Current Progressive Dairy digital edition

The secret success of bees

PD Editor Walt Cooley Published on 29 August 2012

I recently read an interesting blog post about how bees manage their time and resources. The author Michael O’Malley’s main point is that: “Honeybees have institutionalized procedures that prevent catastrophic loss, and their record of accomplishment is stunning: more than 100 years of productivity and growth.” (Click here to see the blog)

I thought it was interesting given the nature-made drought conditions across much of the country. Those conditions are increasing feed prices faster than milk prices can keep up. However, feast-or-famine is what honey bees are built to survive, the author suggests. “The bees consider the worst that can happen no matter how improbable and protect themselves against that eventuality.”



Few would argue that volatility in dairy markets is the early contender to define our industry this millennium. Has the scale of volatility increased? Yes. But has our imagination of just how bad things can get expanded enough? 2009 might just have been the beginning. Are we adapting to institutionalize against the effects of volatility like bees do?

It may be too late to use some risk management strategies for current conditions. However, we’ve pieced together a section of articles in this issue to help producers consider a few of their options to manage through this year’s widespread drought. (Click on each article title to view: Guiding expectations in times of a drought, How to value corn silage in 2012’s drought, Accounting for livestock sales due to drought-related conditions )

Also, it’s worth noting a few articles we didn’t highlight on the cover but that I believe deserve your attention.

What’s your opinion on tail docking
We begin a new poll question asking you about your opinion of tail docking. NMPF recently indicated they may withdraw their official support of the practice. Such a move would mean that FARM animal care practices would also not approve this production practice. Then producers who continue to use the practice would be encouraged to discontinue its use over time. (Click here to view the poll)

Mass deportation?
I read an interesting report the USDA published earlier this summer about the economic implications of immigration policy changes on the U.S. farm economy. Advocates of mass deportation would do well to read the economic implications of such a policy before moving forward. I’ll think you’ll be interested in the findings too. (Click here to read article)


Thoughts on automatic calf feeding
We’ve included a special roundtable about what has been shown automatic calf feeders can and can’t do. We asked several researchers who have presented on this topic around the country since the beginning of the year to recap their findings. (Click here to read article)

Why does everyone have an offer for activity monitoring?
We continue to provide coverage of activity monitoring systems and their emergence in the marketplace. It seems nearly every bull stud is offering some form of the technology. Find out why.(Click on each article title to view:
‘Bundling’ activity monitoring systems with repro expertise,
Activity monitors for estrus detection: Right for your dairy?) PD