August 2020 Vol. 1
Brought to you by Dairy's Professional Development Organization®
INCREASING THE AMOUNT OF GRASS HAY IN CALF RATIONS can alter ruminal fermentation patterns of calves between 9 and 16 weeks of age, according to research published in the Journal of Dairy Science. The study focused on 45 calves receiving rations with increasing levels of grass hay: 10%, 17.5% or 25% on a dry-matter basis. Calves were weaned at six weeks of age and studied from 7 to 16 weeks. No differences were shown before nine weeks, but after that period, final body weight, average daily gain, dry matter intake and metabolizable energy intake all decreased with the higher grass-hay rations. Learn more here.
UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL BEHAVIORS IN COWS may help farmers design better management practices and housing. Researchers in Chile and California studied social grooming in a group of 38 cows for four hours a day over a 30-day period during early lactation. They found trends associated with age, social rank and reproductive status, including trends showing that older cows groomed more than younger ones, and that cows mainly groomed individuals of a similar age. Cows also had the tendency to groom individuals that had previously groomed them, showing possible cooperation among animals. Additional research is needed to determine the impact of management practices on behaviors, but the study highlights the usefulness of considering social-network dynamics to understand the complexity of cows' relationships. Read the full study in Frontiers in Veterinary Science here.
For your business mind
STRENGTHEN EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT BY ASKING the right questions. Identifying potential problems before they surface and ensuring employees stay on track with their goals has a positive impact on your organization’s culture and bottom line. Questions to ask employees include:
  1. Is there anything you need more of from the organization to be successful in your role? Is there anything you need less of?
  2. Is there anything you need from me? Is there anything I could be doing differently that would be helpful to you? 
  3. Is there anything unclear about your role, or that you need clarity or direction on?
  4. Do you have a vision for how this role will help reach your goals? Is there anything you want to discuss or brainstorm about? 
  5. Is there anything about your current role that is aggravating?
  6. Is there anything you’d like to do that you’re not currently doing?
  7. Is there anyone with whom you're experiencing challenges? Is there anyone who’s a little difficult to work with at the moment?

Read more in this Forbes article.
WRITTEN BUSINESS PLANS CAN HAVE A POSITIVE IMPACT on the mental health of farmers, even during challenging times, according to a study on Canadian farmers. Researchers found that while only 21% of farmers regularly follow a written business plan, an overwhelming majority of those who do – 88% – claim that it has contributed to peace of mind. Though business management planning does not eliminate stress, it does lead to more effective coping and can help improve on-farm relationships. Click here to read the report.
TIMES OF CRISIS PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES TO RETHINK PRIORITIES. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in fundamental changes in many aspects of our personal and professional lives. As we move toward a “new normal,” take time to assess what’s most important, and use this shift to take a fresh look at business practices to build a stronger foundation for the future. Some questions to ask yourself and your team include:
  1. What has become clear to you in the last few months? 
  2. Where are you spending energy without getting the desired results?
  3. What have you uncovered about your personal life that needs to be improved or encouraged?
  4. What are some small steps you can take to work in a more collaborative way?
Read more in the full article.
The Dairy Signal
DON’T MISS THE DAIRY SIGNAL. Leading experts across dairy and agricultural industries, producers, and universities, along with government and regulatory officials continue to participate in the three-times-weekly episodes of The Dairy Signal™. In addition to the latest insights in today’s marketplace, content on this free educational program features management topics relevant for the season and economy.

Episodes are recorded live each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from noon until 1 p.m., and the recordings are available for free here.

Presenters and topics covered recently include:
Find out the latest on the CARES Act, including what has been paid out to dairy farmers in Wisconsin and across the country
  • Sandy Chalmers, State Executive Director, USDA Wisconsin Farm Service Agency

Learn proactive management practices for producing quality feed from 2020 forage crops and consider alternative feeding strategies to utilize this year’s feed and what remains of feed stores from 2019.
  • Dr. John Goeser, Director of Nutritional Research and Innovation, Rock River Lab, Inc., and Adjunct Assistant Professor, UW-Madison Dairy Science Department

Understand the numbers lenders are looking for and the basics of annual balance sheets and income statements for your business.
  • Gary Sipiorski, Business and Financial Consultant
  • Dr. Kevin Bernhardt, Professor of Agribusiness at UW-Platteville School of Agriculture, and Farm Management Specialist with UW-Extension and Center

Learn about the benefits of group housing for calves including growth performance, animal welfare and consumer acceptance, and discover whether it’s a good fit for your operation.
  • Dr. Jennifer Van Os, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in Animal Welfare at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Dr. Theresa Ollivett, DVM, Assistant Professor at the UW-Madison Department of Medical Sciences

Learn how dairy farmers and the industry can make positive advances into making climate-neutral initiatives a reality.
  • Dr. Frank Mitloehner, Ph.D., Professor and Air Quality Extension Specialist with the Department of Animal Science at University of California, Davis

Hear the latest updates on marketing trends in dairy, crop, beef, milk and ethanol markets in the U.S. and around the globe.
  • Dan Basse, Economist and President of AgResource Company

These programs are created for you; be sure to contact us if you have suggestions for future programs and/or presenters. Email
Dairy currents
SMALLER SELECTIONS ON GROCERY STORE SHELVES may be a lasting impact from the COVID-19 pandemic. During the height of the coronavirus outbreak when grocery retailers were managing limited inventories, implementing safety processes and scrambling to restock shelves, they focused efforts on highest-demand items. As supply chains return to more normal conditions, retailers are reporting that the smaller selection on shelves can reduce customer confusion and trim expenses for stores. Read more in this article about how retailers are looking to balance the need for innovative new products and streamlining their supply chains. 
DAIRY EXPORTS HIGHER IN FIRST HALF OF 2020, with double-digit growth during a time of significant trade disruptions. The U.S. Dairy Export Council reported that export value was up 13% and volume was up 14% during the first six months of the year. Cheese exports hit a record high in June, up 29% over 2019 levels. Read more in this USDEC post. 
GOT MILK?” CAMPAIGN BACK IN A NEW WAY. With the "social-first generation" in mind, the impetus for reviving the iconic campaign was a resurgence of dairy milk sales amid the global pandemic, according to Yin Woon Rani, chief executive of the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP). Though milk sales have been declining by about 2% to 2.5% annually, milk remains a staple in 94% of American households – and then shelter-in-place lockdowns boosted sales by dramatically altering buying patterns. For the 20-week period that ended on July 18, sales of cow's milk totaled $4.5 billion, an increase of 11.7% from the same period in 2019. Click here to read the CNN story about the new social media campaign.
Book review
BOOK REVIEW: LEADERSHIP IS LANGUAGE: THE HIDDEN POWER OF WHAT YOU SAY AND WHAT YOU DON’T. Choosing your words carefully has always been important in relationships and the workplace, but it’s more critical now than ever before. Author and former U.S. Navy Captain L. David Marquet shares that most of the language we use in business today started during a time when most employees were doing manual labor and simply followed orders from managers. That language needs to be updated for today’s workforce, including making efforts to provide information – not merely instructions. Read more here
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”
~Frederick Douglass
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