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Extension > Agriculture > Dairy Extension > Calves and heifers > Carver County Dairy Expo: A great educational event

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Carver County Dairy Expo: A great educational event

Abby Neu, Extension Educator

March 14, 2015

More than 300 dairy farmers and industry professionals traveled to Norwood Young America to attend the 23rd Annual Carver County Dairy Expo in mid-February. They were able to visit with 50 vendors and choose from seven educational seminars to help improve their dairy. Paper copies of the event proceedings are available by contacting Carver County Extension at (952) 466-5306.

Headlining the day's event was Dr. Marcia Endres, University of Minnesota professor and Extension dairy specialist. Automatic calf feeders are popular in European countries, thus most research data comes from those countries. Significant differences in management and economic impacts between European countries and the U.S. indicates that research on U.S. calf feeder systems needs to continue so that best management practices can be discovered to ensure and optimize calf welfare. Aspects that have been investigated include calf health scores, ventilation of building(s), group size and space per calf to name a few. Her take home message was for producers to have a successful automated calf feeding system is to be able to identify all risk factors on their farm and develop best management practices to optimize calf health and welfare resulting, in the end, profitability for your dairy. Dr. Endres then moderated a Producer Panel with representatives of three dairies that are using auto calf feeders in Minnesota. The Expo committee would like to thank Marcie Feine, Chad Carlson and Jacob Oelfke for their participation and willingness to share their input about the use and management of their respective systems.

Weather conditions in New York prevented Dr. Rick Grant, President of W.H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute from presenting at the event in person. Instead, he delivered two breakout sessions via webcast. The first session focused on the economics of cow comfort, highlighting several key factors and how your herd management can affect your bottom line. Citing a 2008 study in Spain he showed that 47 herds that were genetically similar and fed the exact same TMR had a range of milk yield of 45 to 74 pounds per day. His take home message was that understanding the importance of meeting time budget needs of cows and improving their comfort will enhance your herd's profitability.

Dr. Grant's second presentation focused more specifically on giving your cows a pleasant experience. Details and concepts that ensure positive physical and social settings were discussed which in turn create a successful feeding environment. Grant reiterated throughout the presentation that feed intake, productivity and overall health will remain positive when the cow has a positive experience within her feeding environment.

Starch digestion was the topic of Dr. Limin Kung, Jr.'s first of two presentations. Kung heads the Dairy Nutrition and Silage Fermentation Lab at the University of Delaware. Three significant points were discussed; physical barriers to starch digestion, effect of ensiling on starch digestion and enzymes to improve starch digestion.

'What's hot in the world of silage" was the theme of Kung's second breakout session. He further discussed how proteases used in ensiling can increase starch digestion. He shared new information about the negative effect high water and applicator tank temperatures have on the viability of inoculants. He mentioned the current research still supports benefits of feeding BMR silage, but very high levels may not be needed to optimize milk production

Lameness expert, Gerard Cramer, DVM at the University of Minnesota explained practical strategies to improve foot health. Cramer started with a brief background on the importance of sound foot health and then shifted into reviewing different types of hoof lesions and treatments. Numerous photographs of each affliction he described were shown in his presentation slides. He suggests producers use an integrated approach to managing lameness long term, including not only you as a producer, but your hoof trimmer, veterinarian, nutritionists and others you may work with regularly such as a builder or equipment dealer. He closed the session mapping success factors to keep your cows away from lameness issues. Low infection pressure, good horn quality and shape, low forces on the feet and early detection and treatment.

For the last ten years, the University of Minnesota SROC (Southern Research and Outreach Center) in Waseca has investigated pre- and post-weaning nutrition and management options for commercial dairy heifer calves. Dr. Hugh Chester-Jones gave an overview of research results they have collected in that time. He summarized calf performance goals in the nursery have been attained by conventional, moderate intensive or intensive programs. Other items covered in the session included management from two days of age up to six months of age, post weaning transition and group housing programs

All of the breakout sessions were well attended and each of the speakers provided easy to follow handouts of their presentations. If you would like a hard copy of them, please contact the Carver County Extension office (952) 466-5306 or email Abby at Mark your calendars for President's Day 2016, Monday, February 15 for the next Carver County Dairy Expo.

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