Dairy Cow

Dairy Management Tip for the Month - October 2022

Practice the 3 S’s when managing springers

Softness- providing a comfortable place to lie down which is stocked at < 100% of capacity.

Space—providing adequate bunk space (at least 30 inches/cow) to maximize intake

Screen- to identify cows, which are failing.  Protocols utilizing technology definitely have a place in the management of transition cows.  However, they cannot replace the need for a “cow person” to walk around, observe cows, and implement protocols. This serves as a reminder that people with good cow sense and who pay attention to details are invaluable in avoiding potential disasters.

--Dr. Nigel Cook- UW Madison


September Tip:  Milking time practices impact milking efficiency and mastitis incidence

  • Physically touch or stimulate teats for 10 seconds before attaching milking unit. When teats are properly stimulated, a signal is sent to the brain resulting in the release of oxytocin into the blood. Oxytocin acts on cells in the udder resulting in milk letdown. This process takes 1-2 minutes, thus the reason for waiting 1 to 2 minutes before attaching the machine.
  • Prevent overmilking by removing the milking unit within 30 seconds after milking is done. Overmilking can cause hyperkeratosis (rough teat ends) and result in a place for bacteria to colonize and cause mastitis. Automatic takeoffs need to be checked to make sure they are operating properly to prevent overmilking.

August Tip:  Heat Stress Negatively Impacts Reproduction During and After Heat Events

  • Heat stress decreases  estrous duration, follicular growth, conception rates, and early embryo survival irrespective of use of AI or natural service.
  • Heat stress 1 to 2 days before AI and during early pregnancy decreases fertility.
  • Some reproductive physiologists estimate negative effects last 6 weeks past heat stress events.
  • Bulls also have decreased fertility associated with heat stress and effects last well past heat stress events.
  • These negative impacts reemphasize the need for fans and sprinklers in barns, at feedbunks, and in holding pens.

July Tip:  Corn Silage Harvest Practices Impact Milk Production, Grain Bill, and Overall Profitability

  • Moisture of the corn plant determines the time to harvest.  Harvest at 62 to 65% moisture (35 to 38% DM) (Choppers without kernel processors should be harvested a little wetter– 32 to 35% DM to allow breakage of corn kernels.)
  • Healthy corn plants dry down 0.5 to 1.0%/day.
  • Corn is generally harvested 40 to 45 days post-tasseling.
  • Adjust rollers on kernel processors so that no more than 2 or 3 half or whole kernels of corn (cob in 8 pieces) are found in a chopped sample contained in a 32 oz. cup.  Spacing between rollers should be such that a dime will not fit between the rollers.  Kernel processors do increase power requirements and thus diesel usage.  However, for each additional gallon of diesel at $6/gal. used, only 0.05 lbs of milk ($22/cwt) are needed to recoup additional fuel cost with 20 ton/acre corn silage.  Extra diesel costs can very quickly be recouped from additional milk volume and thus income.
  • For bunkers and piles, pack the chopped silage with a tractor weighing 800 times the number of wet tons delivered per hour at a speed of 1.5 to 2.5 mph.
  • Cover top of uprights, piles, and bunkers with plastic.  For bunkers, line bunker sides with plastic with extra plastic overlapping the walls.  Once filled, use the extra plastic to cover part of the top closest to the walls to prevent water seeping under the top cover of plastic and causing spoilage.