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Barns & Equipment

Whether using a tiestall, freestall, dry lot or pasture, here are some tips for cow comfort and maintaining farm facilities and equipment.

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Editor’s note: The following material is sourced from writings by Dr. Nigel Cook. An extended version of this information is called “Footbath alternatives” and is available at www.vetmed.wisc.edu/dms/fapm/fapmtools/lameness.htm

Footbaths are used as a tool to assist in control of infectious diseases of the claw and interdigital area of the foot. Foot rot and hairy heel warts are the main infectious diseases of the foot, and each respond only partially to footbath use. Both diseases are directly related to the level of environmental hygiene. Footbaths are generally viewed as helpful when disease is present at a low (less than 10 percent) level. When more animals are affected with disease, such as hairy heel wart, other methods must be employed for treatment.

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Operating a dairy milking center involves managing a number of issues so a satisfactory end result is accomplished. It involves labor management, work routine organization, mastitis control, cow physiology, Grade A milk production regulations and agricultural economics. The involved parties may have different views of objectives and satisfactory results, so that has to be discussed and agreed upon. Once determined, the overall effort of running the milking operation must be aimed at meeting those objectives. The objectives need to be communicated to all involved from shift managers to milkers so everyone knows the procedures and goals.

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Observation 1: Two hours before milking, are less than 20 percent of your cows standing in their stalls?

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Dairy farmers with milking parlors built in the 1970s and 1980s need new facilities to improve milking efficiency. However, a new milk barn can cost from $125,000 to $300,000.

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Planning an energy budget is difficult, but with higher costs of natural gas, heating oil and other energy sources, budgeting for the increased price of fuel and electricity is imperative. Fortunately, there are alternative methods dairy producers can employ to lessen the strain of skyrocketing energy costs.

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Many small and mid-sized dairy operations need to upgrade their milkhouse wastewater systems. Producers want systems that perform reliably, meet environmental regulations, fit their management practices and are economical to install and operate. This [article] reviews some of the available options.

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