Session I: Managing Reproduction — A Key to Profitable Dairy Farming

Title: Reproductive Health Programs
Author: James D. Ferguson
Summary:  Artificial insemination, reliance on human labour for estrus detection, and increased herd size combined with identification of the economic benefits of shorter calving intervals and specific therapies for specific reproductive pathologies furnished an environment conducive to marketing reproductive health programs for dairy herds (39). Scheduled fertility programs were offered by institutions and veterinary practices by the mid 1950’s (39) and are similar to programs employed on many farms today. Reproductive programs were promoted to reduce days open and the risk of culling problem cows. It was a reasonable inference that such programs would be cost effective for producers. Early comparisons demonstrated herds, or groups of cows with scheduled reproductive programs, had shorter calving intervals and fewer culls for reproductive failure when compared to herds not subscribing to such programs (2, 13).

Title: Achieving a Sound Reproductive Health Management Program
Author: Jack H. Britt
Summary: In order to have a sound reproductive management program, one must have definable goals for herd reproductive performance. Simple, achievable goals should provide the basis for the strategic herd health plan, and these goals should be consistent with profitable dairying.

Title: Improving Heat Detection in Tie-Stall and Free-Stall Environments
Author: Jack H. Britt
Summary: Catching cows in heat and breeding them at the right time using the correct artificial insemination procedures are necessary steps for successful reproductive management of a dairy herd. Regrettably, these steps can be neglected for days, weeks or even months before the economic consequences become apparent. Thus, the greatest challenge that one faces in motivating personnel to do a better job in these areas is persuading them that poor habits in catching heats and breeding cows lead to higher costs and lower incomes.

Title: An Economic Approach to Reproductive Programs in Dairy Herds
Authors: James D. Ferguson and David T. Galligan
Summary: Reproduction efficiency is an important management component that directly and indirectly influences the economic efficiency of a dairy operation (4,10) Direct effects are realized through controlling semen costs and by increasing the likelihood of an animal(s) remaining in the herd for future lactation(s). Indirect effects include the increased percentage of cow life spent in profitable milk (early lactation), increased rate of birth of herd replacements, increased rate of genetic gain through reduction in generation interval, and improved return on other cow interventions through reduced competitive risk.

Title: Constant Ration Density: the TMR Concept
Authors: Gordon Jones and Steve Stewart
Summary: A dairy cow has two types of digestive mechanisms: 1) a microbial system to digest fibrous material, and 2) a chemical system similar to humans and swine. A productive, economically efficient, healthy cow must by definition have a healthy rumen. Therefore, we must feed the rumen microbes first and the pig behind the rumen secondarily. It is of little value to feed or be concerned about post-ruminal digestion if rumen microbes are under severe stress.

Concurrent Session A1: Creating a Productive Environment

Title: Building for Cow Comfort
Authors: John Feddes, Barry Robinson and Robert Borg
Summary: The dairy cow’s environment has a profound affect on her productivity, health, and longevity. Free-stall surfaces are the number one factor that influence cow comfort. However, air quality is also important. Proper ventilation dries the barn in the winter and cools it in the summer. Barns and their equipment last longer if ventilation is adequate as surfaces remain dry.

Title: Manure Management: Turning a Potential Environmental Problem into a Valuable Resource
Authors: Rob Janzen and William McGill
Summary: Treating manure as a waste can lead to pollution, but treating manure as a resource protects the environment and may enhance profitability. Although the nitrogen and protein in manure estimated to be produced by confined animals (1991) has a value of $167 million, manure nutrients in Alberta tend to be wasted. Composting technology decreases the mass of manure to be distributed and produces material with value potentially greater than its nutrient content. Development of markets and of systems to supply markets will permit the potential value of manure and manure-derived products to be captured.

Concurrent Session A2 : Health and Management

Title: Udder Health is a Management Decision
Author: Richard Vanderwal
Summary: Udder health management is a focussed strategy built on specific milk quality goals. The level of mastitis in a herd is a dynamic interaction between the rate of new infections and the duration of existing infections. The keys to reducing the duration of new infections is to analyze antibiotic and supportive therapy rationale and options. The objective is to make management decisions on the basis of herd records and an understanding of the udder defense systems.

Title: Metabolic Diseases – The Symptoms of a Greater Problem?
Author: Steve Radostits
Summary: Most metabolic diseases occur during the period commencing at calving and ending at the peak of lactation. Therefore the feeding and management of the close-up dry cow and the fresh cow are the key to prevention. The dry cow period is not a rest phase, but rather a preparatory phase. Prepare for a trouble free, PROFITABLE, lactation by implementing carefully balanced far-away and close-up dry cow rations. Feed cows according to milk production AND body condition. Do not attempt to make body condition adjustments during the dry period.

Title: Identifying Limiting Nutritional Constraints to Profitability
Author: Michael F. Hutjens
Summary: Dairy managers should partition their feed costs to determine if all areas are price competitive compared to herds in their area at comparable production. Dry matter intake will be the key management factor to maximizing profitability including the role of forage quality, factors that limits consumption, and dry matter intake management factors. Purchased feeds should be portioned correctly to maximize profit responses based on milk yield and forage quality. Service is critical to profitability and must be evaluated.

Concurrent Session B1: Forages — The Foundation of Your Feeding Program

Title: Growing Quality Forages under Variable Environmental Conditions
Author: Dwayne R. Buxton
Summary: Forage age and maturity generally have a larger influence on forage quality than environmental factors. Plant environment, however, cause deviations in forage quality even when harvested at the same maturity. Temperature usually has greater influence on forage quality than other environmental factors. Although increasing temperature normally hastens maturity, the primary effect may be through its effect on the leaf/stem ratio with high temperatures promoting stem over leaf growth. Digestibility of both leaves and stems is lowered by warm temperatures because of resulting high cell-wall [estimated by neutral detergent fiber (NDF)] and low soluble sugar concentrations.

Title: Maintaining Forage Quality by Intensive Pasture Management
Author: E. Ann Clark
Summary: Variation in the nutritional value of pasture herbage has been identified as a key limitation to consistent, high levels of dairy cow performance on pasture. One solution is to adjust supplemental feeding, but another approach would seek to moderate or stabilize nutrition through improved grazing management, or what is termed management intensive grazing (MIG) in modern parlance.

Title: Maintaining and Enhancing Forage Quality During Harvest and Storage
Author: C. Alan Rotz
Summary: To maintain forage quality during harvest, rapid field drying is essential. Mechanical and chemical treatments can provide effective tools for speeding drying, but neither process can compensate for poor drying weather and/or thick dense swaths. Swath manipulation with a tedder or inverter can speed drying, but increased costs and losses caused by the operation may be greater than the average benefit received. Baling of moist hay can also reduce field curing time and harvest losses, but an effective treatment is needed to prevent excessive storage losses.

Title: Silage Additives – Profit Makers or Profit Takers?
Author: Limin Kung, Jr.
Summary: Silage additives are not substitutes for good management. Microbial inoculants can improve the nutritive value of silage, but not all inoculants are of equal value. Use of enzymes as silage additives has not resulted in consistent improvements in silage quality. Anhydrous ammonia and propionic acid can improve the aerobic stability of silages.

Title: Evaluating Alternative Technologies in Forage Production
Author: C. Alan Rotz
Summary: A computer simulation model of forage production and use provides a tool for evaluating forage technologies. The model, DAFOSYM, simulates alfalfa and corn growth, harvest, storage, feeding and use on a dairy farm. Forage losses and quality changes along with the use and costs of machines, structures, labour, fuel, chemicals, etc. are used to determine the profitability of forage systems. Simulation over many years of weather provides a long term evaluation of the performance and economics of alternative forage technology.

Concurrent Session B2: Marketing and Promotion

Title: Strategies for Successful Breeding and Marketing of Genetics in Domestic and Export Markets
Author: Richard Vanderwal
Summary: The Canadian Holstein today is less of a distinct bloodline, and more of a distinct philosophy. Top genetics exist in other countries, and we participate with them in creating global breed improvement strategies.Genetic Indices of sires and cows are important genetic tools, and need to be utilized in breeding decisions. However, the need for breeders to use their cow sense is increasingly important when we consider the use of changing management tools in the population, and the impacts they will have on the assumptions that underlie genetic evaluation models. Value-added cattle should be the result of a well-thought out breeding program. Our challenge today is to evaluate the cows in the barn in terms of profitable breeding goals, and to develop strategies to supply market demands.

Title: Investment in Advertising and Research in the Canadian Dairy Industry
Authors: Ellen Goddard and Apelu Tielu
Summary: The Canadian dairy industry has operated under supply management since the early 1970’s. Industrial milk quotas are administered at a national level, while fluid milk quotas are administered at a provincial level. Under supply management it is not possible for a producer to enter the industry or expand operations without purchasing existing quota. The industry has made planning and investment decisions regarding its long term livelihood under assumptions that supply management would continue unchanged, until recently. Changes to the supply management system agreed to as part of Canada’s obligation to the GATT have begun to take effect as of January 1995. These changes may radically affect industry investment decisions in activities such as promotion or research.

Title: New Product Development: An Analysis of the Processing Sector Investment in Research and the Success of the Products Developed.
Author: Lech Ozimek
Summary: An analysis of the food processing sector investment in Research and Development (R&D) and the success of the products developed shows that between 1984 and 1989, the annual number of new product introductions increased from 5,617 to 9,200 (2). From this volume only one product in ten ever makes it as far as consumer-testing, and only 10% of those ever make it to market. Therefore, it may be predicted that the market success of the products developed is in the range of 1%.

Title: Imitation Dairy Products: Are They Poised to Siphon the Profit out of the Dairy Industry?
Author: Earl Jenstad
Summary: The dairy industry has successfully preserved the purity and image of dairy products for several decades through legislation, standards of composition, quality, and safety assurance measures including the prohibition of imitation dairy products. The agreement to remove interprovincial barriers to trade, the GATT and NAFTA are causing us to redefine and restructure the rules of doing business.

Title: Yellow Gold – A Fresh Look at an Old Friend
Author: M. Tom Clandinin
Summary: The general public and health professionals hold a wide range of unfounded beliefs about diet fats. For example, many believe dairy fats are unhealthy. There is little evidence to suggest that reduction of palmitic acid in the diet of the normal individual will reduce his/her development of atherosclerosis. There is considerable evidence indicating that plasma cholesterol levels are genetically determined. The dairy industry should consider how to invest in developing NEW INFORMATION on old products and NEW PRODUCTS for high value added purposes.

Session II: A Vision for Dairy Production and Processing in Western Canada — What Will We Be Doing in 2010?

Title: The Canadian Dairy Industry in 2010 – A Producer’s Perspective
Author: Bruce Beattie
Summary: Dairy is seen by most governments as an essential part of a country’s economy. There are a number of good reasons for the special status that dairy farming has gained in the minds of governments, particularly in western society. Within our culture milk is considered to be an essential part of a healthy diet, and obviously with good reason given the size and health of our young generation. As well, dairy farms provide for a strong social fabric, allowing viable farms on smaller areas, therefore boosting rural culture and social structure. These are principles that should not be lost by governments intent on economic reforms.

Session III: Nutrition and Management

Title: A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Changing to a TMR Feeding System
Author: Michael F. Hutjens
Summary: Adding TMR technology to existing facilities can return $46 per cow per year and pay off the entire investment in three years depending on herd size, milk increase, and initial investment based on a Wisconsin model with US inputs. A Missouri model indicated that a herd size of 100 cows or larger is needed to economically justify a new TMR system including feed storage and handling. Excellent success with TMR occurs if lead factors, commodity feeding, optimum grouping strategies, topdressing in tie stall barns, and bunk management occurs.

Title: Barley – As a Grain and Forage Source for Ruminants
Authors: John Kennelly, Erasmus Okine, and Reza Khorasani
Summary: Barley is the primary feed grain for ruminants in western Canada. Identification of barley varieties with the most desirable nutritional characteristics for ruminants is warranted. Animal nutritionists need to work closely with plant breeders to identify appropriate selection criteria.

Title: Commodity Feeds for Dairy Herds in Western Canada
Author: David Gibson
Summary: Commodity feeding versus traditional “complete” feeds appears to save between $25 to $30/tonne. However, partial budget analysis on a 200 cow operation shows a real savings of approximately $8/tonne. Feed program flexibility can be enhanced with commodity feeding, but it does require more nutritional advice to ensure its success. As less is purchased from a feedmill, the need for a nutritional consultant increases. Only producers milking at least 200 cows, and who enjoy and have the time to source commodities should consider commodity feeding.

Title: Dry Matter Intake and Milk Production
Author: Gordon Jones
Summary: Central to any discussion of dairy nutrition is a full grasp of the concept of dry matter intake (DMI). Dry matter intake is calculated by measuring the quantity of total feed intake per animal per day on a moisture-free basis. Several physiologic and management factors impact level of DMI and will be discussed later in more detail. However, one must be aware that DMI both drives milk production and is driven by milk production; i.e., the higher the DMI the higher the milk production and the higher the milk production the higher the DMI.