Parsons, Kansas —
Extension agents and area dairymen recently gathered at the Southwest Research Center in Mount Vernon, Missouri, for the University of Missouri’s first Dairy Field Day.
Dairy Extension specialist covered a variety of topics such as forage, rations, economics and breeding in order to provide current information and research-based talks over the dairy industry for local farmers to consider.
One of the speakers, MU Extension Veterinarian, Dr. Scott Poock, touched on the benefits of timed artificial insemination (TAI) in dairy herds.
“As we make cows produce more milk, they spend less time in heat. By taking control of their cycle, we create a less intensive program,” Poock said.
Poock went over in detail various ways producers sync their herds for TAI, but explained for the Southwest Research TAI is done through a modified Show Me Synch program.
The protocol for this program involves placing a CIDR in a heifer for 14 days. According to Poock, after the CIDR comes out they will come into heat in 48 hours.
In the beef Show Me Synch program a shot of Lutalyse would be given after 16 days, but for the dairy program, Lutalyse is given after 19 days.
56 hours after Lutalyse, an injection of GnRH is administered and then 16 hours later it is time to breed the heifer.
Poock explained this is a program they’ve found works well with dairy heifers.
“We start calving in February and are usually done by March 10,” he said. “Show Me Synch optimizes number of AI calves but minimizes time spent AI’ing.”
Because of the program’s success Poock said they’ve created more pregnant cows, but as a result now have more heifers than they need.
“We now know we can easily get cows pregnant, so we’re having to look at what to with the overabundance of heifers,” he added.
They may be wondering what to do with the growing dairy herd population, but at least feeding them is not the issue. Missouri Extension Forage Specialist, Rob Kallenbach, explained with the 2013 hay season having increased rain and little sunshine the interest in making baleage has increased.
Baleage reduces harvest time from three plus days to one. With baleage, the forage is baled with high moisture percentages and ensiled in plastic wrapping.
“For anyone looking to make baleage, I strongly suggest white plastic over black,” Kallenbach said. “Black plastic absorbs the sunlight, while the white reflects it, you want to try to keep the hay from getting any hotter on the inside.”
Kallenbach suggests the 1-mil plastic sheeting.
“It comes in a roll and overlaps to provide at least a 4-mill think wrap. You want as little oxygen inside as possible. The more plastic you use, the less oxygen is able to get in,” he added.
Another bonus to using more plastic is less breakage. During the presentation, Kallenbach demonstrated the ending result of baleage with plastic punctures.
One of the bales on display had a small quarter-sized hole. The wrapping was removed to reveil the quarter-sized hole had resulted in a large portion of spoilage in the bale.
Along with frequent checks of baleage for puncture holes, Kallenbach suggests all baleage should be fed within a year of baling in order to ensure it doesn’t spoil.
An advantage of baleage is getting hay harvested before seed heads set, when nutrient content is highest.
“Not only is baleage higher in nutritional content for cattle, it is also more palatable to them. So not only are they benefitting from it nutritionally, they are also wasting less,” he concluded. £