MOUNT VERNON, Mo. – A new field day, a Dairy Day, will be June 20 at the University of Missouri Southwest Research Center.

The program offers sound, research-based farm management practices, says Tony Rickard, Cassville, MU Extension dairy specialist.

The information applies to conventional or grazing dairies, large or small, Rickard adds. Topics cover forage, rations, economics and breeding. There will be talks and field tours.

The hours are planned with dairy-farm schedules in mind. The program starts at 10:30 a.m. and ends by 2 p.m. The MU dairy farm is on Highway H, south of I-44 from the Mount Vernon west exit.

Farmers who have trouble making quality hay in a season of frequent rains can pick up tips on baleage from Rob Kallenbach, MU Extension forage specialist.

Baleage, or big-round-bale silage, can be made in a day, compared to several days required for drying hay for baling, Kallenbach says. He has been wrapping bales in plastic to show at the event. He wants producers to smell the difference between well-wrapped bales and those not properly prepared.

“It was tough, making bad baleage,” he adds.

Rickard will give tips on cutting feed costs. That’s important because feed makes up 50 percent of milk production costs.

“We’ll focus on feeding the right ingredients at the right time,” Rickard says. Cutting overfeeding is one way to save expensive nutrients.

Joe Horner, dairy economist with the MU Commercial Agriculture Program, will tell four things shared by profitable dairy farms. “Low prices and high costs have hammered dairy farms,” he says. “But trends point to increased profits.”

Breeding research on synchronized artificial insemination shows good results in the milking herd at the Southwest Center. Some 85 percent conception rates astound dairy producers accustomed to poor AI breeding rates. Scott Poock, DVM with MU Extension, will tell protocols used for success.

Getting all cows into milk production at the same time adds to profits. Peak milk production can be matched to peak forage growth.

There will be time after lunch for touring the herd, calf-rearing pens and forage plots. “We’re trying for a good mix of talks and up-close participation,” says Kallenbach.

New side-by-side plots will show fescue varieties that carry novel endophytes. Those varieties can replace toxic Kentucky 31 fescue, which proves to make poor dairy forage.

The procedure for killing K-31 grass to replant new varieties will be told.

New tools for measuring dry-matter content on forage paddocks will be shown. And some big bales will be wrapped, Kallenbach says.

The free event will be open to all producers. Lunch will be served, courtesy of field day sponsors. Those include Schreiber Foods, Main Street Feeds, ADM Alliance Nutrition, Midwest Dairy Association and Legacy Farm & Lawn.

Details are available from Rickard at 417-847-3161 or [email protected].

The dairy research farm is part of the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, Columbia.

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