Managing Costs With Income-Over- Feed-Cost

Customized service built on understanding customers’ goals and exceeding exceptions through a team based approach is exactly what Landmark’s Animal Nutrition team does every day.  Learn how Landmark can help your farm through income-over-feed cost evaluations.

Fermentation Acids in Legumes at Different Dry Matters

As producers are racing to harvest forage, plant crops and beat the weather, you may rush the harvest process and ensile forages that may be too wet. The first chart below highlights the risk of butyric acid being prevalent as dry matter decreases. In this scenario, they run the risk of a clostridial fermentation and subsequent “butyric” smelling fermented haylage.

Legumes Chart


The second chart highlights the probability of a “fermentation failure” with decreasing dry matter in the harvested crop.

Fermentation failure chart


I know that if we ask people to slow down and get this right, we may get “the look” because you have so much work in front of you and little time to get it done. However, these decisions will have lasting impacts on this next year as the crop is being fed.

Positive Dairy and Beef Markets

This past week two things happened that positively impacted markets for dairy and beef producers.

On the dairy front the US announced it was lifting tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada and Mexico. All indications are that this will result in both countries removing their tariffs on US products, including dairy. Canada and Mexico are our largest trading partners for cheese and dairy products. Milk prices responded accordingly by trading up as much as $0.35/ cwt.

Milk graph
Milk, Class III Futures, D, CME

Mike North from Commodity Risk Management Group had this to say on the AGDay Newsroom Friday afternoon- North said, “When they {Mexico} retaliated against the U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, their first step was to put a tariff on cheese. Now, as we talked in the past cheese is huge for this country, not just Wisconsin, where I’m from, but you know, as a country 48% of our milk goes to making cheese in this country in one way, shape or form, and Mexico is one of our biggest buyers of cheese as it leaves the country, so for us to be able to get past that discussion and to open up the border again to a free flow of cheese it pushes a lot of milk across the border that hasn’t been moving for the last 12 months. That’s a big plus for dairy men around the country. ”

On Friday Japan announced it was lifting restrictions on U.S. Beef. Some of these restrictions have been in place since 2003. This message from Japan is a significant boost in confidence of the quality and safety of U.S. beef and should help signal to other Asian nations that non-science-based barriers can also be lifted. The initial impact on U.S. Beef sales to Japan is estimated to increase by $200 million annually and open doors for additional trade between the two countries.

Agronomy News – Alfalfa Winter Kill Causes and Solutions

Alfalfa evaluation

This spring we are seeing a concerning amount of winter killed alfalfa. Stands that looked and yielded great last year just did not hold up to our harsh winter. There were three factors that contributed that led to less than stellar looking spring hay fields:

  1. The wettest fall ever recorded.
    • Alfalfa does not like its “feet” wet and these small plants were exposed to constant wet weather conditions
  2. Harsh winter conditions.
    • Lack of early snow cover, freezing rain alternating with heavy snow and long spells of bitter cold battered the plants.
  3. Disease pressure that thrives in wet conditions.
    • Anthracnose, Aphanomyces root rot and Phytophthora root rot, a fungal disease that causes loss of stand on heavy or poorly drained soils. So, as we approach the alfalfa stand review this spring, we look at the dead area as well with what is still remaining will also have the same disease on the live plants as well. These diseases are also present in other fields that have alfalfa history in them.

LEARN MORE about Alfalfa disease HERE

Forage Solutions:

Immediate Forage Replacement Solutions

Landmark Agronomy Dairy Feed Shortage Options

How to manage your risk:

The best management practice is to choose alfalfa hybrids that have highly resistance to these diseases.  Rebound 6xt and Hvx Megatron are the only varieties that are resistance to the 3 different races of aphanomyces. Landmark Services Cooperative carries Croplan alfalfa because it is the only company that has hybrids that surpass the industry for alfalfa disease tolerance. To learn more about how to manage your alfalfa contact your Landmark agronomist today.

Animal Nutrition News – Flooding Ripple Effect on Market

John of LandmarkWhile devastating flooding takes place in the Midwest it has a ripple effect on the market. Full losses in livestock and grain are not yet known—and could take even a year to uncover—but there are key factors to watch in the market even now.

  1. Ethanol: “Pay attention to what’s taking place with ethanol capacity,” says Angie Setzer, vice president of grain for Citizens LLC in Michigan. “A good percent of production is offline or damaged in the short-term and because of that we did see ethanol futures jump mid-week and help margins for plants not effected.”
  2. Logistics: “They can’t ship grain if rail is damaged,” Setzer says. “There are significant logistic disruptions and how that plays out is yet to be seen and it could affect basis. The Mississippi River is expected to see major flooding and it’s a significant grain mover—what does that mean for export ability.”
  3. Destroyed stored grain: “The million-dollar question is how much grain storage is impacted and what does that mean,” she says. “You can’t blend off flooded grain. Nebraska stored grain in bags at record levels, how much of that has been lost? Nebraska is estimating $440 million in crop losses.”

While the weather might not have a big effect on the markets yet, it likely will.

Animal Nutrition Market Update – Milk Price Forecast and Exports

John of LandmarkMilk prices are forecasted to be about $0.60 per cwt higher than originally projected by USDA in the March World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates report. The all milk price has been elevated from an average of $17.00 to $17.60 per cwt. The price was elevated after USDA projected less milk to be produced.

Exports of U.S. dairy were up 9% by volume in 2018 compared to the previous year, setting a record according to the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC). The sales value was up 2% from 2017 reaching $5.6 billion and putting the U.S. as the largest exporter of cheese in the world.

Despite those gains exports end the year on bad note. In December, sales volume declined 21% and the value of sales fell 9%. November saw sales volume was drop 12%, while fourth quarter 2018 sales volumes ended the year down 11%.

Fall River Commodity Facility

Our goal is to do what we can to help our customers save on feed costs. Watch John Schmidt, Business Development Manager at Landmark Services Cooperative, explain the features of the Fall River Commodity Facility. Landmark is able to trans-load bulk commodities off the rail into the facility and direct ship to farms, customers or other feed mills.

Prevent Stinky, Slimy Haylage & Avoid Clostridia Haylage

Larry Roth, Provimi North America, Inc

You have been looking forward to feeding an excellent first-cut haylage but you find wet, slimy haylage with a smell not leaving your hands and, even worse, cows want no part of it! Sooner or later, many harvesting haylage end up in this situation. Recognizing the factors involved in formation of clostridia haylage and then managing accordingly can reduce these headaches.

A Perfect Storm for Clostridia Haylage

Numerous factors contribute to clostridia haylage. Legumes and small grains are popular choices for haylage; however, their higher protein and mineral content work as buffers against decreasing forage pH during fermentation and nutrient preservation. They are generally lower in water-soluble sugars, feeding the lactate-producing bacteria critical for reducing forage pH. Often, legumes and small grains are harvested when forage drying is difficult, entering fermentation wetter than desired. Further, while a disc mower enables a high rate of mowing and the air turbulence created under the hood lifts the forage for easier cutting, it also creates whirlwinds in the soil, increasing the chances of clostridia inoculation after heavy manure application.

Suggestions for Reducing Clostridia Haylage

Mow at 2.5-3″ cutting height. While raising the mower bar may reduce yield slightly, leaving more photosynthetic material speeds up plant growth for the next cutting and increases stand longevity. The higher height reduces soil incorporation from sickle bar mowers and lowers soil contamination from disc mowers. Twisted or angled disc blades are great for lifting heavy or lodged forage, but such blades also increase soil contamination.

Wide swaths encourage faster and more even drying. Mown forage will continue photosynthesis while lying in the field. Photosynthesis will combine CO2 and sunlight with forage moisture to create water-soluble sugars. This reaction is a win-win, with more sugars to foster fermentation and less water hauled to storage. Wide swaths enable forage to be heated by sunlight, causing wilting as the plant attempts to cool itself by moving stem moisture through leaves. If the swath is lying on a 2.5-3″ forage stubble, air can move under it to encourage drying and lessen the chances of moisture wicking into the mown crop from wet soil.

Manage raking, tedding, and merging equipment to reduce soil contamination. High-capacity forage choppers require wide swaths to be raked and merged for more efficient harvesting. Tedder use can speed up drying. Any time equipment touches the forage there is risk for soil incorporation and leaf loss. Consult your manufacturer and adjust equipment accordingly to minimize soil pick-up.

Chop haylage at <65% moisture. Hopefully sunshine has been fostering photosynthesis and causing wilting, and the wind has been removing moisture. Cloudy and humid days do not help. The wetter the haylage, the more lactate must be produced to sufficiently lower forage pH to preserve nutrients. Further, clostridia like higher pH conditions. Waiting for appropriate moisture may test a person’s patience, but it is a critical step in the process.

Inoculate with lactate-producing bacteria to decrease forage pH. Inoculation helps overcome inherent forage buffering capacity and acidifies water in haylage. Most companies supply haylage-specific inoculants providing 200,000+ colony-forming units per gram of forage, or recommend doubling applications of standard products in challenging conditions. Fermentation can be summed as “The side that gets there first with the most wins.” A few suppliers have developed organisms and products specifically designed for clostridia-prone situations.

Pack haylage to remove oxygen and stop plant respiration. Chopped plants in storage are deprived of sunlight, and consequently conduct the “dark reaction” (respiration reaction of photosynthesis; O2 and sugars combine creating H2O, CO2, and heat). The minimal O2 present in well-packed haylage is quickly used up in plant respiration. Lactic fermentation can then occur to rapidly reduce forage pH and hinder clostridia growth. Clostridia Haylage Does Not Have to Happen!

Forage, weather, and agronomic conditions can come together at the wrong time to cause clostridia haylage. Developing a plan to reduce potential for clostridia haylage can improve overall haylage quality and limit chances of being greeted by a stinky, slimy mess.

What Caused The Molds and Mycotoxins In My Forages?

Article by Larry Roth, Ph.D., PAS – Cargill Animal Nutrition


Imagine the scene: Your nutritionist walks into your office, sits down across the desk from you, and hands you assays of your forages that indicate you have high levels of molds and mycotoxins. “Where did these evil organisms come from?”, you ask. It is helpful to be aware of the many factors at play when forages are affected by molds and mycotoxins.

A mycotoxin is a secondary metabolite produced by mold. One mold species may produce many different mycotoxins, and several mold species may produce the same mycotoxin. High mold levels do not necessarily mean mycotoxin levels will be high. Different micro-environmental conditions can trigger production of varying levels of various mycotoxins by a given mold species. The exact environmental triggers for particular mycotoxins and levels are not precisely clear, but understanding and managing the factors contributing to mold growth can lessen mycotoxin presence in forages.

There are favorable and optimum temperature ranges for growth of the Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Fusarium molds (Figure 1). Certain Aspergillus and Penicillium molds prefer warm, Summer conditions, while Fusarium generally thrive in cooler temperatures, as in the Fall, for optimal growth. Aspergillus molds are the primary aflatoxin producers; aflatoxin is most commonly observed in heat and drought conditions. Although a few Penicillium molds produce aflatoxin, most members of this genus produce mycotoxins of lesser importance. The Fusarium genus is perhaps of greatest concern in the Upper Midwest due to the production of vomitoxin (DON), zearalenone, and fumonisin mycotoxins. Fusarium species like the cool, wet conditions which have come to typify Fall in the Midwest.

Larry Roth Mycotoxin paper

Figure 1. Favorable and Optimum Temperature Ranges For Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Fusarium molds

While forage producers cannot control temperature, rainfall, and humidity, they can influence other factors involved in mold growth and the potential for mycotoxin production.

Soil Health: A healthy and diverse microbial population in the soil will enhance crop residue degradation, which could otherwise serve as a mold reservoir. A young corn plant pushing its first green leaf through last year’s crop residue could become infected with harmful molds. Healthy soil will also have greater water-holding capacity to sustain growing plants during dry spells and allow water to readily drain during excessive rainfall. Proper tillage can maintain some surface residue to reduce soil erosion, while excessive tillage may reduce soil aggregation, lowering nutrient and water-holding capabilities.

Agronomic Practices: Any stressors on the plant can tip plant health in favor of mold production. Proper planting time, plant population, plant genetics, insect control, and fungicide use are among the many agronomic practices that influence plant health and can bolster the plant in its battle against harmful molds.

Harvest Conditions: Timing harvest before the appearance of cool, wet conditions favorable for Fusarium growth may reduce molds and mycotoxins brought from the field to the silage storage structure. Chopping at a proper moisture, reducing chop length as the crop dries, and proper packing can reduce mold growth during ensiling. Segregating mold-infected crops from clean forages during ensiling may pose logistical challenges, but could pay-off in animal health and production by keeping clean forages clean and enabling feeding strategies based on animal susceptibility to mycotoxins.

Storage and Feed-Out Conditions: Proper packing to exclude oxygen is essential in controlling the growth of aerobic molds, such as Fusarium and most Aspergillus. Recent research suggests P. roqueforti may continue growing in well-packed silage, however. Mold spores can survive ensiling, and then start growing with the reintroduction of oxygen and proper temperature at feed-out. Proper feed-out practices are always essential when managing ensiled feeds, and even more critical with forages infected with mold at harvest.

High mold levels do not necessarily mean high mycotoxin concentrations in forage. On the other hand, mycotoxin concentrations could be high in forage with low mold counts due to toxin production pre-ensiling. Viewing a forage assay with high mold counts or high mycotoxin levels is never a pleasant experience for a forage producer. Taking the time to review the production practices that resulted in the particular forage can help change the course for future forage crops, however.

Preparing and Managing Your Horse for Winter

Woman taking care of a horseAs the kids head back to school and the weather starts to become cooler, we need to start thinking about getting our horses ready for winter. As you get your horses out of the pasture or out of the stall take a minute and evaluate body condition. This will give you a starting point or gauge as we move into winter. Then throughout winter remember your baseline that you started with and every so often evaluate your horse’s condition to ensure they are maintaining their body condition to your liking. Remember heavy hair coats can hide weight loss. Adjust your horses feed accordingly as needed.

You will also want to evaluate your facility for stability and proper ventilation. Poor ventilation can lead to respiratory issues. Make sure you continue with your regular hoof care throughout the winter months. If your horses live outside year around be sure they have access to a shelter. The shelter helps protect them from wind, rain and winter storms that Wisconsin weather brings. With access to a shelter horses can tolerate temperatures as low as -40 F. Feeding additional hay during extreme cold is a better source of warmth than grain. Also provide warm water with a temperature between 45 to 65 F.

Don’t forget to continue riding, exercising or provide turn out to your horses through the winter months because horses that are confined for too long can lead to lower leg swelling. When turning your horse out be sure the paddock is free from ice. If ice is present, use sand and salt to help with traction for your horse. Manure can be used as a source of traction as well. If possible after a heavy snow storm remove excess snow from the paddock to allow your horse complete access to water, feed and shelter.

A few steps this fall along with some basic maintenance throughout the winter will ensure your horse has a safe and happy winter.