Progressive Dairy staff is pleased to present our top content of the year, according to pageview metrics from Google Analytics, published between Oct. 1, 2021 and Oct. 1, 2022. When possible, we reached out to the author or source featured for a follow-up question, and we also asked editors to share some "behind-the-scenes" anecdotes from these articles.
Exhibiting dairy cattle takes a lot of preparation, both at home and at the show. Understanding your animal’s feed intake, adjusting as needed and closely measuring water intake are a few things you can do to ensure your animal looks her best on show day.
Q. Where did you learn how to properly fill a show animal?
A. "I learned a lot of the information in this article from my dad, who was ahead of his time in showing cattle, way back in the '70s. We always measured water intake so that on show day we could add just the right amount for a great fill. Whatever I didn't learn from my dad, I've learned from trying new techniques at home and from watching others at shows."
—Katie Coyne, Mill Wheel Show Clinics
A Pacific Northwest dairy farm known for its national award-winning sustainability efforts launched a skincare line called Nurst which is made from excess colostrum from their dairy cows. Washington dairy farmer Austin Allred of Royal Dairy first started thinking about the idea when his niece was experiencing severe eczema, and he believed colostrum would have qualities that would also heal his niece’s skin issues. In 2019, Allred and his wife started researching and connecting with a lab to learn more about creating a skin cream from bovine colostrum.
Q. How has diversifying into the skin care business, beef business with Royal Ranch, vermiculture and the other areas changed how you think about managing the dairy, and what products can consumers expect to see from Nurst next?
A. “Cows are amazing. Milk is obviously awesome, but dairy cows have so much more to offer, including colostrum, manure and beef. Understanding how to capitalize on all their products has helped us be more regenerative across the board. Not only have we been able to diversify our revenue streams, but we are also better able to utilize the cows fully to support our entire operation. We have plans to have a full skincare routine out by next year. A new daily moisturizer and hydrating mist are the items launching next.”
—Austin Allred and Ashley Frank, Royal Dairy and Nurst
Contributor Andy Junkin provided tips for farm families who are at the earliest stages of farm succession. From his years of coaching farms, he shared his ideas about how to bring the next generation back to the farm after they graduate from college.
Q. Why should producers read this article if they haven't already?
A. "Nobody gets married expecting a divorce. No farm kid comes home from college or quits a career off the farm expecting to have problems working with their family. Many farming partnerships fail because farm families struggle with transitioning from a parent/child to a professional working partnership. This article addresses a root problem that plagues a lot of family farms behind the barn, yet nobody talks about it. That is why folks clipped it out for their kitchen fridge and why you might want to as well."
It's safe to say there are a few standout sires from the early 2000s that have shaped the herds of today, including Planet, Oman, Supersire, Mogul, Numero Uno and Manifold. Jaclyn Krymowski recaps the influence of a few of these bulls in Holstein herds across the U.S. today in this article.
While milk prices set new record highs in 2022, income margins were squeezed by escalating costs for feed, labor and other operating costs, living out the cautious optimism many producers expressed early in the year. Keeping one eye on the present and the other on the future, financial projections became a key component for management decisions.
Q. What's ahead in 2023?
A. "Latest projections point toward an increase in milk production, and although average prices will be down from 2022, growing strength in export markets is providing some upside support. Risk management on both sides of the equation will be critical."
—Progressive Dairy Editor Dave Natzke
Dairy beef crossbreds are growing in popularity but do create some problems within the supply chain, including sub-par care of live animals, liver abscesses and long carcasses slowing down the processing facility.
Q. Will there still be a market for beef-on-dairy calves if the number of beef cattle available starts to increase? Why or why not?
A. "Supply chains love consistency. Beef-on-dairy calves already have that in their favor when it comes to volume flow throughout the year, but they can lack consistent performance. Market accessibility and price will increasingly depend on whether or not your calves bring value to each of the buyers along the supply chain. Set your program up for success from start to finish in the supply chain with high standards for beef-on-dairy sire genetics and strict quality control for calf care, especially colostrum and gut health policies. Increase marketability with third-party verification programs, such as age, source and genetic brand verification, which will allow more global market access post-harvest."
—Mandy Schmidt, Grai-Rose Cattle Company
Rodrigo Souza gives an overview of the new nutritional and feeding recommendations for dry cows as described by the NASEM 2021 publication with a focus on practical applications.
Q. Do you have any additional advice for dry and transition cows following the new NASEM guidelines?
A. "The original article published in Progressive Dairy focused on the nutritional requirements for dry and transition cows. Beyond the nutritional requirements, it is important to consider the NASEM guidelines for nutritional preventions of metabolic disorders. In addition to nutrition, it is important to reduce stress during dry and transition periods for a successful dairy operation. Examples of areas that should be considered are heat abatement systems (i.e., shades, fans and soakers), feed management, water availability, bunk space and stall usage in the far-off and close-up pens."
—Rodrigo Souza, Phibro Animal Health
Milk proteins continue to be a hot topic in the industry, as many producers have started breeding for A2A2 milk. Sophie Eaglen dives into what and why milk proteins are getting this attention and how they’re distributed across the industry.
Q. What do you predict the future looks like surrounding the genotypes of A2A2, kappa casein and beta lactoglobulin? How will these traits influence the herds of the future?
A. "I do not foresee any influence of beta casein, kappa casein and beta lactoglobulin on our herds in the near future. Large influence will likely be driven by the milk processors and dairy consumers. We are not seeing great interest from the protein and dairy buyers in milk diversification by breeding for these genotypes. However, I do believe that the interest in milk with particular characteristics or a particular casein/whey ratio that is improved for a certain type of dairy product may grow in the next decade or so. This can be accelerated by pressure from export markets when the U.S. exports more dairy. The good thing about these ‘traits’ is that they are relatively easy to breed for without much loss of genetic gain, so the A.I. industry would be able to adapt quickly."
—Sophie Eaglen, National Association for Animal Breeders
This article challenges the industry to expand troubleshooting and take dry matter intake (DMI) and milk production into account when considering if ketosis really is a problem. There is likely an underlying root cause for ketosis and this could vary on a cow-to-cow basis, but something besides milk production is creating a glucose shortage. If we fix the root problem of ketosis rather than treat its symptoms, dairy cows will be better off in the transition period.
Q. Do you have any additional strategies for dairy producers and nutritionists to prevent ketosis?
A. "Ketosis is simply defined as high blood ketones, which can result from many different things: some bad, some good. Spend more time trying to resolve underlying issues in your herd rather than treating perceived problems. Do everything you can to prevent unnecessary stress and immune activation, and make sure your cows have adequate dietary energy and nutrients to deal with any disease challenges they may encounter."
—Sara Kvidera, Elanco Animal Health
When designing a maternity pen, limit competition for provided resources, provide additional pen space and calving blind, and provide a clean, comfortable environment for cows to give birth.
Q. What do you think is the single-most important concept when managing a maternity pen?
A. "The most important thing to consider when managing a maternity pen is that all cows are different, and we should give them a choice over their calving environment. Most cows prefer to seclude at calving and typically prefer having a calving blind and the chance to distance themselves from other cows at calving. It is important to provide enough resources in maternity pens that cows have an opportunity to choose where they give birth."