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Peruse practical information for the dairy producer on essential topics including management, A.I. and breeding, new technology, and feed and nutrition.

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Peering down from metal amphitheater seats to the glass encasing below, Rita Moenck’s small class of third-grade students shushed each other as they watched the highlight of their field trip unfold. For most of the students, it was the first time they had seen an animal give birth. After watching for more than a half hour, the class members’ whispered “eeewhs” turned to “ahhhs” and clapping when the Holstein cow they were watching finally calved her baby.

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Let’s look at the facts. Grain commodity prices are the highest in recent memory. Marginally producing hay plots could quickly be plowed to grow corn this year rather than alfalfa or grass hay. If this occurs, can you guess where the price of hay is headed?

The solution may be not just pastures but ‘well-managed’ pastures. Well-managed, irrigated perennial pasture may provide an overlooked alternative to producing high-quality forage to help balance feed requirements. Our purpose is to provide you with a few ideas to achieve the goal of well-managed pastures for dairy cows.

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A broad-based interest in soil conservation began in the 1930s as a result of the devastating “Dust Bowl” era when the shortcomings of the then current agricultural practices became apparent. This trend has continued on many fronts, and the most visible one at present is the “organic movement.” It is well to remember “organic” is only one part of a much larger trend toward sustainable agriculture changing the nature of farming in the U.S. and in many other parts of the world as well. My evolution as a holistic veterinarian roughly paralleled this broader national movement.

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Editor’s note: The following section includes commentary from questions posed to Dr. Richard Holliday, a holistic veterinarian. To ask your own question, e-mail the question to . Answers to submissions will be printed in Progressive Dairyman’s October organics section.

“Hey, Doc, waddaya got for mastitis?” is a question posed by dairymen everywhere. I wish I had a good answer. Treatments range from frequent stripping out of the udder to the newest antibiotic or immune stimulant. Fortunately, many treatments are successful. But some treatments only suppress the symptoms, and when the effect of the treatment wears off the symptoms return with a vengeance. Unfortunately, any success with treatment often interferes with the need or desire to address the actual cause of the problems. Holistic veterinary medicine may have some insights into this problem – insights often overlooked by today’s dairymen.

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When Jersey breeder Jim Huffard mated one of his top cow family’s daughters (Schultz Sooner Harmony) to Molly BROOK Brass Major, he thought he’d get an animal with excellent type and milk production. Yet the offspring from the mating, Schultz Brook HALLMARK, exceeded even his own expectations.

“The bulls that are at the top of the list are even better than you might have expected with a mating,” says Huffard. “They have everything in the right place when you make a mating. That is why they’re up there.”

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Marketers have consistently maintained that sex sells, but what about “sexed”? Within dairy’s A.I. industry, the word seems to be proving the slogan is still true. During the last six months, A.I. companies have rolled out sexed semen offerings one after the other. Each of the new programs have clever names. But beyond the fancy titles, there are some suggested do’s and don’ts for using sexed semen products.

“My sense is that sexed semen is here to stay. That it’s a technology that we hope will mature. But even in its present state, there are definitely places where people should be using it,” says John Fetrow, a University of Minnesota researcher.

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