Father and Son Drown in Lagoon

Andy Vance

KFSN-TV in Fresno, CA report a real tradgedy in the community, leaving too many questions about how a father and son died at a local dairy. Deputies found the 27-year-old Luiz Gutierrez and his eight-year-old son at the bottom of the manure lagoon.

The sheriff says the father had taken his son to help him feed the calves.

It happened at Contente Dairy, east of Lemoore.

The sheriff says he does not know what would have caused the father and son to get into the pool, but he says it would be hard for anyone to escape it, once they were in.


UPDATE – This story is even more tragic when you realize the irony that this is Agricultural Safety Awareness Week. Another reason why we need to be reminded of the human capital at risk in our industry. Spring is the time when the vast majority of farm injuries occur – so BE SAFE!

Industry News, Production

Dairy Prices Down Again Last Week

Andy Vance

Prices for dairy products fell again last week, with average prices for Cheddar, Butter, Nonfat Dry Milk and Dry Whey all sliding.

Cheddar Cheese price for 40lb block averaged $1.22/lb for the week, down 3.4 cents/lb from the previous week. 500lb barrel price dropped 2.5 cents/lb at $1.20/lb.

Butter price for 25kg and 68lb boxes averaged $1.20/lb, down 2 cents on the week.

Nonfat dry milk price for bag, tote, and tanker slid 1.8 cents to average 85.3 cents per pound, with Dry whey prices for bag, tote, and tanker hitting 35 cents per pound, down 0.6 cents on the week.

Agribusiness, Butter, Cheese, Dairy Business, Milk, Production

Ice Cream + Brain = Pleasure

Chuck Zimmerman

Maggie MoosMaybe somebody was skeptical about ice cream being pleasing to the brain and the taste buds. Whatever the reason, MaggieMoos Ice Cream & Treatery decided to get some scientific evidence to prove it. I say “duh.” My brain’s been telling me ice cream is good since I had my tonsils out in first grade (actually even before that).

But it took scientists at the Institute of Psychiatry in London to determine that this enjoyable feeling is, in fact, rooted in reality. Scientists at the Institute have demonstrated that ice cream has the ability to stimulate the pleasure zones in the brains of those who savor it. Using before-and-after tests, scientists showed an immediate effect on parts of the brain known to activate when people enjoy themselves, including the orbitofrontal cortex, considered the “processing” area at the front of the brain.

After the more-than-willing participants ate vanilla ice cream, scientists used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to detect regions in the brain affected by changes in levels of blood oxygenation. These changes indicated enjoyment — similar to the pleasure experienced by people who have just won a jackpot or are listening to their favorite music.

Ice Cream, Industry News

Story Briefs

Chuck Zimmerman

Okay, time for some news again.

Cooperatives Working Together announced Monday that it has accepted two bids from WestFarm Foods of Seattle, WA, to export 40 metric tons (88,000 pounds) of Cheddar cheese to the Netherlands, and an additional 100 metric tons (220,000 pounds) of Cheddar to Egypt. CWT will pay its export bonus to the bidder, once completion of the cheese shipments is verified.

7 million gallons of milk a day to be used by a cheese plant near Clovis and Portales, NM according to a story in the Portales News Tribune.

Industry News

No News But Some Country Music

Chuck Zimmerman

Michael PetersonI’m sorry I haven’t posted since last week. I really thought I’d find some dairy news at Commodity Classic but in all the busy-ness that didn’t happen. However, since we’re running a video iPod contest for New Holland I thought I’d share this with you.

Our New Holland, “Down on the Farm” Classic iPod Keepsake Contest” is tied in with their promotion of the new Michael Peterson CD. Here’s your chance to own an iPod since we’ll be giving a video iPod away to one lucky winner and it will contain the new CD.

You can get a preview of it in the audio file posted here from Michael’s performance at the general session last Friday at Commodity Classic. In fact, he wrote a song just for corn and soybean growers (and all farmers) and debuted it there.

You can listen to Michael’s stage performance right here: Listen To MP3 File Michael Peterson Performance (27 min MP3)


What Are You Feeding Your Cows?

Andy Vance

Tri State Dairy Conference Logo

How well do you know your nutrition program? Are you squeezing every drop of potential production out of your milking string? I just read an article discussing how your profitability will suffer if you either over or under estimate forage requirements for your herd. With that in mind, you might consider making plans to join me in Fort Wayne later this Spring.

Purdue, Michigan State, and The Ohio State University invite you to the 15th Annual Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference at the Grand Wayne Convention Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The Universities are joined by experts from a whole host of University and industry areas of expertise. The Conference, held April 25 & 26, will feature discussions on nutrition and animal health, ration formulation and forages, and nutrition and the environment. The overall theme of the conference, “New Developments in Dairy Nutrition and Feeding Systems,” will be extremely relevent because of the impact of dairy farms and dairy nutrition on the environment and the public perception of agriculture.

Some specific session topics include feeding corn disteller grains and the maximum inclusion rate, recent research on energy intake and reproduction, digestibility of fat supplements, in-vivo digestibility of forages, and starch digestibility of corn and corn silage. Speakers will hail from Cornell, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Illinois, Elanco, USDA, Utah State, South Dakota State, K-State, Penn State, and Virginia Tech.

Registration is $130, and is due by April 7th.

Agribusiness, Dairy Business, Nutrition, Production, Training, University

Microsoft Wants to Track Your Cows

Andy Vance

Microsoft Logo

It may seem like an unusal statement – until you think about it. Microsoft announced this week that they have partnered with ViaTrace and the US Animal Identifical Organisation to launch an animal tracking database. ViaTrace actually developed the database on Microsoft servers and operating systems for the USAIO. According to this trifecta of organizations, the dateabase does meet all government requirements for a database, while meeting producers concerns about confidentiality.

While the Secretary of agriculture has in the past expressed his support for a private database, there have been legal questions as to whether or not a private company could legally main such a database. Another producer concern has been any additional cost in implementing such a system – This database is reported to cost less than 30 cents per head to enroll.

ViaTrace has already begun accepting data, collecting information from existing state and association databases, along with pilot projects in 17 states. The system is expected to come online later in 2006, sometime during third quarter. Producers will be able to enter data wireless from the field, from their home or office computer, and by phone or US mail. The first step, naturally, is registering for a premise ID, which many have alread done.

There are still plenty of details to work out with this Animal ID situation, but work is being done in almost every sector of livestock production.

Animal ID, Government, Industry News

Gehl Bucks the Trend

Andy Vance

Gehl Logo

This year has seen a downturn in farm equipment sales, with over sales in every category except compact utility tractors trending lower than last year. Some individual brands, on the other hand, have reported a significant increase in sales.

That’s the situation at Gehl, the manufacturer of both construction and agricultural equipment from Wisconsin. Gehl‘s farm equipment sales increased 13% to $134.2 million for 2005. Compact equipment was up 28%, with implement shipments actually down 16% from a year ago. Compact equipment sales now comprise 70% of the agricultural segment for Gehl. For fiscal 2005, Gehl net income was a record $21.8 million, or $1.97 per share, up from $13.4 million and $1.47 per share in 2004.

Gehl, of course, is known for their skid steers, hay tools, forage equipment, feedmaking implements, and manure handling.

Agribusiness, Production

Roundup Ready Alfalfa – Coming to a Field Near You

Andy Vance

Monsanto Logo

I’ve been reading up on Alfalfa production. The last issue of Hoard’s Dairyman featured the final installment of the 55th Annual Roundtable, this session focusing on Alfalfa production. the four dairies who were represented in the disuccion had various perspectives on the different plants actually in their Alfalfa stands. Some sowed in other cover crops, some preferred a little addtional grasses, and all were curious about the introduction of Roundup Ready Alfalfa to the mix. Curiosity is probably going to be spreading considerably now that the product is available at market. At the World Ag Expo in Tulare, CA last month, Monsanto Company introduced its newest member of the Roundup Ready family of products. The concept of introducing the Roundup Ready trait into Alfalfa seed is intended to give you a greater application window than conventional herbicides, theoretically giving you more flexibility in weed management. Monsanto’s Marketing Manger Chris Peterson noted that the product allowed for “superb weed control, crop safety, felxibility in application of herbicides, and that will translate into more yield and higher quality alfalfa for producers.

Monsanto developed the genetics with Forage Genetics International, and has liscensed the traits to several Seed companies: America’s Alfalfa, Crows, Dairyland, DeKalb, Doebler’s, Eureka, Farm Science Genetics, Fontanelle, Garst, Golden Harvest, Growmark, Jung, Legend, Midwest Genetics, Mycogen, NC+, NK, Pioneer, Stewart, Stone Tennessee Farmers Co-op, Trelay, and WL. AgriMarketing magazine notes that at the roll-out event, Monsanto also shared that there is enough seed on the market to plant roughly 4 million acres this year with production expected to far exceed that level for 2007. They also mention that while only 20% of alfalfa East of the Rockies is treated with herbicide annually, over 60% of the alfalfa West of the mountains is sprayed. The tech fees are expected to be $3/lb for the Western states and $2.50/lb East.

Agribusiness, Dairy Business, Industry News, Production

Monsanto and UC Promise to Play Nice

Andy Vance

Posilac Logo

On the very day the patent infringement trial was to begin, Monsanto Company announced they had reached a licensing agreement with the University of California resolving a dispute over bovine somatotropin or BST. Monsanto markets BST under the brand name Posilac, but the product was patented by UC back in 2004. BST, of course, is used to enhance milk production and efficiency of dairy operations.

Under the terms of the agreement, Monsanto has exclusive commercial rights to manufacture BST. The University, meanwhile, retains non-commercial rights for research and educational purposes. The University agreed to drop the lawsuit, and in exchange, Monsanto agreed to pay the University $100 million in royalties upfront, with an ongoing royalty of 15 cents per dose of Posilac sold through the expiration of the patent in 2023. The University will be paid a minimum $5 million in those royalties regardless of how many doses Monsanto sells. That means the company will have to sell over 33.3 million doses just to cross that threshold.

Monsanto’s Executive Vice President for North America Commercial Operations Carl Casale pointed out that “this agreement illustrates that we are willing to work jointly to resolve disputes, and it allows us to avoid the expense and inconvenience of protracted litigation.

Dairy Business, Education, Industry News, Milk, Production, University