Bittersweet News Backdrop To Dairy Field Day

Michael E. McCormick, Moreira, Vinicius R., Morgan, Johnny W.  |  11/20/2007 2:33:21 AM

Participants at the LSU AgCenter's Southeast Research Station Field Day Nov. 13 learn the proper and environmentally safe ways to operate a waste water lagoon on a dairy farm. (Photo by Johnny Morgan)

News Release Distributed on 11/19/07

Milk prices are up, but feed prices are, too. That was bittersweet news at a recent LSU AgCenter’s dairy field day at the Southeast Research Station in Franklinton.

The milk market has improved worldwide with higher prices for farmers, but ethanol production has raised the price of feed, according to Dr. Mike McCormick, coordinator of the Southeast Research Station.

Dr. Jim Beatty, technical representative for Purina/Land O’Lakes Inc., bore good news for those gathered at the Nov. 13 field day with an optimistic milk price outlook.

“We are at a world-record price for milk right now -- 30 percent above where we’ve ever been,” Beatty said.

Explaining why prices are as high as they are, Beatty said, “Australia is in a drought and can’t keep up with the demand of the Pacific Rim, and we’re picking up that slack.

“Europe has cut their farm subsidies, and when prices were so low in 2006, our production shrunk, and that’s helping prices now.”

But Beatty doesn’t expect the prices to hold past early 2009. He said when Australia is back in the game, and we finally catch up with world demand, prices may start to slip a little.

The program included three educational stops in the field for the latest research.

Dr. Dennis French, LSU AgCenter veterinarian, discussed embryo transfer in heat-stressed Holstein cows. His research is examining the benefits of impregnating cows through embryo transfer versus artificial insemination.

French said the results so far look promising, but the final pregnancy rates and a final assessment of this research will not be known until March 2008.

“What the preliminary data do show is that fertility of high-producing cows may be improved over artificial insemination during the hot months here in Louisiana,” French said.

McCormick discussed summer annual forage crops, which includes brown mid rib sorghum baleage.

“Summer annuals such as millet, sorghum sudan and forage sorghum are crops that double-crop well with annual ryegrass and are high-yielding and drought-resistant,” McCormick said, adding, “However, they have not been found to be high in nutritive value.”

He said the good news was that several of the new brown mid rib sorghums have proven to be considerably higher in nutritive value than traditional forage sorghums used by local producers.

Dr. Vinicius Moreira and Dr. Kun Jun Han discussed the latest findings from the dairy waste lagoon research.

Moreira, who works in waste management and nutrition at the station, said the three-year-old lagoon project deals with ways of minimizing the amount of phosphorus that actually leaves the farm and can potentially pollute waterways.

“The project here consists of a two-stage lagoon system and constructed wetlands. The untreated wastewater and wash water from the barn enter the system twice daily,” he said.

“The wastewater flows to the primary lagoons for anaerobic fermentation," Moreira explained, adding, "Then it will flow into the aerobic lagoons and finally into the wetlands area."

He said the goal of the project is to determine whether the different plants used to absorb nutrients will produce water safe enough to release into rivers and streams after it moves through the wetlands stage of the process.

He said this type of system is not recommended to any dairy operations unless there is an absolute necessity for improving wastewater quality beyond that accomplished on a single-stage lagoon.

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Contact: Mike McCormick at (985) 839-2322 or MEMccormick@agcenter.lsu.edu,
Vinicius Moreira at (985) 839-2322 or vmoreira@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: Johnny Morgan at (225) 578-8484 or jmorgan@agcenter.lsu.edu

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