There’s lots to know about the dairy industry

I have decided to use a new format for my contribution to this column — referring to it as the Dairy Brain Teaser. I think the terms “test” or “quiz” often have negative views, causing us to remember our the school days, which may even challenge the memory for a few of us to remember that far back.

A brain teaser is meant to challenge or stimulate. Did you know that studies have even shown that doing word puzzles and other similar activities stimulates our brain activity for memory?

So, this approach is going to be used to stimulate our thinking and provide some valuable information about the dairy industry and about management of dairy enterprises. You will find the correct answers at the end of the article and use the scale provided to relate to your number of correct responses.

Question 1

As of July 2008, Ohio has ______ number of dairy cows, which represents a 2.2 percent increase in the number of cows since the same time in 2007.

A. 270,000
B. 276,000
C. 282,000
D. 288,000

Even though the number of dairy farms continues to decline, since 2004 the number of dairy cows in Ohio has been increasing. This has occurred as a result of new dairy farms built by people moving to Ohio and by expansion of the dairy farms well-established in the state.

Although we have about 50 herds in the state with more than 500 cows, the average herd size is about 66 cows per farm for Ohio and 58 percent of the milk is still produced by herds with less than 200 cows.

Question 2

The last time that Ohio produced more than 5 billion pounds of milk in a year was _____.

A. 1965
B. 1975
C. 1985
D. 1995

Last year, Ohio produced 4.98 billion pounds of milk and Ohio ranks 11th in the nation for total milk production.

In 1986, before the effects of the government’s milk diversion program, Ohio produced almost the same amount of milk as it did in 2007.

As of July 2008, Ohio’s milk production was 2.9 percent of last year’s yield, well on the track to exceed 5 billion pounds for 2008.

Question 3

During the 2008 Ohio State Fair, the Department of Animal Sciences was responsible for operating the milking parlor and for conducting the Milk A Cow program. The two most common questions asked by the public were:

A. Does that hurt them? Why is the cow so skinny?
B. What breed is that? What do you feed them?
C. How is it that cows eat green grass and the milk is white? Why is milk white?
D. How much does she eat per day? How much milk does she give each day?

For the Milk A Cow program during the 2008 Ohio State Fair, we used a very gentle Jersey cow with a normal body condition score.

Although this is not fully scientific in our data summary, the most common question was: Why is the cow so skinny?.

The public’s perception was that a dairy cow was supposed to have the body condition of a beef cow and that only “heavy” or “fat” cows had been cared for adequately.

About 4,500 people milked the cow and given that parents, grandparents and others were bystanders, about 13,500 total contacts were made through this activity.

At the milking parlor, the most common question seemed to be: Does that hurt them?

How come the cows look so relaxed as they are milked, chewing their cud and having that “happy face?” But you have to know how to identify a contented cow and I guess we can’t expect this of the public.

However, the message is that you and I have a major role to play in educating the public about where their food comes from and the care of the animals used to provide food. There are many opportunities right in your neighborhood, whether it be with child care facilities, schools, community centers or county fairs.

Question 4

The silage chopper just broke down and you sent your spouse to town for the new parts. The town is 20 miles away and you assume that he or she will return in one hour, giving them the benefit of doubt for county roads, stop signs and that your not sending your teenager.

On the way to town, your spouse gets a call on the cell phone, gets distracted and only drives at the average speed of 45 miles per hour to town.

How fast will he or she need to drive home to return within an hour (assuming 15 minutes at the parts store)?

A. 45 mph
B. 61 mph
C. 67 mph
D. 72 mph

Yet, he or she also drives 45 miles per hour back home and arrives beyond the hour you estimated.

What is going to be your attitude when they arrive? “Well, its about time” or “Glad you’re back safe and that you have the part.”

The saying goes, “Attitude is everything.” This holds true whether we are focusing on the future of the dairy industry or in our own personal daily lives.

Question 5

Which of the following is most correct?

A. Five and three is seven.
B. Five and three are seven.
C. Both are correct.
D. Neither are correct.

In one of the other columns that I wrote earlier this year, I discussed monitoring dairy herd feed costs and that a target for the total herd is less than $7 per hundredweight of milk or that if you are having your heifers custom raised, then the target for all cows (lactating and dry) is less then $5 per hundredweight.

I also discussed that this can vary given the high feed costs at present and vary from herd to herd.

Since then, have you determined your feed costs per hundredweight milk and then managed with it an income over feed costs in constant focus? Well, how did you do?

With these five questions, we have focused on the point that Ohio’s dairy industry is growing. We need to make a commitment to educating the public about where food comes from and how animals are cared for. Our attitude is very important for our future and to those we come in contact with. We have to manage the dairy enterprise as a business.

Oh, do you have a headache now? Take two Tylenol, think positively, and you will feel better, almost instantly.

Answers:

1. C; 2. A; 3. A; 4. C; 5. D.

Brain Teaser Scale:
1/5 = So, try me in some other area.
2/5 = I would have done better if I hadn’t changed some of my answers.
3/5 = Hey, over 50 percent is not bad.
4/5 = OK, I knew I was smarter than the average bear.
5/5 = Wow, I just learned something about myself — I’m a genius.

About the Author

Maurice Eastridge is a professor and Extension dairy specialist at Ohio State University. More Stories by Maurice Eastridge

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