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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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Anyone who is even remotely familiar with automobile racing knows that the pit crew is an important part of the racing team. No matter how good the driver, successes or failures in the pit area can have a significant impact on the outcome of the race. The crew is constantly making adjustments and operates as a team to accomplish all of the necessary tasks as efficiently as possible. Seconds or fractions of seconds count and may be the difference between winning or finishing second or worse.

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Jerry Gonterman understands security. He installs and maintains security systems for school districts, Intermountain convenience stores and state liquor stores. In addition to protecting kids, gasoline and alcohol, Gonterman watches over milk tanks and parlors.

“A dairyman’s worst fear is a hot tank of milk,” Gonterman says.

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I recently chatted with Dr. Danelle Bickett-Weddle of the Center for Food Security and Public Health in Ames, Iowa. Bickett-Weddle helped develop a questionnaire for dairy producers to assess the biosecurity risks on their operations. Her current doctoral research is looking for correlations between risk management practices and production parameters. She hopes her current research will help dairy producers identify risk areas that, when improved, lead to increased profitability. The following is a portion of my interview with her.

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Nutritionist Jess Argyle of Jerome, Idaho, says despite higher prices for rolled corn and regionally imported ration components, dairy producers should push for more milk and higher components, being careful not to lose milk production while looking for good buys on commodities.

“Don’t short-change the cows. Push for production,” Argyle says. “I’ve never been able to cut out or cut back on feed and save money. We always lose more in production than what we can save in cutting back on feed.”

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Are your feed costs high? The most expensive feeds are those with high levels of protein (greater than 20 percent protein). Testing for MUN (milk urea nitrogen) in the milk can help you determine the correct level of protein in the feed.

There are other reasons for testing for MUN:

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For dairy producers wishing to improve their profitability, the first feed investment that needs to be made in improving milk production is dry matter intake (DMI) conversions, says Marvin Hoekema, president of Dairy Decisions Consulting, LLC, in Visalia, California. The reason is these conversions are 40 to 50 percent of a dairy operation’s budget, “meaning there is real money on the table.”

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