K-State Research and Extension News
"Milk Lines" is co-produced by the K-State College of Agriculture and the K-State Radio Network. Each week, Mike Brouk provides the latest information for today's dairy producers.
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Milk Lines
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Once fall fieldwork activity slows down, dairy producers would do well to re-assess their operations, striving to make them even more business-like.  That’s according to K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk, who this week passes along a checklist of business principles that he says all dairy operators should take into account.

It is not uncommon for dairy producers to feed corn silage in their daily ration, but it’s important for these producers to pay attention to the silage fermentation period. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouke talks this week about allowing the fermentation process to do its job.

With summer winding down, dairy producers can get a leg up on next summer’s heat by preparing for any changes that need to be made in their dairy cooling systems. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk covers some items that producers should check over, while this past summer’s cooling issues are still fresh in mind.

For the first time, a dairy in Kansas now features a robotic milking system.  And K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk sees tremendous potential for this technology on more dairies in the future…in part, because of the wealth of cow health and milk production information they can gather during milking.  This week, he talks more about the capabilities of these systems.

Dairy producers have a number of terms and numbers to think over, especially in financially-stressed times like now. Milk/feed ratio, income over feed cost, breakeven, variable costs and fixed costs, all deserve the producer’s attention, in preparing for what’s ahead. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk talks about some management strategies along that line.

- 9/1/2015
An important indicator of dairy herd productivity is the age of the herd’s dairy heifers at first calving.   That was confirmed in recent research, which then went on to link that to the size of the dairy herd and to the frequency of daily milking.  The findings are worth considering, especially for smaller-herd operators, as outlined this week by K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk.

- 8/24/2015
Dairy producers:  have you ever wondered how temperature can affect cow herd re-breeding? K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says there’s been some good research on that question.  This week, he talks about the optimum dairy cow body temperature range for successful servicing.

- 8/17/2015
It may still be August, but winter will soon be upon us, and it’s never too early to have your dairy farm in winter-ready shape. There are several components to consider when getting ready for extended cold weather on the dairy operation. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk suggests some things to consider along that line right now.

Now is the time to start thinking about forage supply for the next year. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk has suggestions for what to consider when thinking about providing forage for dairies for this upcoming year.                                                                 

Timing is everything when it comes to putting up quality corn silage for the dairy operation.  By the observations of K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk, many corn fields are near the silage harvest stage.  This week, he reminds dairy producers of the dry matter target they should shoot for when cutting silage.

Fly control can be difficult on a dairy farm and if flies get out of hand, many issues, such as disease, can begin to arise. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk offers tips on how to control fly population on dairy farms in mid-summer.

- 7/17/2015
Heat stress can lead to decreased milk production or poor milk components.  K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk talks about how important it is to communicate with your nutritionist about a plan if your milk components aren’t where they should be.                    

- 7/10/2015
Bad hoof health is an increasing and expensive problem in intensive dairy production for all dairies. Preventive interventions are important in order to obtain a sustainable production. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk explains actions to take to help with hoof health this summer.

On most dairies, silage is a staple part of a dairy cow’s diet.  Corn silage harvest time is coming up, and K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk explains a new process for producing silage and how it can benefit dairies in the future.

Summer is here and so is extreme heat, and with extreme heat comes concerns about animal forage digestibility. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouke talks about the importance of forage quality as the summer begins to heat up.

Overall, dairy production in the United States is on the rise. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk  goes into more detail on which specific dairy products are helping the most with this increase.

- 6/8/2015
K-State Research and Extension dairy specialist Mike Brouk discusses the decision of “to poll or not to poll” on Kansas dairy farms. He then talks about public opinion on the practice of dehorning and what it may mean for dairy producers in the future.

There are numerous aspects to managing a dairy operation…but K-State Research and Extension dairy specialist Mike Brouk invites producers to concentrate on a half-dozen areas as the summer months come on.    He likens this to tuning up an engine, as he outlines the management areas to emphasize.

Nutritional management is an ongoing cause on every dairy.  This week, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk asks producers to focus on the nutritional needs of the post-fresh dairy cow.  Research indicates that this is a highly pivotal stage of nutrition for the herd, with respect to milk production.

- 5/15/2015
The forage harvesting season has commenced on most Kansas dairies now.  Harvest volume is always important, but K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk stresses to producers not to lose sight of forage quality.  That quality factor, he says, is imperative to the bottom line, and this week he covers several areas of emphasis to consider.

- 5/8/2015
The heat of summer just adds to the stress on the calving dairy cow.  That’s why dairy producers should take measures now to assure the most comfortable pre-fresh pen space possible.   Basically, that means providing adequate space throughout, as K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk discusses this week.  

K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk is asking dairy producers to take a moment and evaluate their remaining silage supplies.  If it appears that they may run out of silage before the next crop is harvested, contingency feeding plans should be made right now.  This week, he talks about some alternatives that could bridge the gap until that next silage crop is put up.

Spring will give way to summer soon.  Milk production tends to fall off during the summer months, and coupled with low milk prices, maintaining an adequate cash flow on the dairy may prove difficult.  This week, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk recommends several preparatory steps that could help ease that situation.

- 4/17/2015
In recent years, there’s been a noticeable increase in dairy export business out of the U.S.  As K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk (brook) sees it, those export sales have been pivotal in keeping milk prices afloat.  Furthermore, he urges dairy producers to keep those export markets well in mind as they go about their management.

It’s a long time until this year’s silage harvest, but K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk is inviting dairy producers to explore a new silage processing method that’s capturing quite a bit of attention now.  It’s called “shredlege”, and while little actual research has been done to date on its performance as a dairy feedstuff, Brook thinks it may well deserve a look.           

Though the first cutting is some weeks away, dairy producers should be checking out the condition of their alfalfa stands right now, according to K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk.  That forage resource, he says, is too valuable to jeopardize with early-season neglect.  This week, he talks about several management steps to take.

It’s a common occurrence on dairy farms…scours disease in newborn calves.  The variable spring weather has a lot to do with that, according to K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk, as does sanitation in calf management.  This week, Mike talks about steps to follow in keeping incidences of calf scours to a minimum.

For a variety of reasons, good lighting around the dairy operation is important.  K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk suggests that producers re-evaluate their lighting systems now, before field work begins.  And he further recommends that replacing existing lighting with LED lighting would be more than worthwhile. 

- 3/14/2015
At the recent Western States Dairy Conference, a leading dairy management specialist talked up the idea of developing a deeper working relationship with one’s herd veterinarian.  K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk agrees…the veterinarian should be considered a full-fledged member of a dairy’s management team.  Here, he reviews some of the areas of emphasis that were discussed at that conference.    

K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk discusses Kansas dairy production in 2014, which showed a decrease in milk output per cow, compared to previous years.  One reason for that, he says, may be excessive culling from dairy herds. This week, he urges producers to review their culling management, to see if that is impeding per-cow production potential.

Newly released statistics show that the Kansas dairy industry is on the rise, in terms of size of the state’s milking herd and the amount of milk produced.  This week, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk goes over the numbers, and tells how Kansas stacks up with other dairy states in several production categories.

- 2/20/2015
Before you dairy producers get tied up with spring fieldwork, you should take some time to reassess the mastitis control program for your herd.  Have your past efforts to thwart mastitis problems been effective?  And if not, what could be done differently this year to address the situation?  This week, K-State Research and Extension dairy specialist Mike Brouk offers some guidance on this.

- 2/13/2015
One upside of the winter is that fly activity in and around dairy operations is non-existent.  Spring is coming soon, however, and with it, emergence of those flies that can impede dairy herd performance in an assortment of ways.  That’s why K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk is encouraging dairy producers to start taking action soon to reduce that fly pressure.

Warmer weather will be back to stay soon.  This is a good time for dairy producers to size up their operations and plan for any improvements that might be necessary.  K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk encourages this, reminding producers at the same time that any such projects must contribute to improved milk productivity to solidify the bottom line.

- 1/30/2015
Virtually all dairy industry observers agree that milk prices are destined to fall some from their historically-lofty levels this year.  K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk is advising dairy producers to plan accordingly, assessing their operations for potential cost-cutting and using price management tools to maintain profit margins in 2015.  

Cold and damp winter conditions can quickly lead to problems with milk cow udders…which, in turn, can translate into higher somatic cell counts in the milk.  Selecting the right pre-and-post milking udder dipping products can help prevent that from occurring.  K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk talks about some dip product alternatives to consider.                            

It’s one of the finer points of dairy cow nutrition, and more directly, feeding corn silage to the milking herd.  That silage serves as an important source of starch, which relates directly to milk production.  And that starch needs to be readily available in the cow’s rumen to gain its benefits.  This week, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk talks about assuring that one’s corn silage is meeting that objective.

The start of a new year is a great time for dairy producers to re-evaluate their working relationships with their employees.  Job satisfaction often goes well beyond the paycheck, according to K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk.  This week, he offers several items that managers should consider, toward promoting a content dairy workforce.

Most observers believe that profit margins for dairy producers will tighten considerably in 2015.  That in mind, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk is coaxing producers to re-assess the three main phases of their operations: milk production, feed management and herd reproduction.  The idea, he says, is to seek greater efficiencies in each area, examples of which he shares this week.

- 12/12/2014
If one’s dairy calves are persistently suffering from respiratory ills or are otherwise unhealthy while indoors, the cause could be as simple as a lack of fresh air.  Many dairy producers overlook this, says K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk.  This week, he talks about taking steps to remedy that problem.