Nebraska Dairy Update - December 2015

65,600 Servings of Milk Donated for Omaha Families in Need

September was denoted nationally as Hunger Action Month, a time to educate, build awareness and make an impact to help those who are food insecure in our communities. Midwest Dairy Council partnered with Food Bank for the Heartland, Hunger Free Heartland and the Omaha Hunger Collaborative, which includes Omaha's three largest food pantries, on a project called Pints to Gallons to benefit the Great American Milk Drive.

Milk remains one of the top five most-requested items by food bank clients, yet it is rarely donated due to its perishability. The goal of the project was to encourage donations from schools, churches, businesses and families in pint size milk bottles to represent gallons of milk. All donations were collected and counted at the food bank throughout the month of September.

More than $10,250 in donations were collected through the effort, resulting in roughly 4,100 gallons or 65,600 servings of milk that will be available to Omaha families in need. The campaign not only raised donations, but also helped to educate others on the need for a consistent supply of milk in our food banks. All partners plan to keep the conversation going and hope to plan a similar effort again next September.

Nebraska State Dairy Association Update

By: Rod Johnson, NSDA Executive Director

  • The Nebraska Department of Agriculture hosted a Homeland Security workshop the beginning of November in Lincoln which focused on crisis preparedness and included a feed contamination drill as part of the workshop. There are many agencies and steps to be considered and followed in a crisis situation. And with this in mind, Midwest Dairy Association and NSDA are planning to hold a crisis preparedness workshop the end of February. Details are being finalized, and you will receive the final details.

  • The Alliance for the Future of Agriculture (AFAN), which NSDA is a member, held their annual meeting on November 23 at the Cornhusker Marriot hotel in Lincoln. AFAN continues to focus on livestock development in Nebraska, which includes dairy development. The NSDA board held a board meeting conference call on November 24 to discuss the budget, the dairy convention and directions for 2016.

  • Convention sponsorship forms have been sent out. If you missed those or need additional information, contact Rod Johnson at

  • Dairy farmers should be watching their mail in the next few days for your opportunity to join the NSDA for 2016. The mailing will include a report of 2015 NSDA activities along with a consent form to register for the 2015 Milk Quality and Production Awards to be presented at the 2016 convention.

  • We are busy wrapping up 2015 activities and running full speed for 2016 already.

Meet Kim Clark - Nebraska Dairy Extension Educator

Kim Clark joined Nebraska Dairy Extension at the Unversity of Nebraska-Lincoln in July 2015.

Clark, a Seward native, works with dairy producers in Nebraska. Her responsibilities include communicating with Nebraska dairy producers on the latest research from UNL and the dairy industry, providing dairy producers with educational resources for their operation, collaborating with the Nebraska State Dairy Association (NSDA), dairy organizations, universities across the nation, and planning in-state and multi-state programs.

Clark holds a Master of Agriculture degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she focused her education in dairy nutrition, agriculture economics and agriculture leadership.

Before joining the Nebraska Extension, Clark worked as director of biofuels development for the Nebraska Corn Board to expand renewable fuels in Nebraska.

“Joining Nebraska Extension as a Dairy Extension Educator is perfect for me. It has always been a passion to be part of Extension and work with dairy producers,” said Clark. “There are many great opportunities to work with dairy producers in Nebraska and the Midwest, and now I am working with and communicate with each of them to magnify dairy production and Extension in Nebraska.”

Clark can be reached at, by phone at 402-350-5003 and followed on Twitter @NEDairyExt.

Reducing Methane From Dairy Production

By: Paul Kononoff, UNL Associate Professor of Dairy Nutrition and Dairy Extension Specialist

The Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations (FOA) estimates that providing a 5 year old with a glass of milk each day also provides this child with 21% of the daily protein and 8% of the daily calories needed by the child. Furthermore, milk provides key nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, selenium, riboflavin, vitamin B12 and vitamin B5. With cattle providing 85 % of the world’s milk it is also important to understand how these animals are fed and to know that dairy cattle are very effective in producing high quality and nutritious foods from feedstuffs that are also largely inedible by the human population. The key link and ability for these animals in consuming these feeds are the thousands of microbes that reside in the rumen. Currently, in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Drs. Samodha Fernando and I are discovering how the diet fed to dairy cattle affects the rumen microbes that are responsibility for digesting many of the nutrients that a cow consumes each day.

Recently our collaboration has focused on methane production by cattle. It is important to study methane because agriculture contributes approximately 7% of the total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and methane from microbial fermentation represents 20% of the total methane emitted. This methane production also represents a key loss of energy from both the rumen microbes due to feedstuffs and cows. Therefore, finding ways to reduce methane production by rumen microbes should improve sustainability and production.

Several years ago I had a graduate student observe that feeding cows distillers grains actually improved milk production and also resulted in cows producing less methane. For use to understand why this may be happening we have two projects underway. One is funded by the Nebraska Environmental Trust and the other funded by the Nebraska Corn Board. The overarching objective of these projects is to develop science-based dietary intervention strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from methane production in dairy cattle production systems. To this end, these projects investigate the rumen microbial community under different dietary treatments to identify and characterize the complex microbial community and members of the microbial community that influences methane emission. Additionally, these projects simultaneously monitor animal performance – including milk production - and methane emissions.

To conduct these studies we used lactating Jersey cows and collected total gas production in a controlled environment. The device use to do this is called an indirect calorimeter. This device allows us to know example how much oxygen a cow is consuming and how much methane is produced in her rumen. As you can imagine this work keeps us busy around the clock with cows under continuous observation. These projects are scheduled to be completed this spring, and it will be our aim to share how producers can reduce methane emission from cattle and use the energy saved by reducing methane emissions to use for milk production. We will use the information from these projects will deliver science-based knowledge and informal educational programs to dairy producers through producer friendly extension curricula, which will provide dairy producers with the resources and information they need to make changes to their feeding and production systems..

NSDA Annual Convention

Tuesday, Feb. 2nd 2016 at 8am

Ramada Columbus Hotel and Conference Center

Mark your calendars for the NSDA Annual Convention on February 2, 2016 in Columbus, NE at the Ramada Hotel and Conference Center. The annual convention allows you to hear featured speakers, gives you educational opportunities, the opportunity to visit the trade show and much more! The agenda and more details are coming soon!

Grow Nebraska Dairy Update

The Grow Nebraska Dairy team continues to work on the addition of processors in Nebraska. Several members of the team have been meeting with potential milk processors. Over the last several weeks, the potential processors have had meetings in Nebraska and have been evaluating the economics of a processing plant.

Calendar of Events

11 - Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality -AFO Workshop; 8:30 am- 4:00 pm, Norfolk, NE. Click here for the agenda and to register

11-15 - What is Your Pregnant Cow Worth??? I29 Dairy Outreach Consortium Winter Workshop sponsored by Nebraska Dairy Extension and the NSDA; see flyer below. Visit

2 - NSDA State Convention; Columbus, NE
9-11 - World Ag Expo; Tulare, CA
end of February - Crisis Preparedness workshop hosted by Midwest Dairy Association and NSDA; details to come
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