cows in field

Recent Odairy Discussion, November 2019

By Liz Bawden, NODPA Board President

Most milk inspectors will tell you that the use of quarter milkers is not allowed on dairy farms. One contributor suggested that the reason may be due to conventional producers using them on treated quarters with the assumption that it solves the antibiotic residue issue. But other producers suggested that their construction has lots of hard to clean corners that require daily attention to keep them “squeaky clean”. One producer shared that they are an essential tool on his farm to manage SCC by keeping a high quarter out of the bulk tank. But all the farmers removed the quarter milkers before inspections.

A farmer asked the group for suggestions on the best material for the surface of a cow lane. One farmer recommended asphalt millings from road surfacing projects. A six-inch layer (more in low or wet spots) was laid, then rolled. Prior to that, they had used a honeycomb stabilization product, covered with 1-inch clean stone, then covered with stone dust. Another producer removed the topsoil and put down a non-woven fabric. Lay 6 to 12 inches of “3 inch minus” or similar fill, then top with 2 inches of stone dust. And another suggested that a thinner layer of one inch to one and a half inch rock works well. With smaller stones, there is risk of the rocks getting caught between cows’ toes. Larger than that and it can be hard to spread the rock evenly. “I spread a thin layer of 1 or 1 ½ inch rock down the lane and try to work it down into the soil surface after a rain, when the soil is a bit soft, by driving a tractor over it. When it dries it gets very hard (on my silty, clay loam soils). It is a cheap way to surface a lane.”

A first calf heifer had udder rot between her udder and her leg, and the farmer asked for treatment recommendations. Suggestions included using Mag-paste, corn starch mixed with a 10:1 ratio of yarrow to goldenseal, and apple cider vinegar.

A farmer asked for help in determining how long he should wait before feeding out frosted sorghum. He was concerned about the prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide) that develops when the plants are subjected to a frost. Another farmer posted this excerpt from the Hay and Forage Grower magazine:

“When the plants have been cut and are dry enough to bale, the cyanide gas will have volatilized and dissipated from the plant, so there is no feeding risk. When considering an ensiled forage or wet wrapped baleage, the cyanide concentration depletes significantly during the ensiling (fermentation) process. It is recommended not to feed the ensiled forage or baleage for at least four to six weeks after harvest.”