Department of Animal Sciences
Quarterly Newsletter Vol. 4 No. 3 Summer 2004
MARY BETH HALL ACCEPTS NEW POSITION
"On June 14, I started a job as a research scientist with
the USDA at the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center in
Madison, WI. The job is focused on '. i i,,i out issues with
carbohydrates in order to come up with clearer feeding
recommendations so that dairy farmers can keep their cows
more productive, healthy, and maybe even more
environmentally friendly. I took the job in the hopes that if I
could focus on this area, I'd be able to make quicker progress
on ;ih ,i, that ul,.,. t the whole dairy industry.
I want to offer a heart-felt "THANK YOU!!!" to the dairy
farmers of Florida and the allied industries for the support,
discussions, and the education you gave me over the last eight
years. You've been an excellent group to work with. I look
forward to c. ,, ,,,,r,,, to serve the needs of the dairy industry
in the Southeast. Somehow, heat stress and tropical grasses
have already made it into the discussions here in WI. "
Mary Beth Hall
The extension dairy nutrition position in the Department
of Animal Sciences is with the departure of Dr. Mary Beth
Hall to Wisconsin currently vacant. It is unclear when the
extension dairy nutrition position will be filled again.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
PROCEEDINGS NOW ON-LINE
Albert de Vries
The 2004 Florida Dairy Production Conference was held
in Gainesville on May 5h, 2004, in conjunction with the Beef
Cattle Short Course. The proceedings are now on-line at the
UF/IFAS Dairy Extension website http://dairy.ifas.ufl.edu.
The proceedings features articles on bedding strategies in
free-stall barns, strategies for dairying success in the future,
the latest on tunnel barns for cow comfort, can dairy farming
be profitable in 2010?, the U.S. Animal Identification
Program, the political climate ofBSE and COOL (How does it
affect you?), and have marketing plans changed given
ramifications of BSE?
The proceedings of the 2003 Florida Dairy Production
Conference are now also available at http://dairv.ifas.ufl.edu.
We are currently working to make all previous proceedings
(back to 1990) available on this website.
In addition, the proceedings of the 2004 Florida Ruminant
Nutrition Symposium (and previous years) are also available
BEDDING PROJECT UPDATE
David R. Bray
Two years ago Dr. John Bernard (UGA Tifton) and I were
funded by the check-off committee to perform a study to
evaluate bedding material for mastitis pathogens. The reason
for this was that Strep uberis has been one of the biggest
causes of mastitis and high SCC counts in the Southeast. In
addition to this, coliforms are a major cause of clinical
mastitis. Both of these organisms are environmental and live
in our soils, bedding, sand and ponds.
We have done quite a bit of work with recycled sand at
the UF Dairy Research Unit and the UGA Dairy Research
Unit in Tifton. We now think that we have some baseline
numbers for washed recycled sand. I have also sampled many
calving lots, mud holes, and bedded pack barns for these
pathogens. Dr. Bernard reported on some of his work at this
year's Dairy Production Conference (see
http://dairv.ifas.ufl.edu for a copy of his article).
Results Thus Far
1. Literature has determined that recycled sand should
not have less than 3% organic matter. This means that if your
recycled sand is put into a pile to heat, you do not have
recycled sand, you have recycled manure. This will probably
be a mastitis outbreak if you try to use it. Recycled manure is
fine in California or Arizona for bedding but recycled manure
is fertilizer in the Southeast.
2. What about additives? Research has shown that
adding lime to bedding, sand, sawdust etc does lower bacteria
counts IF YOU ADD IT EVERY DAY.
We did a trial on this at the UF Dairy Research Unit until
last year. We added a few grams of a product a couple times a
week to the freestalls on both fresh and recycled sand. Guess
what? This method did not work. The reason is because a
few grams of anything placed in a freestall bed will be kicked
out that day. The average freestall loses about 30-50 pounds
of sand every day so our two grams are in the alley the first
3. We hope to try several other materials to apply to
recycled sand. We would apply the product as we pile the
recycled sand; maybe we can kill what is there before we use
it and the whole pile will be much lower in pathogens and the
stalls will stay that way. This might allow us to use the
recycled sand with more than 3% organic matter.
4. The more one grooms freestalls the cleaner they are.
The best grooming method seems to be with a flat blade or
scraper; usually the scrapers with spikes bring up the wet
material from the base of the stall which is higher in bacteria
and bring the pathogens to the top where the udders will reside
when the cows lay down.
5. A pasture with mud on it looks bad but it is a large
area with the sun shining on it and manure is deposited in
many places. It is usually always lower in bacteria than a
poorly bedded freestall. A fresh pile of manure can have in
excess of 40,000,000 CFU'S/ml of Strep uberis. Klebsiella
bacteria are usually lower in pastures than in freestalls; this
causes a lot of our coliform type mastitis. If you replace the
material in mud holes with good clean dirt each year you will
have bacteria numbers you can live with. This will not be as
good as a nice well bedded freestall bed, but it doesn't cost as
much either. A filthy freestall bed will give you higher
bacteria numbers as a mud hole in the pasture; the pasture mud
hole was free, and the freestall was not.
1. I will continue to sample material where the cows lay,
at the surface and 6" below as well as I try to get to moisture
levels of materials at various dairies. Then I will compare the
pathogens found in the bedding to the pathogens in the bulk
2. We continue to try new additives to reduce bacteria
numbers in stalls, lots and pastures.
If you have clean material in your stalls, or keep replacing
mud with fresh dirt every year, and clean your cooling ponds
every year, you should not have a big problem. And don't
forget to mow your weeds!
GET WIRED! THE INTERNET AS A
RESOURCE FOR DAIRY INFORMATION
According to the Wisconsin Agricultural Statistics
Service, 48% of US farms have Internet access as of 2003. If
you are one of those farmers, the Internet is better than ever as
a source of accurate and up-to-date information on a wide
variety of topics related to dairy cattle management. If you
are not one of the lucky 48%, think about getting on board
since, more and more, the Internet is going to be a go-to
source for extension information.
Just five years ago, there was very little in the way of hard
information about dairy cattle on the Internet. That is not the
case anymore as all sorts of information brokers (universities,
bull studs, breed organizations, veterinary clinics, and
individual dairy farmers among others) are creating web pages
and filling them with information. The USDA has ambitious
plans to create an E-Extension Program that draws on the
resources of all the nation's extension programs to deliver up-
to-date information to its users in a comprehensive manner.
The Dairy Science Extension Team at Florida is also putting
together information on dairy cattle management generated in
IFAS as well as links to other sites at http://dairy.ifas.ufl.edu
How else can you find the information that you are
looking for? The easiest way is to use a search engine like
Google or Yahoo. Google, for
G example, can be accessed at
Sl http://www.google.com. Google
is the world's most popular
search engine with over 4 billion
web pages indexed. Simply type in a few words that describe
what you are looking for and hit search. An almost mind-
boggling number of links to pages containing those keywords
will be displayed. Pages are sorted by relevance, however,
and one can always perform a more refined search (using
more or different key words or doing a search on the
collection of articles found in the first search).
When writing this article, I searched Google using four
words typed in the Google search bar: mastitis dry cow
therapy. A total of 4480 pages were identified and ranked for
relevance. Among the top 10 pages were fact sheets from the
National Mastitis Council and the Ontario Ministry of
Agriculture, extension publications from University of
Vermont and Oklahoma State University, and a page from a
dairy consultant in England. While reading these pages, I
came across some information on Cefa-Dri, the dry cow
treatment produced by Wyeth. After performing another
Google Search using the word Cefa-Dri, the first 10 pages
identified included a link to the guidelines for use of the
product prepared by Wyeth. Not everything you pull out will
be relevant of course; when searching for Cefa-Dri, I was also
directed to information about effectiveness of wildfire fighting
If you find you like Google (and millions of people do), it
is easy to add a toolbar or a button to Internet Explorer to put
the Google search function on your desktop. See
hulp \ \\ .google.com/options/index.html for details.
Google can also be used to search specifically for news
articles, images, or to search specific university websites.
Search tools provided by other companies also have special
features that you may find useful.
One problem when surfing the Web is separating the
wheat from the chaff determining which websites have
accurate, science-based information and which are filled with
quackery, pseudoscience, slick marketing, and other
misleading content. Obviously, commercial sites where
something is being sold or marketed should be viewed with
caution. Pharmaceutical companies selling drugs are
regulated by the FDA, however, and are not free to make
claims without substantial scientific support. Many
universities maintain information-packed websites and these
usually contain content that is trustworthy. Pay attention to
the last time a page was updated (the date often appears at the
bottom of the page) old pages may contain information that
has stood the test of time but may also contain ideas that may
no longer represent the latest thinking.
Of course, the Internet will never be the only source of
information. Nonetheless, information found there can lead to
new ideas that you can bounce off with other dairy farmers,
your veterinarian, and extension faculty.
NATIONAL ANIMAL IDENTIFICATION
SYSTEM LISTENING SESSION KISSIMMEE,
WHAT: A listening session to discuss the development,
USDA structure and implementation of a national animal
ULS identification program for all livestock and poultry
WHO: Agriculture Under Secretary for Marketing and
Regulatory Programs, Mr. Bill Hawks.
WHEN: Monday, Aug. 16, 2004, 3 pm. 5:30 pm.
F,. 'i, a,. for speakers will begin at 2 pm.
WHERE: Florida Cattlemen's Association State
800 Shakerag Rd., Kissimmee, Florida
For directions, please call 407-846-6221
HOW: Members of the general public, especially those
involved in the livestock industry, are welcome to
attend the listening session. Those who wish to
comment should register at the sign-in table.
Registration begins at 2 p.m.
Reporters in and around the Kissimmee area are
welcome to attend the listening session. They
should register at the sign-in table as members of
the media. Reporters may have the opportunity to
interview Mr. Hawks at the conclusion of the
More details about these listening session are posted on
http In i.\ .aphis.usda.gov/lpa/issues/nais/nais.html
WILL SHORTER DRY PERIODS PAY FOR YOU?
SELL MORE MILK THIS SUMMER
Albert de Vries and Kermit Bachman
Milk is currently very valuable and replacement heifers
are expensive. You can expand your milking herd, and
produce more milk, without adding a cow. Start today by
putting off something that you dread but had planned to do
anyway. Wait to dry off those good-producing cows that you
expect to calve in 50 to 60 days. If they are due to freshen in
60 days, keep on milking them for an additional 20 to 30 days.
There, you have increased your milking herd without adding a
cow. This summer, that is 20 to 30 days more milk at high
By increasing days in milk for a given calving interval,
you essentially have grown the size of your milking herd. But
what will happen to milk production in the next lactation if
you shorten the dry period to 30 or 40 days?
Recent experiments at the land-grant universities in
Florida, Wisconsin, and Arizona have shown that milk
production in the lactation that follows a 30-day dry period is
somewhat decreased (See Table 1). The loss in milk in the
next lactation in five studies with 30-day dry periods was at
most 3.8% (if cows were not dried off at all, the loss was 11 to
15%). However, that loss in milk production can be more than
offset by the amount of milk produced during the 20 to 30 day
extension of the current lactation. That is attractive, especially
with the current milk prices.
Table 1. University research trials. Decrease in milk in next
lactation due to a short 30-day dry period.
Decrease in milk yield (%)
Cow experiment 30 d dry 00 d dry
Florida 2001 0.0
Wisconsin 2003 2.1 14.9
Arizona 2003 3.8 11.2
Break-even milk yield and off-set milk yield
How much milk must a cow produce to remain profitable
while you continue to milk her during late lactation for the
additional 20 to 30 days? First, let's define "break-even milk"
and "off-set milk". Break-even milk yield should determine
whether you dry a cow off based on her level of production (a
production dry-off) or the time to her expected calving date (a
timed dry-off). Off-set milk yield, on the other hand, is the
average amount of milk that must be produced each day,
during the 20 to 30 day extension of the current lactation, to
offset the decrease in milk yield during the next lactation as a
result of a shorter dry period.
Calculation of break-even milk requires estimates of your
milk price and the daily variable costs of having the cow in the
milking herd compared to in the far-off dry herd. Keeping the
cow in the milking herd is more expensive because of a more
expensive ration and the extra labor due to milking her. The
difference between the two daily variable cost estimates
divided by the milk price is your break-even milk yield. For
example, if the difference is $3.00 per cow per day and milk is
priced at $20.00 per cwt, a cow would have to produce at least
15 lbs of milk per day (3.00 / 20.00 100) to remain in the
milking herd (See Table 2). Otherwise, it is more profitable if
she goes dry.
Table 2. Break-even milk yield (lbs/day).
Difference in daily Milk Price ($ / lbs)
variable costs ($)* 0.14 0.16 0.18 0.20 0.22
2.00 14.3 12.5 11.1 10.0 9.1
3.00 21.4 18.8 16.7 15.0 13.6
4.00 28.6 25.0 22.2 20.0 18.2
5.00 35.7 31.3 27.8 25.0 22.7
* Daily cost per cow, milking herd versus far-off dry herd.
Today's cows and management have resulted in many
cows that produce well above break-even milk as they reach
seven months pregnant and traditionally are dried off. Thus,
assuming there is room in the parlor, the question now
becomes: what is the minimum time that a cow has to be dry
before her next calving?
Based on Table 1, we might expect milk production in the
next lactation to be reduced by 4 percent at most, when a 30-
day dry period replaces a 60-day dry period. Thus, a 25,000
lbs cow would produce 1000 lbs less milk in the next
lactation. To offset the 1000 lbs loss in milk, the cow will
have to produce an average of 34 lb of milk per day during the
additional 30 days that she is being milked (See Table 3). For
lower producing cows it is even less. Clearly, most cows
produce more milk during those additional 30 days than is lost
in the next lactation. Thirty-day dry periods most likely will
pay for you.
Table 3. Average off-set milk yield*. Average milk (lbs /
day) needed during extra 30 days of lactation to off-set a
loss of 4% in the next lactation.
Production Next lactation Off-set milk
lbs / year 4% loss (lbs) lbs / day
15,000 600 20
20,000 800 27
25,000 1000 34
*Minimum pounds/day during extra 30 days lactation.
What about these high milk prices?
The off-set milk yield calculation in Table 3 assumes that
the price of milk remains the same. But the milk price is very
high now and likely will return to more average prices later
this year. Take the 25,000 cow and assume the milk price
during her next lactation is on average $16 / cwt. The 1000
lbs loss then is worth $160. Further suppose she is seven
months pregnant this summer and milk is worth $22 / cwt.
Now she only needs to produce on average $160 / 30 days /
$22 100 = 24 lbs per day during those 30 extra days to off-
set the expected economic loss in the next lactation. Thus, the
current high milk prices make 30-day dry periods even more
attractive this summer while high prices last.
Based on the biology of the mammary cell population, a
dry period longer than 30 days is not needed for second and
later lactation cows. The experiments summarized in Table 1
also suggested that first lactation cows will benefit from a first
dry period that is a bit longer than 30 days, but how much
longer has not been determined.
Short dry periods require a balanced transition ration.
Recommendations for feeding for short dry periods were
recently presented by Dr. Tom Overton from Cornell
University at the 2004 Florida Ruminant Nutrition Symposium
(see http://dairv.ifas.ufl.edu/FLRNS.html for a copy of his
paper). Considerations include body condition maintenance
and avoiding of milk fever. Formulate for 0.70-0.73 Mcal/lb
DM in the shortened (30d-40d) dry period diet using a
moderately high concentration of starch-based NFC sources
(34 to 36 %) with CP at 13-15% DM to provide 1100 1200
grams per day of metabolizable protein based on a group
intake of 24 to 26 lbs DM. Include a DCAD strategy (i.e.
reduce potassium to less than 1.3 % of diet DM by using low
potassium forages or use a DCAD supplement) to achieve and
maintain urine pH between 6 and 7.
Finally, short dry periods require accurate conception
dates because a dry period significantly less than 30 days may
cost you too much milk in the next lactation (See Table 1).
Establish an approach that will work on your dairy, including
a safety zone that you are comfortable with. Planning for 40
days dry is a good place to start.
Parts of this article have appeared in Hoard's Dairyman,
May 10, 2004, page 321.
2002 DBAP SUMMARY PUBLISHED
A. de Vries, R. Giesy, L. Ely, A. de Araujo, A.
Andreasen, B. Broaddus, S. Eubanks, D. Mayo, P.
Miller, T. Seawright, C. Vann
The summary of the 2002 Dairy Business Analysis
Project (DBAP) results has been published as an official
UF/IFAS extension publication in EDIS (it takes some time to
get through the IFAS editing process). The summary is
available on http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/DS177 or at
http://dairv.ifas.ufl.edu and contains lots of data on the cost of
milk production in Florida and Georgia. The 2002 summary is
based on financial and production data collected from 27
dairies. Results are sorted by assets/cow, debts/cow, net farm
income/cwt, return on assets, herd size, and milk/cow. Take a
look and see how your dairy compares.
It is still not too late to participate in DBAP. We're
currently finishing up collection of the 2003 data. Participants
receive a detailed report comparing their financial and
production data with those of their peers. For more
information, contact Russ Giesy (giesvriaol.com, 352-793-
2728), Albert de Vries (email@example.com, 352-392-
7563) or Lane Ely in Georgia (firstname.lastname@example.org, 706-
DAIRY BUSINESS CONFERENCE: OCTOBER 27
The 2004 Florida Dairy Business Conference will be
held at the Marion County Extension Office in Ocala, FL, on
Wednesday, October 27. For more information, contact Russ
Giesy, email email@example.com, or phone (352) 793-2728.
The Florida Dairy Update newsletter is published on a quarterly basis by the University of Florida, Department of Animal Sciences as an educational and
informational service. Please address any questions comments or suggestions to Albert de Vries, Editor, Dairy Update, PO Box 110910, Gainesville, FL 32611-0910.
Phone: (352)392-7563. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. UF/IFAS Dairy Extension website: http://dairy.ifas.ufl.edu