cows in field

Recent Odairy Discussions, January 2019

January 2019. A few farmers were discussing the use of organic milk replacer in their herds. Most thought it was a good tool if Johne’s Disease was a problem. One farmer said that she adds the milk replacer to her calf feed, at a rate of 100 pounds per ton, and feels it make a “tremendous difference” in the growth and health of calves as they are weaned. One of the vets on the list wondered if the addition of milk replacer to a calf’s ration might keep them more robust so that internal parasites would be only a minor problem after weaning.

There was a lot of discussion about integrity in the interpretation of the organic standards. Certain certifiers, and even the USDA, seem to be unwilling or unable to certify to the organic standards. One contributor said that the problem is the NOP is “out of touch” with the very farmers they are supposed to serve, and they are controlled by the corporate interests that dominate the organic processing and retailing sectors. “We just lived through a remarkable experience with the animal welfare rule in which USDA was ready to do the right thing for organic farmers, and Capitol Hill shot it down. “

A grassmilk producer asked the group about their experience with grazing corn before tasseling; he wanted to know if open-pollinated corn would be more digestible than hybrid corn at this stage. In response, a farmer suggested that his theory might be correct since modern hybrids have bred for improved standability which is reputed to have reduced the digestibility of the plant. Another farmer shared his experience with a tillering BMR corn variety from Masters Choice called Mastergraze. “It produced a tremendous amount of growth in a short time. With staggered planting dates and rotating the cows to higher protein pastures for a part of the day I think it would work well. I found the hardest part to be keeping the cows from trampling it into the ground and managing the residue.”