round hay bale in field at sunset

Reducing livestock hay loss over winter

Feed costs tend to be one of the most costly parts of caring for livestock- whether for horses, cattle, sheep or goats.  One large component of feed cost is how much hay your critters are using (or wasting). A University of Minnesota study evaluated the use of nine different types of round bale feeders for […]

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Jersey cattle eating silage in a headlock freestall barn.

Quality silage

Quality feed is very important for production of milk on a farm.  Cows are fed a total mixed ration (TMR) that is balanced according to the nutritional needs of the animal.  Energy in the diet is especially important for dairy cattle for daily production of milk, support of digestive health, and for effective utilization of […]

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Relative humidity (%) is on the vertical axis, while temperature is on the horizontal axis. Plotted together, these two variables show heat index. This chart is broken down into 4 categories of increasing concern: caution (light yellow), extreme caution (yellow), danger (orange), and extreme danger (red).

Be Heat Smart

When you are focused on “getting the job done”, your health, or the health of your helpers can suffer if you aren’t careful.  Many of you probably check the weather in the morning before starting your day.  You are probably looking to see if there is rain in the forecast and how warm it is supposed to get for the day.  That’s a great start.  One more thing you should add to your list of weather-related items to check for the day is the heat index.  The heat index is a measure that combines relative humidity (or dew point) and air temperature to approximate what the air temperature actually “feels like”.  The heat index is also what is used to help determine when it is “safe” to haul livestock.

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Garlic mustard seedling on brown soil background.

Garlic Mustard, A Threat to the Wooded Areas of Wisconsin

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is an introduced species in North America that was originally brought here by settlers from Europe.  Part of the reason that the settlers brought the plant here was for use in cooking due to the garlic-like scent/flavor that the name implies.  One of the issues with garlic mustard is that none of the insects and diseases that would naturally control the population of plants are present in North America. 

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Black baldie cow on green pasture background. Body areas to look for fat are numbered: 1-backbone, 2-ribs, 3-tailhead, as well as hooks & pins, 4-brisket, 5-flanks.

Body Condition Scoring in Spring

There are several points in the year that are a good time to re-evaluate beef cattle body condition scores.  Ideally, body condition is evaluated on a monthly basis as it is a road map to ensuring your cattle have the nutrition they need. Beef cattle are generally evaluated on a nine point scoring system.  The major areas of evaluation for fat cover include the spine, ribs, hook & pin bones, brisket fill, and presence of tailhead fat. 

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Picture of a messy desk.

Moving Recordkeeping Towards Financial Management

This is the time of year that many farmers dread: the culmination of a year of receipts, tax season!  You painstakingly keep track of purchases, livestock sold, crop sold, depreciation on equipment, etc. All of this hard work and effort cumulates into the famed schedule F (and other forms) to complete your taxes.  Whew!  Another season under the belt. Wait, don’t stop there. 

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chick on grass

Poultry for beginners

This is the time of year that many people start getting excited about raising poultry.  You get a shiny catalog in the mail with all kinds of cool looking birds. What do chicks need to survive and thrive?  For those that are not old hats at raising poultry, caring for young birds isn’t hard, but does require some attention to detail.

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Young Sumatra rooster-head and neck, focused on the eye

How animals see the world

At some point in the course of raising animals, whether that is poultry, cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, horses, or some other critter, you will inevitably be moving them around your property.  One of the easy mistakes to make as an animal owner is in how you approach animal handling.  Mistakes in animal handling can lead to cuts, scrapes, bruises, broken bones, or worse.  When working with animals, “slow is fast”. 

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