cows in field

Recent Odairy Discussion, April, 2012

By Liz Bawden, Organic Dairy Producer, NODPA President

Added April 1, 2012. Last month, discussions continued on problems farmers were experiencing associated with the lack of profitability in 2011. Discouraged farmers shared their frustration as they talked of getting jobs in town, selling out, and the recent difficulty of getting financing from lenders. Several farmers felt that retailers are taking unfairly high margins.

A farmer asked about cost and availability of kelp. Another producer responded by saying that all kelp is not created equal. It should have a good smell and be green, not brown. Many producers like to feed kelp; one commented that if you feed it free choice, the cows will eat a great deal of it at first, but then level off their consumption.

A producer had a cow that was unusually large for her time. She was "absolutely enormous" and was still 8 weeks from her due date. The producer asked for advice if special handling was needed. Several producers suggested that a vet should be called to determine if the cow was actually bred to an earlier service. An ultrasound isn't generally used in late-term pregnancies, but might be useful to determine if she is carrying twins. In the case of twins, it was suggested to dry her off 10 days early, as twins usually come early. It was also suggested to keep her close-by for monitoring, and feed an appropriate dry cow ration.

A producer posted a video of a fly trap made by a Wisconsin farmer out of a 55 gallon barrel. Called the "Neato Fly Barrel", it functions as a larger version of the familiar stinky bait trap. Four elbows of PVC pipe are inserted around the barrel to provide entrances for the flies. The barrel is filled with eight to ten inches of water, and a squirt of dish soap and some bait is tossed in. A window is cut in the top of the barrel, and a clear piece of plastic is attached. The flies enter the trap through the PVC pipe, attracted by the smell. They fly upward toward the light in the plastic window, and eventually drop into the water below. It seems a successful method to trap flies, although producers seemed to think that it would most likely trap house and blow flies, and not the stable or horn flies.