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K-State Research and Extension News

Milk Lines

Milk Lines is co-produced by the K-State College of Agriculture and the K-State Radio Network. Each week, K-State Research and Extension dairy specialist Mike Brouk provides the latest information for today's dairy producers.  Each segment is approximately 2-minutes in length.

Send comments, questions or requests for copies of past programs to ksrenews@ksu.edu.

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CONTROL OF SUMMER MASTITISBecause of the conditions, dairy farmers often see an onslaught of mastitis in the herd during the summer. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says vaccinating for E. coli, removing or limiting access to ponds and other wet areas, and proper stall maintenance can help prevent the spread of summer mastitis.

ML 05-26

SECURING FORAGE FOR BEDDINGIt’s beginning to look like there may be limited supplies of straw for the 2023-24 season. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says dairy farmers who haven’t yet secured straw for bedding should do so as soon as possible. He also says farmers may have an opportunity to increase their forage supply following the harvest of wheat by planting a corn hybrid, milo or sorghum.

ML 05-19

HEAT ABATEMENT MEASURES– As temperatures continue to climb, dairy producers are encouraged to start implementing their heat abatement plan for keeping the herd cool this spring and summer. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says a feedline sprinkling system, clean, operational fans, keeping dry cows cool and providing extra water space along fence lines are four steps producers can take to keep animals cool.

ML 05-12

AVERAGE SOMATIC CELL COUNTSEven in the summer, when bacteria grows more rapidly, Kansas dairy producers are making progress in reducing somatic cell counts in the herd. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk looks at some of the practices producers are using to reduce the level of somatic cell in raw milk leaving their farms.

ML 05-05

DISPLACED ABOMASUMS Displaced abomasums in dairy cattle are not common but they do occur and can be costly. Animals with higher body condition scores are more likely to have issues with fat mobilization and displaced abomasum. However, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says excess abdominal fat – possibly associated with trying to achieve higher levels of milk production – may be impacting the genes associated with fat metabolism.

ML 04-28

USING CLASSIFICATION SCORE DATAData from the Holstein Association shows how classification score is related to herd life as well as how productive animals might be in the herd over time. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk looks at the findings and how producers can use classification scores to improve efficiency in their herd.

ML 04-21

IMPROVING FEED EFFICIENCY Calves present an opportunity for producers to improve feed efficiency on their dairies. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says the best opportunity for achieving higher rates of gains is while the animals are in the milk-fed stage of life. In most instances, this involves accelerated gain programs that include more liquid and a little less dry feed.

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2022 KANSAS MILK PRODUCTIONAccording to the latest data, Kansas ranked 17th for total milk production in the United States in 2022 and 15th in production per cow. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says Kansas once again remained a strong exporter of milk to states with a milk production deficit.

ML 04-07

REDUCING THE FLY POPULATION Fly season is here – and dairy farmers need to take action now to reduce the fly population on their farms. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says it’s easier to control flies early in the season and that can lower the risk of having to take more aggressive action this summer.

ML 03-31

PREPARE NOW FOR DAIRY MONTH National Dairy Month isn’t until June. However, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk encourages dairy farmers to start thinking about how they want to promote their dairy and the dairy industry. This might include hosting an event with food, activities for children and educational material from dairy industry partners.

ML 03-24

RESPIRATORY DISEASE ISSUESTemperature fluctuations in the spring and fall can cause respiratory disease issues for calves. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk covers some of the issues dairy producers may see in their calves this spring and what they can do to help protect their calves.

ML 03-17

MANAGING TOTAL MIXED RATIONFeeding a total mixed ration (TMR) that contains all the feeds and nutrients the cow needs is an effective and efficient way to feed dairy cows. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk (brook) says producers should evaluate the mixing and delivery of TMR’s to their cows, paying close attention to feed moisture, the accuracy of feed delivery, the consistency of the mix and anti-nutritional factors in some of the feed being fed to animals.

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REDUCING GREENHOUSE GASSESIn an industry-wide effort to reduce greenhouse gasses, dairy farmers are investing significant resources into technology and feed additives. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says this includes building anaerobic digesters, covering lagoons to capture methane, and using feed additives to reduce the methane emissions from cows or the number of times they burp during the day.

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2022 MILK SUMMARYBy all accounts, 2022 was a banner year for milk prices. However, feed costs were also up. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk looks at some of the interesting numbers for 2022 and encourages dairy producers to focus on component values, primarily fat and protein, to get higher raw milk prices in 2023.

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FLY CONTROL STARTS NOWFlies may not be a major concern for dairy farmers right now, but that will change in the coming months. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says the first step in reducing fly populations is to eliminate breeding areas now. He explains the areas to concentrate on and why it’s important to take action now.

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ECONOMIC IMPACT OF KANSAS DAIRIESThe dairy industry in Kansas is a major economic driver for local communities. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk takes a closer look at how Kansas dairy farmers impact local economies through employment, operating costs and growth.

ML 02-10

SPRING FORAGE CROP OPTIONSAs the 2022 crop forage dwindles, dairy producers should be thinking about spring forge crop options to bridge the gap between the 2022 and 2023 crop. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk covers several crop options that can be planted in early spring.

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BOVINE LEUKEMIA VIRUSBovine Leukemia Virus, or BLV, is an infectious disease that’s been around a long time. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says more than 50% of dairy cattle are impacted by BLV and a small percentage will develop tumors or other issues. He says there are new tests which can help dairy producers identify which animals may need to be moved out of the herd.

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EVALUATE 2022 CORN SILAGEEvaluating the 2022 corn silage crop, especially moisture and starch content, can aid producers in making decisions for 2023. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says if moisture and starch were not what they expected, there are steps they can take to improve corn silage quality.

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OFFSETTING LABOR COSTSAs more states consider legislation regarding wages for hourly employees, it’s important for agricultural producers across Kansas to consider how they would offset higher labor costs. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk (brook) encourages producers to take a close look at their operation and identify areas where they could increase efficiency and reduce the time it takes to complete daily tasks. He also says producers should treat all employees fairly.

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HAVE A PLAN FOR BARN FIRESBenjamin Franklin is quoted as saying ”If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” and if dairy producers don’t have a plan for what do in the event of a barn fire, it could be tragic. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk discusses what needs to be in the plan and why the plan is important.

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WINTER TEAT HEALTHWinter, accompanied by extreme cold weather, has officially arrived. In the milk barn, one of the biggest challenges during extreme cold is teat health. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says there are a number of steps that can be taken to help protect the health of lactating cows and calves during bitter cold conditions.

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RELATIVE FORAGE QUALITYWhen producers purchase hay, they should understand the difference between the two measurements for energy content – RFV and RFQ. RFV – Relative Feed Value – which has been used for decades, assumes all fiber digestibility is the same – which just isn’t the case. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says RFQ – Relative Forage Quality – is a newer, more accurate fiber digestibility lab technique that’s more accurate than RFV because it uses actual digestion values.

ML 12-16

SELECTING SEED FOR CORN SILAGE As dairy producers select seed for corn silage for 2023, they should do more than look at how well hybrids performed in trials. While that’s certainly important, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says talking with neighbors about the hybrids they’ve used, and the results they’ve seen over the last few years, will provide better information on how well that hybrid would perform for you.

ML 12-09

TIMING ALFALFA CUTTINGS As producers look ahead to 2023, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk is encouraging those who plant alfalfa for feed to carefully consider the timing of the first cutting. He says cutting too soon can significantly impact nutritional quality. For subsequent cuttings, he says harvesting past maturity – even just a day – can impact nutritional quality


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INCREASING REPRODUCTION RATESAs Kansas dairy producers consider their reproduction programs for 2023, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk encourages them to look closely at the success of this year’s program. In particular, he says to identify and eliminate missed opportunities for getting animals bred on time and take the necessary steps to improve the heat detection rate for cows and heifers.

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STRUCTURING EVALUATIONSAs another year comes to a close, producers are encouraged to meet with each employee about their role on the farm. If the meeting is well-structured, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says the producer and employee will both benefit from the evaluation. He offers producers some tips on structuring employee evaluations.

ML 11-18

DAIRY PRODUCT CONSUMPTIONThe Milk Market administrator for the Central Order published a summary of the 2021 data on dairy product consumption. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says the data shows some interesting trends, such as a continued increase in cheese consumption. He takes a closer look at the data and why the findings are important for dairy producers.

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DAIRY DAYS 2022 Kansas State University’s Dairy Days is being held November 10 in Whiteside and November 15 in Seneca. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk previews the annual event and the type of information being presented to dairy producers at both locations.

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PREPARING FOR FORAGE SHORTAGESA shorter forage season may put pressure on dairy producers to find ways to stretch available forage on-hand until the new crop comes on next year. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk encourages producers to work with their nutritionist to develop a diet that provides a healthy balance for the entire herd.


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MONITORING HOOF HEALTHThe effects of summer heat stress on the hooves of dairy cattle may not appear for 60-to-90 days. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says unresolved hoof issues can cause reduced milk production and a delay in breeding. He encourages producers to watch for early signs of lameness this fall so they can provide animals with quick treatment.

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EMPLOYEE APPRECIATIONWith the holiday season just around the corner, now is the time for dairy producers to think about how they can show appreciation for the hard work their employees do throughout the year. This might include a party with meaningful gifts for each employee. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says the goal is to recognize employees for their role in making the dairy a successful operation.

ML 10-14

USING ADDITIONAL COLOSTRUMIn addition to the sound treatment protocols in place for treating calf scours, research shows that replacing milk or milk replacers with colostrum in the second week of life gives calves a boost. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk  explains the benefits of this additional colostrum.

ML 10-07

INCREASING FLUID MILK SALESAs consumer preferences and market trends change, dairy producers must be able to adapt to those changes. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says fluid milk sales data indicates that whole milk sales are beginning to decline. However, consumers are viewing fat and milk fat in a more positive light as a source of nutrition. He discusses some things producers can do locally to increase fluid milk sales.

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TIPS FOR MAXIMIZING MARGINSAny drop in the price of milk paid to producers impacts their bottom line. As producers look for ways to maximize margins in the coming months, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk is encouraging them to take a close look at the health of the herd to determine which cows are most profitable.

ML 09-23

MASTITIS CONTROL OPTIONSSomatic cell counts typically rise during the summer because the bacteria that causes many of the somatic cell count issues, such as mastitis, grow quicker in warmer weather. If producers have experienced mastitis in their herd, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk recommends they collect samples for testing, examine their treatment records and talk to their veterinarian regarding control options.

ML 09-16

CONSERVING STRAW BEDDINGStraw, which is in short supply and expensive, will be needed to protect cattle from cold stress this winter. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk encourages producers to take stock of the straw they have available, prioritize its use and consider options for extending its use, such as adding corn or milo stalks into the bedding pack.

ML 09-09

CHEESE IS AN OPPORTUNITYAn increase in milk production on the raw milk side in Kansas and the central part of the United States over the last five years has created a need for more processing plants to make cheese and some dry products. Kansas is seeing growth in this area and K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says this will help the state and region become stronger and more productive in the dairy industry.


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FEED PURCHASING CONSIDERATIONSAs dairy producers consider feed purchases for the next 12 months, they can expect to see some volatility in feed prices, depending on what happens in the corn and soybean meal markets. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk  encourages producers to work with their nutritionist to build a ration that offers the best nutrition at the most economical cost per ton of dry matter.

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WORKING WITH A NUTRITIONIST The quality from this year’s alfalfa harvest is down from a typical year. As a result, producers will most likely need to adjust rations. As they move into feeding forages from 2022, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk encourages them to work with their nutritionist to avoid making critical mistakes.

ML 08-19

PLAN NOW FOR FORAGE NEEDS As producers consider feed options for the next 12-to-14 months, in addition to purchasing forage from others, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk encourages them to think about what they can do to supplement forage needs at a lower cost. For example, planting sudan or millet.

ML 08-12

THE OUTLOOK FOR MILK PRICES Milk prices were at an all-time high in June and July and while record-high prices might not continue, the market is expected to remain strong. Historically, milk prices are cyclical – seeing a price swing about every three years. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk explains why he’s optimistic that higher milk prices will continue through the remainder of 2022.

ML 08-05

KANSAS JUNIOR DAIRY SHOWThe 2022 Kansas Junior Dairy Show is being held August 11th-13th in Salina. This annual event is now in its 57th year. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk previews the event, including the schedule for each day and how youth can access the online registration system.

ML 07-29

BEST PRACTICES FOR EXTREME HEATThe extreme heat across Kansas is putting cattle at a higher risk for heat-related stress. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk offers some “best practices” for keeping cattle cool during extreme heat. This includes adding more water tanks to improve access to water, installing temporary shade or allowing cattle to move into areas of the farm that offer greater shade.

ML 07-22

A FAIR PRICE FOR CORN SILAGEAs dairy producers begin the process of securing corn silage from growers, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk encourages them to calculate the price a couple of ways. He says they can calculate the standard 7-to-9 times the bushel price of corn for a ton of silage or use the grain yield. In the end, Brouk says the goal is to reach a fair price so everyone wins.

ML 07-15

CORN SILAGE CONSIDERATIONSIt’s just about time to chop corn for silage. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says the best time to chop depends on several factors, including the kernel milk line and moisture content. He also says the window for ideal chopping conditions can change quickly, leaving producers just a few days to harvest their corn silage. 

ML 07-08

MILK MARKETING IN KANSASAccording to the latest Milk Marketing Survey, Kansas has a few counties that are experiencing rapid growth, primarily in the western and northeastern parts of the state. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says the milk market will become more consolidated over the next five years but cow numbers in Kansas will continue to grow and we’ll see an increase in milk production.

ML 07-01

JULY IS AN ICE CREAM DREAM– “I Scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream” was a novelty song from the 1920s but has remained a part of popular culture without the rest of the song. You might hear the quite a bit in July because it’s National Ice Cream Month and July 17th is National Ice Cream Day. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk looks at the history of this tasty treat, including how much ice cream we consume, and which flavors we like the most.

ML 06-24

BE PREPARED FOR POWER OUTAGESIn Kansas, the weather can change fast – an ice or snow storm in the winter and severe thunderstorms and tornados in the spring and summer. In addition to the damage these storms can produce, they can also cause power outages. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says producers need to have a plan in place for remaining operational during an outage.

ML 06-17

CAPITALIZING ON HIGH PRICESRecord high milk prices are expected to continue and K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk encourages producers to take advantage of the higher prices to help offset high feed prices. He discusses five things producers can do to sustain milk flow off the dairy this summer.

ML 06-10

FORAGE AND BEDDING NEEDSWith several question marks surrounding the availability of alfalfa for the rest of 2022 and into 2023, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk is encouraging producers to act sooner rather than later in securing forage. And, with wheat expected to be in short supply, he suggests having at least a year’s worth readily available for bedding and as a potential feed source.

ML 06-03

OUTLOOK FOR DAIRY PRICESIf data from the USDA is correct, the all-milk price for 2022 could set a record. While some of the increase will be offset by higher input costs, such as fuel and feed,K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says producers need to take advantage of the higher prices by selling as much milk as possible this summer and into the fall.

ML 05-27

IMPROVING COW COMFORTA walk around the dairy may provide producers with information regarding just how comfortable their cows really are. When cows exhibit signs of discomfort, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says it can hinder the growth or production of the herd. He discusses what to look for and how to address the things that are causing discomfort.   

ML 05-20

BE PREPARED FOR FLY SEASONIf you’ve been planning to clean up some of those areas on the farm that attract flies but just haven’t gotten it done, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk (brook) says it’s time to make it a priority. He says fly season is rapidly approaching and once flies are present it’s much harder to control them and keep them away from the herd.

ML 05-13

INSPECT ALFALFA FIELDSAlfalfa fields currently appear to be insect-free. However, as weather conditions change this spring, insect activity could quickly become a problem. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk recommends alfalfa fields be given more than a drive-by inspection and that producers consult their agronomist before taking any action which could delay harvest.

ML 05-06

SUMMERTIME MILK PRODUCTIONMilk prices are expected to remain favorable this summer, providing dairy producers an opportunity to increase cash flow. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says adding just 5-10 cows to the herd to increase milk production will provide a good return. However, he says to make sure you have room for additional cows and the ability to feed them and to milk them.

ML 04-29

SUMMER FORAGE OPTIONSCorn silage is the obvious choice for summer forage. However, if corn silage is in short supply or too costly, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says producers should have a backup plan to feed the herd. He says emergency crops might include wheat, millet, sorghum or short-season corn.

ML 04-22

A COMPREHENSIVE PLANFocusing on the day-to-day operation of the dairy farm is essential. However, that doesn’t mean dairy producers should only focus on the here-and-now. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk suggests producers regularly meet with their veterinarian, banker, AI breeding service and farm management team to discuss a comprehensive plan. This includes a review of the current operation and changes they’d like to make in the next year, three years, five years and beyond.

ML 04-15

WHY ARE DAIRY SHELVES EMPTY?A trip through the dairy section of many grocery stores has many people asking why the shelves are empty or almost empty? K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk has seen the bare shelves and he encourages dairy producers to start questioning why milk and other dairy products aren’t making it to the store shelves for consumers to purchase.

ML 04-08

BUTTER FAT AND MILK PROTEINDairy producers in the Central Order are paid based on the amount of fat and protein in the milk they ship. In looking at last year’s trends, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says Kansas producers are considerably above the 22-year average in both categories. However, the summer slump in butter fat and milk protein, typically related to heat stress, is a concern.

ML 04-01

PREPARING FOR FLY SEASONThe health of the dairy herd is currently not being impacted by flies. However, when the conditions are right, flies can multiply quickly. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says studies show flies – fewer than 50 per animal – can reduce milk production by 15-to-30%. He encourages producers to be ready for fly season by getting their supplies lined up now and addressing areas on the farm that might attract flies.

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SHORTER SUPPLY OF HEIFERSMilk prices are expected to continue to climb in 2022. Kansas dairy producers wanting to take advantage of the higher prices will likely be faced with an increase in energy and feed costs and a shorter supply of heifers. If producers are considering increasing the herd size in the next 6-to-12 months, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk recommends finalizing those plans and being prepared to pay more for heifers.

ML 03-18

KANSAS IS A MILK GROWTH STATE 2021 milk production data shows Kansas is a major milk exporter and a milk growth state. Compared to other states, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says Kansas ranked 16th in total milk production last year and 5th in per capita milk production – an increase of 22% from 2016.

ML 03-11

INCREASING SUMMER MILKFLOWWith signs pointing toward an increase in milk prices continuing through the summer, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says producers can take steps now to put them in a position to capitalize on the higher prices. This includes knowing the number of cows they’ll be milking, having forages that are of high quality and easily digested, checking their cooling system, and taking steps to conserve water in the holding pen.

ML 03-04

IMPROVING HOOF HEALTHAs spring arrives, temperatures should start to climb. This is a good time for dairy producers to focus on the hoof health of their cows. Foot trimming, foot baths, early detection and proper treatment are the best line of defense against a variety of hoof issues – and can improve a producer’s pocketbook.

ML 02-25

SHORT-SEASON FORAGE OPTIONSDairy producers needing to stretch their forage supply this summer might consider planting a short-season crop, such as oats, spring barley, spring triticale or Italian ryegrass. The yield is not as good as corn silage, but K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says planting these crops on a limited number of acres can produce 30-to-60 days of forage – and can still be followed up with another crop.

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INCREASE PRODUCTION THROUGH COOLINGTaking the necessary steps to ensure dry cows and pre-fresh cows are kept cool this summer will increase milk production and allow dairy producers to take advantage of higher milk prices. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk discusses some options for keeping dairy cows cool.

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MAKE ROOM FOR SUMMER CALVESAnimals that got pregnant last fall will be calving this summer. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk encourages producers to think about how much space those calves will need and determine whether they have adequate room in their transition pens and bunks to avoid overcrowding.

ML 02-04

MAY MILK MARKETING NUMBERSMay is a test month for the Milk Market Administrative Office and the 2021 report shows the West Region covered the milk production deficit in the Central and East regions. Moving forward, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk  says milk production in the U.S. will continue to expand and we’ll need to increase exports for the excess milk we’re currently producing. 

ML 01-28

CONTROL NITROGEN COSTS Corn silage is a main forage for dairy producers. The cost of nitrogen, which is expected to be about 10% higher than a year ago, is a concern. Conducting a soil test to determine the level of residual nitrogen in the soil and identifying other nutrients available for use to increase nitrogen in the soil may allow producers to purchase less nitrogen.

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WHOLE COTTON SEED IN THE DIETThe protein level and fat content in whole cotton seed make it a good alternative feed source for dairy cows. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says feeding a small amount of whole cotton seed to high group cows will be more expensive than soybean meal but studies show increased milk production offsets the higher cost.

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USE DATA TO DETERMINE DRY-OFFThe success of the dairy farm often occurs in the five to six weeks right around freshening. As producers decide which animals to dry-off, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk suggests they look at their records to see how animals performed, based on the number of days dry. In addition, they should consider how long animals need to stay in the pre-fresh pen.

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