Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS)
Department of Animal Sciences
Quarterly Newsletter Vol. 9 No. 2 Spring 2009
Stimulus Package for Your Dairy
David R. Bray
It is time to fine tune your operation. With $25.00 milk
prices everything is easy and bad habits are accepted. In
these economic times you need to plan for all the
enterprises on your dairy. What makes money, what
must we do, what can we stop doing? Are you going to
just ride this bad spell out and hope you are still here
when things get better and then you can continue bad
1. Cull Junk Cows. Low milk prices that are below your
cost of production are a double whammy to your
pocket book. By culling junk, it allows for more
room, feed, cool air in the summer in the barn and
production will increase per cow because they are
not overcrowded. Cows will lay down more; you will
have less feet problems, and less mastitis etc.
2. Take better care of dry cows and heifers. You may
be able to put close up cows and springer heifers in
barns in the summer if your junk cows are out of
them. This will allow them to be healthy at calving
and produce more.
3. Are you taking care of pastures? I still believe that
Careless Weed is the greatest cause of mastitis at
calving in the Southeast. In the Southeast we have
the highest rate of blind quarters at calving in
heifers. Carless Weed cuts the teats of the cows and
heifers. Flies are drawn to the blood and damage
the teat ends and they also transport bacteria from
one animal to another. Mow pastures often, spray
and kill weeds also.
4. Culling junk cows allows you to be more productive.
Don't overcrowd. Overcrowding is an accepted
practice in many places. It may have its place in high
milk price times, but is a killer in low pricing times.
It makes every cow less efficient, less milk, bad feet,
low reproduction, more manure, and more water
used in the waste management system.
5. Removing junk cows allows you to do a better job of
milking cows. Less mastitis, higher quality milk,
lower SCC and bacteria counts. You don't need a
milk quality penalty along with everything else.
6. Less milking time allows for maintenance of milking
equipment and more time spent on the
management of cows.
Contact Dave Bray at email@example.com or call (352) 392-
DHIA Offers New Transition Cow Management
Daniel W. Webb
The transition period for dairy cows is generally
considered to present one of the most significant
management challenges. Major physiological stress is
experienced by high producing dairy cows during the
period from dry-off to 40 days post-calving.
A new summary available to DHIA herds can help
evaluate how well your herd is dealing with this
important management phase. The report enables
managers to focus on seven monitors for transition cow
performance. These monitors include: first milk, fat-
protein ratio, udder health of fresh cows, days to first
breeding, survival to 60 days and specific stress factors
at calving. These include difficult calving, stillbirth, twins
Which elements of Transition Cow Management are
working well? This summary graph includes one set of
bars for each of the 7 Management Monitors. The
colored bars represent the performance for cows that
calved in the most recent period. The purple horizontal
line on each bar marks the performance of the top 10%
herds for the specific Management Monitor.
Performance higher than the purple line means that
yours is a "top herd", and lower performance indicates
an opportunity for improvement. This graph should
identify areas) that deserve management attention in
the most recent period.
For Dec 08 Jan 09 (or Last Available) Calvings, Percent of Cows Achieving Success for...
60 .-.------ ---------- -- ------- ----------------------
70 ---- ------- --- -----
% so50 .......
Dry Periods 1st Milk FatPro Ratio Udder
The DHIA Transition Cow Management report
includes 7 additional graphs, one for each of the
monitors for transition cow performance. The report is
available as an option for herds whose records are
processed at DRMS. Herds can sign up by asking their
DHIA Field Technician or send email to the Southeast
DHIA office. Contact Dan Webb at firstname.lastname@example.org or
call (352) 392-5592.
New Electronic Mailing List for UF Dairy Extension
Albert De Vries and Daniel W. Webb
[UFL-DAIRYUPDATE-L@LISTS.UFL.EDU] is the new
electronic mailing list of Dairy Extension at the
University of Florida. The electronic mailing list will be
used by UF Dairy Extension to send subscribers emails
about dairy extension programs, new factsheets,
newsletters or other dairy news from the University of
Florida that we believe are of interest to those involved
in the Florida Dairy industry.
We have populated the list with email addresses of
many dairy producers in Florida and allied industry folks
that serve the Florida dairy industry. Subscription to the
list is voluntary. You can subscribe and unsubscribe by
UFL-DAIRYUPDATE-L is solely used for messages
related to dairy programs for adults from the University
of Florida. Only the list owners can send emails to the
electronic mailing list. We will not forward
announcements from third parties. The number of
messages sent to UFL-DAIRYUPDATE-L will be restricted
to no more than twenty per year.
UFL-DAIRYUPDATE-L is owned by Dr. Daniel W.
Webb and Dr. Albert De Vries. To contact the owners of
this list, send an email to DAIRYUPDATE-L-
E 1st Lact
* 2nd Lact
* 2+ Lact
[ 3+ Lact
r Health Days lstBred Survival No Stress
When Do Cows Leave Your Herd?
Daniel W. Webb
New DHIA summaries are being released this spring.
Soon, herd owners will be able to analyze the flow of
cows leaving the herd more completely. In preparation,
we looked at four herds to determine how the data
might look. The data represent 12 months from March
1, 2008 thru February 29, 2009.
Table 1. Number of cows sold and
al station during 12-month period.
died by stage of
Herd Total Total Total Died Died Died
Fresh Sold Died First 30-59 60-89
30 Days Days
1 391 82 43 14 5 2
2 2169 439 166 60 21 12
3 2856 620 206 110 20 3
4 3615 716 204 70 27 12
Table 2. Percent of cows sold and died by stage of
lactation during 12-month period
Herd Total Total Total Died Died Died
Fresh Sold Died First 30-59 60-89
30 Days Days
1 391 20.97 11.0 3.58 1.28 0.51
2 2169 20.24 7.65 2.77 0.97 0.55
3 2856 21.70 7.21 3.85 0.70 0.11
4 3615 19.81 5.64 1.94 0.75 0.33
The percentages in this table represent percent of cows
freshened during the year. The above data will be
available soon as an option in PCDART from the new
Events Summary. Contact Dan Webb at
dwwebb @ufl.edu or call (352) 392-5592.
Trans Fatty Acids Increase Feed Efficiency for Milk
Production in Early Postpartum Holstein Cows
L. Badinga, C. Caldari-Torres, M.C. Perdomo, C. Risco,
and C.R. Staples
Feed costs make up 35-50% of the total cost of
producing milk in the United States. As margins tighten
on dairy farms, many producers simply want to lower
the feed bill. However, without paying attention to the
nutrition program, cutting the feed bill can reduce dairy
profits in the long run.
Little is currently known about
specific effects or mechanisms by
which dietary fats affect feed
conversion efficiency for milk
production. With the support of the
SMI Milk Check-Off, Virtus Nutrition """tk'" a
(Fair Lawn, OH) and Cargill
(Minneapolis, MN), we conducted a feeding trial to
examine the effect of feeding calcium salts of trans fatty
acids (TFA) on feed conversion efficiency to milk in early
postpartum Holstein cows. Healthy multiparous cows
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Week in lactation
Figure 1. Dry matter Intake (top),3.5% fat-corrected
milk (middle),and feed efficiency (bottom) of
postpartum Holstein cows fed diets enriched in rumen
bypass fat (RBF) or trans fatty acids (TFA).
were assigned randomly to a control (highly saturated
rumen bypass fat, RBF) or TFA-supplemented diet from
approximately 4 wk before expected calving dates
through 7 wk postpartum (Figure 1).
On average, cows supplemented with TFA tended to
eat less (39.1 < 34.1 Ib 3.5% FCM; P = 0.13) but
produced the same amount of 3.5% fat-corrected milk
than those receiving the RBF supplement (75.7 Ib = 80.4
Ib; P = 0.24; Figure 1). As a result, feed efficiency (Ib
3.5% FCM / Ib DM consumed) was consistently higher
for the TFA-supplemented than the RBF-supplemented
group during the first 7 wk of lactation (average 7 wk-
efficiency = 2.2 for the TFA group vs. 2.0 for the RBF
group; P = 0.09). Results indicate that the benefit of
peripartum TFA supplementation extends beyond the
transition period and, thus, may constitute a producer-
friendly means of lowering the feed bill and increasing
the profitability of a dairy operation.
Badinga, Caldari-Torres, Perdomo and Staples are in
the UF/IFAS Department of Animal Sciences. Risco is in
the College of Veterinary Medicine. Contact Lokenga
Badinga at email@example.com; or call (352) 392-1958.
Rotational Grazing Field Day
Mary Sowerby and Yoana Newman
When feed bills and milk checks look discouragingly
similar in amounts, what are your alternatives?
Rotational grazing to optimize forage production,
minimize labor and eliminate expensive cropping
equipment is one solution you are invited to investigate
at 10 AM, Thursday, May 14, at Ron St. John's new
South Point Dairy (old Levy County Dairy) west of
Chiefland, Florida. At the field day, Ron St. John will
explain why South Point is the third rotational grazing
dairy he has developed and how his grazing dairies
compare to his three "conventional" dairies. Australian
Pete Hetherington, manager of South Point Dairy, will
explain the rationale behind building both the parlor
and pastures. Yoana Newman, UF Forage Extension
Specialist, will discuss varieties of forage and how to
maximize yields for grazing dairies. Jan Shearer, UF
Dairy Veterinary Extension Specialist, will discuss
keeping body condition on grazing cows and other herd
health related problems and . a panel of graziers
consisting of Al Wehner from Quitman, GA; Bubba Kurtz
from Live Oak, Florida; Norm Nickerson from Wauchula,
Florida; and Pete Hetherington will share their
experiences and knowledge about rotational grazing.
Rotational grazing is not for everyone, but if you have
interest and questions, come join us at South Point
Directions to South Point Dairy from the
intersection of US 129 and Rt. 19/98: Go south on Rt.
- ** T* TFA
-- --.- --..
^ -- *^ T ***v..
19/98 0.9 miles to Rt. 345 (NW 100th St.), turn right
(west); proceed 4.8 miles, turn right on CR 330 (NW 70th
St.); go 1.9 miles to farm entrance on left at 8870 NW
For a lunch count, please pre-register by calling
Mary Sowerby at (386) 362-2771 or mailing
(firstname.lastname@example.org) by May 11. Farm Credit is kindly
helping sponsor lunch. There will be a $10 registration
fee for the Field Day at the farm.
Mary Sowerby is the regional dairy extension agent
in North Florida and Yoana Newman is a forage
extension specialist in the UF Department of Agronomy.
Florida Dairy Farm Situation in 2009
Albert De Vries and Russ Giesy
We were asked to provide an outlook for the Florida
dairy industry for 2009. Florida ranks 19th in the US for
total milk production. Approximately 2.1 billion pounds
of milk are produced annually in Florida on
approximately 140 dairy farms. Florida dairy farms
employ approximately 2000 employees directly.
Approximately an equal number of people are
employed in the allied industry (feed, supplies, milk
Milk prices determine approximately 90% of
revenues on Florida dairy farms. The projected average
price Florida farmers will receive for their milk in 2009 is
$17.08/cwt (early March estimate). Revenues from the
sales of cull cows and calves are estimated at
$1.00/cwt. Total revenues on Florida dairy farms were
approximately $526,000,000 in 2008, but are expected
to decrease below $380,000,000 in 2009 as a result of
very low milk prices. The cost to produce milk is
estimated at $23/cwt for 2009, which is slightly less
than the all time high cost of $24 in 2008. Total cost to
produce milk in Florida in 2009 is $470,000,000.
Table 1. Profitability of Florida dairy farms, 2006 to
Statistic 2007 2008 2009
FL milk price/cwt $22.98 $23.50 $17.08
Total revenue/cwt $24.72 $25.63 $18.08
Total cost/cwt $21.44 $24.02 $23.00
Profit (loss)/cwt $3.28 $1.61 ($4.92)
Profit (loss)/farm $529,000 $268,000 ($709,000)
Profit (loss) all FL
rf ss a $77,000,000 $38,000,000 ($99,000,000)
The difference between revenues and costs leads to an
expected loss of $4.92/cwt of milk produced. In 2009,
revenues are expected to be less than 80% of total cost.
The total expected loss for the Florida dairy industry for
2009 is $99,200,000, or $709,000 per Florida dairy farm
(Fig. 1). Depressed profitability is expected for dairy
farms throughout the nation.
More information: Albert De Vries, email@example.com.
Average profit (loss) per month per Florida dairy farm
Figure 1. Average profit (loss) per month per Florida
dairy farm, 2006 to 2009 (forecast)
Upcoming Dairy Meetings
* April 28, 2009: 46th Florida Dairy Production
Conference in Gainesville, Florida. For program and
registration, visit http://dairy.ifas.ufl.edu. Speakers:
Wendy Powers, Ken Nordlund, Mike Overton, Bill
Jorgensen, Greg Bethard, Jan Shearer, Steve
Washburn + a producer panel to discuss grazing and
alternative dairy production systems.
* April 29, 2009. PCDART/DHIA Workshop in
Gainesville. See http://dairy.ifas.ufl.edu.
* May 14, 2009: Rotational Grazing Field Day at
South Point Dairy, west of Chiefland. See elsewhere
in this newsletter. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
* June 18, 2009: UF/UGA Corn Silage Field Day in
Tifton, GA. Contact Jerry Wasdin at email@example.com.
* Dairy Road Show, TBA. Probably in the fall.
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Dairy Update is available at http://dairy.ifas.ufl.edu
Dairy Update is published quarterly by the Department of Animal Sciences, University of Florida, as an educational and informational service. Please address any
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Past issues are posted on the UF/IFAS Florida Dairy Extension website at http://dairy.ifas.ufl.edu. This issue was published on April 7, 2009.