Cows and Crops May 2017

May 22nd, 2017 10:48 AM
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Cows and Crops — May 2017

In this issue:


Upcoming Events

Cowabunga 5K – June 25, 2017

On Sunday, June 25th, 2017, the MDACF will be partnering with the Maine Dairy Promotion Board to host the inaugural Cowabunga 5K and Family Dairy Day in Portland, ME.  The event will feature a 5K run/walk, local farmers, live calves, educational demonstrations, local and state dairy businesses and organizations, and dairy products for attendees.  Proceeds will be donated to the Howard C. Reiche Community School’s food pantry, which operates through the summer, as part of the Milk2MyPlate program. If you have any questions about the event, contact Jami Badershall at the Maine Dairy Promotion Board, jami@drinkmainemilk.org.

Cowabunga

For Producers Considering No-Till corn production this year:

Here is a link to a fact sheet that I helped produce with some co-workers in Massachusetts that sets the stage for transitioning your corn crop into a no-till system.

Many farmers in Maine have transitioned to no-till corn and using cover crops to develop and improve their crop rotations, forage quality and profitability. The system also helps improve soil conditions for a dynamic and sustainable system of forage production.

https://ag.umass.edu/crops-dairy-livestock-equine/fact-sheets/making-transition-to-no-till-corncover-crop-system

If you want to try no-till this year, please let me know and I can help guide you through the transition.

Rick (207-342-59871) richard.kersbergen@maine.edu

 

UMaine Students Compete in North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge

Four students from the University of Maine competed in the 16th Annual North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge® (NAIDC) held March 30 – April 1, 2017.  Visalia, CA was home base for the event which included 230 students from 37 colleges across the U.S. and Canada.

Dairy Challenge is a unique, real-world experience where students work as a team and apply their college coursework to evaluate and provide solutions for an operating dairy farm. Seven California dairies participated in this event. For the UMaine students, this was their first opportunity to set foot on a large western dairy farm milking approximately 6,000 cows. The sheer size of the operation provided an extra challenge for the Maine students.

Teams were evaluated on the quality and accuracy of their presentations, the identification of management opportunities and their recommendations to improve animal care and management. Team presentations were evaluated by a panel of five judges, including dairy producers, veterinarians, finance specialists and other agribusiness personnel. In addition to the competition, the students also had the opportunity to hear about the latest research and talk about career opportunities with industry professionals.

The University of Maine team of seniors from the School of Food and Agriculture consisted of Alexa Grissinger, Kambrea Atkinson, Dominic Barra and Dakota Stewart. Dr. David Marcinkowski coached the team. Alexa and Dominic will be attending veterinary school in the Fall while Kambrea and Dakota will pursue careers in agribusiness.

 Team Lowr Res

2017 University of Maine Dairy Challenge Team

(L to R) Alexa Grissinger, Dominic Barra, Kambrea Atkinson, Dakota Stewart.

 

Reproduction Notes from California
By David Marcinkowski

As you can see from the article above, I had the opportunity to visit the dairy capital of the US, Tulare County, CA with the University of Maine Dairy Challenge Team. Tulare County leads the nation in milk production and is home to 285 dairy farms and more than 500,000 dairy cows. The recent drought in California, combine with low milk prices, has caused a lot of stress on these farms. However, when we were there, the surge in spring rains had turned everything green, filled reservoirs, and created a positive attitude among the dairy producers. While there had the opportunity to visit a couple large dairy farms and talked to a number of producers, veterinarians and agribusiness consultants about some of the management practices being employed on local farms.

Improving Reproduction Efficiency

Estrus detection on dairies is always a problem whether we’re talking about California or Maine. Add 100 degree temperatures in the summer time and getting cows bred in CA can be very difficult. Just like here, many CA farms have resorted to whole herd synchronization programs such as Target Breeding or Presynch.   However it seems that many of the CA dairies are now using the Double Ovsynch protocol (DO). The DO protocol is shown below, and involves four injections of GnRH and two of prostaglandins.

Research has shown that DO can yield conception rates 5-10% higher than Presynch. This increase is especially true in first lactation animals. Just remember to consult with your veterinarian before starting or modifying any synchronization protocol.

Double Ovsynch

California dairies experience a significant slump in conception rates due to the summer heat. One option producers are using to counteract this slump is breeding their herds with fresh, chilled, semen. One local bull stud is providing farms with fresh semen that is collected and distributed the same day. The fresh semen, when stored properly, will remain viable for 1-2 days. Frozen semen is convenient, but the freezing/thawing process kills a significant percentage of the cells. The company selling this product is claiming an 8-10% increase in conception rate with this product, however this claim has yet to be confirmed.

We also noticed that several CA dairies are using In vitro fertilization or IVF to generate embryos. It has been known for some time that pregnancy rates resulting from embryo transfers are much less susceptible to the summer heat than pregnancy rates from standard AI.  These farmers are having eggs collected from their best cows and heifers, having them fertilized with sexed semen in a petri dish and then frozen for later implantation. The embryos generated from IVF are then implanted into cows in the hot summer months.  This results in significantly higher pregnancy rates and more constant calving rates throughout the year. By using the best cows, genetic improvement is also accelerated.

The average herd size in Tulare county is 1920 cows. As a result, the herdspeople on these dairies are quite experienced and handle many of the health issues themselves. The role of the veterinarian on these farms has changed significantly. The veterinarians act more as health consultants responsible for developing SOP’s, training farm staff and monitoring herd performance. They only see the tough cases that farm staff can’t handle. Routine procedures like pregnancy diagnoses are done by farm staff or alternate methods. A number of the farms were pregnancy testing cows using milk and/or blood. These tests help producers to identify open cows as early as 28 days and help reduce time to reinsemination.

Maximizing Genetics

While we were at the Dairy Challenge we had the opportunity to listen to several excellent presentations. One presentation by Simon Vander Woude, a dairy producer from Merced, was particularly interesting. Simon talked about his use of genomic testing to maximize genetic improvement. Genomics enables a producer to accurately identify the genetic potential of an animal. However simply knowing which animals are good or bad is not enough. Using that genomic information in a management system to get more offspring from the top animals is key to maximizing genetic improvement.

Van Woude Dairy genomically tests all heifer calves. The very elite heifers and cows are identified as IVF candidates and used to produce embryos when they grow large enough. These elite embryos are transferred into the heifers and cows with below average genetics. Animals with above average genetics are bred using sexed to produce heifer calves with above average genetics. The bottom portion of the herd genetically is bred to beef semen producing crossbred beef calves that bring a bonus as feeder calves.

More information on the Van Wouda Dairy breeding program can be found in a short YouTube video which can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMo1VOgrA58

 

Northeastern Region Annual Milk Production Report
By Bob Parsons, UVM

Highlights: Milk up 1.8% in March, with cow numbers up by 57,000 from last year. All major states up in milk except California and Idaho, Texas and New Mexico booming as compared to last year, Vermont up 0.9%, Class III milk prices at $15-$16 level for next 9 months. Crop prices down a bit, MPP Margins for rest of year above insurable levels of $8 but up just a bit from last month. See MPP Expectations in Table at end of Email).  

March Report:
Milk production in March was up 1.8% following a 2.3% increase in February.  Production per cow was up 18 lbs per cow per month from last year. Cow numbers in the US in March was 9.57 million, up 57,000 from last year.

Production across the US:

West:
California was down 2.9%
Idaho was down 1.0%
New Mexico was up 9.0%
Texas was up 16.4%

Upper Mid-West and Northeast:
Minnesota was up 1.9%
Wisconsin was up  1.5%
Michigan was up 3.5%
Pennsylvania was up 3.0%
New York was up 3.6%

In Vermont milk was up 0.9% to 235 million lbs., milk was up 40 lbs. to 1820 lbs. per cow per month, and cows numbered 129,000, down from 131,000 a year ago.

Milk Prices: Class III and Class IV prices are down a bit since last month.  Class III prices look to remain at $15 to $16 range with no view of $17 in the next year.  Class IV prices are running $1 or more below Class III prices.  Unless exports, milk powder, or butter takes a jump, cheese will be driving dairy prices for the next 9 months. Margins look think through the coming year with no real reprieve from low prices.

      CME Prices April 21, 2017
          Class III     Class IV 
 April     $15.45       $13.95
 May       $15.62       $14.07
 June      $15.82       $14.46
 July      $16.26       $14.45
 August    $16.62       $14.69
 Sept      $16.72       $15.00
 Oct       $16.61       $15.19
 Nov       $16.56       $15.26
 Dec       $16.45       $15.30

Feed Prices: Prices for corn are down about 5 cents, soybeans down 40 cents, and meal down about $10.  The soybean yield has been good coming out of South America. Planting intentions indicate soybeans my surpass corn acreage this year.  Grain farmers are concerned about Trump moves on trade as any moves could lead to decreased US exports, and lower prices.  Lower prices are bad for grain farmers but good for dairy farmers. Lower prices should increase margins over feed costs.

     CME Prices April 21, 2017
            Corn      Soy     Meal
 May 17    $3.56     $9.51    $310
 Sept 17   $3.70     $9.61    $316
 Dec 17    $3.81     $9.67    $316

Return over Feed Costs for MPP program: The return over feed costs for March-April is expected at $9.06.  The estimated return over feed costs for the next 12 months drops to $8.76 in May-June and rises to $10.11 for Nov-Dec.  From just 3 months ago, the Expected Returns were all above $10 and now we have a chance to see it drop below $7.50 Let’s hope that the decision of most farmers not to sign up for anything higher than the $4 level remains the right decision for the year. Insurance can be a strange tool, you hope never to use it but glad it’s there if you need it.

* For the table below, the 8% in the May-June 2017 column and < $8.00 row means there is an 8% expected chance at this time that the return over feed costs will drop below $8.00 per cwt for May-June period. The expected return over feed costs for May-June 2017 is $8.76 per cwt, 8 cents higher than last month.

Cows and Crops April 2017

April 27th, 2017 12:35 PM
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Cows and Crops — April 2017

In this issue:


Upcoming Events

No-till Tuesday Webinars

Some of you may have tuned in to these, but in case you missed it, here is a link to the recorded webinars.  John Jemison and I did the most recent one focused on no-till soils.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLaZCgOs78cqjX0yDCwhAIJEa5XYZ39nAb

For those of you considering switching to no-till, the next webinar on Tuesday May 2nd will feature Jeff Sanders discussing no-till equipment and set-up.  To register for the webinar on Tuesday, visit http://go.uvm.edu/notill

Colostrum – Not Just Antibodies Anymore

David Marcinkowski

We have known for a long time about the importance of giving a calf colostrum ASAP after it’s born so it gains adequate antibody protection from diseases in early life.  However recent research indicates that there may be a whole host of other reasons why colostrum is important.

Gold Standards of Colostrum Management

First let’s review the current recommendations for colostrum management. In 2016 the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association (DCHA) published their “Gold Standards” for colostrum management.

The following are their recommendations to maximize calf immunity:

Colostrum Quality

  • Harvesting procedures should result in clean, wholesome colostrum that is free of infectious pathogens and low in bacteria.
  • Colostrum should be free of blood, debris and mastitis
  • Colostrum should be disease-free
  • Test for quality with a colostrum tester or IgG test
  • Target bacteria count (also known as standard plate count) is <100,000 cfu/ml
  • In cases where clean, high-quality maternal colostrum is unavailable, feed commercial colostrum replacer

Quantity and Timing

  • First-feeding of colostrum should equal 10% of body weight and be fed in the first 2 hours of life. For example, a 90-lb. calf should receive 4 quarts of colostrum.

Evaluation of Colostrum Management

  • Target immunity level of animals at 2 to 7 days of age is:
    • a total blood protein level > 5.2 g/dL colostrum-fed calves; or
    • a serum IgG of >10.0 g/L
  • Do calves meet the standards for mortality, morbidity and growth found in Table 1.?

Table 1. Mortality, Morbidity and Growth Standards for Dairy Calves

Age of Calf

Days

Death Loss

%

Percent Treated for Scours Percent Treated for Pneumonia Growth Rate

Lbs/day

1 – 60 <5% <25% <10% Double Birthweight by 60 days
61 – 120 <2% <2% <15% 2.2*
121 – 180 <1% <1% <2% 2.0*

*Growth rate less for Jersey calves

The DCHA standards are excellent guidelines that all dairy farms should strive for, however we know from numerous studies and surveys that a significant number of farms fail to achieve some of these standards.

The 2014 NAHMS Dairy Survey of farms from across the US found that only 42% of Holstein calves received the required 4 quarts of colostrum at the first feeding. They also found that only 15.5% of farms routinely tested colostrum for quality and 6.2% of farms routinely monitored serum protein levels in calves to assess passive transfer of antibodies. The 2007 survey found 19.2% of calves tested had insufficient blood antibody levels to provide adequate immunity from disease.

You’ll notice the standards also include a maximum bacteria count of 100,000 /ml for colostrum as well. Colostrum is an excellent medium for bacterial growth. Bacterial populations in colostrum kept at room temperature double every 20-30 minutes. In a 2007 survey of Pennsylvania herds the average bacteria count in the colostrum fed to calves was nearly 1 million cfu/mL. This was 10 times higher than the DCHA standard. There findings indicate the need for better handling and cooling of the colostrum on farms to reduced bacterial growth.

Nutritional Boost

Up until now we have talked about colostrum as it affects the immunity of the calf, however colostrum is also packed with nutrients that give the newborn calf a boost.

Table 2. Colostrum Composition

Item Milking Milk
1 2 3
Specific Gravity 1.056 1.040 1.035 1.032
Solids % 23.9 17.9 14.1 12.9
Protein % 14.0 8.4 5.1 3.1
Casein % 4.8 4.3 3.8 2.5
IgG, mg.ml 48.0 25.0 15.0 0.6
Fat % 6.7 5.4 3.9 3.7
Lactose % 2.7 3.9 4.4 5.0
Vitamin A ug/L 2950 1900 1130 340

From Foley and Otterby 1978

As you can see from Table 2., colostrum contains four times more protein, and nearly twice as much solids and fat as whole milk. Since fat contains much more energy than either carbohydrates or proteins, the higher fat content of colostrum gives the calf more available energy to deal with the stresses of early life. Much of the protein in that first colostrum is in the form of antibodies, however colostrum also contains higher levels of other milk proteins. These easily digested milk proteins may give the calf’s body a large dose of amino acids that the calf can quickly utilize to live and grow. Studies have shown that calves that continue to receive colostrum for several days after birth grow faster than calves that received either transition milk or whole milk.

Other Things in Colostrum

It is estimated that milk and colostrum is a combination of more than 100,000 different chemical substances. Some are directly transferred from the cow’s blood stream while others are manufactured by the milk producing cells in the udder. Colostrum contains higher levels of proteins, immunoglobulins, peptides, hormones, growth factors, enzymes, minerals and vitamins as well as a whole host of other bioactive compounds. Some of the major components have been studied quite closely while some of the smaller components, scientists are just starting to learn a little about.

We do know that colostrum has major impacts on the small intestines. There is an increase in the size, protein synthesis and the activity of certain enzymes in the intestines that does not occur if animals are given milk rather than colostrum. This is probably due to the effect a number of the hormones and growth factors have on the GI tract which then improve the calf’s ability to absorb nutrients from consumed feed and improve the feed efficiency. This seems particularly true of glucose, which is higher in blood of colostrum fed calves. This glucose, derived mainly from the lactose in the milk or milk replacers, puts the calf in a higher energy state enabling them to better withstand cold temperatures and stresses.

These metabolic changes due to colostrum feeding certainly have a positive effect on the growth of the calf for the first few months of life, however some researchers believe that the effects are much longer than that. Several studies have shown that calves receiving a high plane of nutrition in the first two months of age, produced 1,000 to 3,000 lbs. more milk in first lactation. Colostrum may play an important role in the ability of calves to achieve this higher plane of nutrition. Not everyone in the research community acknowledges these long term effects, however even the short term effects of colostrum feeding are more than enough justification for dairy producers to follow the DCHA gold standards of colostrum management.

4-H Dairy Judging Contest Results

On April 8th, 2017, 4-H Youth from around the state gathered for the State 4-H Dairy Judging Contest. Jersey judging started in the morning at the Lowell Family Farm, owned and operated by Dana and Seri Lowell’s in Buckfield. The group then travel to Pineland Farms Inc. for the judging of Holsteins and oral reasons. Contestants judged 6 classes of cattle with two sets of oral reasons. In the Cloverbud competition, ages 8 and under, the winner was Katarina Leach from Arundel. In the Junior competition, the winner was Camryn Caruso from Gorham. And Senior competition was won by Calli-Ann Leach from Arundel. In addition to Calli-Ann, the team which will represent Maine at the Big E will include Alyvia Caruso of Gorham, Emma Hawkes of  Westbrook and Jaymee Rankin of  Cornish. Thank you to the Lowell’s and Pineland for allowing the youth to judge their cattle. Congratulations to all the winners and best of luck at the Big E!

Dairy Situation and Outlook, April 20, 2017
Bob Cropp
University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension

http://future.aae.wisc.edu/outlook/cropp_apr_17.pdf

Northeast Milk Price Forecasts, 2016‐2017
Bob Wellington
Agrimark Inc
April 17, 2017

https://www.agrimark.net/PDFs/AM_Weekly_Updates.pdf

 

Cows and Crops March 2017

March 1st, 2017 4:11 PM
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Cows and Crops — March 2017

In this issue:


Upcoming Events

Precision Ag Meeting:
Upgrading Your Cropping Systems with Precision Agriculture

Wednesday, March 8, 2017 from 9:30-2:30 at the Best Western, 375 Main St, Waterville, ME

Pre-registration is required. For more info and to register: https://extension.umaine.edu/waldo/precision-ag-meeting/

2017 Maine Dairy Seminar & MDIA Annual Meeting

Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at the Elks Lodge in Waterville, ME

Sponsored by the Maine Dairy Industry Association, registration for this event is free for dairy farmers and includes refreshments and lunch. Advanced Registration by mail, email, phone or fax must be received by Monday, March 6, 2017. Registration after this date or at the door will be $25.

Guest Speaker is Tom Kilcer of Kinderhook, NY, a private consultant conducting research on forages crops and plant nutrition in partnerships with both university and private industry. His topic for this event is: “Forage Strategies for Northeast Dairy Farms”. Dr. Juan Romero, Assistant Professor of Animal Science with the University of Maine School of Food and Agriculture, will also speak about his Enzyme and Silage Inoculant Research. The Seminar also includes the MDIA Annual Meeting, Maine Dairy Shrine Award, and Industry Updates.

For more information, or to register, contact Melissa Libby at melissa.libby1@maine.edu or 1.800.287.7170, or Fax 207.581.4430.

2017 Maine Grass Farmers Network Annual Grazing Conference

March 18, 2017 from 8:30am – 3:30 pm at the Alfond Campus, KVCC, US Rt 201, Hinckley, ME

Featuring Keynote Speakers: Dr. Fred Provenza, Dr. Hue Karreman and Suzanne Nelson

For more info and to register: https://extension.umaine.edu/livestock/mgfn/conference/

Tractor Safety Courses in Maine

Many of you may be employing teenagers on your farm this summer or maybe even have some new employees who have never driven tractors before. For youth ages 14-16, who are not family members, they need to have taken and passed an approved tractor safety class for them to be able to operate machinery as part of their employment on a farm.

UMaine Cooperative Extension will be offering approved tractor safety classes in several counties this spring. Dates and locations are currently being finalized and information can be found at our tractor safety website.

Currently the plan is to hold classes in Cumberland, Knox/Lincoln, Waldo, Kennebec and Oxford Counties. For more information, contact Rick Kersbergen at 207.342.5971 or Richard.kersbergen@maine.edu


 Northeastern Region Annual Milk Production Report

By Bob Parsons, UVM

Highlights: Annual Milk Production for 2016 up 1.8%, average milk production was 22,774 lbs per cow, Jan milk production up 2.7%, with cow numbers up, All major states up in milk.  Maine up 6.1%! Class III milk prices at $16 neighborhood through Sept, Crop prices flat to slightly lower, MPP Margins for next year above insurable levels of $8 with lowest at $9.50.  (See MPP Expectations in Table at end of Email).

Milk production was up 1.8% from 2015 at 212 billion pounds. Annual total milk production has increased 14.4 percent from 2007. Production per cow in the United States averaged 22,774 pounds per cow for 2016, 378 pounds above 2015 and up 12.7% from 2007.

The average number of milk cows on farms in the United States during 2016 was 9.33 million head, up 0.2 percent from 2015. The average annual number of milk cows has increased 1.5 percent from 2007.

Annual Production across the US in 2016:
West:
California was up -1.0%
Idaho was up 3.9%
New Mexico was down -1.5%
Texas was up 4.6%

Upper Mid-West and Northeast:
Minnesota was up 2.2%
Wisconsin was up 3.5%
Michigan was up 6.0%
Pennsylvania was up 0.2%
New York was up 4.8%

In Maine milk was up in 2016 by 6.1% to 630 Million lbs. and milk per cow at 21,000 lbs. from 19,800 lbs. in 2015

Point of interest:  Highest average milk product in the US was 25,980 lbs. per cow in Colorado followed by Michigan with 25,957.

January 2017 Report:
Milk production in January was up 2.7%, following a 2.6% in December. Production per cow was up 37 lbs per cow per month from last year. Cow numbers in the US in January was up 67,0000 over last year and 6.000 more than December 2016.

Production across the US in January:

West:
California was up 0.7%
Idaho was up 1.0%
New Mexico was up 15.3%
Texas was up 19.2%

Upper Mid-West and Northeast:
Minnesota was up 1.7%
Wisconsin was up 1.0%
Michigan was up 3.5%
Pennsylvania was up 2.0%
New York was up 3.8%
Tidbits: Milk is coming back in Texas and New Mexico over last year’s snow disaster.

Milk Prices: Class III prices dropped in later months and remain at $16 throughout the year to hit a high of $17 level by Sept.  Class IV dropped for near months and by Sept are still $1 below Class III prices.  Remember that Mexico is our biggest milk trading partner so be apprehensive about trade conflicts.

CME Prices February 24, 2017
                Class III     Class IV

Feb          $16.86       $15.66
March     $16.23       $15.09
April        $16.23       $14.60
May         $16.43       $14.85
June        $16.65       $15.10
July          $16.96       $15.43
August    $17.09       $15.72
Sept         $17.10       $15.88
Oct           $17.09       $16.00

Feed Prices: Corn and meal prices are about the same with soybean prices dipping some.  Until we have planting reports, prices likely to remain the same.  Remember trade pacts, China buys most of our soybean exports.

CME Prices February 24, 2017
                 Corn     Soy         Meal
Mar 17    $3.65    $10.16    $333
Sept 17   $3.85     $10.19    $337
Dec 17    $3.92    $10.14     $332

Milk Feed Ratio
The M-F ratio for November increased to 2.7, showing a more favorable milk to feed price.

Milk-Feed Ratio
Nov  15   2.42
Dec  15   2.27
Jan  16   2.14
Feb  16   2.15
Mar  16   2.08
Apr  16   1.97
May  16   1.89
June 16   1.91
July 16   2.14
Sept 16   2.47
Oct  16   2.37
Nov  16   2.56
Dec  16   2.70

Return over Feed Costs for MPP program: The expected return over feed costs for Jan-Feb is $10.65.  The next 12 months shows expected returns from $9.50 to $10.39.  From the current estimates, it does not look that taking MPP insurance would pay this year but we can never be sure if feed prices will rise or milk prices drop or both.

* For the table above, the 2% in the May-June 2017 column and < $7.50 row means there is a 2% expected chance at this time that the return over feed costs will drop below $$7.50 per cwt for the May-June period. The expected return over feed costs for May-June 2017 is $9.50 per cwt.


Farm Safety

By Richard Kersbergen, UMaine Extension, Richard.kersbergen@maine.edu 

As winter looses its grip on us and spring begins, it is critical that you and your equipment are ready to go. As you all know, timely harvests are the number one factor in having quality forage for your cows and the most important way to help improve profitability on your farm. Having your equipment ready to plant or harvest is critical to quality forage.

While getting your equipment functional is one aspect, improving the safety of your equipment is also key to good spring preparation. Agriculture is the most hazardous industry in the nation. You are constantly exposed to the risk of physical injury from powerful and dangerous equipment along with exposure to noise, hazardous chemicals, dusts and molds.

Although Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has been p[roven to prevent injury and promote farmer’s health, access to the necessary equipment can sometimes be a limiting factor, especially in rural settings. This past winter at the Agricultural Trades Show in Augusta, Cooperative Extension, through a partnership with Bassett Hospital and the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH), was able to give away PTO shaft replacement guards and Slow Moving Vehicle signs (SMV). Based on the fact that our supply was gone within a few hours of the opening day, there is obviously a need to farmers for this safety equipment!

NYCAMH and the Northeast Center for Occupational Health and Safety in Agriculture Forestry and Fishing (NEC) has created a PPE program that offers a variety of selected products that are affordable and appropriate for farmers. The program features convenient access, low costs and an inventory of continually updated merchandise. The products are available by mail. The catalog is on-line and features equipment and PPE that should be part of your spring “tune-up” program.

These products, such as the PTO shields, SMV signs along with a eye, ear and other PPE products can also be ordered by phone at 1-800-343-7527.

Don’t let you, your family or your employees become another injury or death statistic. Prepare by making sure that you and your equipment are reading for spring!


2017 Maine 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl Results

On February 19, 2017 4-H dairy youth from all over the state gathered at the University of Maine – Augusta for the Maine Dairy Quiz Bowl and Eastern States Dairy Quiz Bowl Team Selection. Twenty youth participated, 7 in the Junior Division and 13 in the Senior Division.

The winning junior was Sydney Bullard. In the seniors, the winner was Keltan Tanguay. The Eastern States Team which represent Maine at the Big E will be Keltan, along with Mackensie Schofield, Owen Brown and Bradley Smith. Alternates for the team will be Elizabeth Clock and Gabbie Guillemette.


Now is the Time to Plan Your Forage Inventory for Next Year

A few months ago I wrote a short article on using Pearson Square to calculate the ratio of forages to best balance rations for different groups of cattle on your farm. Armed with that information, you can calculate the amounts of forage needed for the coming forage season so that you are ready for the next year of feeding.

For example, if you needed to mix 50% corn silage and 50% grass silage to get the desired forage energy in your mix, you would take the daily lbs of dry matter of each forage to feed the cows in that group each day. You would repeat this exercise for each group of cattle on your farm (different groups will likely need different ratios of the feed you have available). Converting the tons of dry matter needed back to as-fed lbs of feed gives you a rough estimate of the total tons of each forage needed to get through the next years’ feeding period.

We can’t stop there, because we need to determine how many tons of feed need to be harvested and put in the silo so that adequate forage is available for feeding. So we have to correct the tons of feed delivered to animals to include an accounting for harvest, storage and feedout losses. Depending on your farm operation, this may be all fermented feed or a combination of fermented feed and dry hay. The University of Wisconsin has some useful estimates of feedout losses in their publication “Feedout Losses from Forage Storage Systems” by Jerry Clark, Brian Holmes and Richard Muck. The following tables from that publication detail dry hay losses with different feeding systems.

Hay Wasted by cows when fed with and without racks

Bale type Percent Wasted
Square bale in rack 7
Large round bale in rack 9
Large round bale w/out rack 45

From: Anderson, B., and Mader, T., 1996. University of Nebraska, “Management to Minimize Hay Waste”,
Publication G84-738-A

Hay wasted by cows when large round bales are fed with different racks

Bale type Percent Wasted
Cone feeder 3.5
Ring Feeder 6.1
Trailer Feeder 11.4
Cradle Feeder 14.6

From: Buskirk, D.D., A.J. Zanella, T.M. harrigan, J.L. Van Lente, L.M. Gnagey and M.J. Kaercher. 2003. Large
round bale feeder design affects hay utilization and beef cow behavior. J. Anim. Sci. 2003. 81:109-115.

The Wisconsin authors estimate that cattle with access to free choice hay waste more than those who are fed what is needed on a daily basis; that estimate ranges from 25-45% more hay needed.

Every producer works to pack their silos as tight as possible to exclude air and setup conditions for good fermentation. Other factors that affect silage spoilage are the amount of face fed out on a daily basis and how silage is removed from the silo face (ie. minimizing the amount of oxygen incorporated into the silo face; this is why silo facers work well compared with bucket loaders). The Wisconsin publication has a very nice graphic showing dry matter loss of silage of different densities as the inches of silage fed off the face increases. As you can imagine, the smaller amount of face removed per day and the less dense the silage is packed increases the dry matter loss. In looking at their graph of dry matter loss, a feedout rate of 2 inches per day corresponds roughly to a dry matter loss of 12% for silage at 30 lbs per sq ft, 10% at 40 lbs per sq ft, 6% at 50 lbs per sq ft and 3% at 60 lbs per sq ft. Three percent is the goal. The tighter the silage is packed and the more face fed per day decreases the dry matter loss; once you get to 8 inches of face fed per day, all the densities are at or below 3% dry matter loss (these are my estimates from looking at the graph).

Further detail on dry matter losses can be found at either Pitt, R.E. and R.E. Muck. 1993. A diffusion model of aerobic deterioration at the exposed face of bunker silos. J. Agricultural Engineering Research 55:11-26. Or Holmes, B.J. and R.E. Muck 2007. Packing Bunker and Piles to Maximize Forage Preservation. Proceedings of the Sixth International Dairy Housing Conference. ASABE and Harvest and Storage page of Team Forage website. http://fyi.uwex.edu/forage/files/2014/01/PackingBunkersPiles.pdf

These data can be helpful in designing bunker silos for use on your farm. The Wisconsin researchers recommend never removing less than 4 inches of face during the summer and 3 inches in the winter with an estimate of a foot a day. A way to compare your silo with these recommendations is to calculate how much silage is removed from a silo per day. Make sure you record the amount of feed loaded out of the silo into your mixer wagon; record any feed that is not included in the mix, but is discarded. Mark the silo wall at the beginning of a day and then mark the silo wall after feed has been removed for 10 days. Measure the distance the face has moved in inches and divide by 10. How does the inches of face fed on your farm compare with the recommendations? Calculating the area of your silo face can then be used with the total lbs of feed removed to calculate the density of forage in your bunker silo. (Remember, this is based on the height of the silo face being constant through the measuring period). How does your density of silage compare with the numbers above? Calculating the lbs of feed removed that was put into the mixer wagon can give you a percent of feed removed that is fed. Feed that is fed and not consumed can give you information on the intake of your cattle. All very important information for your farm management and your nutrition advisor. These data can be helpful in designing the appropriate width of a feeding face for your herd and can be helpful in designing or redesigning silage storage changes for the farm.

I have pulled out just a few numbers that you can collect on your bunker silo to get an estimate of your potential losses.  Holmes and Muck estimate that total dry matter losses in a covered bunker silo are in the range of 16-23% for silage harvested at 70% moisture and 18-31% for silage harvested at 60% moisture. These dramatically increase the lbs of forage you need to have in your silos to feed your cows all year.   All of these increase the cost of forage harvested, but also increase the amount of forage you need to feed your animals. I have only discussed bunker silos in this article, but there are similar calculations for tower silos, bags, and piles. More detailed information can be found at Preventing Silage Storage Losses by B.J. Holmes and R.E. Muck, University of Wisconsin-Madison and US Dairy Forage Research Center, respectively. Their full article can be found at http://fyi.uwex.edu/forage/files/2014/01/prevent-silage-storage7.pdf


Evaluating Your Own Farm Shop

By Richard Brzozowski, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, richard.brzozowski@maine.edu

This list of questions is designed to help bring attention to items or conditions that may need to be corrected or improved in your farm shop. The end goal is to make your shop safe and useful. As you respond to each question, think of ways to optimize any aspect of your shop. Make a list of the steps or actions you would like to do for specific improvements. Prioritize the steps that you plan to take for improving your farm shop. Consider accomplishing easy-to-correct steps first (perhaps those that take little time or of low cost).

Ask yourself the following questions.

Consider involving key workers and/or family members to address these questions.

  1. Is there enough space for the functions that need to be accomplished in the shop?
    Consider every season when contemplating shop functions. Yes___   No___

If there’s not enough space, what can I do to improve space issues?

  1. Can all farm equipment be pulled into the shop for repair or for preventative maintenance? Yes___  No___

If not, is there a way to rectify the situation?

  1. Is my farm shop equipped with the necessary equipment and tools (hand tools and power tools) for the tasks I typically perform? Yes___   No___

If not, what equipment or tools should I consider obtaining?

  1. Are the equipment and tools in my farm shop in good working order? Yes___   No___

If not, what equipment or tools need to be discarded, repaired or replaced?

  1. Is my shop well organized? Yes___   No___

Can I (or others) find any tool when needed?

Can I (or others) find any supply item when needed?

Can I (or others) find all operators manuals?

Can I (or others) find all materials safety data sheets?

  1. Is my shop clean and tidy (uncluttered)? Yes___   No___

If not, what can be done to improve this aspect of the shop?

  1. Can I move about the shop easily? Consider flooring and flow of work. Yes___   No___

If not, what can be done to improve this aspect of the shop?

  1. Is there adequate electrical power to all units (circuits)? Yes___   No___

If not, what can be done to improve this aspect of the shop?

  1. Is light (natural and provided) adequate for the tasks that I typically need to perform? Yes___   No___

If not, what can be done to improve this aspect of the shop?

  1. Can I work comfortably in any season in my farm shop? Yes___   No___

Is the shop dry?

Is the shop warm?

Can the shop be heated when necessary?

  1. Is my shop well ventilated for good air exchange especially when welding, grinding, sanding, sand blasting or painting (or when fumes might exist)? Yes___   No___

If not, what can be done to improve this aspect of the shop?

  1. Is there a phone in the farm shop (or some means to call in or call out)? Yes___   No___

If not, what can be done to improve this aspect of the shop?

  1. Is there a first aid kit and is it well stocked? Yes___   No___

If not, what should be added or replaced in the kit?

  1. Is all of the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) easily available and in good working condition?
  2. If not, what can be done to improve this aspect?
  1. Is any part of the shop a hazardous area? Yes___   No___

If not, what can be done to improve this aspect of the shop?

  1. Is my shop securable to restrict entry by others? Yes___   No___

If not, what can be done to improve this aspect of the shop?

  1. Is all powered equipment in my shop unplugged and/or locked out when not in use? Yes___   No___
  1. Do I have a restroom facility that is convenient to the shop?          Yes___   No___
  1. Is there a place in my farm shop where a worker can clean up (such as a sink or shower)? Yes___  No___

Maine Dairy Seminar March 14, 2017

January 30th, 2017 2:03 PM
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cows

Maine Dairy Seminar  2017

and MDIA Annual Meeting

March 14, 2017

Waterville Elks Club
From Interstate 95, take Exit 130, then go south. Turn left on
Armory St., then left again on Industrial St

9:00 AM – 3:30 PM

Advanced registration for the Dairy Seminar is Free!! (Sponsored by the Maine Dairy Industry Association)
and includes refreshments and lunch. Advanced registration by mail, email, phone or fax must be received by Monday, March 6, 2017.
Registration after this date or at the door will be $22.

Phone, Fax or Email To:
Tel: 1-800-287-7170 (Maine only) or (207) 581-2788 Fax: (207) 581-4430
Email: melissa.libby1@maine.edu

Featured Speaker:  Mr. Tom Kilcer,

Tom Kilcer grew up on a dairy farm in Columbia County, New York. After a BS degree in Fisheries Science from Cornell he worked on environmental impact studies for nuclear plants. In 1976 he obtained a second BS in Agronomy from Iowa State. Tom worked for 34 years as an Extension Field Crop and Soils Educator and Program Leader for Agriculture/Horticulture at Cornell Cooperative Extension. For the past 8 years he has been a private consultant, conducting research on forages crops and plant nutrition in partnerships with both university and private industry.

Tom’s recent work has focused on alternative forage crops, deep zone tillage, soil health and nitrogen application rates.  His latest research has involved wide swath haylage harvesting to improve the capture of plant nutrients for milk production and reduce weather related losses.  This work is being expanded to develop methods for the rapid drying and harvesting of other forage crops.  His winter forage research has examined double cropping in the Northeast US and southern Canada for the profitable production of cover crops for use as high quality forage.

Tom’s work in these areas has been published in regional and national magazines and refereed journals. It has been presented at symposia and seminars in multiple states and foreign countries.

 

Full Program:

Schedule of Events

9:00 AM

Registration, Refreshments, and Trade Show

9:30 AM

Harvest for ProfitThomas Kilcer, Advanced Ag systems, Kinderhook, NY

10:30 AM

MDIA Annual MeetingElection of OfficersLegislative UpdateMDIA Projects and Activities

11:30 AM

Maine Dairy Shrine Awards

11:45 AM

Introduction of Trade Show Participants

12:00 PM

Buffet Lunch and Trade Show

1:20 PM

Industry Updates

1:30 PM

Maine Dairy Farm Family of the Year Virtual Tour

1:45 PM

Hay and Silage Additives

Dr. Juan Romero,

Assistant Professor of Animal Science, University of Maine School of Food and Agriculture, Orono, ME

2:15 PM

Harvest for Profit, Continued

Thomas Kilcer, Advanced Ag systems, Kinderhook, NY

3:30 PM

Questions and Adjourn

 

 


 

UMaine Extension to celebrate farming at Maine Agricultural Trades Show, through publications

January 11th, 2017 10:21 AM
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This month, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension will celebrate farming in the state at the annual State of Maine Agricultural Trades Show.

Residents are encouraged to visit the UMaine Extension booth during the show, Jan. 10–12 at the Augusta Civic Center.

UMaine Extension offers a variety of farming resources, including several publications:

This series recognizes that the needs of farmers at each life stage are unique, as choices about farming practices, child rearing, business growth, and succession planning enter into decision-making. The series consists of five fact sheets.

Have you ever thought about moving to a farm and wondered whether it’s the right life for you and your family? Answering the questions in this four-page bulletin related to the realities of farming in Maine will help you decide.

Farm accidents can cause serious injury or death, and present tremendous financial challenges to small-scale farmers. Many accidents can be prevented through education. This series of 66 fact sheets forms a comprehensive farm safety library.

Visit the Cooperative Extension online Publications Catalog for more farming and gardening information, including new bulletins:

Other seasonal publications include:

Master Gardener Volunteers served 35,000 hours for educational, food security projects in 2016

December 30th, 2016 3:40 PM
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University of Maine Cooperative Extension is celebrating the 952 Master Gardener Volunteers who, combined, gave more than 35,000 hours of their time to a variety of educational and food security projects in 2016.

The team supported 80 community gardens, 86 school gardens, 103 demonstration gardens and 56 programs involving 1,579 youth in horticulture activities this year. Those involved with food security projects distributed 257,426 pounds of food to 142 food distribution agencies and countless neighbors in need as part of the Maine Harvest for Hunger program.

The Master Gardener Volunteers program provides participants with a minimum of 40 hours of in-depth training in the art and science of horticulture. Trainees receive current, research-based information from UMaine Extension educators and industry experts, and are connected with service projects that match their interests, skill set and availability.

All gardeners are encouraged to join the Master Gardener Volunteers team. Several counties are now accepting applications for local training programs starting this winter with application deadlines as early as Jan. 4.

For more information or to request a disability accommodation, call 800.287.0274 or visit the UMaine Extension website.

UMaine Extension names new sustainable agriculture professor for Aroostook County

December 30th, 2016 2:55 PM
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Sukhwinder Bali has been appointed University of Maine Cooperative Extension assistant professor and University of Maine at Presque Isle (UMPI) assistant professor of sustainable agriculture.

Bali earned a master’s degree in soil science with a minor in botany from Punjab Agricultural University. She recently completed a second master’s degree in natural resource management from North Dakota State University. Bali has lived in Maine since September 2015.

Based in the Aroostook County Extension office, Bali will join a team of Extension and University of Maine at Presque Isle staff and will provide classroom instruction at UMPI. She will develop and conduct educational outreach and applied research with an emphasis on Aroostook County, work with other faculty to offer off-campus programs addressing the educational needs of commercial agriculture and teach academic courses in the UMPI sustainable agriculture concentration.

UMaine Extension also has hired Colt Knight as the new Extension livestock educator.

Knight grew up in West Virginia and has a background in livestock production and management. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona where he researched grazing patterns of cattle using precision agriculture technologies.

With UMaine Extension, his focus will be on developing and conducting educational programs and applied research projects statewide with an emphasis on livestock enterprises, animal health and nutrition, meat science, small-farm management and sustainable farming practices.

Knight will begin at UMaine in Orono on Jan. 9.

More about the Extension livestock program is available online or by calling 581.3188.

Update on Avian Influenza: November, 2016

November 30th, 2016 2:34 PM
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free range chickenThere are no US outbreaks of AI at the moment, but the situation in Europe and Asia is troublesome. The world Organization for Animal Health (OIE) keeps a running tally of where/when highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI; H5 and H7 serotypes) occurs. As of now, they list 12 European/Northern Asian countries with current (November 2016) reported outbreaks of H5N8 HPAI. The affected countries are Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Sweden, and Switzerland. There are also other non-European countries (India, Israel, Iran) with the same strain of HPAI. As well, other strains of HPAI are currently present in Algeria, (H7N1), Japan, and South Korea (H5N6). Activity to contain and control HPAI is ongoing, via eradication, cleaning, and confirmation of clearance. Migratory waterfowl are important as reservoirs of HPAI worldwide, but farm-to-farm spread has been thought to be due to human error, and occasionally due to airborne transmission from fields visited by waterfowl. As ever, prevention of spread by the use of biosecurity practices is paramount; see USDA’s Biosecurity for Birds to review.

Maine Sea Grant recognized for seaweed aquaculture outreach, research

October 28th, 2016 12:07 PM
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The National Sea Grant Extension Assembly selected Maine Sea Grant as the recipient of the 2016 Superior Outreach Programming Award, presented at the biennial meeting of the National Sea Grant Network on Oct. 13 in Newport, Rhode Island.

Sarah Redmond, former marine Extension associate with Sea Grant and University of Maine Cooperative Extension, received the award for her efforts to develop a seaweed aquaculture industry in Maine. Redmond’s award reflects her long-held desire to become a seaweed farmer, her Sea Grant-funded graduate research on seaweed aquaculture at the University of Connecticut, and a return to her home state, where the majority of wild harvest fisheries are limited, and there is growing interest in local, sustainable, “super” foods such as kelp, a native species of seaweed or marine macroalgae.

From 2012–16, Redmond worked with Sea Grant staff in Maine and throughout the Northeast, as well as with UMaine researcher Susan Brawley and the seaweed industry to develop new nursery cultivation techniques for native seaweed species at UMaine’s Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research in Franklin, Maine. Her outreach included co-founding the Maine Seaweed Festival and the Seaweed Scene research conference; technology exchange with the aquaculture industries in Ireland, Hawaii, Korea and Japan; and working with Maine companies and restaurants to develop new products incorporating Maine seaweed.

Redmond now is launching her own seaweed aquaculture business.

At the biennial meeting of the National Sea Grant Network, Redmond’s graduate research on kelp and Maine’s efforts to realize a commercial seaweed aquaculture industry received a second award. The Sea Grant Association gave its Research to Application Award to the Maine, New Hampshire and Connecticut Sea Grant programs for the region’s successful seaweed research and outreach portfolio. The other recipients from UMaine include Dana Morse, Susan Brawley and Nicholas Brown.

Three decades of research on the basic physiology, genetics and growth of economically important seaweeds served as the basis for recent research advancements in nursery and cultivation techniques and new applications. Through partnerships with Ocean Approved LLC of Portland, Maine and the Bridgeport Regional Aquaculture Science and Technology Education Center in Connecticut, culture systems were piloted and seeded kelp was grown on longlines near Bangs Island, Maine and in Long Island Sound. New processing methods and product forms are being evaluated and tested in all three states.

“The award recipients exemplify the strength and value of integrated research, outreach and education programs supported by the Sea Grant network, and clearly demonstrate the importance of translational research in supporting science‐based management” said Sylvain DeGuise, president of the Sea Grant Association.

Team members named in the award nomination are Charles Yarish and Jang Kim of the University of Connecticut and Connecticut Sea Grant; John Curtis of Bridgeport Regional Aquaculture Science and Technology Education Center; Nicholas Brown and Susan Brawley of UMaine; Sarah Redmond and Dana Morse of Maine Sea Grant; Chris Neefus and Lindsay Green of the University of New Hampshire and New Hampshire Sea Grant; Amanda LaBelle of the Island Institute; and Anoushka Concepcion and Peg Van Patten of Connecticut Sea Grant.

The Newport meeting marked the 50th anniversary of the National Sea Grant College Program, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in October 1966. UMaine received the first Sea Grant funding in 1971.

Contact: Catherine Schmitt, 581.1434

Cows and Crops – November 2016

October 25th, 2016 7:49 PM
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Cows and Crops — November 2016

In this issue:


Alternative Summer Annuals

Is there something other than corn silage?

Rick Kersbergen

For many of you this year’s drought severely impacted your forage yields of both perennial crops as well as your corn silage yields. While this year may have been an aberration, it is always a good idea to plan try and diversify your forage resources to insure against poor growing conditions.

Many of you have started growing cover crops after your corn comes off in the fall and it makes me smile to see green fields on October. Not only are you protecting from erosion, capturing nutrients and saving on next year’s fertilizer bill, but you are also growing a crop you could potentially harvest next May. The benefits of cover cropping go beyond that as well, by improving soil health and soil moisture management.

This past summer, we grew some other warm season annuals at Maine Farm days to demonstrate some alternatives. These included BMR Sorghum Sudan, BMR forage Sorghum and BMR Pearl Millet. All these crops have the potential to produce well under dry and hot conditions, and yield a very digestible crop for making milk, as they contain the BMR gene to improve digestibility. Sorghum for silage is not new….it has been around for years.

Kersbergen with sorghumMany of you have done BMR Sorghum Sudan grass in the past (I heard the moans when you read this…) and have cut it several times during the season. The issue has always been…how can you dry such a wet crop so it can be chopped or baled for fermentation. Recently, some work has been done by letting the crop mature, and doing a one-harvest system in the fall. This would require a “Kemper” type head to chop the crop directly. Our research this summer yielded about 30 tons of 22% dry matter feed in mid September. As you can see in the picture, it was quite tall.

The other benefit of this crop is that no herbicides were used, making it a cheaper crop to grow and a great alternative for organic producers.

sorghumThe other crop that we grew (sown in early June) was BMR Forage Sorghum. This is another warm season crop. We grew two types…the normal BMR forage Sorghum and a Dwarf BMR brachytic type. The dwarf brachytic is shorter, but the internodes (distances between leaves) is much less, so the plant has a high leaf to stem ratio. We tried growing this crop similar to corn silage…in 30 inch rows and sown at about 5-7 pounds per acre. We also compared this to a normal BMR forage sorghum that was sown in narrow rows and at a rate of about 25 pounds per acre. In the picture below, you can see the difference in the two crops. As you can see, the dwarf variety (on the left) lived up to its name; a section of the test plot was harvested in September and yielded about 17 tons per acre of 24% dry matter feed; another section of the test plot was harvested in October and yielded 18 tons of 30.1% dry matter forage that tested at 176 relative feed value (RFV). This could be directly chopped just like corn. The regular forage sorghum yielded higher, but again would need a “Kemper” type head on your chopper. It would be difficult to mow that crop as it is about 9 ft tall at a fall harvest.

Some cautions….the dwarf variety is slow to germinate and get started, so it has some issues with weeds if you don’t use a herbicide. The regular BMR forage sorghum grown in narrow rows is an excellent competitor and would be suited for organic production.

One organic producer in Maine grew about 90 acres of BMR forage sorghum this year as an alternative to corn silage. The crop was sown in early July and harvested in late September. Since it was sown in July, it was not as tall as the crop we grew and he was able to use his mower to harvest the crop and let it wilt in the field. Yields were high (> 30 tons per acre of 23% dry matter).

I will be talking about these crops as alternatives this winter at growers meetings. If you have questions and want to talk more about specifics and feed analysis, please give me a call or send me an email.  207-342-5971 richard.kersbergen@maine.edu


Corn Silage Trials 2016

Misty Meadows Farm

Caragh Fitzgerald and Rick Kersbergen

Many of you will be ordering your corn seed in the next few weeks for 2017, as dealers like to get their orders in before the holiday season. Normally, my co-worker Caragh Fitzgerald and I would be sending out the results of the corn silage variety trial to help you make your decisions. Unfortunately, this year we have a major problem. Many of the varieties suffered some early season herbicide injury. This impacted the certain varieties more than others, and we felt uncomfortable providing the data, since the injury was not consistent. We will be providing the data to the individual dealers for their submissions.

There were some interesting findings that reflect this year’s growing season as well as some quality parameters that you should discuss with whoever sells you seed! For the first time since we have been doing these trials, the dry matter of the corn at harvest (before a frost) was higher than the recommended level of 35% Dry matter. Obviously the dry summer was partially responsible, but we also have one of our highest Growing Degree summers we have ever experienced, allowing many of the varieties to mature.

Some results of note:

Average “wet” yield per acre (38.9% DM)             18.1 tons/acre

Average yield corrected to 35% DM                      23.4 tons/acre

As you compare varieties that you are considering for next year, the importance of quality along with yield should be part of the discussion. When you look at your forage analysis, you should pay close attention to the analysis that predicts the milk yield per ton of dry matter…because the variation between hybrids is huge and potential milk is what you are after…not just yield! We saw a big difference between hybrids, and when you add in yield, you can calculate milk per acre. Our results below show just how big a difference that can make.

Average Milk /ton DM                   3310lbs   (High of 3670 to a low of 2680)

Average milk per acre                   23,253lbs (High of 30,594 to a low of 16,724)

The difference between the highest and lowest milk per acre variety would mean a difference in potential income of about $2,500 per acre in milk at $18/cwt!

Make sure you ask about quality when you choose your hybrids! Quality counts!


Maine Sign-up for Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program deadline Extended to Nov 18th

BANGOR, Maine — The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced the application deadline extension date for the Agricultural Management Assistance Program (AMA).  The Fiscal Year 2017 application deadline for AMA has been extended to Nov. 18, 2016.

Agricultural producers are encouraged to sign up now for consideration in statewide funding pools for the AMA program, which assists them in voluntarily addressing issues such as water management and water quality. Eligible practices include irrigation systems and irrigation water supply wells. For 2017, NRCS will also continue to offer an opportunity for funding High Tunnel Systems through AMA.

There is a continuous, year-round sign-up for the program, but applications submitted by the deadline mentioned above will be considered for funding in Fiscal Year 2017.  Proposals submitted after that date will be held for the next period of funding consideration.

“Participation in the Agricultural Management Assistance program is completely voluntary and supports agricultural production and environmental quality in Maine,” said NRCS-Maine State Conservationist Juan Hernandez. “The deadline is approaching quickly, so we encourage you to contact your local USDA Service Center as soon as possible.”

For more information on AMA, please contact your local NRCS Service Center. Locations and contact information can be found on the Maine NRCS website www.me.nrcs.usda.gov, along with more information about the programs and services NRCS provides.

–USDA NRCS-Maine


How Much Milk Will Your Forage Support?

Gary Anderson

Last month I looked at how to determine how much forage inventory you need to support your cows through the coming year.  I have talked with people who are searching for feed and some have been looking in the Midwest.  The quality of the feed available there is excellent, the quantity limited and the transportation costs can be high.  Costs I have seen are $3 per loaded mile.  So a truck that is loaded to maximum weight carrying baleage will have a different cost per lb of dry matter than the same truck loaded with high quality hay.  The wetter baleage will increase the cost per lb of dry matter delivered.  The Midwest and upper Midwest had above average moisture this year so forage available from those regions can be very high quality.

This month I want to look at how forage quality impacts your purchased grain costs.  So, last month you figured how much forage you needed and did an inventory of the feeds on hand.  If you were short of feed on hand, I hope that you have secured enough feed to get you through until fresh feed is available next year.  Based on your inventory, size of your silos, and animal needs you have a good idea of how much of each forage you can/have to feed each day to keep feed fresh and not spoil.

Typically, each farm will put together a base forage ration that is then customized to each group of cows/cow being fed.  The ratio of feeds in that base ration usually are based on the amount of feed on hand and how much you can/have to feed to keep feed fresh.  A typical ration in Maine is 50% corn silage and 50% grass or legume silage.  More on this later.

If I look at the requirements for a high producing dairy cow, I can get an idea of the ratio of forages I need to balance a ration effectively.  If I look at a Holstein cow weighing 1400 lbs and producing 80 lbs of 3.8% fat milk, I can generate some nutrient requirements.  The most important of these is dry matter intake; the higher the intake we can get, the more nutrients that are eaten to support maintenance, growth and production. Second among the nutrients is energy and I view this as the limiting nutrient for production.  Energy is determined by the fiber content and so fiber is equally important in putting together an optimum ration.  There are several different types of fiber to evaluate when balancing a ration and that is beyond this article so I am going to concentrate on dry matter intake and energy.

Cows have a requirement for so many megacalories of energy and so many grams of protein.  Every computer program calculates requirements from a prediction equation and numbers can vary from one program to another.  If I go to a simple prediction, let’s say that the dry matter intake of the cow in the paragraph above is 50 lbs and the energy requirement for maintenance, growth and production is 36.2 Mcals Net Energy Lactation.

If I had average corn silage (.72 mcal NEl/lb) and low quality mostly grass silage (.52 mcal NEl/lb) with enough inventory to feed a 50:50 ratio of the two forages on a dry matter basis, the calculated energy density of that mix would be .62 mcal NEl/lb.  If you can get your forage base to be in the 12-14% protein range and the mcal NEl/lb over .65, you can make some nice rations maximizing forage and minimizing purchased feed cost.  We can use Pearson Square to determine the forage:grain ratio that will give us a ballpark figure to see if we can put together a healthy ration.

We start by calculating the energy that is required in the ration by taking the mcal energy required (36.2 mcal NEl) divided by the 50 lbs of dry matter intake giving us an energy density of .73 mcal NEl/lb dry matter.  We can assume that the energy of a grain mix is .84 mcal NEl/lb.  We can set up Pearson Square like the diagram below. We subtract the numbers on the diagonals and then look at the percentages of the total (ie. .84 – .73 = .11 and .62 – .73 =.11 The subtraction is always positive).  Next add .11 and .11 to equal .22;  .11/.22 = .50 or 50% forage and the grain is the remainder  or 100 minus 50 or 50%.  So mixing 50% of the ration as forage and 50% as grain will give us the energy density we desire.  The question is … Is this a healthy ration?  Using thumbrules, we would like to feed no less than 40% forage so this ration passes that test.  This ration would end up feeding about 28 lbs of grain for 80 lbs of milk or 1 lb of grain to 2.85 lbs of milk.  If energy of forages were higher or we used a different ratio of forages, we may be able to put together a ration with less grain.

Illustration showing desired energy of diet

The actual ration can be quickly formulated by your nutritionist using their computer, but I wanted to give you some background in some of the calculations and evaluation factors in determining how forage quality impacts your bottom line.  While I used a mix of high energy corn silage with the grass silage in the first example, if you only had the grass silage, Pearson Square (see diagram below) would show that you would need to feed 34% forage and 66% grain to get the energy required.  This ratio violates our thumbrule above, but may still work if the ration meets fiber requirements.  In any event, the ration with the lower quality forage is much more expensive.

Illustration showing desired energy of diet

Balancing the complete ration is more complex that I have explained here.  This is just a back of the envelope calculation to plan how your forage resources can be best used.  A nutritionist will work to maximize forage use, reduce feed costs and monitor all of the nutrients provided with requirements.  They will also monitor the ration to make sure that you do not exceed gut fill ensuring that cows can eat the ration formulated.  Take some time to evaluate your forage inventory and analyses (ie. Quality and quantity) to plan for the year ahead and get the appropriate feedstuffs to the right cows.


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