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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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Despite the fact that the United States has the safest food supply in the world, food safety has become a high- profile issue. Media attention related to livestock diseases, food recalls and foodborne illness has heightened consumer awareness and concern. E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria have become household words. Consumers want to protect their families from these and other contaminants that may find their way to the dinner table.

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We all want the same things from our dairy cows – high production of quality milk with minimal health problems. During the close-up dry period and the start of lactation, cows go through many changes that present challenges to meeting these goals. The transition period, three weeks prior to and three weeks after calving, is the most sensitive time in the dairy cow lifecycle. During this time, cows freshen, experience nutritional changes and are moved into different pens with different cows, all while producing high volumes of milk.

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Editor’s note: The following benchmarks have been compiled using data reported by dairies enrolled in Alta Genetic’s AltaAdvantage program, a progeny testing program. More than 182,500 cows in 175 herds participate in the program nationwide.

Brutal fact: Heritability is often misunderstood. Among even some of the A.I. industry’s own people, heritability has been described as the probability that the resulting progeny will inherit a trait. Dairy producers not surprisingly push back on “low heritability traits,” saying things like, “We will make less progress,” or “We won’t make a noticeable difference,” or “It takes so many generations to actually change those traits.” It is worth the time to clear up the confusion.

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Mastitis is the No. 1 disease with economic impacts to dairy producers. In fact, there are more than 30 microorganisms known to cause mastitis and seemingly just as many teat dip products. So how do you choose the best product for your dairy operation? The best approach is to choose a teat dip that:

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In June 2005, a group of eight women were sitting around a kitchen table planning a fashion show. One woman mentioned a local children’s home where the kids needed undergarments. The woman also found out that the children could only get one glass of milk each day – if they asked for it and if there was enough money in the budget that week.

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Sitting in a classroom or studying in his dorm room, 19-year-old Luke Vander misses working outdoors. He frequently longs for a 12-hour workday treating cows on his father’s 700-cow dairy in south-central Michigan. But Luke, a sophomore studying animal science at Michigan State University, also knows attending to his university studies is just as important.

“You have the rest of your life to be on the farm,” Vander says. “You’re only going to gain more from going to college.”

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