It is understandable how proteins—or more specifically amino acids–impact milk production, since they make up a portion of the milk protein fraction. When the supply of amino acids is inadequate, we observe not only lower milk protein yield, but also milk fat yield and milk volume suffer. However, we are now learning that simply thinking of amino acids in terms of milk production is taking a fairly narrow view of these multifunctional nutrients. A wider lens takes into consideration the cow’s metabolic need for dietary amino acids beyond serving as building blocks for proteins. Functional amino acids are those amino acids that participate in and regulate key metabolic pathways to improve health, growth, development, and reproduction, in addition to lactation.
At the top of a rise on the Monkton Road in Ferrisburgh, Vermont, the main facilities of Allandra Farm sit at the hub of a patchwork quilt of majestic fields and pastures. At the center of its activity is CEO, Alan Brisson, managing an operation that has grown over the years to roughly 900 Holsteins and 2,300 acres. He has a long history in the area and is in his 43rd year of farming, but on this late-summer day he’s not thinking much about the past.
At a quieter spot a few miles down the road, he’s spending some time with his prizewinning herd of 130 Brown Swiss; and he’s thinking about the future of Vermont’s dairy farms in an era of increased regulation. “For 30 years, there wasn’t that much coming out of Montpelier that was affecting us,” he says, “but in the last six or seven years there’s been a ton.”
Much of it centers around agriculture’s impact on Lake Champlain and other watersheds around the state, an issue many producers have been working to address for years; but for those grappling with known variables in everything from rainfall to milk prices, keeping up with the latest legislation and the state’s Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) is an added challenge to what already feels like a precarious way of life. In Brisson’s opinion, the stakes for farmers are high, and he’s direct in expressing his view of the risk.
The Fall 2017 edition of Perspectives Magazine is here! As always, Perspectives is brought to you by Phoenix Feeds & Nutrition!
We take a look at the Champlain Valley Water Coalition—learn about what Vermont farmers are doing to improve the waterways. This issue is also jam packed with lots of excellent tips and technical articles from industry experts. Read the digital edition here or sign up to get future updates delivered straight to your inbox.
“I start at 5 a.m.”
“I’m usually here at 5:30.”
Chris Lourie and Jeff Grennon are used to early mornings and the 12 to 14 hour workday. As herdsmen for Pleasant Valley Farms in Richford, Vermont, they’re responsible for the health of the dairy’s 3,000 cows. Forget sit-down lunch breaks. They eat while walking through the barns.
“I average between 11 ½ and 13 miles a day, walking,” Chris says. “And that’s just inside the barn.” He motions to a tracking app on his phone.
“25,000…35,000 steps,” Jeff adds. “I had a Fitbit in my pocket for awhile. Then I lost it. Just as well!” Both men laugh.
Sitting in a break room at the farm—so far north in Vermont you can see the Canadian border on the horizon—the herdsmen pause during their busy Saturday morning for an interview with Phoenix Feeds. Chris, in a ball cap and Carhartt vest, rocks back and forth in a chair. Jeff, in coveralls with his name in cursive on the pocket, drums a tabletop. The pair are fidgety—perhaps guiltily so. They’re not used to being off their feet.
When asked to talk about what they do on a daily basis, they visibly relax. At 54 years old—they’re the same age—both men have had long careers in the dairy industry, respectively. They’re experts in this subject.
Layout and design of your feed center can save you more money, or cost you more money, depending on your operation. There are many different ways to build a feed center that will work for you. You have to decide what type best fits your management style. Maybe a fully automated system is best suited to your management capabilities to allow you to feed with minimal labor. Or, you may want to have a feed center that has little to no mechanization, other than a loader and a mixer. Another way may be to use a combination of the best features of both to maximize your feeding operation’s efficiency. Studies have shown that as tons of feed per labor hour increase, typically the cost per ton to deliver the feed decreases, which means the layout and design is critical to the overall efficiency of your dairy’s feeding operation by having the feedstuffs as close to the loading area as possible. Do your homework on feed center design and layout before you pour concrete and can’t change it. Go visit as many different feed centers as you can, and ask the operator’s thoughts on each type of feed center visited. You can take the best ideas from several and incorporate them into one that best suits your operation. To give you an idea of the possible designs, find generalized layouts for the three types below.
We’re proud to announce the release of the Summer 2017 edition of Perspectives Magazine, brought to you by Phoenix Feeds & Nutrition!
This issue, check out our featured farm story on Landview Farm in Eagle Bridge, NY. In addition to great human interest stories, we also have you covered on the technical side of things with tips and best practices. Read the digital edition here or sign up to get future updates delivered straight to your inbox.
Just like tax season comes around every year, whether we like it or not, it requires preparation and action on our part; heat stress also comes around every year, whether we like it or not—and it too requires preparation and action on our part to help our animals cope with the summer heat. While it may still feel like “heat” is months away, it is not too soon to start preparation. Now is a good time to start testing sprinklers and fans but also giving thought to what else you might consider to help your animals this summer.
The Spring 2017 issue of Perspectives magazine is here, brought to you by Phoenix Feeds & Nutrition!
There’s a wealth of amazing stories this issue, from our Featured Farm, McKnight’s River Breeze Farm, to in-depth technical articles from industry experts. Read the digital edition here or sign up to get future updates delivered straight to your inbox.
You find a cow that calved last night lying down with her head back over her flank. She can’t stand and her ears are cold. She has milk fever! If you treat her before muscle or nerve damage has occurred, an I.V. injection of calcium will get her on her feet in minutes. Unfortunately, she is still in trouble. That bout of severe hypocalcemia sets her up for more problems and makes her more likely to be culled.
But milk fever is just the tip of the iceberg. Sub-clinical hypocalcemia, a calcium deficiency mild enough that cows don’t show any symptoms, is way more prevalent than the clinical form. This is where the big economic drain occurs, with increased incidences of retained placenta, displaced abomasum, ketosis, mastitis, and reduced milk production in early lactation. In many herds, 30–60% of the cows and 25% of the first-calf heifers develop sub-clinical hypocalcemia. At the onset of lactation, large amounts of calcium move from the blood into colostrum and milk. The calcium lost to milk must be replaced from diet calcium or from calcium stored in bones if the cow is to avoid a further decline in blood calcium.
Preventing sub-clinical hypocalcemia will improve the health, productivity, and longevity of cows, as well as improve the economic bottom line of the dairy. And, prevention is possible with SoyChlor®, a palatable chloride supplement for close-up dry dairy cows.
The Winter 2017 issue of Perspectives magazine is here, brought to you by Phoenix Feeds & Nutrition!
This issue features Hatchland Farm, a producer-handler in Haverhill, New Hampshire, as well as a wealth of other topics about dairy farming in the Northeast. Read the digital edition here or sign up to get future updates delivered straight to your inbox.