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Patz Blog

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We appreciate staying connected to our customers and business partners. From new product introductions to leading industry advice to help improve your operation, we’ll share the latest right here.

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Cow Hygiene Score

Cow Hygiene Score

The importance of hygiene with your herd reflects in your milk check. Having strict practices in place for cleaning and herd hygiene means lower SCC (somatic cell count). Bulk milk with lower SCC is rewarded financially from the companies doing the purchasing.

The card below is meant to be a troubleshooting tool that can help identify your herd’s cleanliness. The scoring guide is used to put a numerical value to your operation which can help determine if you fall within the recommended guidelines.

In small herds (<100), all cows must be observed and scored. In bigger herds, it is recommended at least 25% of cows in each pen are scored. Each zone should be scored separately.

Graphic of how to score cows

In addition to periodically scoring your cows’ hygiene, ensure you are following best practices for keeping SCC low.

  • Frequently cleaning manure from alleys.
  • Clean stalls often to remove manure and apply fresh bedding to ensure udders have a clean, dry resting place.
  • Maintaining a good airflow in the barn helps to keep bedding and alleys dry.
  • Practice good hygiene in the milking parlor. Ensure cows’ udders are clean and dry prior to milking. Prevent mastitis with appropriate pre- and post-dips. To prevent the spread of bacteria, wear gloves while milking and do not reuse towels for multiple cows.
  • Do not over milk – it can lead to damaged teat ends, increasing the chance of infection.

Sources:

“Hygiene Scoring Card.” University of Wisconsin

Beef up Your Operation’s Biosecurity

Beef up your operation's biosecurity

African Swine Flu. Avian Influenza. These outbreaks have occurred in the past couple of years. Trade shows have even been canceled to prevent the spread of these diseases. Farm biosecurity is becoming more of an issue with the worldwide market of agricultural products. If you do not have an idea or plan in place for your operation, it may be time to start considering one.

Biosecurity procedures are meant to protect humans and animals against disease or harmful biological agents. The best method of stopping the introduction of diseases is prevention. The three main things to start with are cleanliness, contamination control, and education.

Cleanliness – Clean and disinfect all equipment used on animals frequently. Wear gloves and wash hands frequently when handling animals. Bedding and barn alleys need to be cleared frequently of manure. Vehicles coming onto the farm may need to be sprayed down with disinfectant if they are going near an area with animals. Make sure food sources are free from mold and not spoiled. If an animal appears sick, immediately remove them from the herd and isolate.

Contamination Control – Anything coming from the “outside world” onto your operation has the potential to carry pathogens. Keep transport vehicles away from feed and manure handling routes. Make guests wear shoe covers when entering the barn. Pest-proof your feed storage as best you can. Animals that are new to your operation should be kept in quarantine for a couple of weeks before joining the herd.

 Education – The most powerful tool in your arsenal is education. Have training and meetings with employees often to keep procedures fresh in their mind. Review behavioral signs of a sick animal and what steps should be taken if an animal is ill. Give any guests visiting a brief overview of where they are allowed, and how they can or cannot interact with the animals. Keep records of visitors to your operation, and health records current for animals.

Start the conversation with your vet to see what measures can be adapted to your operation.

Sources:

“Biosecurity Guidelines for Animal Industries.” University of Massachusetts Amherst

“Livestock Biosecurity” Extension.org

Feed Pantries – What Are They?

Feed Pantries - What are they?

As the Dairy Industry continues to evolve, there is a trend emerging for feeding on large operations: Feed Pantries. Also called feed centers or TMR centers, these “pantries” house TMR ingredients and are where the mixing takes place.

Feed Pantries are often in their own, enclosed building. Most of the work is handled mechanically or electronically to save on time and labor. The ingredients are close together, so only one operator is needed. If feed is in a silo, the unloader can run ingredients onto a conveyor that dispenses into a vertical mixer. An operator can load other ingredients by skid steer into the mixer and have it run. If using stationary mixers, the mixers can unload into a feed truck to be delivered into the barn. Or, they can discharge onto a belt feeder or chain & flite conveyor that moves the feed and disperses it over the feed bunk evenly. If using trailer vertical mixers, the mixers can then take off and deliver feed before returning for another ration if needed. Multiple mixers can offer several rations being mixed at once (for fresh, dry, and heifers).

It is important to note that the traffic flow in and out of the building for deliveries and feeding should be considered to prevent “backups”. Since the building is supposed to be enclosed, it is important to have proper ventilation for the dust particles for employee health safety but also as a fire hazard.

When updating your operation, adding a Feed Pantry is a possibility to seriously consider. There are several benefits to making the initial investment.

Shrink: A number many are familiar with but nearly impossible to measure, shrink is what you put into the silage pile (or silo) vs. what ends up being fed to the animals. This “invisible cost” covers the resources lost due to pests, weather, and wind. Silage can blow out of a loader onto the ground before it hits the mixer. Excessive snow or rain can lead to the molding of silage, which renders it unusable. Storing ingredients indoors prevents shrink from occurring.

Speed: The great thing about Feed Pantries is that they can be automated to minimize manual labor. Silage can be unloaded from a silo onto a conveyor directly into the mixer. Since all ingredients are in one location, loading with a skid steer is quick and easy. Most processes can be scheduled in advance and just require the push of a button.  

Consistency: With a more efficient system, the same person can mix the TMR batches, which means they are more consistent. The moisture content of the ingredients is also more controlled since they are inside and not exposed to the elements, so the weight will remain the same throughout the year.

“Feed Center Design.” Extension