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.
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REDUCING UDDER EDEMA IN THE HERD– Research shows it’s common for cows to have udder edema at least once in their lifetime. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk discusses the discomfort udder edema causes and steps dairy farmers can take to help reduce the incidence of it on their farms.
REPLACEMENT HEIFER PROGRAMS– Dairy farmers have been reducing the number of replacement heifers by increasing efficiency of the number of heifers they produce and selectively culling the herd. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk offers tips for improving breeding efficiency and making sure heifers become inseminated on time.
A TIME FOR SHOWING APPRECIATION – With the holiday season getting into full swing, now is a good time for dairy producers to think about how they can show appreciation for all the hard work their employees do each day on the farm. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says it’s important for employees to feel like they’re known, valued and loved in the operation. He says this can be done through annual evaluations and personalized holiday gifts.
REDUCING THE USE OF ANTIBIOTICS– Antibiotics have been used in livestock care for more than 60 years for the prevention and therapy of common pathogens, such as mastitis, respiratory and foot diseases and for other purposes. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says the big issue is antibiotic resistance and trying to limit the use of antibiotics to situations where they’re actually needed.
INCREASING FAT PERCENTAGE IN MILK– To increase the fat percentage in the milk being produced on the farm, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk suggests working with a nutritionist. Healthy matured dairy cows should ruminate about 8 hours a day which requires around six pounds of undigested fiber each day. A nutritionist can perform a test that determines the amount of undigested fiber that’s being fed and from there can figure out the level that works best on your dairy.
COLD WEATHER CARE FOR CALVES– As colder weather arrives this fall and winter, dairy producers should be ready to care for their calves and young stock developing on their farms. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk suggests reviewing the cold weather procedures with those working with the calves, making sure quality bedding is available, and providing calves and young stock with the additional calories required when it’s cold.
DETERMINING PREGNANCY RATES– In the last 15 years, the dairy industry has made tremendous progress in its reproductive efficiency. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says one of the reproductive programs that’s helped is the application of what’s called the pregnancy rate. He explains how the application works and how it’s been so effective in increasing pregnancies.
USING BEEF SEMEN TO BREED DAIRY COWS– The practice of breeding dairy cows to beef semen continues to grow within the industry. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says this breeding practice is proving to be profitable because it helps reduce the number of replacement heifers that need to be raised. He explores how this practice is being used on dairy farms across the United States.
BANKING ADDITIONAL COLOSTRUM – When a cow freshens during the fall or winter, she tends to produce less colostrum than during the spring or summer. There’s no way to prevent this seasonal depression in colostrum yield, but there are ways to help combat it. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says banking additional colostrum throughout the year can help farmers get through periods of lower colostrum production.
ALTERNATIVES FOR FLUID MILK– Starting in about 2010, the dairy industry saw a fairly dramatic decrease in the amount of fluid milk being consumed across the United States. Today, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says there continues to be a shift toward other dairy products and away from beverage milk, presenting producers an opportunity to utilize the volume of milk that would normally go into fluid milk sales into other dairy products that are in higher demand, such as yogurt and ice cream.
THE BENEFITS OF DAIRY PRODUCTS– The 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is currently reviewing dairy product consumption in the American diet to determine if any changes need to be made. Studies show dairy consumption is well below the recommended daily amount. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says this presents an opportunity for producers to increase consumer demand as well as the demand for raw milk. The first step is educating consumers about the nutritional value of milk and other dairy products and how dairy can be part of a healthy diet.
FEED COSTS VERSUS NUTRITION– Feed cost is generally more than 50% of a producer’s total expense, so cutting feed costs should improve an operation’s bottom line. However, milk production is tied to nutrition. As a result, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says cutting feed costs could come at a cost of increased milk production. He encourages producers to check with their nutritionist before making any feed decisions.
TREATING CALF SCOURS– Calf scours can be a major problem for cow-calf operations. However, controlling the disease is complex because there are so many variables. University of Minnesota Extension has been researching the causes and prevention of beef calf scours. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk discusses the report and how dairy producers can benefit from the findings and recommendations.
THE COST OF OPEN ANIMALS– As dairy producers review breeding records, they may discover they didn’t get as many animals pregnant at they wanted. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says animals that are 150 days or more open cost producers anywhere from three-to-five dollars per day. Cull prices are currently good and he says replacing open cows with heifers is something producers should consider.
ENCOURAGING MIDWEST DAIRY NUMBERS– According to data from the Central Milk Marketing Administrator, dairy farmers in the Midwest region experienced growth in several areas over the last five years. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk takes a closer look at the findings and what it means for dairy farmers in the central part of the United States moving forward.
MONITORING KERNEL PROCESSING– Due to the wide range of dry matters out in the fields this year, farmers, as they chop corn silage, are encouraged to monitor the amount of kernel damage several times per day. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says this monitoring enables producers to make adjustments during chopping and to be more aware of the starch availability in the silage when it’s fed a later date.
DRY MATTER CONTENT OF DRY FEEDS– A cost-saving measure that producers might not be taking advantage of is accurately determining the dry matter content of their dry feeds. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says if the feeding management software being used isn’t correct, producers may be overfeeding animals in order to get the amount of protein the animals actually need, resulting in increased feed costs.
KANSAS ALL BREEDS JUNIOR DAIRY SHOW– The 58th Annual Kansas All Breeds Junior Dairy Show is being held August 17th-19th at the Saline County Livestock and Exposition Center in Salina. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk previews the upcoming event, co-sponsored by the Agriculture Division of the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce, Kansas Dairy Commission and the Kansas Dairy Association, in cooperation with K-State Research and Extension.
MILK PRODUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES– The Milk Market Administrators Office in Kansas City tracks the milk produced in the U.S. and recently released data from 2022. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk looks at how Kansas dairy farmers fared in the report and some of the emerging trends reflected in the report.
PRICING CORN SILAGE FOR 2023– Factors somewhere between seven and 11 times the price of corn grain are often used for pricing corn silage. However, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says there are a number of considerations that need to be taken into account to determine the fair price for corn silage.
INCREASING FAT CONTENT – As margins tighten on the dairy farm during the summer, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk encourages producers to focus on ways to increase Tier One production. He says working with a nutritionist and using food additives can increase fat content in the herd and bring in additional revenue to offset higher feed costs.
REGIONAL RETAIL MILK PRICES – Most consumers expect the retail price for a gallon of homogenized milk in Kansas City, Denver, St. Louis and Oklahoma City to be relatively the same. However, that’s not always the case. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk discusses how retail milk prices can vary within a particular region.
NATIONAL ICE CREAM DAY– July is National Ice Cream Month and July 16th is National Ice Cream Day. For the average American, ice cream is part of their diet. In fact, on-average, Americans eat more than 48 pints of the tasty treat each year. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk looks at the history of ice cream, including which flavors we like the most.
ADDRESSING ADDED SUGARS– Because of the amount of added sugars in flavored milk, USDA is discussing whether to continue offering it as part of the school breakfast and lunch program. While there’s no immediate plan to make any changes, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk is encouraging the dairy industry and producers to be proactive and begin researching alternative methods for producing flavored milks with fewer added sugars.
SECURING BEDDING SUPPLIES– Straw for bedding and feed will soon be available. It’s going to be expensive, but K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk is encouraging dairy farmers to secure enough for the coming year. He also discusses some options for extending straw supplies and reducing costs.
TIGHTEN THE BELT THIS SUMMER – Dairy production typically drops off during the summer by as much as 10 pounds per cow per day. With low milk prices and relatively high feed costs, producers may be facing a cash flow issue. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk discusses some options for deferring some costs to a later date.
SHARE YOUR STORY THIS MONTH– June is Dairy Month. In addition to what’s being done nationally to promote the dairy industry, K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk encourages Kansas producers to share their story by opening their dairy to the community, inviting 4-H clubs to tour the dairy or asking the local grocery store if they can set up a booth to offer customers free samples.
TIPS FOR REDUCING FEED COSTS– Reducing feed costs during the summer months can be difficult. K-State dairy specialist Mike Brouk says correct face management of stored silages, cleaning bunks and feeding animals only what’s needed can help reduce feed costs.
CONTROL OF SUMMER MASTITIS– Because 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.
SECURING FORAGE FOR BEDDING– It’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.
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.
AVERAGE SOMATIC CELL COUNTS– Even 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.
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.
USING CLASSIFICATION SCORE DATA– Data 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.
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.
2022 KANSAS MILK PRODUCTION– According 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.
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.
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.
RESPIRATORY DISEASE ISSUES– Temperature 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.
MANAGING TOTAL MIXED RATION– Feeding 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.
REDUCING GREENHOUSE GASSES– In 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.
2022 MILK SUMMARY– By 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.
FLY CONTROL STARTS NOW– Flies 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.
ECONOMIC IMPACT OF KANSAS DAIRIES– The 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.
SPRING FORAGE CROP OPTIONS– As 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.
BOVINE LEUKEMIA VIRUS– Bovine 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.
EVALUATE 2022 CORN SILAGE– Evaluating 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.
OFFSETTING LABOR COSTS– As 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.
HAVE A PLAN FOR BARN FIRES– Benjamin 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.