Progressive Dairyman editors Walt Cooley and Dario Martinez attended World Ag Expo in Tulare, California, Feb. 12-14, 2013. In addition to hosting video farm tours and seminars, the duo walked about the show looking for interesting ideas that might useful to dairy producers and industry news. Below are their thoughts and comments about what they saw. Click here or on the image at right to view this panaromic view of World Ag Expo seminars in a new window.

Cooley walt polo
Editor and Podcast Host / Progressive Dairy

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Click a link to see "Cool stuff" from previous World Ag Expo events:
Cool stuff we saw at World Ag Expo [2012]
Cool stuff we saw at World Ag Expo [2011]


From navy blue to burnt orange
Representatives for Zoetis , formerly Pfizer Animal Health, wore the company's new burnt orange apparel that was branded with the company's new nameplate.

The name for the animal health company has its root in the Latin meaning for zo, which is common to words such as zoo and zoology. It derives from zoetic, meaning "pertaining to life."


"So far, other than the new colors, the company seems the same to me, even down to their traditional offering of fine cheeses from their booth at the middle of the show's Dairy Center."
—PD Editor Walt Cooley

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Micro-feed delivery systems
Both Micro Dairy Logic and Animal Health International had systems on-site to display a new way to deliver micronutrients for ration ingredients. The systems use automation to accurately measure the nutrients and then water to mix and deliver them into the ration.

Its main benefit is improved management of these high-value ration components, minimizing costly shrink.

Producers do not buy the systems but rather purchase the ingredients they will measure through the system from the companies that own and install them on the dairy.

"Company officials say that they had a lot of producer interest for their equipment at the show. That's not surprising as improved feed utilization and minimizing shrink can mean big savings these days. However, these systems have already met with some resistance from nutritionists, as some of the revenue that would have been kicked back to them from the sale of non-forage and non-grain nutritional supplements and minerals will instead now go to the companies operating the systems as a way to make the cost of the system cash flow."
—PD Editor Walt Cooley

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Two new teat prep technologies debut
At World Ag Expo, DeLaval and GEA Farm Technologies each displayed new technologies to aid in milking preparation.


DeLaval displayed its new robotic arm for pre-dipping and post-dipping in rotary milking parlors. The TSR, or teat spray robot, will be installed on pilot farms in 2013 and be commercially available in 2014.

According to DeLaval, the company's robotic teat-spraying arm can prep up to 400 cows per hour, saving farms as much as 20 hours of human labor.

"I've seen a similar technology operate in person while visiting DeLaval's robotic milking test farm in Sweden two years ago. I see this launch as a foot in the door, or bridge technology, for producers who may have rotary parlors.

"The cost to install and test this robotic technology now will likely be lower than swallowing the full costs of a completely automated robotic parlor, which is still yet to be commercially available in the U.S."
—PD Editor Walt Cooley


GEA Farm Technologies
The FutureCow Prep System, which was first distributed by GEA Farm Technologies in 2012, aims at providing consistency in pre-milking prep procedures.

Basically, the system consists of three parts – a device that blends the cleansing solution ingredients with water, an air-operated pump that delivers the solution from the blending system to the control and a brush unit, which is a handheld arm unit that employees will use for the prep procedures. The mechanical brush unit washes, disinfects, stimulates and dries the cow's teats.

According to GEA Farm Technologies, the prep system reduces labor needed for cow prep and simplifies pre-milking procedures. The system also eliminates the cost of towels, towel service and laundry.

"While automation is garnering much attention throughout the dairy industry, this unit helps obtain consistent parlor prep procedures without necessarily removing the worker from the milking parlor."
—PD Editor Dario Martinez

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A federal order for California?
Representatives from Land O'Lakes , Dairy Farmers of America and California Dairies Inc. hosted a town-hall meeting for producers to learn more about how federal orders operate and how they are similar to and/or different from California's current milk pricing system. Several hundred producers attended the meeting.

How the cost of transportation and quota would be handled in a California federal order were hot topic items. Experts clarified the process to apply for federal order inclusion, which could take up to 24 months.

The University of Wisconsin is currently studying how a California federal order would impact milk prices in the Golden State. Experts pointed to the pending release of the new study as the next step in evaluating if a federal order is right for California. Results from the survey are expected early this spring.

"Producers expressed obvious frustration that their state milk pricing system has been unresponsive to requests to change how whey is factored into mailbox milk prices. During the meeting, several acknowledged that California now produces the lowest-priced milk in the country.

"Prior to the opening of Chobani's Idaho milk plant in 2012, Idaho had been consistently the low milk price leader. In my opinion, this fact and the growing acknowledgement that state administrators and lawmakers will be slow to change California's milk pricing system has led producers to be interested in federal orders, if at nothing else to force state regulators to present more reasonable solutions."
—PD Editor Walt Cooley

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New margin calculation software available
Margin Smart unveiled its new web-based financial software during the show.

The software tracks ration ingredient costs, compares them to real-time market equivalents based on currently traded CME futures and then projects IOFC and revenue before taxes based on feed costs, milk production, other customizable overhead costs and even other income, such as from cull cow sales.

These margins can be calculated per diet, pen, herd or dairy. The system can be set up to text these margins daily or integrated with a milk marketing plan to text alerts when trigger margins have been met based on real-time market trading.

"After viewing a 30-minute one-on-one tutorial of the software, I was most impressed at how customizable the software was. The software doesn't presuppose much about a dairy operation.

"In that way, a dairy that has detailed feed, financial and milk production data could benefit from inputting its information into the software in order to calculate and track its margin against what the market is offering real-time. However, I could see that the company's CEO Mark Linzmeier was right: 'It's only as good as the information you put in. Garbage in, garbage out.' "
—PD Editor Walt Cooley

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New square baler models launched
Among other announcements from AGCO at World Ag Expo, the company also introduced two new baler models this month – the Hesston MF1844S and MF1844N balers.

These two new in-line balers are PTO-driven and produce three-twine bales.

According to AGCO, the MF1844S baler produces 15-by-22-inch bales, whereas the MF1844N baler produces 16-by-22-inch bales.

"Bigger may be better most times. For some forage producers though, smaller bales may be preferable. The two new baler models give forage producers the option of producing smaller square bales ."
—PD Editor Dario Martinez

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Extinguish equipment fire worries
The FireTrace System, manufactured by Firetrace USA based in Scottsdale, Arizona, provides an automatic fire suppression solution that has applications in commercial and industrial settings – including its use in agricultural equipment.

Regional sales manager Michael McSweeney explains that the system can be installed on practically any piece of equipment with a fire suppression agent. The tubing in the system is designed to rupture when exposed to a flame, releasing the agent and extinguishing a fire.

"Working in the agricultural industry, you hear of producers who have had equipment fires – it's a hazard when using any machine or vehicle. This system seems to be pretty easy to install and a quick and safe solution to help stop equipment fires before it's too late."
—PD Editor Dario Martinez

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High school FFA program at work
The things attendees expect from World Ag Expo aren't limited to innovation or new products. It is also a place to meet new people and groups involved in the agricultural industry. Students from the Lemoore High School FFA program walked around the show grounds with puppies as part of their FFA chapter's guide dog puppy-raising project.

These FFA members volunteer to raise and begin training the puppies for the Guide Dogs for the Blind program, which currently has puppy raisers in nine states in the western U.S. Marybeth Hearn, the program's adviser, explains that the students brought the dogs to World Ag Expo to help socialize them to larger crowds of people.

"While working at our booth this year, I noticed a group of teenagers walking around with dogs. Although I thought this was unusual, my attention became focused on the group when I saw the FFA emblem emblazoned on their sweaters. As a former FFA member, I enjoy seeing high school FFA members busy at work promoting programs that provide valuable services to their communities."
—PD Editor Dario Martinez

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Walt Cooley
Progressive Dairyman magazine


Dario Martinez
Progressive Dairyman magazine