UF UNIVERSITY of
UFFLORIDA Vary Update
The Foundation for The Gator Nation
UF/IFAS Department of Animal Sciences
Quarterly Newsletter Vol. 6 No. 3 Summer 2006
L.E. "RED" LARSON DAIRY SCIENCE
The building formerly simply known as building 499
was renamed the "L. E. "Red" Larson Dairy Science
Building" in honor of Florida dairy producer L.E. "Red"
Larson during a ceremony on June 14, 2006. The
building on the UF campus, part of the Department of
Animal Sciences, houses most of the dairy science
faculty, their laboratories and graduate students, as well
as a classroom and conference room.
The naming follows a gift of $1.5 million by Mr.
Larson's four children who are establishing three
endowments at the University of Florida's Institute of
Food and Agricultural Sciences. Dr. Jimmy Cheek, UF
Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural
Resources, thanked the Larson family for the generous
gift and said it will enhance teaching, research and
extension programs in dairy science and the 4-H Youth
Red Larson, owner and president of Larson Dairy
Inc. in Okeechobee has been a dairy farmer in Florida
for more than 57 years. His farm covers 10,000 acres
and includes more than 6,000 cows that produce 45,000
gallons of milk daily. Mr. Larson has received
numerous awards and honors for his leadership and
service to the dairy industry.
UF Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural
Resources Dr. Jimmy Cheek (left) with Reda and Red
Larson at the Larson Building Dedication on June 14,
2006. The name was put on the building a few days
ROGER P. NATZKE RETIRED
Dr. Roger P. Natzke retired May 31, 2006 after 25
years of service to the University of Florida. Roger
Natzke grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. He
received his advance training from the University of
Wisconsin in the Department of Dairy Science. Upon
completion of the doctoral degree he accepted a faculty
position at Comell University with responsibility in
extension and research. His primary area of expertise is
in dairy cattle management with emphasis on milking
equipment and mastitis control.
After coming to UF in 1981, Natzke
Swas first chair of the Department of Dairy
Science and later the Department of Dairy
and Poultry Sciences until 2000 when the
Department was merged with Animal
Science to form the Department of Animal
Sciences. Natzke then took an assignment
for one year in Mexico at the University of Veracruz and
returned to spend his last three years as Senior Associate
Dean and Director of International Programs. After
briefly returning to the Department of Animal Sciences
in 2006, Natzke will for some time continue to be
involved in international programs after his retirement.
He plans to stay active in serving the dairy industry.
DEPARTMENT CHAIR UPDATE
Following his announcement in November 2005, Dr.
F. Glen Hembry has resigned as chair and returned to the
faculty of the Department of Animal Sciences on July 3,
2006. Glen Hembry came to the University of Florida in
1990 to serve as chair of the Department of Animal
Science and since 2000 as chair of the Department of
Animal Sciences. He plans to continue to be involved in
teaching and extension.
The search for a new department
chair has let to the appointment of Dr.
Geoffrey E. Dahl to assume the position
of Professor and Chair of the Department
of Animal Sciences. Geoff Dahl comes
to UF from the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign where he has been
working on the effect of photoperiod on
lactation, growth and health of dairy cattle and effects of
various milking frequencies.
Assistant chair Dr. Joel Brendemuhl has accepted
the request from the IFAS administration to serve as
interim department chair until the new chair has arrived.
FLORIDA DAIRY BUSINESS CONFERENCE
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2006
The annual Florida Dairy Business Conference is
planned for Monday, September 11, 2006 starting at 1
PM. Location is again the Marion County Extension
Service Auditorium in Ocala, Florida.
The main focus will relate to how Florida dairy
farms will look and be managed 5 to 10 years from
today. What changes do we need to be considering
being ready to be competitive in the future? Speakers
and topics reflect that theme and a dairy producer panel
will include David Temple, North Florida Holsteins,
Travis Larson, Larson Dairy Farms, Calvin Moody,
Brooksco Dairy and Dale Eade, Cindale Dairy Farms.
Out-of-state speaker Tom Quaife, editor of Dairy
Herd Management magazine will update us on issues
that relate to the 2007 Farm Bill. Tom Kriegl of the
University ofWisconsin Center for Dairy Profitability
will discuss organic production economics and provide
an update on profitability of grazing.
From UF, Dan Webb will report on production
responses on several Southeast dairy farms with newer
facilities. Albert de Vries will discuss optimizing
calving patterns especially as it relates to seasonality
issues such as a possible seasonal price adjustment
program and parlor pressure. Ann Wilkie will talk about
future opportunities for our nutrient management
systems. Russ Giesy will talk about positioning your
dairy for the future and Adriane Bell will show us
which geographical areas in the Southeast might provide
the most opportunity for profitability in the future, based
on the most recent and past DBAP data.
Welcoming is scheduled for 12:30 PM with the
program starting at 1 PM. Registration is free and
dinner will be served. RSVP for the dinner at (352) 793-
2728. The program will conclude about 7 to 7:30 PM.
Southeast Milk, Inc. will meet on September 12, so
producers can travel once and catch two meetings. For
more information, contact Russ Giesy at (352) 793-2728
WHAT'S NEW IN MASTITIS (STILL)
David R. Bray
Florida cows have always had a love affair with
mastitis. We went from the mud E. coli period, to the
Strep ag. period that thrived because we used wand teat
sprayers. Mycoplasma loved the summer heat and
humidity. My outstanding extension and research
program in mastitis control has closed down those
problems, along with world peace.
Strep uberis now gives extraordinary high cell and
bacteria counts. Mycoplasma is more prevalent in the
winter than summer. I am expanding my educational
efforts to teach those two organisms how they are to act.
Strep uberis is an environmental organism that is
supposed to live in the udder for only a short period of
time. Then it clears up and becomes clinical again. It
seems to be more of a long time udder inhabitant now.
A few cows with high cell counts were cultured for
pathogens and SCC counts. The results are in Table 1.
The very high cell and bacteria counts on this dairy with
a high Strep uberis bulk tank count were not expected.
A few cows can be raising high counts in the bulk tank.
Table 1. Early Strep uberis research results.
Cow Standard Plate Count DMSCC
B 185,800 21,820,800
C 164,900 16,274,680
D 167,200 17,729,400
E 3,904,000 24,366,560
F 1,092,000 11,955,980
G 139,600 21,229,820
H 264,200 13,683,460
I 156,200 20,734,660
Another bit of data from another Florida dairy with a
high bulk tank cell count was also different than
expected. We usually think that the Strep ag cows are
the only ones that give the high SCC and SPCs. Table 2
has the breakdown. This data also show what happens
when you are sloppy with treatment procedures. The
Nocardia cows have very high counts. This organism
was injected into the udders by the person treating cows
for some other type of mastitis or in dry treating. This
organism will never leave the udder while the cow is
alive. This is a very expensive man-induced form of
mastitis. We can also see that the very popular organism
"no growth" was also higher than nothing. "No growth"
does not necessarily mean you sampled the wrong
quarter, just that the growth of the organism was
inhibited by the somatic cells or something else.
Table 2. Organism vs. SCCs. Strep ag. problem herd.
Organism # cows Average SCC High SCC
Norcardia 4 16,563,385 23,639,200
Strep ag. 18 12,471,921 31,140,100
Strep uberis 8 12,421,684 41,186,316
Strep dys. 7 9,876,637 18,411,300
E. coli 7 5,206,803 13,000,560
Coag + Staph 10 5,100,000 17,088,144
Prototheca 1 4,957,633 5,964,523
Contaminated 14 3,179,172 5,591,558
Coag- Staph 15 3,041,748 14,138,060
C. bovis 2 2,041,136 2,095,670
No growth 31 508,453 3,057,600
Summary. High cell counts and high bacteria counts in
the bulk tank can be caused by a few cows. Only a few
cows can raise your bulk tank counts over the legal limit.
We have discussed before ways to find these cows:
1. Fore strip the whole herd (by someone in a
management position), CMT those cows, and do
something with them. Also band all dead quarters,
this can lower SCC and SPC significantly.
2. If you have high DHI SCC, anything over a million,
CMT them and do something with them (treat, dry-
off and dry treat, cull, or sell to your neighbor).
3. If you do a routine bulk tank analysis at AFVL and
you have a high uberis count, a high coli count or
even a high bacillus count, an average lab.
pasteurized count for your herd and an average SCC
count for your herd, then you are probably milking
dirty cows. If your uberis count is above your
average, while coli and bacillus are low or normal
for you, and your SCC and SPC is above normal,
then you have a cow problem.
4. If you can't be safe be sanitary.
If you have questions, don't hesitate to contact Dave
Bray at bravyianimal.ufl.edu, phone (352) 392-5594.
2006 FLORIDA DAIRY PRODUCTION
CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS AVAILABLE
Albert de Vries
The 43rd annual Florida Dairy Production
Conference was held on May 2, 2006, in Gainesville,
FL. In attendance were approximately 125 dairy
producers, allied industry representatives, UF students,
staff, and faculty and others. Attendance was increased
by about 25% compared to previous years and the
program was well received. A copy of the 2006
proceedings is now available on the UF/IFAS Florida
Dairy Extension website at http://dairv.ifas.ufl.edu. The
website contains the complete proceedings 1990 to 2006.
The 2006 proceedings included articles on 1) How
the South can competitively produce milk, 2) Genetics
for the future of the Southeast dairy industry, 3) Supply
of milk to Southeast markets, 4) Use of RFID for dairy
cattle management, 5) Economic considerations of sexed
semen on your dairy, 6) Ranking dairy cows for optimal
breeding decisions, 7) How to optimize corn silage in
Florida, and 8) Various summaries of financial and
production statistics, as well as, summaries of funded
Southeast Milk Inc. Dairy Check-off projects.
The 44th annual Florida Dairy Production
Conference is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday May 1,
2007. For more information, contact Albert de Vries,
firstname.lastname@example.org, phone (352) 392-7563.
FIRST SOUTHERN REGIONAL DAIRY
CHALLENGE BEING PLANNED
Albert de Vries
The first Southern Regional Dairy Challenge is
being planned for November 19-21, 2006 in Roanoke,
VA and is hosted by Virginia Tech University.
Since its start five years ago, the North American
Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge (NAIDC) has organized
internationall Dairy Challenge events with participation
from over 30 universities from the US and Canada. The
Dairy Challenge allows dairy science students to apply
theory and learning while analyzing and formulating
recommendations for a real-world commercial dairy
farm. Teams develop a comprehensive analysis
including recommendations for nutrition, reproduction,
milking procedures, animal health, housing and financial
As an extension of the original event, regional
events have been organized in the Northeast, Midwest,
and West. A Southern Regional Dairy challenge is now
being organized to improve the learning experiences of
dairy students at universities in the South. The regional
events focus more on learning than on competition.
Working in five-member multi-university teams,
students build teamwork skills in a real-world dairy
consulting environment. The Southern Regional Dairy
Challenge provides a unique opportunity for tomorrow's
Southern dairy leaders and is guided and strongly
supported by the allied dairy industry. A team of dairy
science students at the University of Florida is expected
to participate in Virginia.
For more information, contact Albert de Vries,
devries(ufl.edu, phone (352) 392-7563, or visit
NORTH AMERICAN INTERCOLLEGIATE
FORMATION OF NEW UF ANIMAL SCIENCES
ALUMNI ASSOCIATION (UFASAA)
The Department of Animal Sciences announces the
creation of the UF Animal Sciences Alumni Association
(UFASAA). The intent of this organization is to foster
an atmosphere of better communication, networking and
support among graduates, friends, and current
students/faculty of the Department of Animal
Sciences. Some of the benefits of being a member of the
UFASAA will include receiving a quarterly newsletter
and ability to participate in upcoming alumni events.
We are very excited about the possibilities that this new
organization will provide to us all.
More information about the new association will
follow as we finalize plans. At this point, we are only
asking for contact information from alumni and friends
of the Department of Animal Sciences so we can start
our contact list. If you would like to receive further
information about the UFASAA, please contact Sylvia
Beauchamp at svlviaianimal.ufl.edu or (352) 392-2186.
HOW MUCH CAN YOU SPEND TO FIX A
Albert de Vries
Hoard's Dairyman of April 25, 2006, had a story on
putting a value on fixing broken cows. I was interested
in the article because the author tried to educate dairy
producers about how much they could afford to spend on
sick (broken) cows and keep them in the herd. More
specifically, the problem cow in the article was
diagnosed with a displaced abomasum. Was surgery to
keep the cow in the herd the best decision or should the
cow be culled and replaced with, usually, a heifer?
To calculate the most profitable decision, one needs
to calculate the discounted future cash flows if the cow
were treated and if she were culled and replaced. The
difference in both discounted future cash flows equals
the cost you can make to fix the broken cow. This
sounds easier than it is done without help.
Most cash flow projections that I see, like those in
the Hoard's story, are based primarily on the difference
in the price of a new heifer (say $2000) and the price at
slaughter (say $500). The argument goes that the
difference, $1500, can be spend on fixing the broken
cow if treatment is 100% successful and the cow
recovers completely. Unfortunately, such math is
incomplete and ignores differences in cash flow between
the fix and cull decisions in the months/years after the
initial treatment or replacement costs. For example,
depending on the stage of lactation and pregnancy status
of the broken cow, milk sales in the coming months for
the cow can be significantly different from those of a
replacement heifer. Differences in expected milk yield,
chances of pregnancy, the risk of involuntary culling etc.
all affect future cash flow predictions. The difference in
discounted future cash flows between the fix and replace
decision is typically less than the difference between the
heifer price and the slaughter value for average cows.
For most cows in the herd, a dairy producer should not
spend up to $1500 to keep the cow in the herd.
Part of our work here at UF is to develop computer
programs that help dairy producers make optimal
treatment, breeding, and culling decisions. These
programs predict future cash flows for each possible
decision and remember those decisions that maximize
The difference between the future cash flows of the
decisions to keep or cull a cow is called retention payoff
(RPO). This is the amount (in $) that can be spent on
fixing the cow if she is going to recover completely.
Given typical inputs under Florida circumstances, the
RPO of an average open cow by stage of lactation is
shown in the figure. The RPO decreases by days in milk
if she fails to get pregnant. When the RPO drops below
$0, the cow should be culled and replaced with a heifer.
The RPO is similar to the difference between her market
value and her slaughter price.
The RPO is the lowest when a replacement heifer
could replace the cow at any time and the cow has a
normal slaughter value ($500). If no heifer is available
to take the place of the culled cow, in the example for 1
month, then the RPO is greater: it makes sense to try to
keep the cow that month because there is no alternative.
If the cow will have a slaughter value of $0, then her
RPO$ is even greater: you can spend more on a sick cow
to keep her in the herd if the only alternative is death.
-0- normal healthy cow
-0- slaugher price = $0
-- no heifer available
1 62 123 183 244 305 366 427 487
Days after calving
Retention payoffs of a nonpregnant normal healthy cow with
the opportunity to replace her, when her slaughter value is $0,
and if no replacement heifer is available for 1 month.
Pregnant cows have greater RPO because there is value
in the pregnancy. The value of the pregnancy increases
with the stage of gestation. You can typically spend a
lot more to keep a pregnant cow in the herd than a
The average RPO of cows in a herd, both
nonpregnant and pregnant, is about $800 to $900. This
is what can be spent to fix the average broken cow and
complete recovery is guaranteed. If the chance of
successful treatment is less than 100%, then the amount
that can be spent is less.
Later this year, dairy producers will have access to
user-friendly farm-specific programs that calculate the
RPO for each cow in the herd every day. Such programs
are the best decision aids to make informed treatment
and culling decisions. For more information, email
devriesiufl.edu or phone (352) 392-7563.
Dairy Update is published quarterly by the Department of Animal Sciences, University of Florida, as an educational and informational service. Please address any
questions or comments to Albert de Vries, Editor, Dairy Update, PO Box 110910, Gainesville, FL 32611-0910. Phone: (352) 392-7563. E-mail: devries(Aufl.edu.
Past issues are posted on the UF/IFAS Florida Dairy Extension website: http://dairv.ifas.ufl.edu. This issue was published on July 27, 2006.