Cows and Crops, October 2016


In This Issue

2016 Eastern States Exhibition 4-H Dairy Competitions and Show Results

Dave Marcinkowski, Dairy Specialist

Sixteen 4-H dairy youth, and their project animals, represented the State of Maine at the Eastern States Exhibition in Springfield, MA. They did a terrific job competing in a number of dairy events, The highlight of the weekend was a visit from Governor LePage and Commissioner Whitcomb, who stop by the barn to congratulate the Maine Team. Some of the top results were as follows:

The Clipping Team of Kaicey Conant, Keltan Tanguay and Mackensie Schofield placed first in their competition by doing the best job of preparing their heifer with only 1 hour of prep time.

The Quiz Bowl Team of Keltan Tanguay, Sadee Meheuren, Megan Caruso and Alivia Stanley placed third, while Sadee placed fifth in the individual competition.

The Grilled Cheese Team of Jaymee Rankin, Hayley Grant and Ruben Schofield placed third overall in both the Traditional and Creative Grilled Cheese Categories. Their third place entry in the Creative Category was their Lobster and Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

In the General Knowledge Exam the highest scoring senior for Maine was Sadee Meheuren who placed fourth overall.

In Dairy Judging, the team of Allison Merriman, MacKensie Schofield, CalliAnn Leach, Alivia Stanley and Ruth Huettner placed sixth overall, but were first in Guernsey breed.

In the Fitting and Showmanship, Mackensie Schofield placed first in the Senior Showmanship Group 1.

In the Quality Classes, first place Maine exhibitors and animals included:

  • Ayrshire Summer Yearling Heifer – Blue-Spruce Nemo Mazie-ET shown by Calli-Ann Leach
  • Ayrshire Three Year Old Cow – Vieux Village C Gem shown by Megan Caruso
  • Megan’s animal was also chosen Senior and Grand Champion of the Ayrshire Show.
  • The Maine State Herd in the Ayrshires placed second overall.
  • Holstein Winter Yearling Heifer – Conant-Acres Atwd Tango-ET shown by Kaicey Conant
  • Kaicey’s animal was also chosen Junior Champion of the Holstein Show
  • Jersey Spring Calf – Happy Acres Premier Qelia shown by Ruben Schofield Jr.
  • Jersey Spring Yearling Heifer – Baker Brook Vitality Freedom shown by Emma Hawkes
  • Jersey Winter Yearling Heifer – Springdale Ike Patsy shown by Johnathan Cliche
  • Jersey Aged Cow – RGH June Tuesday Morning-P shown by Ruth Huettner

The Maine State Herd in the Jerseys placed second overall

Congratulations to all the dairy competitors, coaches and chaperones for great year!

Farm Safety — UMaine Extension offers some free safety equipment

Richard Kersbergen, Extension Professor

Farm Safety –UMaine Extension offers some free safety equipment

Recent farm and equipment tragedies and accidents throughout the state have led to increased scrutiny of farm practices and safety equipment.  In other states, dairy farms have recently been examined and inspected by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) for safety violations.

UMaine Cooperative Extension along with Bassett Hospital and the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health is offering several programs to help prevent accidents and fatalities from occurring on your farm! If you want to receive one of these, you will need to agree to install it properly! We have several sizes and lengths available.

Since PTO shaft entanglements are a major source of farm fatalities, we are offering a limited number of free PTO shaft universal replacement shields to farms who request them. Damaged or missing shields can easily lead to producers becoming entangled with either serious injuries or a fatality as a result. Proper shielding can help to prevent such a tragedy!

Another major source of accidents occurs with farm tractors and implements on the roads. With lower sun levels and shorter days, it is increasingly hard to see slow moving vehicle and tractors on the road. The familiar triangle that all of you have on new tractors and implements, often fades and gets broken. That Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) sign is critical to have posted on all implements, trailers and tractors going down the road.  As with the PTO replacement shields, UMaine Extension and Bassett hospital are offering limited free SMV signs for your equipment, with the agreement you will install and use them!

To participate in this equipment program, you will need to contact Rick Kersbergen at

Availability is limited.

We all know of farm families that have endured tragedies that could have been prevented. Don’t let you or your family be another part of those statistics we all see and read about.

Determining If You Will Have Enough Forage for the Coming Year

By Gary Anderson, Animal & BioScience Specialist

Now that forage harvesting is almost complete for the year, it is time to carefully evaluate how much forage you have on hand and compare it with how much you need to feed your herd. With the drought this summer, forage is at a premium now and will only get shorter as we go through the winter.

Good silage preservation is obtained when silos are filled quickly and packed to an appropriate density. Mike Hutgens, retired from University of Illinois, has some suggestions on silage quality. The rule of thumb for packing silage is to take the weight of your tractor and divide by 800; that gives you the number of tons per hour you can effectively pack. The target for silage density is to have over 18 lbs of forage dry matter per cubic foot (so if your silage was 33% dry matter, that would be a target of over 54 lbs (18/.33=54) of silage per cubic foot). If you can get a grab sample from the silo face, your density is less than 15 lbs forage dry matter per cubic foot. For legume/grass silage, your target pH is in the 4.3 to 4.7 range and for corn a little lower at 3.8 to 4.2. Studies with oxygen barrier coverings on silos have been shown to reduce dry matter losses by 50% in the top meter of silage.

One of the main questions I get from producers is — “How much forage will I need for the coming year?” To answer that question, I did some calculations. I looked at average production of 3.5% fat corrected milk by 1350 lb Holsteins and calculated rations using predicted dry matter intakes and balanced rations using a low (.51 Mcal), medium(.57 Mcal) and high energy (.63 Mcal) grass/legume hay. I ended up with the amounts of hay needed per month to feed cows of differing production levels. Remember, I used a prediction equation for feed intake and actual intake by your cows is always a better estimate. I made several assumptions on these sample rations and I maximized the use of forage in the ration. I only balanced on energy so other nutrients that are commonly used that may affect forage:grain ratios were not considered. My goal was to get some average inventory numbers for feed. I need to do these same calculations for Jerseys; their intake is not just a percentage of what Holsteins eat. If you are interested in Jersey numbers, please contact me.

With those caveats, here are my estimates of what 1350 lb Holstein cows at different levels of production will eat in tons of hay per month with forage of varying quality. You will notice that the higher the quality of the forage, the more cows will eat and the less grain you need to feed to balance a ration for their energy needs. The more cows eat, the more they produce; this is the basic physiology of bST. When I balance a ration, the first and second nutrients I look at are fiber and energy followed by dry matter. Then I look at protein and all the other nutrients.

Estimated Monthly intakes of Hay Equivalents (H.E.) for Holstein Cows Weighing 1350 lbs and Producing Various levels of 3.5% Fat Corrected Milk

Herd Production
lbs 3.5% FCM
Low Quality
.51 Mcal Tons H.E./month
Med Quality
.57 Mcal Tons H.E./month
High Quality
.63 Mcal Tons H.E./month
16000 .40 .47 .59
18000 .38 .45 .57
20000 .37 .43 .55
22000 .35 .41 .51
24000 .39 .48
26000 .36 .44
28000 .41

I did not include additional inventory for waste so please increase your total by 15-20%.
For levels of production above with no numbers, I did not feel that I could put together a healthy ration.

For example, if I had a 20,000 lb herd and had medium quality forage, I would need .43 tons of hay equivalent (89% dry matter) forage to feed. That would be .43 X 2000 or 860 lbs of hay equivalent per month per cow. I would multiply this times the number of milking cows times the number of months I needed to feed stored feed. If I was feeding 33% dry matter silage and no hay, I would divide the hay equivalent dry matter by the silage dry matter (89/33=2.7). I would then multiply the 860 lbs of hay equivalent X 2.7 to get the lbs of silage per cow per month (.43 X 2000=860 X 2.7 = 2322 lbs silage per cow per month).

I have not talked about young stock or dry cows. For youngstock, you can use .22 tons of hay equivalent per animal and for dry cows, .4 tons hay equivalent.

These data give you the basic information to estimate your forage needs. You then can compare your needs with your inventory of feed. Large round bales differ in size from farm to farm so you should get an average weight for the bales you have. Also determine the amount of spoilage on the outer edge of your bales to determine the amount of usable feed. If your round bales are 4 ft in diameter and there is 2 inches of spoilage, that is 16% of the total volume of the bale; if they are 6 ft in diameter, the same 2 inches of spoilage is just under 11% of the total volume of the bale. You can see the benefit of storing bales to minimize loss. Density of bunker silos can be calculated by several methods. One of the easiest is to use a corer of known volume to determine density at different locations on the silo fact (the density is greater at the bottom of the silo so many people take samples in an X across the face to get a representative sample). You can also mark the wall of the bunker and as you remove silage to feed, keep accurate records of the lbs removed using a mixer wagon with scales. After several days, calculate the volume of silage fed (length x wide x height = cubic feet fed) and calculate the lbs of feed per cubic foot. Doing a dry matter on silage from the mixer wagon that was representative of the whole face will let you calculate the dry matter per cubic foot. There are tables available that can give you an estimate of feed in your silo as well but actual measurements are best. Please note that I have not included dry matter loss from stored forage. Inflating your total needs by 15-20% should help you make sure you have enough forage this coming year.

Maine Hay Directory

Did you know that UMaine Extension manages a hay directory for buyers and sellers of hay and hay products? If you have hay or forage to sell, this listing may help you find buyers! If you are interested in posting your products or looking for feed to buy, check out the directory at the Maine Hay Directory.