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JUNE 13, 2013
By: University News Release
By Kathy Lee, Michigan State University
Effectively managing udder health on dairy farms requires a good record keeping system and routine monitoring of somatic cell count (SCC) data.
Effectively managing udder health on dairy farms requires a good record keeping system and routine monitoring of somatic cell count (SCC) data. Michigan State University Extension dairy educators recognize the importance of using SCC data to determine the overall udder health status of dairy herds. SCC data for individual cows also help focus on those specific cows with udder infections.
Dairy Records Management Systems (DRMS) offers the Udder Health Monitor report (DHI-427) to summarize SCC data collected through DHIAs (Dairy Herd Information Associations). Data from individual cows are used to calculate the overall SCC average for the herd and to monitor udder health of subgroups of cows based on lactation number or stage of lactation. Newly infected cows or cows with chronic udder infections also are identified.
The Udder Health Monitor report contains various graphs, tables and lists to look at current SCC infection rates, current SCC averages by lactation and stage of lactation, changes in infection rates during the past 12 months, and infected cows. For several of the graphs and tables, dairy producers, dairy farm managers and herd consultants can see how their herds compare to the Top 20 percent Herds within their herd size category. The three herd size groups are: 1-199 cows, 200-999 cows, and 1,000+ cows.
The Current SCC Infection Rates graph and table provide the total number and percentage of infected cows for several subgroups of cows. Users can evaluate differences in infection rates based on lactation number (first, second, or third and greater). They also can determine if they are meeting their goals to minimize the number of new and chronic infections and the number of infected fresh cows.
Monitoring average SCC and infection rates by stage of lactation will help pinpoint the potential source of udder infections. For example, high SCC in fresh and early-lactation cows could be lowered by making management changes in the dry cow groups or maternity pens. The Current SCC by Stage of Lactation graph shows the percent of cows by SCC level for 3 stages of lactation: 5-29 days in milk (DIM), 30-220 DIM and 220+ DIM.
Graphs of monthly trends in infection rates will illustrate progress resulting from management changes to improve milk quality. Or the graphs may alert herd owners and managers when infection rates begin to trend upward. Trends in new and chronic infections as well as infections in fresh cows are graphed for the past 12 months.
Comparing a cow’s SCC at the previous test day to the current test day SCC in her current lactation in a scatter-plot graph shows the prevalence of cows in these 4 categories:
Not infected – previous and current SCC < 4.0
New infection – previous SCC =4.0
Cure – previous SCC >=4.0 and current SCC =4.0
In addition to summarized SCC herd data, the Udder Health Monitor report includes lists of infected cows that may need specialized attention. Milk samples may need to be collected and cultured, cows may benefit from treatment or other action may be required.
The Udder Health Monitor report (DHI-427) is available on a monthly or quarterly basis. More information about these reports can be obtained from the herd’s DHI information specialist or technician.
Managing udder health in dairy herds requires routine monitoring of individual cow and herd SCC information. The Udder Health Monitor can be a valuable tool for herd owners and managers as well as herd veterinarians to identify potential problems in the herd mastitis control program and opportunities for improvement.
JUNE 3, 2013
By: Ben Potter, Farm Journal Technology Editor
University of Minnesota study looks at water usage for 16 major row crops.
Ever wonder how much crop you’re getting per drop? A group of research scientists were, and they just published a study on their findings. Scientists with the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment (IonE), along with the Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation at the University of Bonn (Germany) conducted the study.
IonE postdoctoral research scholar Kate Brauman led the research team, which looked at crop production, water use and crop-water productivity across multiple climate zones for 16 different crops , including corn, soybean, wheat, potato and more. They found a wide range of variation in crop-water productivity in places that have similar climates, which could translate into water savings opportunities.
“For example, disease presence or nutrient availability can cause big yield changes even though water consumption is the same,” Brauman says.
The implications for capitalizing on these “crop per drop” variances are substantial, Brauman adds. The researchers calculated that in drier regions, farmers could raise enough food to provide for an additional 110 million people without increasing water use or using additional cropland – simply by improving the very lowest performers to just the 20th percentile.
“Because crop production consumes more freshwater than any other human activity on the planet, the study has significant implications for addressing the twin challenges of water stress and food insecurity,” Brauman says.
As part of the study, researchers calculated total water consumption, rain fed consumption and irrigation consumption across the 16 crops. Here are the top 5 irrigated U.S. crops, for example:
3. Rice Wheat
MAY 30, 2013
By: University News Release
By Aimee Nielson, University of Kentucky
Just as the summer grilling season is heating up, beef supplies across the country are down, meaning it might cost a little more to host that backyard party. In fact, the number of beef cattle in the U.S. is reportedly less than 30 million—the lowest number since the early 1960s. And when numbers go down and feed prices go up, consumers end up paying more at the grocery store.
“In the interest of telling the whole story, productivity has also increased since that time,” says Kenny Burdine, an University of Kentucky (UK) College of Agriculture economist. “But, the combination of fewer cattle over the past several years and generally strong export markets has left beef supplies relatively tight.”
UK beef specialist Les Anderson explained that for the past several years, many beef producing areas of the U.S. have experienced drought situations and increased feed costs.
“Drought affected vast segments of many of the beef producing states, and that led farmers to reduce the number of cattle they produce,” he says. “Also, many feed costs have been markedly higher during the drought periods, so ranchers have been reluctant to hold onto their cattle simply because it costs too much to feed them.”
Because of those conditions, Burdine says the industry has seen sizeable decreases in cattle inventory in many areas—most notably the Southern Plains.
“Many areas have been impacted by the weather, including the Southeast,” he says. “Another factor worth noting is that we are seeing a considerable conversion of pasture and hay ground to row crop production.”
Even in Kentucky, beef cow numbers are down, about 15% from January 2007 to January 2013, but beef specialists expect the beef industry in the state to hold steady.
“Kentucky farmers have leased land, previously used for pasture, to crop farmers because of high prices being paid for land leases,” says Roy Burris, UK beef specialist at the UK Research and Education Center in Princeton. “But, a lot of land here is not suitable for cropping, so the best use for that land is to continue grazing. Barring any severe droughts, I really think cattle numbers in Kentucky will hold steady.”
All that says, consumers still have a strong demand for beef products, and that means the U.S. will export about 2% less beef and import about 15% more.
“Even with strong demand, U.S. beef consumption per person dropped to about 55 lb. per year, compared to 63 lb. in 2008,” says Lee Meyer, UK College of Agriculture economist. “It had peaked at 94 lb. in 1976 and was at about 65 lb. just 10 years ago.”
Jim Robb, director of the Livestock Marketing Information Center in Denver says in a recent Wall Street Journal article that in 2012, Americans spent $288.40 per person on beef, a 4.2 percent increase from $276.80 a year earlier as retail prices rose. He says U.S. beef sales reached $90.6 billion last year, up from $86.4 billion in 2011. Yet volume is in decline.
At the grocery store, consumers will be in for some sticker shock as experts expect beef prices to set record highs in coming weeks.
Although it won’t make a significant difference in overall beef supply, Kentucky does have many producers who produce beef for local markets. Meyer says that as feedlot production costs have gone up so much, the relative cost of producing beef on Kentucky pasture-based systems has decreased.
“Kentucky is becoming more competitive in local beef markets, and this will support market growth,” he says.
It’s hard to tell when the situation will stabilize or reverse. In the big picture, this is only part of a cattle cycle that producers know well.
“Supply and demand ebb and flow in what producers recognize as the ‘cattle cycle,’” Burdine says. “Most cycles are approximately 10-year periods where the number of U.S. beef cattle is expanded and reduced in response to how producers perceive changes in profitability. But, with the constraints facing managers, this expansion may see long delays.”
The cattle cycle seems relatively long because it takes time between when cow-calf producers decide to expand their herds to breed more beef cattle and the time when those animals reach harvest weight.
“There are always many fluctuations in prices and profitability for producers and consumers alike,” Burdine says.
MAY 22, 2013
By: University News Release
By Darrel Good, University of Illinois
Corn and soybean prices rallied sharply beginning in July 2012 as U.S. drought conditions unfolded. It was generally expected that prices would follow the pattern experienced in other “short crop” years, with prices peaking near harvest and then returning to pre-drought levels later in the marketing year. That pattern has generally unfolded, with some differences between corn and soybeans and between old crop and new crop prices.
For old crop corn prices, July 2013 futures peaked at $8.24 on Aug. 10, 2012, nearly $3 above the June 2012 low. That contract is currently trading near $6.50, well below the peak, but still above the pre-drought level. Due to an inverted price structure, spot cash prices have been above July futures in much of the Corn Belt since January 2013 and that strong basis continues.
Prices remain generally high as it is not yet clear that the small crop of 2012 has been sufficiently rationed. Exports remain weak, but ethanol production is rebounding from the low levels in the first half of the marketing year. Uncertainty still surrounds the magnitude of feed and residual use of corn.
There is some expectation that the slow rate of use for the second quarter of the marketing year implied by the March 1 stocks estimate will be followed by a higher rate of use implied by the June 1 stocks estimate to be released by USDA on June 28. That report will indicate whether sufficient rationing has been accomplished and will set the direction for old crop prices.
For new crop corn, prices have completed the transition back to pre-drought levels. December 2013 futures peaked at $6.64 on Sept. 10, 2012, about $1.50 above the June 2012 low. That contract is currently trading just over $5.15, about $0.05 above the summer 2012 low. This past week of rapid corn planting progress has reduced some of the concern about acreage and yield prospects.
A larger than average percentage of the 2013 crop will be planted later than is optimum for maximum yield potential, but there is growing confidence that the 2013 crop will be large enough to meet market requirements at much lower prices than experienced over the past year. However, the season for determining average yield and production is just beginning.
Soybean prices have behaved similarly to corn prices, but are still well above pre-drought levels. July 2013 futures peaked at $16.05 on Sept. 14, 2012, about $3.85 above the June 2012 low. That contract is currently trading near $14.60, still in the upper half of the trading range of the past year.
Due to the on-going futures price inversion, spot cash prices in the Corn Belt have been above July futures all year, with basis levels strengthening in recent weeks. Old crop prices are being supported by prospects of a minimum level of year ending stocks and the need for consumption to remain under the pace of a year ago.
For example, available supplies are expected to limit the domestic crush to 1.635 billion bushels, 4% less than the crush in the previous year. Based on NOPA crush estimates, crush during the first half of the year was 8% larger than the crush of a year earlier. Crush during the last half of the year, then, needs to be 16% less than that of last year. Crush in March was down only 2.5%, and the just released crush estimate for April was down about 9% from the crush in April 2012. A 22% year-over-year decline is needed during the last four months of the marketing year.
For new crop soybeans, prices are closer to a complete transition back to pre-drought levels. November 2013 futures peaked at $14.10 on Sept. 14, 2012, $2.70 above the June 2012 low. That contract is currently trading near $12.25, $0.85 above the low of a year ago and $1.85 below the peak. New crop price weakness reflects expectations of a large U.S. harvest this fall following the recent harvest of a very large crop in South America.
Old crop corn and soybean prices are expected to be supported until sufficient rationing has been confirmed. If 2013 production levels reach current expectations, further weakness in new crop prices would be expected. Of course, that is the question. What kind of summer weather will unfold? For old crop, current price premiums suggest a strategy of spacing additional sales over
For new crop, production uncertainty along with prices well below the spring crop insurance prices suggests a strategy of modest sales for those with high levels of revenue insurance coverage the next several weeks.
MAY 20, 2013
Corn rose for a second day in Chicago before a government report that will show whether U.S. farmers accelerated planting, while more rain in the forecast this week threatens to disrupt fieldwork.
Wet, cold weather in recent weeks left 28% of the crop sown as of May 12, the lowest for that time of year since at least 1980, USDA data show. USDA is set to update its weekly crop progress report today. Eastern regions of the Midwest saw drier weekend weather, while parts of the northern Great Plains, Iowa and Minnesota had more than 4 inches of rain, QT Weather said.
“All focus today will rest on U.S. planting progress,” Jaime Nolan-Miralles, a commodity risk manager with INTL FCStone Inc. in Dublin, said in an e-mailed report. “With weather relatively supportive last week, many are expecting a jump in corn plantings.”
Corn for delivery in July gained 0.7 percent to $6.57 a bushel at 6:41 a.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade. The grain climbed 2.6 percent last week and is up 1.1 percent this month.
The Midwest and Great Plains may see more rain through May 22, slowing fieldwork, AccuWeather Inc. said in a report today. The Plains may see a second storm system late this week and during the weekend, it said.
Soybeans for delivery in July rose 0.1% to $14.5025 per bu. The oilseed touched $14.5475, the highest for a most-active contract since March 28. Six percent of the crop was planted in the main growing states as of May 12, against the previous five-year average of 24 percent, according to the USDA.
Wheat for delivery in July slipped 0.1% to $6.825 per bu. In Paris, milling wheat for delivery in November touched 204.75 euros ($263.39) a metric ton, the lowest for a most-active contract since June 18, on NYSE Liffe and was last down 0.4% at 205.50 euros.
Russia’s wheat harvest may be larger than expected at 53.8 million tons, Dmitry Rylko, director of Moscow-based researcher IKAR, said today. Total grain production may be 92 million tons after conditions “improved significantly in April,” he said.
In the U.S., 43% of spring-wheat crops in main growing regions were sown by May 12, behind the five-year average pace of 63 percent, USDA data show. Areas of North Dakota, the biggest growing state for spring varieties, South Dakota and Minnesota are at risk of flooding near the Red River of the North and its tributaries because of heavy rainfall this week, AccuWeather said today.