“Everybody is different, and every farm has its own characteristics when it comes to energy use,” reports Brad Heins, WCROC dairy scientist to Dairy Herd Management. The WCROC has 200 cows that graze whenever the grass is growing on the western Minnesota prairie. As such, only 7% of total energy use is needed for barn ventilation in the non-grazing months. The station’s major energy use comes in heating the milking parlor (31%), heating water for cleaning (22%) and cooling milk (11%).
Water is considered by a majority of swine nutritionists to be the most important of all nutrients required by pigs. At birth, water makes up about 82% of the pig’s body weight and steadily declines to about 50% for a pig at market weight. While water is a vital component of any livestock diet, the question remains; does the quality of drinking water influence health and performance of pigs? We are set to address this question by looking at the impact of water quality on animal performance, gut health, and livability of nursery pigs.
Over the years, the swine industry has seen a steady increase in litter size at birth. Often, an undesirable consequence of such large litter sizes in an increase in variability of piglet birth weight and increased incidence of low birth weight pigs. This led us to the question: can we manipulate the sow's diet during gestation to improve nutrition of the small piglets in uterus?
A John Deere 6400 tractor rumbled through a U of MN WCROC research field earlier this month pulling a chisel plow and making some history. Nearly everything about this tractor is a common sight here in west-central Minnesota. But this particular farm country workhorse is one of a kind: It has a white tank mounted on the front labeled "anhydrous ammonia," and extra pipes and control boxes attached to its engine.
Can we achieve climate resiliency in Midwest cropping systems? Does climate resiliency impact the bottom line? Dr. Jerry Hatfield, Director of the USDA ARS Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment in Ames, IA and Nobel Laureate will address these questions during the Midwest Farm Energy Conference.
Graduate students Kirsten Sharpe and Brigit Lozinski, both pursing their Masters in Animal Science from the U of MN College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, took 1st and 2nd place, respectively, in the poster competition at the Waste to Worth Conference held in April 2019. Kirsten and Brigit conduct their research projects at the WCROC and are advised by WCROC faculty.
As a perennial crop, Kernza can grow 2-3 years without any sort of tillage. That makes Kernza a potential cover crop that will hold valuable soil in place all winter long. “We’ve been looking at Kernza from a ‘dual-use’ type system, where we can graze it, get some forage off the land for livestock, and also harvest it for grain, and maybe get some straw off the land,” reports WCROC Dairy Scienstist Braid Heins to Farm & Ranch Guide.
Technology can often improve animal welfare on farms, reports WCROC dairy scientist Brad Heins to Forbes.
For over the last 133 years, somebody has checked the Morris weather station on more than 48,000 days, making the WCROC weather records one of the most complete weather records in North America.
Farmers continually are adjusting their farming systems to adapt to changing market forces and societal pressures to improve the sustainability of food production. One such adjustment is the use of cover crops during winter. Winter camelina may be able to provide both short- and long-term benefits to farmers when used in diets for growing-finishing pigs.