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This week, September 17-23, is National Farm Safety and Health week. The tradition started in 1944, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized the third week in September for this program started by the National Safety Council. The weeklong promotion is a reminder for people to protect themselves, and animals, on the farm. There is ALWAYS time for safety.
Daily topics for the program this week from the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety are:
Monday – Tractor Safety
Tuesday – Farmer Health
Wednesday – Child/Youth Health and Safety
Thursday – Confined Spaces in Agriculture
Friday – Rural Roadway Safety
The Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center has a wide variety of resources to keep operations running safely and smoothly. They have pages focused on agritourism, animal handling, needlestick prevention, safety and tractor training, a wealth of resources, safety checklists, and even courses in Spanish.
Protecting children is perhaps one of the most important safety elements on a farm. The website Cultivatesafety.org is a great resource for assessing children development levels and abilities to ensure they are working tasks that can be performed safety for their age.
Patz Corporation’s blog also features several posts on Health and Safety, which can be found here.
The number of cells in a milliliter of milk is called the Somatic Cell Count (SCC). The SCC determines the quality of milk and also the health of the cow. SCC is comprised mostly of immune cells, and the rate goes up when there is a presence of an infection or illness in the cow. Mastitis is the most common offender of high SCC’s. Mastitis is when bacteria enter the udder and an infection forms, creating issues.
The higher the SCC, the less money you are likely to get for bulk milk, and sometimes penalty fees can be incurred. Higher SCC typically means a sick animal, which will produce less milk. This means less money in your pockets.
There are several ways to reduce SCC, today we are focusing on nutrition. A proper, well balanced diet ensures the herd will be getting the proper nutrients they need to boost immune systems and be strong and healthy to aid in fighting off diseases. Cattle need enough food and nutrients for energy, not only to live, or to reproduce, but to produce milk. Probiotics or prebiotics are occasionally used for improving immune response in some studies. Including Vitamins A & E, and minerals like selenium and copper are great additions to a complete and nutritious diet.
Bass, R. Tom. “Remember, Nutrition Can Impact Udder Health and SCC Too.” Progressive Dairyman
Nenov, Dr. Valentin. “How Nutrition Can be Used to Improve Health and SCC Prevention.” International Dairy Topics. Volume 16 Number 4. Print.
Total Mixed Rations (TMR) – How do you ensure you have a truly balanced ration? Measuring is the best way to know. The Penn State Particle Separator (PSPS) test takes 5 minutes to do and can save you months of headaches. Particle size distribution is imperative in preventing sorting and also ensuring cows are getting proper feed that will encourage rumen production and provide necessary nutrients.
When feeding a TMR, it is important not only to have a balanced ration, but to have a variety of particle lengths to aid in rumen function. The longer particles help to initiate rumen activity, which allows cows to chew cud, producing saliva to assist in fermentation. However, if particles are too long, the cows will sort through the feed and not eat them, meaning they don’t get the proper nutrition.
To perform a PSPS, stack the 4 plastic separator boxes on top of each other, with the largest holes on top, going down to the smallest on the bottom. Take handfuls of feed from different parts of the feed line and place into the top sieve of the stack. Using a flat surface, shake 5 times in one direction, then rotate a quarter turn and repeat this process for a total of 8 sets (40 shakes). No vertical motion should occur during this time. Shake hard enough that particles are able to slide over surface and fall through to other levels below. Once done, weigh each sieve individually to see the weights of various particle sizes. Use the weights to get a ratio for each box (length) and compare to PSPS charts to see how your TMR stacks up.
For step-by-step instructions with pictures and charts, check out our previous blog post here.
“Penn State Particle Separator.” Penn State University