The 2019 growing and harvest season will go down in the history books as the most challenging one in memory. Alfalfa winterkill, record precipitation, below normal temperatures, delayed planting, excessive mud, and brutal harvest conditions made for a difficult year for farmers and custom business owners who work with farmers. The effects of Mother Nature from 2019 certainly have had, and will continue to have, an impact on feed inventories and quality throughout Eastern Wisconsin.
Because of the financial impact of feed quality and quantity on the milking herd and replacement animals, Extension Dairy & Livestock Agent Tina Kohlman collaborated with four other extension colleagues in five counties to develop, organize, and host a “Meeting Tomorrow’s Feeding Challenges Today” Seminar. This seminar is part of our popular “Supporting Farmers During Challenging Times” meeting series conducted over the past several years due to the brutal economic conditions impacting farmers. Thirty-eight people were in attendance.
For the meeting, Kohlman also developed and presented “Do They Grow, or Do They Go?-A Look at Dairy Heifer Inventory Strategies”. Based on her presentation, respondents to a post-meeting evaluation (n=25) indicated a 0.8 point increase (on 5-point scale) in knowledge in strategies to control heifer rearing costs.
As a result of attending this meeting, post-meeting evaluations also indicated a 0.9 point increase in knowledge on factors affecting feed hygiene and quality of silage, an 0.8 point increase in key factors in preparing for feed emergencies, and a 1.0 point increase in strategies for planning and avoiding forage catastrophes. One hundred percent (100%) of those completing the evaluations indicated they would share the information they learned from the meeting with others.
When asked what is one practice you will “take back to the barn” and implement as a result of today’s meeting, participants indicated:
- Needing to calculating heifer raising costs (3)
- Feed hygiene best management practices (3)
- Test forages regularly for mycotoxin (2)
- Experimenting in low cropping acres with alternative forages
- More planning with custom harvester
- Getting rid of oxygen quicker to lower the pH and save sugars
The breakdown of the 25 participants completing the evaluation is 14 farmers, 4 farm managers, 4 nutritionists, and 3 consultants which represent a total of over 7,000 cows milked by farmers in attendance and 150 farms covered by the agriculture professional in attendance.