms have reinvented the cross-ventilation concept. Double S Dairy constructed a new barn with adjustable curtain baffles, while Trillium Hill Dairy decided to forgo baffles all together and focus on providing cows adequate cooling and ventilation with more fans. To provide further information, a ventilation expert weighs in with thought-provoking points on the pros and cons of baffles in cross-vent barns.
This is a favorite of mine because it highlights the innovation of these dairymen, and it walks through some of the decision-making factors that may be helpful for other producers to think about when planning their own facilities.
My pick: The link between oil and milk prices
When it was published: June 12, 2016, print issue
Why it’s my top pick: I’ve always been interested in the correlation between oil prices and milk prices. Without running any statistics, it seemed to me there was a connection between the two. I suggested Matt Gould look into it. He did a great job showing how the two have a shared fate, even if they are not directly linked. I’d highly recommend reading the article if you watch market prices regularly.
East Coast Editor
My pick: Researchers find that new use for old drug equals more milk
When it was published: Feb. 25, 2016, print issue
Why it’s my top pick: While it’s a fabulous resource, my eyes tend to glaze over when reviewing the Journal of Dairy Science for article ideas. Luckily for us, one of our favorite freelance writers, Holly Drankhan, has both a scientific mind and a knack for translating the technical into the practical. This article featuring published research about using NSAIDs to treat postpartum cows is just one example of her talents. What’s most exciting to me about dairy research – when I can understand the highlights – is that it’s a glimpse into what the dairy industry will look like in the very near future.
My pick: Top three critical strategies for operational success
When it was published: Feb. 7, 2016, print issue
Why it’s my top pick: The author outlines what he considers to be the most important strategies for operational success from more than three decades of working with dairy producers. Those strategies include the following: Have a well-defined, effective management and ownership team; support an effective, positive production labor team; and manage with respect to financial positions and trends.
I like the article because it gives specific ways and reasons that the above-named strategies should be implemented. Income over feed costs, annual labor costs, being actively engaged in the labor management aspects of your operation, creating a collaborative new-idea environment, having the right people in the right positions, strategic planning and more – the author succinctly captures the most pressing, most bottom line-critical management areas a producer should be focusing on. It makes one appreciate the many “hats,” talents and skills a producer and his team need to "wear well” to achieve desired results.
My pick: Package of articles on climate change
The agriculture issue of climate change
Climate change: Impacts at the dairy farm level
Climate change impact: Manure management
Farm perspectives on climate change
When it was published: March 12, 2016, print issue
Why it’s my top pick: In five related articles, freelancer Tamara Scully recapped various presentations given at the Dairy Environmental Systems and Climate Adaptation Conference held at Cornell University in July 2015. The articles addressed climate change in relation to agriculture. Not only did they cover how agriculture impacts climate change and how farmers can be proactive in decreasing their contribution to the problem, but also what climate change means to the farm and what farmers can do to better manage those changes.
Talk about climate change isn’t new, and agriculture has been working with it for many years. Some say it doesn’t exist, and others say agriculture is to blame. I liked this set of articles because it laid it all on the line. It brought a scientific aspect from those familiar with agriculture to acknowledge climate change is real and it is starting to impact farms. It stirred thoughts on how farmers will need to manage their operations differently within their changing climates – from growing crops to caring for livestock. It also shed light on various initiatives to aid farmers in reducing agriculture’s impact on the climate. In addition to better manure management, farmers should consider breeding and feeding strategies to lessen emissions from the farm. While a lot can be said in a single article, sometimes it takes a number of articles to cover a subject as complex as climate change.
What was your top pick of 2016? Tell us in the comments!
PHOTO 1: “Bulk feed” often arrives at Chinese dairies in bags. Because their economy is based on manual labor, efficiency is one of the greatest challenges facing the Chinese dairy industry. Photo provided by Jeffrey P. Elliott.
PHOTO 2: Forgoing baffles meant providing more fan power in the Joneses’ new barn at Trillium Hill Dairy. A total of 83 fans line one side of the cross-ventilated barn, with 72-inch fans along the bottom and an additional row of 50-inch fans along the top. Photo by Peggy Coffeen.
ILLUSTRATION 1: Illustration by Fredric Ridenour.
ILLUSTRATION 2: Illustration by Kristen Phillips.