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Two New Publications Help Producers Monitor Milk Production and Feeding Intake

Posted: December 10, 2014

Penn State Extension Dairy Team and Center for Dairy Excellence created publications to help producers detect and correct problems early.

Producers can now benefit from two publications that monitor milk production and feeding intake, helping to detect problems before they turn into major bottlenecks. The publications, both available in hard copies or for any mobile platform, were developed jointly by the Penn State Extension Dairy Team and the Center for Dairy Excellence. Titled "Milk Production Records for Management Control" and "Feeding Records for Management Control," they allow production and feed intakes to be monitored daily - and easily.

The milk production recording calendar is set up so the user can enter the bulk tank milk weights, the number of cows going into the tank, and the amount of any waste milk used for calves. The producer can calculate the actual milk production per cow from the tank and graph production along with component information. There is a comment box so events that happened on a particular day can be recorded, helping to explain why cows may have gone up or down in production. The hard copy can be hung in the milk house so information can be easily added on a daily or every other day basis. This could be used for profit team meetings to evaluate how cows are performing on a regular basis compared to relying on DHIA records only, which examine the herd at a single time point.

The feeding record calendar can be kept with the feeder and the daily batch weights recorded.  The number of cows fed and refusals should also be recorded. This is the preferred approach for monitoring intakes compared to the formulated diet on a per cow basis. Recording the batch weights, number of cows and refusals makes it easier to monitor over time how consistent intakes are or if there is a lot of variability. Acomment box can be used to record any noteworthy events that may have impacted the herd or group's intakes. If dry matters are tested on the ration, actual dry matter intakes could be graphed along with the as-fed intakes. This would be another nice addition to any profit team meeting to evaluate how cows or groups of cows are doing and making any connections to milk production or management changes implemented.

The mobile application version of these hard copies has the advantage of calculations being done automatically when information is entered for either milk production or feeding. The other advantage is data can be graphed over several months or for one particular month. The feeding portion of the app has a lot more flexibility in regards to the number of groups that can be monitored. In addition to the lactating cows, dry cows and heifers could be monitored. This mobile application was developed so it can be used on any platform, including a desktop computer.

These resources could be used along with monitoring income over feed costs. With the milk production and feeding record tools, more precise information on average milk production and feed costs should be possible. Without adding a lot of extra work by employees, critical information pertaining to animal performance as well as economics could be maintained and used for discussions with the producer's key consultants.


Information on obtaining the hard copies and how to use the mobile application can be found at http://extension.psu.edu/animals/dairy/business-management/mobile-apps. The mobile application is available at www.ahg.com:8180/PSURecords/html.

For more information, contact Virginia Ishler, vishler@psu.edu, 814-863-3912.