Thursday, December 9, 2010

hot lunch for cold weather

This past week, winter seems to have set in, especially early morning calf feeding time - it's a reminder that extra protection for these youngsters, both physical shelter and nutritionally. Consider calf blankets - yes, it was 60F last week, but for the next three months, these calves will expend a large amount of their calories just trying to stay warm. That starts occurring even when it is just below 55F degrees - and those calories spent on staying warm are not available for growth. The blankets can help them stay more comfortable and continue growing to their potential.

Calves need extra calories, and an extra feeding is ideal - if that isn't possible, consider upgrading your milk replacer to a higher level of fat and protein - it is being recognized with recent research the past few years that the 'standard' level of feeding for dairy calves isn't meeting the potential they have - ask about this at the next herd check or farm visit and review your plan for calf care for the winter - now's the time - not in february or march.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hubland Dispersal

One of the top herds, and nicest people, in NJ dairy farming, sell their herd this Friday

have a look - John & Martha Hubschmidt and Christian Tice are selling 81 head of Holsteins, heavily Semex bred cattle, lots of type, longevity and production.

It's the furthest farm south in NJ I go to, but one of my favorites and will miss the stops there to see them.

Good Luck Friday!

the really good pictures are in the catalog - but on a hot july day
this Hubschmidt cow enjoyed drinking straight from the hose
For more of her antics - click right on the pic below:

From 100PALM

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

name that calf!

Have a look at the new blog page for Klein Farms Dairy
and Creamery in Easton PA - just one more week to enter the "Name Sassy's Calf Contest" (she's the nice red holstein shown at the top of this page) - you can see more of her on their page and the comments section is down bottom of the page

KleinFarms Blogspot page

Why is this important? Cows with names give more milk!

Cows with names give more milk - Telegraph

Better yet, go visit the farm - nice cows to see, great store, and
the Klein's have a terrific place to visit. They do a tremendous
job with their farm and creating cheese and yogurt and other dairy
products from their herd.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

good dog!

I don't work on many dogs, but i see a lot of them and enjoy watching them run up to the minivan when i arrive at the farm(i realize most of them consider me a mobile snausage dispenser). they're a fun part of the day and one of my favorites, and most photographed, Bando, wasn't at the farm anymore when i arrived recently. It was odd not having him run up alongside when i opened the door - often he stepped up into the car before I was able to get a foot outside the door!

He'd had a long run of being the farm dog and will be greatly missed. And it made me think about how much I appreciate all these dogs, who are a part of my day every day all year long.

So here's to all those dogs that make working with the cows (and sheep and goats) more of a pleasure - out of hundreds of pictures of these canine friends that i've snapped over the years are a few that a pictured below - in a collage and in a slideshow below that

Have a look - your dog might be in there!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

keep them hydrated

one constant in the month of march, besides the rain this year, and mud, are the newborn calves that have developed scours.

depending on their age, they often are suffering from e.coli scours(usually those 8-9 days or younger)or rota/corona virus infection(those 8-9 days or older). proper colostrum management(particularly scourgard vaccinated cows), use of passive antibodies given orally(first defense boluses), and correct antibiotic usage are all important. but firstly it is most important that they have the lost fluids and electrolytes replaced.

those affected by e.coli have undamaged intestinal villi, so they usually will respond to oral fluids(a summary of this topic and how to assess the calf can be found at - it is typically why i will ask if a calf can stand on it's own)and a good dose of probiotics. those with viral scours can have damaged villi and oftentimes giving IV or SQ fluids is a way to bypass that damage and assure that dehydration and acidosis that have developed are reversed. SQ fluids can be given easily on the farm to a calf that is weak, but can still stand on it's own with help. Key point is to be sure they are warmed up completely before administering - cold fluids under the skin will sit there and not absorb quickly - and that is no help.

don't take them off of milk at this time(dairy calves) - electrolytes are helpful certainly, but they still need the energy and calories supplied by milk. i have come across calves that have lost tremendous amounts of weight but have their hydration restored - remember that these youngsters have a slim margin of reserve and particularly in cooler weather they can use this up quickly. don't worry about the scours extending a day or two extra - remember that if you replace in the front what is coming out the back they will cope with it fine and work through this episode.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

March Madness at UPenn Vet Med New Bolton Center

The Annual Food Animal Rotation at New Bolton Center offers good discounts for bovine surgery and medical cases referred in to Penn for treatment. Not only a good savings for you, but helps out students to see 'normal' cases that they will be encountering in practice. (I know this as a member of the original March Madness crew in 1989). 

There is a new 'twist' this year - the first 8 LDA's of each 2 week rotation  for free, and for other cases they will pretty much offer a free evaluation and depending on the nature of the problem can discuss cost of treatment.  It started Monday, March 1 and goes for 4 weeks. Take advantage of the expertise at Penn, save some money and help your cows and a student. 

Monday, January 25, 2010

plan now for spring breed back

It's not too far from calving season and this idea from Beef magazine seems worth a closer look to help improve this year's conception in your cows. Providing the precursors such as linoleic acid, via soybeans, that can help with involution of the reproductive tract and improve the pregnancy rate is an idea worth considering.

here's the article from Beef Magazine ending with questions and answers about this practice:

I've been feeding whole soybeans to my cows for the past few years; starting about 45 days before calving begins,” says Jim Brinkley, a Sullivan County, MO, Angus producer. “We've noticed a boost in conception and pregnancy rates from feeding just 3.5 lbs. of raw beans/cow/day.”

Brinkley got the idea of feeding whole beans to brood cows from research by Chris Zumbrunnen, Extension livestock specialist; Monty Kerley, beef nutritionist; and David Patterson, beef reproductive physiologist — all of the University of Missouri.

“A few years back, I read a report in BEEF magazine about research with safflower seeds fed to late-gestating beef cows, with a significant increase in conception rates,” Zumbrunnen says. “Could we increase conception and calving rates in northern Missouri and Iowa by feeding whole soybeans?”

“Yes,” the Missouri researchers learned, but some work on the timing was needed. Most response came from feeding 3.5 lbs. of whole soybeans/head/day from 45 days before the start of calving until the cow calved. The regimen resulted in a 76% conception rate on first service, and a 93% overall pregnancy rate. By comparison, feeding combinations of corn gluten and soybean meal resulted in conception rates of 50-62%.

“Soybeans contain a fairly high level of polyunsaturated fatty acids (such as linoleic acid), used to synthesize prostaglandins, which in turn initiate and maintain the reproductive process,” Zumbrunnen notes. “The study females were spring-calving cows in good condition, with an average body condition score of about six.”

Since Brinkley feeds all his cows soybeans, he doesn't have a control group for comparison, but estimates a 20% improvement in conception rate.

“We synchronize heats and breed all cows by artificial insemination,” he says. “My cows are in good body condition at breeding time.”

Some producers are concerned feeding whole soybeans (fat is the most concentrated source of energy) in late gestation might produce heavier birth weights and, with it, more calving problems.

“We've seen a slight increase in calf birth weight,” Zumbrunnen says, “but no increase in calving difficulty as a result of the increased birth weight.”

Other common producer questions:

Q. Aren't raw soybeans toxic to cattle?

A. Overfeeding soybeans can be toxic, but — at 3-3.5 lbs./cow/day — whole soybeans are as safe as feeding low levels of any grain.

Q. Must soybeans be processed into meal or extruded before feeding?

A. Not for cattle. In swine, however, soybeans must be processed or heated to destroy the trypsin-inhibiting agent.

Q. Aren't soybeans too expensive to feed?

A. Over the past four winters of feeding whole beans to cattle, the cost has ranged from 25¢-29¢/cow/day.

“Soybeans here now are just over $5/bu.,” Brinkley says. “That makes the cost under 9¢/lb.”(adjust that to $9.00 beans as of feb 2010 - JH)

Q. Can I feed twice as many beans every other day and get the same result?

A. “Normally, about 5% fat is as high as you want to go in a beef cow's diet,” Zumbrunnen says. “Above that, you risk nutritional scours. Adding 3.5 lbs. of soybeans to a grass or hay diet gives a dietary fat content of about 5%. I'd be concerned about going much higher than that in one day.”

Q. What kind of facilities do I need to feed whole soybeans?

A. “I don't use bunks or troughs,” Brinkley says. “I pour the beans right on the grass, and scatter them out so all the cows can get to them.”

Q. Can I feed lower-quality beans and still get good conception response?

A. You can feed small-seeded “BB” soybeans that would incur a market discount and still get the same response. You might not want to feed badly cracked or moldy beans.

“Although last year, I fed damaged soybeans that had been under flood, and I couldn't see any difference in pregnancy rate,” Brinkley says.

“We've consistently seen a 14-23% boost in first-service conception rate by feeding 3-3.5 lbs. of whole soybeans/cow for 30-45 days before calving,” Zumbrunnen adds. “Raw soybeans are a safe, effective way to economically supplement beef brood cows.”

James D. Ritchie is a freelance writer based in Lebanon, MO

see article here: (

Sunday, January 17, 2010

forget AM-PM

One of the recent meeting presentations in Orlando, by Dr Paul Fricke University of Wisconsin, concerned the very long-standing tradition AM-PM rule of breeding cows. I've seen for some time now the published work that once a day breeding works as well as twice a day. His comments emphasized that many of the cows that you wait 12 hours for to breed may be too late - why? It could be that the standing mount that you saw at 7am was the last one of her standing heat and she's actually been standing since 7pm last night. By the time she's inseminated 12 hours later, she's past the optimal period for conception. If you have to wait, wait four hours. But if you see a cow in standing heat, you can put semen in her right away and expect as good or better results than you typically have had in your herd.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2010 resolutions and wishes

here's a wish list for the coming year

  • needles ARE disposable and not collector's items!
  • see that calves get their modified live vaccine three weeks before the stress of weaning instead of the same day of(along with castration and other things that might just make that an 'injection' instead of an 'immunization').
  • dehorn calves by 4 weeks of age - put the scoops away
  • same with banding - if you can do it early - do so. if you're doing it later, don't forget the tetanus antitoxin
  • make sure everyone uses/knows how to use lidocaine/analgesics in these calves, especially if you have to scoop.
  • drag those pastures and break up the manure pats while there is still a bit of winter left - as good at reducing parasite load as many dewormers
  • plan for pinkeye - ear tags and good fly control, vaccines for some herds
  • see that calving cows and their calves get adequate selenium, whether orally with SelPlex or injection with MuSe/BoSe - it helps
  • plenty of fresh water for calves - dip a bottle in the bucket - do you want to drink it? you should!
  • delivering calves? scrub and be clean. lots of lube. it's not that much of a rush
  • big calf -using the puller? a dose of dexamethasone pre-pull can help with keeping the nerve damage minimized
  • and don't forget those vaccines - if you mix them up - they don't get better with age!
  • and finally, everybody likes new needles!

have a great 2010!