GEA Adds Eating Time Analysis to CowScout™

GEA_CowScoutS_Neck Tag_Eating Time_PR_032414Electronically monitoring cows for activity helps to automate the heat detection process, and supply more accurate breeding information for increased pregnancy rates. Activity monitors can also alert producers to health challenges ahead of clinical signs being visually observed, allowing for earlier treatment and avoiding a potential drop in milk production. To increase monitoring capabilities, GEA Farm Technologies has added eating time to the CowScout™ activity monitoring system.

“CowScout™ provides instant activity updates on a herd and with the addition of eating time it uniquely monitors the amount of time a cow’s head is in the eating position,” said Chris Genal, U.S. national sales manager for milking equipment products at GEA Farm Technologies. “The CowScout™ neck tag continuously monitors movement patterns related to forage intake and records the total time each day an individual animal takes in feed. The system compares the daily total eating time with totals from the previous 10 days, alerting a producer to changes in a baseline.”

The CowScout™ activity monitoring system brings convenience and efficiency to herd management. When a cow or heifer has reduced average eating time, the CowScout™ herd database sends a message to a computer, a mobile device, or both – depending on pre-set preferences – alerting herd managers precisely when a cow has changed eating patterns. CowScout™ data is transmitted continuously from the tag, to the receiver, to the database, so dairy producers always have the latest information to monitor herd health.

“CowScout™ eating time monitoring is especially beneficial before and after calving, when monitoring intake is vital to a healthy transition period,” said Genal. “CowScout™ not only provides dairy producers a simple, accurate and flexible heat detection program, but the added eating time analysis also provides dairy producers the ability to monitor eating behaviors and intervene when health challenges arise, avoiding a potential drop in milk production.”

“The addition of eating time to CowScout™ increases an already robust system that fits any management style – and works with any brand of milking equipment or parlor configuration. It is also an excellent choice for heifer raising operations. Installation components are minimal and there is no complex software,” adds Genal. “No other system on the market compares.”

The CowScout™ activity monitoring system with eating time is fully-supported and installed by GEA Farm Technologies dealers, carrying the WestfaliaSurge product line; a professional network with unsurpassed dairy equipment experience – available to local dairy operations 24/7.

Florida Dairy Farmers Release New iPad App

image003Kids, adults and educators alike can now learn about dairy farming in an exciting way through the Florida Dairy Farmers new iPad app, SunnyBell’s Florida Dairy Farm Adventure. The free app that can be downloaded from iTunes, is a fun, interactive romp through a Florida dairy farm.

SunnyBell – a little calf who longs to be an important part of the dairy farm, teaches kids about nutritious milk and where it comes from. The story is interactive and immersive, while kids learn about how a dairy farm works. The app also includes sing-along “moo”sicals, word-search puzzles, coloring pages and quizzes.

SunnyBell’s Florida Dairy Farm Adventure app is not only great for kids of all ages, but is also an exceptional educational tool for parents and educators, and uses games and songs to improve cognitive abilities in kids.

“The SunnyBell app shares the experience of life on a Florida dairy farm while reinforcing the message of where our milk comes from. Children are easily engaged, via educational songs and games that boast interactive animation, while learning about the importance of dairy foods in the diet,” says Alyssa Greenstein, registered dietitian with Florida Dairy Farmers. “As a registered dietitian and mother of three, I especially enjoy the fact that the SunnyBell app helps kids and adults separate nutrition from fads and misinformation.”

To download the free app, visit and check out our new Kids Corner where you can learn, play and grow with SunnyBell.

Give Precision-Fed Heifers Adequate Bunk Space

DCHAAdequate feed bunk space for heifers is important in any group-housed heifer facility, and even more so when managing heifers in a precision-feeding system.

Jud Heinrichs, dairy science professor at Penn State University, recommends heifers in a precision-feeding program be given 14 to 24 inches of bunk space as they progress from 4 months of age to pre-calving or 22 months of age.

However, there are situations when feed bunk space can become an issue in a precision-feeding program, such as when heifers are fed 30 to 40 percent concentrate diets and feed access is limited to 6 to 8 hours per day.

He says there are two strategies that can be used when feed bunk space is limited. The first is to simply group animals with peers of similar body weight. The second strategy is to limit heifers from moving about freely at the feed bunk. Headlocks or closely placed divider posts can help with this.

Feeding twice daily is not recommended in a precision-feeding program as this can increase heifer competition and weight gain variability within a pen.

New Holland’s New Speedrower Line

new-holland-ag-13-125-editedNew Holland Agriculture’s Speedrower Self-Propelled Windrowers was another stop during their First in the Field Media Event. The Speedrower allows for producers to travel faster and increase efficiency. Yet still provides the industry-leading power, control, comfort and performance New Holland customers expect.

  • Integrated IntelliSteer auto-guidance eliminates pass-to-pass overlap.
  • Improved steering control gives for smooth, responsive handling.
  • Hydrostatic transmission allows for 24-mph, high-speed, foward-looking transport.
  • Prairie Special and draper-ready upgrades.
  • Upgraded rear support and tire options.

new-holland-ag-13-124-editedSeth Doman, Brand Marketing Manager for Hay & Forage Preparation Products, explained each new addition and shared dealer feedback after they participated in the First in the Field event.

“We have three new models in the Speedrower line replacing the H8000 series that will be new for 2014. Dealers can order this producer across North American today and are ordering. We have a pre-sale program that is going on through the end of the month.”

Listen to my interview with Seth from here: Interview with Seth Doman

View photos from the event here: 2013 New Holland Ag Media Event Photo Album

BigBalers for Big Jobs

new-holland-ag-13-093-editedNow here is a new toy for all those commercial hay operations, straw contractors and owner-operators shipping world-wide. New Holland Agriculture’s Next Generation BigBaler 330 produces 3′x3′ bales and the BigBaler 340 produces 3′x4′ bales.

  • Provides up to 20% more capacity with up to 5% more density with patented “C” Shaped Shuttle design.
  • Increased baling speeds of 110 bales per hour.
  • PTO driveline design brings improved durability with efficient and faster feeding.
  • Proven pre-change chamber along with 48% increased flywheel inertia ensuring consistent and dense flake formation with less driveline.
  • SMART features including Smart Fill Indicators, Crop Saver and Crop ID.

new-holland-ag-13-081-editedMark Lowery, Hay & Forage Marketing Specialist, focuses on crop packaging and baling equipment and served as our BigBaler expert for the day. While interviewing Mark, he gave light into the new technologies used to bring New Holland’s 2014 lineup front and center when it comes to hay and forage production in North America.

Listen to my interview with Mark from here: Interview with Mark Lowery

View photos from the event here: 2013 New Holland Ag Media Event Photo Album

True Blue Tractor Luxury

new-holland-ag-13-103-editedThe two tractors highlighted during New Holland Agriculture’s First in the Field Media Event included the T5 and T6 series tractors. The new T5 has redefined utility tractor standards for mixed farmers with diversified livestock and crop operations. And the T6 has been further enriched by the addition of Auto Command.

T5 Series:
- 3.4L F5D Tier 4A emission complaint engines that utilize a Cooled Exhaust Gas Recirculation system & a Diesel Particulate Filter.
- Heavy-duty components that enable long hours of working on the farm.
- A broad loader offering further enhanced versatility.
- VisionView cab provides ultimate comfort and visibility.
- Ergonomic CommandArc console provides the operator with perfect placement of controls.

T6 Series:
- Auto Command transmission for enhanced efficiency.
- Multi-award-winning Side Winder II armrest.
- Upgraded Horizon Cab for outstanding all-day comfort.
- Powerful hydraulics boasting 33 gal. per min. of flow capacity.
- Blue Power edition for a touch of farming luxury.
- ECOBlue SCR technology which will reduce fuel consumption by up to 10%.

Mike Sevick, Marketing Specialist in Dairy & Livestock Brand Marketing, specifically works with T4, T5, T5 Electro Command, T6, T6 Auto Command and TS6 series tractors. While explaining all the new features of these tractors, Mike was excited to share the dealers enthusiasm while they got behind the wheel of these blue beauties. He even stated that many are looking for them to replace the T6020 and T6030 tractors.

Listen to my interview with Mike from here: Interview with Mike Sevick

View photos from the event here: 2013 New Holland Ag Media Event Photo Album

Center-Pivot Discbine Mower-Conditioners

new-holland-ag-13-064-editedOne of the six checkpoints we traveled through during New Holland Agriculture’s First in the Field Media Event was on their new discbines. New Holland has taken discbines to a whole new level with even more durability and functionality with their two new center-pivot models. Discbine 313 and 316 are designed for cleaner cutting, more efficient crop flow and smoother, more effective conditioning.

  • The MowMax II cutter bar offers improved durability and the ShockPRO fail safe system.
  • The WideDry conditioning system is 22.5% wider than New Holland’s previous models.
  • These models offer simplified drivelines with single drive shaft and advanced shielding with high density, bi-fold upper shielding, reducing the weight by 75%.
  • A two-speed conditioning system is adjustable for the perfect hay quality.
  • The LeaningEdge flail conditioning allows for even faster drying.
  • Those working in energy crops like cane and corn stover might be interested in the new BioMass Kit.

new-holland-ag-13-059-editedDuring the media event I spoke with Brand Marketing Manager for Hay & Forage Crop Preparation Products, Seth Doman. Not only did he share more insight into these proven technologies, but also when farmers can find them at their local New Holland dealership.

Listen to my interview with Seth from here: Interview with Seth Doman

View photos from the event here: 2013 New Holland Ag Media Event Photo Album

Precision Dairy Show

Precision farming is not just for crops.

This week, the first ever U.S. Precision Dairy Conference and Expo was held in Rochester, Minnesota featuring experts in the field of precision dairy management, as well as producer panels on the topics of robotic milking, automated calf feeders and sensor technology; and various latest precision dairy research abstracts from the US and around the world.

robo-dairyAmong the show’s sponsors was BouMatic® Robotics, featuring the OptiFlo™ CF variable speed milk transfer control system for the ultimate in cooling system efficiency. Also on display was the integrated dairy management system SmartDairy, which collects, delivers and manages performance data “while providing operational control and monitoring of the dairy enterprise at the touch of a finger.”

was another company sponsoring the event. “Our milking parlors have been tested and those tests showed that they produce 5% more milk, milk each cow an average a minute faster,” said Dr Edmond Harty, CEO & Technical Director, Dairymaster. “Because of advanced technologies our rotaries are operating with fewer labor units. This is science applied to make producers’ lives easier and more profitable”

Dairymaster also has a Select Detect Mobile app which helps dairy producers manage fertility and increase pregnancy rate.

USDA Renews Dairy MOU for Sustainability

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack today renewed a historic agreement with U.S. dairy producers to accelerate the adoption of innovative waste-to-energy projects and energy efficiency improvements on U.S. dairy farms, both of which help producers diversify revenues and reduce utility expenses on their operations. The pact extends a Memorandum of Understanding signed in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009.

usda-logo“Through this renewed commitment, USDA and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy will continue research that helps dairy farmers improve the sustainability of their operations,” Vilsack said. “This vital research also will support the dairy industry as it works to reach its long-term goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.”

The Secretary was joined on a conference call to make the announcement by The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy CEO Tom Gallagher and Doug Young, a farmer from NY who has benefited from this MOU.

USDA support for agricultural and waste-to-energy research has played a key role in the agreement’s success to date. Since signing the MOU, USDA has made nearly 180 awards that helped finance the development, construction, and biogas production of anaerobic digester systems with Rural Development programs, such as the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels, Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program, Value Added Producer Grants, amongst others. These systems capture methane and produce renewable energy for on-farm use and sale onto the electric grid. Additionally, during this period, USDA awarded approximately 140 REAP loans and grants to help dairy farmers develop other types of renewable energy and energy efficiency systems at their operations.

Also, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has provided $257 million in funding since 2009 that has helped more than 6,000 dairy farmers plan and implement conservation practices to improve sustainability. NRCS support for the dairy industry has resulted in 354 on-farm and in-plant energy audits as well as 18 conservation innovation grants for dairy-related projects during the past three years.

Listen to the call here: USDA/Dairy MOU press call

Precision Pays Profile

Here on Precision Pays we are starting a new series highlighting farmers from across the country who are utilizing precision agriculture. We found our first feature farmer, Steve Maddox, at the National Associations of Farm Broadcasting Convention. Checkout how Steve has increased profitability and sustainability on his California dairy farm.

“We have a 9,000 acre farm surrounding our dairy. We have 3,000 acres in wine grapes, 1,500 acres of almonds and we have the rest in feed crops. Seven years ago we started going to GPS trying to reduce paces. What we found was we were turning the fields 9 to 10 times. We knew we had to stop that. We went to a bigger implement 18 foot wide. We were able to cut our passes in half. In fact, we turned our fields in four days this year. Our fuel was cut in half and labor by two-thirds. On the dairy side of it we went to RFI ID tags for the cows and we are doing program breeding using our breeding tools. This increased our conception rates by 10%.”

Listen to my interview with Steve here: Steve Maddox - California Dairyman

2012 NAFB Convention Photo Album

SCR Dairy Precision

Let me introduce you to SCR Dairy, Inc., Precise Dairy Farming. We’re in a precision world in agriculture and that includes the dairy industry. In the case of SCR Dairy it’s all about cow monitoring systems.

Just prior to the recent World Dairy Expo, ag media got a close up look at SCR Dairy via management presentations and a tour of Fertile Ridge Dairy which is using SCR Dairy products. Our leader for the tour was Tom Breunig, SCR U.S. General Manager, pictured on the left in the photo.

The parent company is based in Israel and only recently opened this office and division in Madison, WI. Many people would be familiar with SCR’s milk flow meters. However, in the case of SCR Dairy it’s about monitoring rumination and ID tags. These tags are utilized in a collar on the cow and measure a number of things including movement much like a Wii. My attention was drawn to the fact that the system includes a microphone which allows a dairy to listen to the cow chew and rumen action. Fascinating stuff. In my interview with Tom he describes how the dairy now has a real “picture” of each cow and what is going on with them. This has greatly reduced the amount of time a dairy has to spend on cow monitoring. There are a number of other benefits too.

You can listen to my interview with Tom here: Interview with Tom Breunig

New Holland Supports Dairy Expo

One of the big “new” things at the 2012 World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin this week is New Holland Agriculture which has made a major multi-year commitment to support the event.

New Holland has sponsored a 26,000 square foot Trade Center tent outside the Exhibit Hall to provide room for additional exhibitors and also has a selection of equipment on the lot outside the tent. “As you know, New Holland is a leader in hay and forage and we felt that this is a show we needed to be at,” said Abe Hughes, New Holland North America VP. “Over the years we’ve sold more than 700,000 small square balers, 200,000 round balers and at any one time we’ve got a million bales of hay on New Holland equipment being made every single month.” Hughes says if the New Holland hay and forage equipment sold in the United States were lined up in a row, it would stretch from Bangor, Maine to Salinas, California!

New Holland has some new equipment on display at World Dairy Expo, including the FR Self-Propelled Forage Harvesters and a new large square baler for professional hay makers. To help producers who are struggling financially, Hughes says they have special offers going on right now, like the New Holland Value Bonanza and the “friends and family” $500 coupons.

Watch an interview with Abe Hughes at the dairy expo below.

2012 World Dairy Expo Photo Album

Committee, Ag Leaders React to FARRM Bill Passage

It took nearly 15 hours, but members of the House Agriculture Committee were able to pass their version of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM) Bill. Committee Chair Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Ranking Member Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) praised the bipartisan legislation:

“This is a balanced, reform-minded, fiscally responsible bill that underscores our commitment to production agriculture and rural America, achieves real savings, and improves program efficiency, said Chairman Frank Lucas.

“The House leadership needs to bring the farm bill to the floor for a vote. We should not jeopardize the health of our rural economies which, by and large, have remained strong the last few years. Our nation’s farmers and ranchers need the certainty of a new five year farm bill and they need it before the current farm bill ends,” said Ranking Member Collin Peterson.

But the USDA is not pleased about cuts to the nutrition title of the bill. “Unfortunately, the bill produced by the House Agriculture Committee contains deep cuts in SNAP, including a provision that will deny much-needed food assistance to 3 million Americans, mostly low-income working families with children as well as seniors. The proposed cuts will deny 280,000 children in low-income families access to school meals and reduce farm income across rural America. These cuts wouldn’t just leave Americans hungry – they would stunt economic growth. The bill also makes misguided reductions to critical energy and conservation program efforts,” said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in a statement.
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Precision Agriculture Comes To Hay Bales

Just when hay bales thought they could remain anonymous forever, along comes New Holland to give them a personality–or at least a brand! CropID, an individual bale identification system for large square bales, uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology in the twine to track bale atributes.

This innovation enables commercial growers to uniquely tag and sort bales based on a wide range of criteria, so that shipments or storage can be arranged according to the hay types that best meet the clients’ needs. Identifying quality, moisture content, or other characteristics of specific bales is now a simple process, allowing growers to easily decide which bales are the best match for specific customers, or need to be set aside for further curing.

“The wealth of data provided by the CropID system offers a vast array of benefits that have a great value to both the farmer selling the bale and the customer purchasing it,” said Michael Cornman, New Holland Dairy & Livestock Marketing Segment Leader. “The system provides accurate documentation of bales for resale, the exact weight of bales for loading and shipping purposes, the ability to monitor and manage inventory via computer, and it provides customized records for customers.”

In addition to helping growers keep shipments and stacks consistent, the CropID system also has several other uses, such as tracking the amount of hay on hand from each field and cutting.

The CropID system works by encasing a microchip and its antenna in a tag that’s wrapped around the twine as the bale is tied. A precision information processor stores the bale’s information, which includes the bale number, the field number or name, the date and time it was baled, the high and average moisture content, the amount of preservative applied, if any, and the bale weight.

CropID bale tags can then be read by a hand-held scanner that shows information on a screen when held within five feet of a tag. The scanner can also be docked on a loader with the screen visible to the operator. The loader-mounted scanner has additional antennae and reads tags on up to three bales at a time at a distance of up to 10 feet without actually seeing the tag. The scanner creates lists of bales made in each field, and a removable USB memory device can be used to download the lists to a computer.

For hay producers, the verifiable records provided by the CropID system provide paybacks including increased customer satisfaction and the potential for higher sale prices. New Holland continues to work on further enhancements for the system.

Precision Feeding Aims To Reduce Environmental Risks

To help reduce excessive nitrates from manure, Penn State research is focused on reducing manure nitrogen by 30-50% and phosphorus by 40-60% by precision feeding dairy cattle. 

The Chesapeake Bay Commission has determined that, by far, the most cost-effective way to minimize the environmental impact of the large volumes of manure generated within the estuary’s watershed is by adjusting feed formulation for poultry and livestock, says Virginia Ishler, nutrient-management extension specialist in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

“Until recently, the focus has been on dealing with manure and its nutrients post-excretion,” she said. “However, now we are focusing on research and on nutrition programs to better balance nitrogen and phosphorus being fed to dairy cows. The feeding management — or how the ration is implemented and presented to the cows — can greatly affect nutrient levels and utilization. But that is just one component.”

The other component of the new enlightened management approach, Ishler explained, is utilizing as much home-grown feed as possible, especially forages, to minimize nutrients being imported onto a farm.

With funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Ishler and research assistant Erica Cowan also are collaborating with the University of Maryland on a project in the Monocacy Creek watershed. In the Pennsylvania portion of the watershed, in Adams County, a Penn State team is monitoring dairy farms to determine the correlation between precision feeding and financial health.

“Every three months, ration information is collected, and total mixed ration and feed/forage samples are analyzed,” said Ishler. “We are also testing milk and monitoring urea nitrogen. Reports are sent back to the producer and their nutritionist after every sampling period to show where the herd is in relation to nitrogen and phosphorus goals.”

In southwestern Pennsylvania, Ishler and Indiana County extension educator Eugene Schurman are working with 12 dairy producers and their nutritionists, collecting nutrition and feed-management information every other month. This project is funded by the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, a USDA competitive grants program supporting agriculture that is profitable, environmentally sound and good for communities.