New milking record, North Dakota droughts and Wisconsin events return

John Oncken
Yes, there will be a World Dairy Expo in 2021.

Bob Hageman, president of the Board of Directors of World Dairy Expo, recently  announced that World Dairy Expo 2021 (the 54th edition) will go on as scheduled  Sept. 28 to Oct. 2, 2021. The event is scheduled for Expo’s historic home, the Alliant Energy Center near Madison. “This announcement comes after thorough consideration of the pandemic issues,” Hageman says. 

Now comes the question – will the dairy cattle and crowds return to the Expo after a year of it not being held, knowing the pandemic may still be in force during Expo time?

The commercial exhibitors will return to Dairy Expo, won’t they?

New Holstein ‘lifetime’ milk record

Stone-Front Leader Hilda, a 15-year-old registered Holstein cow owned by Andrew Jay and Lynette E. Buttles of Lancaster, Wis., has set a new record for the most lifetime milk produced by a Holstein. Hilda completed 2020 with a lifetime total of 460,720 pounds of milk.

With this new record, Hilda surpassed the previous Holstein record set in 2003 by Koepke K0017229-1660 “Granny,” of Koepke Farms in Oconomowoc, with a lifetime milk total of 458,616 pounds. Twenty-five years prior to that in 1974, the record of 425,769 pounds of milk was established by Breezewood Patsy Bar Pontiac EX-93, bred  and owned by Gelbke Brothers in Vienna, Ohio.

Hilda was classified as EX-90 4E and her best annual record was set during her nine-year old lactation, where she produced 48,200 pounds of milk on 3X-milking. She also had eight natural daughters during her lifetime. The Buttles family has been milking registered Holsteins since 1913 and concentrates on breeding well-balanced cows to provide high milk production.

Farmers will be eager to look at new equipment after a year of staying near home.

New method to process milk

Researchers at Naturo, an Australian food development company, have announced a new technique to process raw milk that claims to deliver all the benefits of pasteurization while leaving more nutrients and flavor intact.

Not much is known about the method, but Naturo says it's patented using Haelen technology that delivers milk that is 100% natural with no additives or preservatives, is nutritionally superior, retains its natural color and taste and has a minimum 60-day refrigerated shelf life when compared to other forms of processed cow milk, such as regular pasteurized and UHT.

It uses intense cold instead of intense heat to kill pathogens in the milk and prolong the shelf life of milk. Developers of the technology declare the end product retains higher levels of vitamins, proteins and enzymes that are damaged or destroyed via pasteurization. The company plans international distribution in 2022.

It’s early, but some fieldwork has started.

The oldest of old

I’d bet that almost everyone raised on a farm in the last century is familiar with the “Farm Journal” magazine. I remember my dad eagerly awaiting the “Country Gentleman” (1852-1955) and Farm Journal magazines to come in the mail so he could read the national agricultural news.

While the Country Gentleman is long gone, the March 2021 issue of the Farm Journal notes that this magazine was launched in March 1877 by Pennsylvania Quaker farmer Wilmer Atkinson, meaning it is entering its 145th year of publication and is “America’s oldest farm publication.” It is also noted that it hit a peak of 6 million in circulation in the mid-1950s. Certainly the advent of computer media has lowered that number considerably.

Founded in Philadelphia, the company is now located in Lenexa, Kan. and now owns other interests in print, electronic, newsletter and Internet areas. Publication titles include Farm Journal, Top Producer, Beef Today and Dairy Today. Broadcast properties include AgDay and WeekEnd MarketPlace, both nationally syndicated television shows, and the Farm Journal Radio Network.

For sure – 145 years is a long time!

There is some standing water in low spots in some fields.

Dry in North Dakota

North Dakota has endured its driest September to March season ever on record, and a week ago Gov. Doug Burgum declared a state of emergency due to drought. Last Thursday’s US Drought Monitor showed that while the entire state is experiencing dryness, 94% of the state is in severe drought, which was a a 24-point jump in just a week.

“We're at a point right now where they're just starting to make their decisions,” says Larry Schnell, partner and manager of Stockmen's Livestock Exchange in Dickinson, N.D. “In western North Dakota, we've really not seen any rain of any substantial amount since September 2019.”

Twenty percent of Wisconsin’s spring tillage has been completed according to the DATCP weekly crop report.

Field work ahead of last year

The Wisconsin Ag Statistics Service issued its second crop/weather report of the season on Monday, which said over an inch of precipitation fell over multiple days throughout the state that kept most farmers out of their fields. However, temperatures were well above normal with daytime highs ranging from the 50's to low 80's.  

Topsoil moisture was rated at 3% very short, 15% short, 66% adequate and 16% surplus. About 19% of oats are planted, a week ahead of last year and 12 days better than the five-year average.

Farmers are estimated to have 20% of their spring tillage complete. That's 10 days ahead of last year and 13 days ahead of the average.

An Australian company reports a new method to pasteurize milk that will extend shelf life. Most organic milk in cartons already is UHT treated and has a long storage life.

Farm Technology Days is a go

"Farm Technology Days is officially on," said Eau Claire County FTD Chairman Mike Gintner. The committee in charge of putting on Wisconsin Farm Technology Days this summer in Eau Claire County says plans are still in place to hold the event July 20-22, 2021 at Huntsinger Farms and that the local executive committee and state office are in full swing preparing for the show.

Huntsinger Farms was originally scheduled to hold the state's largest agricultural show in July 2020, but postponed it due to the coronavirus pandemic. The one-year delay meant the committee filled a gap year in the FTD schedule, as there was no show planned for 2021. Clark County will host the event at the Dennis and Suzie Roehl farm near Loyal in 2022.

All milk in the dairy department in stores is pasteurized and has about a two-week refrigerated shelf life.

Labeling bill reintroduced

Sen. Howard Marklein, the chairman of the Wisconsin Senate Agriculture Committee, has once again sponsored a pair of bills that would ban the labeling of products as milk or as a dairy product or ingredient if the food is not made from the milk of a cow, sheep, goat or other mammals. He, along with Reps. Travis Tranel and Clint Moses, have reintroduced the so-called "Truth in Food Labeling" legislation. The measure requires that only products labeled as 'milk' come from an animal and that plant-based products cannot be called 'milk.' A third bill would essentially do the same for meat products.

"This legislation is extremely important to the farmers and food processors in my district," Sen. Marklein said. "They feel very strongly about the integrity of food labeling and are frustrated by the misleading labeling that has invaded dairy and meat cases throughout our grocery stores."

Most of the state's agricultural organizations support the measure, claiming the variety of beverages and other foods being misrepresented as real dairy seems to be growing.

The bill will be considered by the full Assembly and Senate. If approved, a number of other states would have to follow suit for the dairy measures to become law in Wisconsin under federal interstate commerce rules.

My guess is that chances for such a bill passing nationally are virtually zero and probably irrelevant. The big food processors are already selling plant-based foods and the vegan or plant food eaters are already well aware of what they are buying.

John Oncken, owner of Oncken Communications, can be reached at 608-837-7406, or email him at