I-29 Moo University

A newsletter for dairy producers & industry ~ February 2019

How logical is using male sexed semen when breeding beef bulls to dairy cows

By Fred Hall, Iowa State University

I’ve been recommending using beef semen on the bottom half of the milking herd and sexed female semen on the top half of the heifers for quite awhile now. As I’ve watched the market for the resulting calves, I’ve become curious about the differential between the bulls and heifers and if it would pay to use male sexed semen to capture the premium on the steer calves.

In today’s market the extra value of the crossbred calves will put extra revenue in the dairy enterprise. With the use of female sexed semen on the top heifers and conventional semen on the other heifers and top-end cows, dairymen would continue to have sufficient replacement heifers. However, in today’s market, foregoing male sexed semen and breeding dairy cows with conventional beef semen makes the most economic sense. Read more...

The Dairy Industry in 50 Years

By Jim Salfer, University of Minnesota

There have been dramatic changes in the dairy industry over the past 50 years. The U.S. is producing 60 percent more milk from 30 percent fewer cows than in 1967. This is because each cow produces over 2.5 times as much milk as 50 years ago. There is no reason to believe changes over the next 50 years will be less dramatic.

Recently, ten experts wrote in the Journal of Dairy Science about what they believe the changes may be in the next 50 years. Below are some of their thoughts. Read more...

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Managing to Prevent Mastitis in Cold Weather

By Emily Wilmes, University of Minnesota

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (01/16/2019) — A lot of people, me included, think about mastitis management mostly in the summer. After all, that’s when we see the highest prevalence of it. However, we see mastitis every month of the year. It may not be on the top of the priority list during winter, but it should be on the list nonetheless. You already know about all of the health and economic impacts of mastitis, so why jeopardize your cows and your bottom line? You have your typical mastitis routine—dry treatment, monitoring fresh cows, keeping stalls clean, and the like. However, are you managing for the specific threats and stressors that only winter brings? Read more at...

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7 Benchmarks for the Best Bedding Quality

By Kim Clark, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Originally appeared in Progressive Dairyman January 21, 2019.

Promoting a surface on which cows want to lie down is about more than just comfort. The bedding material a dairy chooses plays a critical role in preventing mastitis, reducing injury, regulating temperature and fitting into the overall management system.

One measure of bedding quality is the concentration of environmental pathogens, which play a role in milk quality and are major causes of mastitis – clinical and subclinical. Environmental pathogen concentrations are impacted by the dry matter and pH of the bedding materials. As bedding dry matter increases, the concentration of environmental pathogens decreases, and as the pH of the bedding material increases, environmental pathogen concentrations increase. Read more...

How did a Poultry Germ Change to Cause Severe Disease in Calves and People?

By Russ Daly, South Dakota State University

In 2015, a specific strain of a germ called Salmonella heidelberg made 56 people sick in 15 different states. Germs in the Salmonella group are not uncommon causes of illness in people. The CDC estimates that 1.2 million cases of salmonellosis occur every year – the vast majority of them being food-related. These illnesses come with symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. Most people recover after 4-7 days with no treatment. However, a small percentage of people with Salmonella infections (less than 2%) have severe enough illness to be hospitalized, and around 450 people die from these infections each year.

The Salmonella heidelberg illnesses in 2015 were particularly severe, however. In contrast to the average Salmonella infection, over a third of the affected people needed to be hospitalized. Furthermore, these illnesses were especially prevalent in children under 5 years of age, with more than a third of the cases affecting that age range. Read more about the outbreak at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But instead of having a food source as an origin, this Salmonella strain was linked to contact with animals – specifically young dairy calves. Read More...

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Workshops Presented in Spanish at Central Plains Dairy Expo

By Maristela Rovai, South Dakota State University

Every year there are several seminars presented in Spanish at the Central Plains Dairy Expo. Agriculture employees have an opportunity to learn more about relevant dairy topics and the possibility of networking with other employees while visiting the Central Plains Dairy Expo. This is a great opportunity for your employees to enjoy what the Expo has to offer in terms of novelties, interact with other professionals, listen to talks in their primary language and connect to other sources of information.

SDSU Dairy Extension will be presenting “Oxytocin and the 3 A’s: aim, applicability and advices”. The intention of this workshop is to review the various oxytocin applicability, understand doses and adverse effects. This session will be presented on Thursday, March 28, 2019, 2:00pm - 3:00pm. For more details about this session and other Spanish sessions click here.

Coping with Farm & Rural Stress

Farming is one of the most stressful occupations in the United States. This is particularly true for dairy farmers as they are experiencing an extended period of low milk prices.

Below are some resources available when dealing with stress.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

Texting: Text HOME to 741741

Minnesota Farm and Rural Helpline


Ted Matthews, Rural Mental Health Counselor, no cost, no paperwork
Nebraska Rural Response Hotline

South Dakota Ag Mediation Program:

605-773-5436 or 605-280-4745

South Dakota Rural Help Line:


South Dakota Suicide Prevention Hotline


Iowa Concern Hotline & Resources


Farm Stress Packet Resources

Illinois Agriculture Mediation Program: 618-549-1200, ext. 1001

Rural Services of Indiana, Inc.: 574-299-9460

Kansas Ag Mediation Services: 800-321-3276

Missouri Agricultural Mediation Program: 573-751-5520

New York State Ag Mediation Program: 518-687-2240 or 866-669-7267

New York Farm Net: 800-547-3276

North Dakota Mediation Service: 844-642-4752 or 701-328-4158

North Dakota 211 Help Line Mental Health Association in North Dakota: 800-472-2911

North Dakota Agricultural Mediation Services: 800-642-4757 or 701-328-2061

Wisconsin Farm Center Hotline: 800-942-2474

Calendar of Events

NOTE: All event times are listed as CST.



6: Minnesota Milk Dairy Management Workshop - Rochester, MN. Details at mnmmilk.org/events.

15: Dairy Genetics Webinar - 12:00 - 12:45 pm, Online. Register Here

22: I-29 Moo University Webinar - Retro-fitting Empty Dairy Facilities for New Enterprises and Economic Considerations for Options, more details to come in March, Register at...

26: I-29 Moo University Dairy Beef Short Course - Denny Sanford Premier Center, Sioux Falls, SD. Details and Registration can be found here. Dairy Beef Short Course

26-28: Central Plains Dairy Expo - Denny Sanford Premier Center, Sioux Falls, SD For more details go to click here.

About Us

The I-29 Moo University is represented by dairy extension educators and allied partners from Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.