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8/3/2013 7:00 AM

To Participate in Penn State Dairy Team’s Know Your <\n>Numbers’ Program

Each year, Penn State Extension dairy educators conduct a program called “Know Your Numbers,” which is designed to help dairy producers protect their milk margin, calculate a true breakeven milk price and assess feeding and cropping strategies to improve farm profitability.

The program has been a great success. Seventy-five farms from south-central Pennsylvania participated directly in the program last year, and more than 140 farms were involved statewide.

The program provides a whole farm review of cropping operations, herd nutritional strategies and use of home raised feeds.

Dairy producers participating in the program have used the power of this analysis to bring their feed and crop costs, as well as ration costs, in line to assure a milk margin, while maintaining milk production.

To enroll your herd in this program, call your local county Extension office. In south-central Pennsylvania, call Tim Beck or Heather Weeks, Extension dairy educators at 717-240-6500.

To Track Transition Cull Rate

While there is some disagreement over the optimum cull rate for dairy herds, there is very little disagreement about the goal for the benchmark known as transition cull rate.

Transition cull rate accounts for the cows that leave the herd from three weeks before calving to two months after calving. It should be 6 percent or less.

The importance of tracking this benchmark on your farm is obvious. To lose cows in this time frame is to give up a great deal of potential milk sales for that animal.

If you have transition cull rates above 6 percent, start by evaluating body condition scores, how fast cows lose condition in early lactation and the condition of cows at calving.

Additional areas to check are the dry cow nutrition program and herd protocols for checking and tracking sick cows in early lactation.

To Stay Vigilant <\n>About Safety on Your Farm

Many communities and organizations hold farm and home safety training events during this time of year.

Penn State Extension is often a partner in teaching safety information at these events, which are often extremely well-attended. But all of this effort in farm safety training is wasted if the information and training is not applied at home and in your daily farm operations.

Just this week, a farm accident claimed another life in south-central Pennsylvania. Accidents can happen fast. Being vigilant regarding farm safety may not prevent every accident, but will certainly lower the odds.

Bring your families to farm safety events in your community, take the information home and apply it to your farm operations!

A farm hazard that has recently received attention is the spare farm gate. Almost all farms have a couple of spare gates that come in handy to push livestock onto a trailer or move animals from one location to another.

Be sure those spare gates are stored properly. Unfortunately on many farms, spare gates are simply propped against a wall or post. If the gates are not secured, a small child who decides to climb that gate may cause it to topple over, crushing the child below.

Unfortunately, a child recently died when an unsecured gate toppled over like that. Make sure spare gates are securely tied or chained to the wall or post against which they are leaning.

Quote of the Week

“The American dream is not that every man must be level with every other man. The American dream is that every man must be free to become whatever God intends he should become.”

— President Ronald Reagan

David L. Swartz is filling in this week for regular columnist Leon Ressler. Swartz is district director of Penn State Cooperative Extension for Cumberland, Dauphin and Perry counties.


Given the prolonged winter, have you been able to do any of your spring planting?

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4/24/2014 | Last Updated: 9:30 PM