Thanksgiving Meals are Delivered to Cows Every Day!

Thanksgiving is here! A time to be thankful for everything we have been blessed with.  Family, friends, health, and food on the table.  If your family is anything like my family, food on the table is a BIG part of Thanksgiving. Eating a delicious home cooked meal is probably ranked a close second to deer hunting for my family’s favorite thing to do on the last Thursday in November. One thing my family has to do every day on our 280 cow dairy farm, whether it is Thanksgiving, the opening day of deer hunting, or any other holiday, is make sure that our cows are fed their big meal for the day, too.  Of course, the cows don’t get a special meal for the Thanksgiving holiday, but they are fed a consistent ration every day, tailored to the needs of the cows and the farmer. Here at ANC, our consultants spend a lot of time Going Beyond Nutrition, observing the cows, evaluating the facilities, and asking questions to determine the best combination of ingredients to help the farmer meet his herd and production goals.  You could say that the cows are getting a “Thanksgiving meal” every day because of the time and preparation it takes to make sure the meal contains the correct ingredients and is “cooked” (mixed and delivered) properly. The steps to making a healthy and nutritious meal for the cows starts by working with an ANC Consultant and the team of nutritionists at ANC to prepare a balanced ration of ingredients to include in the meal. When my family gets together for Thanksgiving, there are certain...
Cold Weather Stressors for Cows, and what you can do about them

Cold Weather Stressors for Cows, and what you can do about them

We can’t control the weather, but we can control how well we manage and prepare our animals during different types of weather. The amount of feed or supplement a cow needs depends on the weather, her environment, her body condition, the quantity and quality of the feed she is receiving, her age and stage of lactation. Start to prepare in the fall: Increasing the body condition of cows before the cold weather hits is one of the best ways to prepare for winter. Feed efficiency decreases in cold weather, so it is much easier to put weight on a cow during the fall, prior to winter. Work with your ANC Consultant to develop a ration that will prepare your cows for winter. During the winter: Cold winter temperatures call for additional time spent caring for and monitoring your livestock of all ages. Cows should be protected from extreme draft by providing dry lying places that also contribute to a dry, fluffy, erect hair coat. It is also vital to meet the nutritional needs of the animal and allowing the animal sufficient freedom of movement. When the temperature drops below 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit, cows compensate for heat loss by increasing energy intake. Therefore, cows must increase heat production to maintain body temperature. Additionally, wind and moisture make the temperature felt by a cow’s body lower than the temperature on the thermometer. During extremely cold weather, cattle need adequate bedding to insulate them from the frozen ground. This will help them conserve their body heat. Their hair coat can also be a factor as to how well they are...

Movember Dairy – Where’s your moustache?

I have always informally known November as “No Shave November,” so when I heard the term “Movember Dairy” I was slightly confused. What did this mean? I wanted to learn more. Movember Dairy is an initiative with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health within the dairy industry. With November already dedicated as “men’s health awareness month” and informally known as “No Shave November” it only made sense to combine these two to create awareness for our dairymen. It is a statistical fact that one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. Now think about this, with 54,000 dairy producers in the United States being men, 8,000 dairy producers alone will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetimes. This doesn’t even consider the tens of thousands of farm employees, industry professionals and international dairy producers who are men.  Additionally, after the age of 69, the average age at diagnosis of prostate cancer in the United States, the chance of developing prostate cancer becomes more common than any other cancer in men or women! However, the good news is that when detected early, it is very successfully treated and if detected early enough the survival rate is nearly 100 percent! Okay, if it is so successfully treatable then what is the big deal? Let me ask you this. How many farmers do you know that are willing to take time away from their animals and/or farm to visit the doctor for a checkup? If you are a dairyman, when was the last time you had a doctor checkup? I can’t imagine you didn’t...

Winter Forage and Crop Management

 With the help of your ANC Consultant, winter forage and crop management does not have to be challenging. Planning ahead and carrying out protocols that will maximize the feed available for your animals throughout the next year can be accomplished by following these steps: 1. Work with your consultant to determine how many tons of feed you need to meet your forage needs for the next 18 months. Discuss your plan to harvest, store and preserve your crop. Dry matter losses on forages can range from 5 to 20%. Determine the economic value of saving even 1% of the dry matter. Develop a plan to minimize harvest, storage and feeding losses. 2. Ask your consultant to develop a plan to reduce dry matter losses in stored forages. Evaluate bunker packing densities. What can be done to improve packing density? Evaluate face management on bunkers and drive over piles. How much feed is being lost? Test fermented forages to get a VFA profile. Are their opportunities for improvement? Develop a detailed plan to minimize bunker losses. Ask your consultant to help you choose the Pro-Store inoculant(s) that will work best for you (click HERE to read the benefits of using Pro-Store inoculants). Place your order for Pro-Store for inoculating this year’s crops. 3. Ask your consultant to inventory your forages. Determine the quantity of forage you can feed between now and the next harvest. If you are going to be short on forage, work with your consultant to develop a plan. If you have excess forage then consider adjustments to your crop planning for the coming year. 4. Ask your consultant to adjust...

The Fresh Cow: An Amazing Machine

The fresh cow is an amazingly complex “factory.” She quickly transitions from her dry period, where her metabolic output is relatively low, to after calving, where she is producing large volumes of milk that requires tremendous metabolic output. Because of this quick transition, a cow’s output of nutrients is greater than her intake of the same nutrients during this time. Hence, the fresh cow will experience a period of negative nutrient balance where she utilizes her body reserves of nutrients in an attempt to compensate for this increased metabolic output. Therefore, in these first five weeks of lactation, cows lose both body fat and body protein. Considering the 5-point scale of body condition, the loss of 1 body condition score point equates to a loss of 120 lbs. of body weight. Ideally, cows should not lose more than 1.5 points of body condition in early lactation, or about 200 lbs. of body weight. Much attention is paid to a cow’s negative energy balance to try and prevent any diseases in fresh cows or catch the signs early if a disease were to occur. For example, the rapid mobilization of body fat reserves can result in cows experiencing clinical and/or subclinical ketosis. Cows in a state of ketosis have suppressed dry matter intakes, lower milk production, and are at an increased risk for a displaced abomasum (DA). In addition to the risk of diseases like ketosis, cows that have experienced excessive loss of body condition are at a greater risk for delayed conception and longer calving intervals. The loss of body protein reserves in the early lactation stage receives less...