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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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Severity of heat stress is quantified using a temperature humidity index (THI). Both ambient temperature and relative humidity are used to calculate a THI. Signs of heat stress become evident in dairy cows when the THI exceeds 72. The same THI can be produced by various combinations of temperature and humidity (see Figure 1). Dairy producers can purchase a thermometer or hygrometer and use Figure 1 to determine the level of heat stress at different locations on the dairy. Measurements should be taken at the level of the cows’ backs, along the feeding area, in the freestalls and in the holding pen.

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Metabolic diseases are those associated with the chemical processes necessary for maintenance of life. In cattle, metabolic diseases include errors in electrolyte/mineral metabolism, of which parturient hypocalcemia (milk fever) is most common, or errors associated with energy metabolism, including ketosis and displaced abomasum. Metabolic diseases are associated in that the occurrence of one increases the risk of another. These associations tend to leverage the impact of disease on the animal.

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Body condition scores (BCS) provide an indication of the energy status of dairy cattle. Condition scores can be used on both heifers and cows, although primarily they are used on the lactating dairy herd. Essentially, body condition scoring provides an objective indication of the amount of fat cover on a dairy cow. This evaluation is accomplished by assigning a score to the amount of fat observed on several skeletal parts of the cow. Various point systems are used to score the animal. The most commonly used system ranges from 1.0 to 5.0, in increments of 0.1 or 0.25. One point of body condition equals 100 to 140 pounds gain in bodyweight. Larger frame cows require additional bodyweight to increase one point, compared to smaller frame or narrow cows.

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“The Milk and Dairy Beef Residue Prevention Protocol” is a pamphlet designed for use by dairy producers, veterinarians and employees to assist in the evaluation of current production practices and the development of a plan to prevent residues in milk and dairy beef. The Milk and Dairy Beef Quality Assurance Center (www.dqacenter.org), a not-for-profit corporation which provides dairy producers and consumers with educational and scientific materials, produces English and Spanish versions of the manual. The manual has five sections, including: critical control points; a comprehensive list of FDA-approved drugs for use in lactating and nonlactating cattle; a list of milk, serum and urine screening tests; an eight-step plan for keeping records; and completion certificates.

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Cow handling is a very important topic because of its impact on milk production, milk quality, milk composition and animal welfare. Canadian and Danish studies have demonstrated that hostile cow handling negatively affected the behavior of dairy cows. In one study, the hostile treatment consisted of striking the cow forcefully with a hand.

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As a senior extension associate at Cornell University working in the area of agricultural human resource management, I am pleased to have the opportunity to discuss the work we have been doing at Cornell relating to the increasing trend to hire Hispanic workers in the U.S. dairy industry.

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