Truffle Media Networks focuses on bringing usable media to agri-business professionals in dairy.
How can you connect with those professionals? Truffle Media Networks offers a channel that reaches producers, farm operation management, large animal veterinarians, production staff, and researchers. Learn more about how to make those connections.
While other agricultural products are doing well for growers, U.S. dairy farmers are not doing as well. Feed prices combined with an over supply of milk products are pushing prices and profits down.
Dairy farmers expanded herds following the 70 percent jump in prices to a record in 2007, just before the U.S. began its longest recession since before World War II and unemployment rose to the highest level in a quarter century. Weaker demand was compounded by this year’s drought, floods or freezing weather from Canada to Kazakhstan that ruined crops and boosted competition for U.S. grain that dairies require.
It is anticipated that there will be some dairy operations that will fail in the coming months. It is also believed that the next year will continue to be rough on dairy producers because of continued market pressures from animal feed corn.
Corn futures have risen 48 percent since the end of June, the biggest gain in the Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index of 19 raw materials after sugar. The U.S. Department of Agriculture cut its estimate for the crop on Nov. 9 for a third straight month because of flooding in Iowa and Missouri and hot, dry weather from Illinois to Ohio.
Corn production and demand are coming together to increase corn prices. This is great for corn growers but not great for those that depend on corn for animal feed. Adding ethanol into the mix again put corn in the middle of the food versus fuel debate.
Ethanol is consuming corn at a rate that is only 10 percent less than that of livestock and poultry demand. And more than one bushel of corn out of three produced in the US will be converted to ethanol in the current marketing year. That is going to cause concern about the amount of corn we will produce and whether it will be enough to meet demand with minimal rationing. And that causes concern for the traders.
Dr. Robert Wisner, University Professor Emeritus at Iowa State University, states "Corn supplies will be tight and some rationing of demand likely will be needed in the year ahead." This is not a great situation for those in animal agriculture without hedges and other risk mitigation actions in play.
Ted Funk, a University of Illinois Extension agricultural engineer with the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE), and Matt Robert, an ABE research engineer, constructed two biofilters on the ABE research farm to reduce odor emissions by up to 90%.
"The new design uses 30-inch concrete silo staves that fit together like puzzle pieces," said Robert.
The biofilters media is expected to last between three and five years and cost about dollar per cubic foot per minute (cfm) of air handled.
"Reducing odor and being a good neighbor sound good until it comes to the pocketbook," said Funk. "Biofiltration has been around a long time in other industries, but it's never been brought down to a cost that the livestock industry can handle."
University of Minnesota's West Central Research and Outreach Center is a center whose goal is to disseminate knowledge and information, focusing on west central Minnesota. Orginally an agricultural experiment station, research has expanded to include studies of environmental quality and renewable energy. From an article in AgriNews, Brad Heins is new dairy scientist at WCROC
The center has 110 cows in a conventional grazing system and another 90 in organics. Besides Holsteins, the center has been crossbreeding cattle with Jerseys, Swedish Reds, Norwegian Reds, Mont Beliards and Normandes. One reason the Normandes are part of the breeding program is the high percentage of BB Capa Casein found in their milk. The BB is beneficial for cheese production, he said. Heins envisions the center one day having an a small cheese plant.
Of note are is a late calf weaning project, where a group of calves are weaned at 90 days in an organic system.
Since there aren't any organic milk replacers, they are monitoring the effectiveness of late weaning vs. early weaning.
A deft hand is needed to get the silage piles in the right form. From Modesto, CA, this article also shares with non-farmers what silage is, how it is harvested, and why it is used as feed for dairy cows.
Who knew that silage piles — those giant mounds of dairy feed covered with plastic sheeting — could be works of art?
A delicate touch helps when managing the piles, which can degrade if too much air gets inside them.
That's why Larry Pacheco tries to minimize the exposed surface when he removes some of the feed from a pile with a tractor.
Silage, which dairy farmers make by fermenting corn or other crops for a few weeks after harvesting, has become an important feed in the Northern San Joaquin Valley and elsewhere.
And it's another example of the sophisticated work behind the seemingly simple business of producing food.
North valley farmers produced about $212 million worth of silage last year, according to county crop reports.