Price alone won’t solve our problems

By Joel McNair

Many dairy farmers believe that low milk prices are the biggest danger to their livelihoods. For more than a few, the thought is that the best solution would be a Canadian-style supply management program to boost milk prices and keep them at profitable levels.

I don’t buy all of the arguments for quotas and such, and there is no reason to believe that our elected representatives will ever enact anything approaching Canada’s system. Continue reading “Price alone won’t solve our problems”

For love of trees

A Wisconsin dairyman sees advantages to planting them in his pastures

By Dylan Paris

Platteville, Wisconsin — Don Austin just likes trees.

Over the past 30 years the veteran dairy grazier has planted hundreds of them along property boundaries and interior fences, next to cattle lanes and in the midst of pastures.

Oaks and elms, cottonwoods and weeping willows, apples and apricots, walnuts and hazelnuts — Don has planted all of these and more during a grazing career that dates back to 1987. “Weed” trees volunteering along fence lines are allowed to grow if Don feels they’re serving a purpose. Continue reading “For love of trees”

What are fatty acids, and why are they important?

Allen Williams

by Allen Williams, Ph.D.
Meat and milk consumers are becoming increasingly interested in fatty acids and are asking lots of questions about what they are and why they are important. With that in mind, I’ll offer a relatively straightforward explanation that might help your understanding of fatty acids and better enable you to answer such questions.

Fatty acids are simply the building blocks for the fats in our body and in all our foods. When we eat fats, they are broken down into fatty acids that are then used by the body to perform numerous vital functions. Chemically, a fatty acid is comprised of a long hydrocarbon chain that can have hydrogen atoms attached. It is capped by a carboxyl group (COOH) that makes these molecules acids. Continue reading “What are fatty acids, and why are they important?”

Small dairy adapting to changing markets

Tim Pauli’s traditional farming methods still working

Belleville, Wisconsin—Change comes even to seemingly timeless farms. For instance, come February Tim Pauli’s milk will be on an organic truck.

One of the more popular interview subjects in the history of Graze, Tim has made a very good living for the past three decades on the income from just 28 milking cows while employing farming methods and machinery straight out of the 1950s. For 2016 his cost of production will come in at slightly below $6 per cwt., a figure that includes depreciation but not a land charge, nor a return to labor and management. Tim’s costs rise to roughly $8/cwt. if a $15,000 rental charge is included for his farmstead and 72 tillable and “grazeable” acres. Continue reading “Small dairy adapting to changing markets”

Passing a life’s work to a new generation

Charles Flodquist and John Richmond II

Apprentice program offers an opportunity

Colfax, Wisconsin — “I’ve enjoyed farming all my life.” With that statement, Chuck Flodquist may be speaking for quite a few veteran dairy graziers who would love to keep living the life.

But reality eventually comes calling. At retirement age, and three years past a back injury, Chuck recognizes he won’t be running his grass-based dairy forever. The 400-acre farm is a great place to grow grass and milk cows, and the steep slopes are better kept in forages than corn and soybeans. Continue reading “Passing a life’s work to a new generation”

Conventional tactics, unconventional dairy

Tafels combine cow comfort with no-grain feeding

Laurens, New York — Adam and Margaret Tafel do a lot of things that are considered good practices in the conventional dairy world.

They work hard at harvesting quality forages. They try to keep their cows comfortable in freestalls and tunnel ventilation. They watch body condition and feed accordingly. They’re trying to match the herd’s genetics with their farm to ensure optimum productivity and profitability. Continue reading “Conventional tactics, unconventional dairy”