Tools of the Trade: Dairy Nutritionists

Hello all! Hope everything in whatever part of the world you are in is well! Did anyone watch the solar eclipse yesterday? Get any good pictures? Feel free to comment and share below!

 

Today’s post got inspired by Pinterest (yes, that black time-consuming hole has me by it’s talons!). On a list of blog topic ideas, there was one about what’s in your purse. So, I thought to myself, how can I translate that into agriculture! It dawned on me to discuss what would be in a dairy nutritionist’s “purse” (or toolbox for the men =) ). Some you might find suprising!

  1. Ziploc bags. To put feed and forage samples to send to a forage testing laboratory like mine!
  2. Rubber Overshoes. These large, rubber “shoes” go over top of the nutritionist’s shoes to help in biosecurity on dairy farms. More on that to follow with some other items on our list. The nutritionist will put them on at his/her vehicle and take them off after the visit around the dairy.
  3. A small bucket. This is to add water and a solution to to disinfect those rubber shoes – typically the nutritionist will clean the rubber shoes when they take them off after their visit.
  4. Disinfectant. This is important as it kills the bacteria on the rubber shoes in preparation for the next farm. That way, the nutritionist isn’t tracking potentially disease causing bacteria from one farm to another on his/her overshoes.
  5. Notebook/Pen. To write down observations of the cows, make a list, do inventories, etc.
  6. Laptop. Nutritionists have a special software on their computers that use the nutritional values a forage laboratory (like mine) give them for the feeds and forages they sample. The software enters all of these into complex algorithms and such to help the nutritionists come up with a  combination of different feeds and forages to get the most nutritional value for the lovely bovine ladies!
  7. Hay probe. This is an instrument used to pull a proper hay sample. It is important to get the most representative sample to test, or else it could skew results. Parts of a hay bale are more nutrient dense than others.
  8. Moisture monitoring device. These give a quick estimate of the amount of moisture versus dry matter. This is important because the nutritionist gives the farmer a paper that says the amount in pounds of each feed ingredient to mix for the cows’ ration, based on numbers the software give out – these are either on an “as is basis” (dry matter + moisture) or a “dry matter basis” (dry matter only). This matters because a pound of a wetter corn silage would have different nutrient concentrations versus a pound of a drier corn silage because there is a difference in how much moisture is making up that pound of feed. More moisture would equate to a lower concentration of dry matter that has all of the nutrients in it.
  9. TMR Particle Separator. Penn State has developed the one most widely used. Its a series of pans that have holes in the bottom like a strainer – the holes get smaller as you go down the stack. The TMR (total mixed ration) is placed in and shaken for a set amount of time (hey, free arm workout!) and the amount of particles in each pan is used to determine how particle size is affecting the digestibility of the TMR. Cows like a certain particle length to be able to digest their meals properly – and this helps the nutritionist make sure they are getting the right particle length!
  10. Coffee. Lots. Days travelling from farm to farm can be long and very tiresome. Just like most, nutritionists enjoy a cup o’ joe to start the day off right, and maybe as a pick-me-up in the middle of the day!

Until next time,

❤ Meg

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Table for…One?

Hey all!

Happy Summer! Hope the sun isn’t too sweltering where you are. I know we have had a few obnoxiously hot days here that could make the devil feel like home.

 

Anyway, today’s post is going to be about meals for one. I’ve scoured Pinterest and I just can’t find a composite list for those of us rockin’ it alone in our own apartments or houses. Sure you can make a crock pot full of delicious chili….and then it for the next week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, before it goes bad then you have to throw some food you spent valuable money on right in the trash. That gets ya right in the wallet feels. I know.

 

So this isn’t any earth-shattering list or anything, don’t be expecting Cat Cora here, but maybe it’ll give you an idea for something or something you have never thought of.

 

Breakfast hash. I could eat eggs alllllll day. So a lot of the time I make breakfast hash type meals with eggs, cheese, hash browns, and sometimes a breakfast meat. And you can mix it up with different toppings – add veggies, add a sauce, make scrambled vs over easy eggs…there’s some variation to be played with with this.

 

Pancakes. Just as with the hash, there’s some variety to be had with pancakes. Pinterest is a great world for ideas because you can go with simple to few ingredients to the vegan versions to practically-dessert versions.

 

Alfredo. There is a to-die-for alfredo that literally takes one cup of milk, one cup of parmesan, one stick of butter, one block of cream cheese. You melt butter, add cream cheese until well mixed over medium heat, add milk and turn down until well blended, take pan off burner and add parmesan. That is it and it is so rich and creamy and good.

 

Fajita mix. In the frozen section is fajita meats that you thaw and fry for fajitas. And trust me when I say I am highly skeptical of the taste of some frozen foods but these are good. And then add some veggies and fry in oil and voila! As an added bonus, this stuff would be delicious on a salad the next day for a new spin on lunch.

 

Pinterest One Pan/One Skillet Finds. Pinterest may not be a mecca for one person meals, but there is quite a lot of one pan/one skillet dishes that I think have a place on this list. First, they are usually with few ingredients, second, given they are all made in one kitchen dish it won’t make enough to feed a small army thus enabling you to more easily turn them into a few lunches or dinners and then be rid of them. I will even try to cut a lot of recipes in half and it makes me just enough for dinner and a lunch.

 

What’s one your go-to list of easy meals? Do any of you out there cooking for yourself have a meal you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them!

 

Until next time,

❤ Meg

I’ll Have Peanuts With A Side of….Candy Meal?

Hey all!

Happy hot weather time! I actually really enjoy it, but along with hot dry weather comes hay season….and try as I might, sometimes it’s hard to remind myself that putting up hay is a good work out and I am not, in fact, dying a slow painful death.

 

But, I digress. That’s not what I wanted to talk about today. As I’ve said before,  I work in a feed and forage lab. We test the feed that is given to dairy cows, beef cattle, pigs, horses, and chickens with dairy cows being our largest animal customer base.  So with all that means we get some interesting samples to test and I thought it would be fun to share with you all some of the more out there ones!

 

Before I get into the weird stuff,  I’ll briefly go over what generally is contained in dairy cow’s diet. Not all of this is usually included but a good majority. Just like you need to eat a balanced diet of different food groups to get your essential nutrients, so do cows!

  • Hay
  • Haylage (fermented hay, it’s wetter than normal dry hay)
  • Corn silage (chopped up corn that’s also been fermented)
  • Some sort of mineral mix
  • Small grains like barley, oats, wheat, or triticale
  • Cottonseed
  • High moisture corn/shelled corn
  • Distiller’s grains

Now, as I said, we have gotten some oddball samples.

  • Candy meal – all sorts of candies mashed up and mixed together
  • “Gravy” – it was a fine powder that reminded me of the Ramen noodle seasoning packets
  • “Meringue” – another powder that smelled like vanilla pudding!
  • Bakery by-products  – these are the things left over from bakeries and other like companies (i.e. Oreos, etc)
  • Peanut waste –  waste not as in trash, but leftover bits of peanuts
  • Potato waste – again, not waste as in trash, but leftover bits of potatoes
  • I’ve also heard of (but we haven’t gotten a sample of it) the by-products from companies that make jams and jellies!

Now, why would dairy cows get fed these types of things? To serve as a source of some nutrient, whether it be sugar or energy or starch.  These weird foods are fed most likely because the farm has access to a high quantity of this food and therefore it makes their cow grocery bill cheaper because they don’t have to grow it and they probably get a discount for taking it off the hands of the business it comes from.

 

What’s the strangest thing you have eaten and did you like it?

 

Until next time,

❤ Meg

A Dairy Good Time

Hey all!

April showers bring May flowers….right? Hopefully this nice weather will stick around – it seems like we have had all four seasons these past few weeks.

 

I have to ask – what would the perfect day look like to you? How much time would you spend sleeping? Eating? Where would you go? Where would you not go? There’s been research done on how cows like to spend their time. Why would that be important? When the cows are comfortable and in a good mood, they are more productive (in making milk) and in better moods! Happy cows = happy farmers!

 

Recently, I was reading an article from a dairy industry e-newsletter I get from Penn State (see the link to the exact article below) and they gave the breakdown on how cows like to spend their time in a 24 hour period:

  • Lying down/resting a minimum of 12 hours
  • Eating 3 – 5 hours
  • Drinking 1/2 hour
  • Social interaction with their herd mates 2 – 3 hours

Read the Full Article

So what do farmers do with this information? They ideally try to keep the times cows are diverted from this routine whether it be for milking or check-ups with the veterinarian, etc to the few hour window remaining out of those 24 hours.

There are a lot of people and organizations that have some distrust for how farmers care for their animals, and I would like to be a voice that paints a different picture. When you think of all of the time and money that universities put into research – they certainly wouldn’t spend it on something that wouldn’t provide value to the industry or wouldn’t be influential among farmers. Farmers DO care about their cows, and they want to be provided with the best information possible to achieve that goal.

 

Until next time,

❤ Meg

Hartzler Dairy
Hartzler Dairy Ice Cream Shoppe, Wooster, OH

Top 5 Survival Tips for Trade Shows

Gah sorry guys I’ve been a terrible blogger this past little bit. I’ve still been getting used to the new job and out reppin’ as much as  I can. So in all that comes my next blog post to you! My survival tips for trade shows as an exhibitor/vendor. And man, have I learned some lessons.

 

1. Be sure to have one of those portable battery packs. I’ve done 2 trade shows now and for the first,  I was the only present for my company. And the booth I was in had no outlet. So it meant limping the battery along all. day. Those battery packs hold like 4 charges, so you can even help a friend in need!

2. Be sure to have PLENTY of business cards. When you think you have enough, grab more. Better to come home with extra business cards than be standing in front of a potential contact, or worse, customer, and not have a business card to give them. It will go like this: smile, intro name, handshake, exchange business cards. 100 times over. These are great networking events, not only with people that come to the trade show, but also other vendors. Which leads me to my next tip.

3. Be sure to have somewhere that you can put all the business cards you collect. Whether its an envelope or a special holder, you will collect a lot and you will need all of them for immediate follow ups and who knows when in the future. I also have a few colleagues who use business card storage apps where they take a picture of the business card with their phones and it automatically logs it into their contacts.

4. Write notes. Jot a few notes about each person you speak with, especially if you need to follow up with them about something. The more detail you can come out of the trade show with, the better your next connection with these people will be. My boss even writes a few key words on the back of the business cards to help remind him of who they are. Great idea, I’m just an obsessive note taker so I had a notebook. Whatever suits your style!

5.  Don’t forget to explore the city you are in! Especially if it’s one you have never been to before, take some time to enjoy life a little and visit some of the sights and sounds of where you are. My colleagues and I caught the tail end of a minor league baseball game. Those are some good memories I will take with me, more so even than all the people that filed in front of me during trade show ours. Take time to live a little.

 

It’s finally warming up! It was so nice to walk around not all bundled up at the trade show I was at last week. What have been your favorite trade shows/business trips? Are you enjoying the weather?

 

Until next time (and hopefully it’s not this long),

❤ Meg

Picky Eaters….Cows Can Be Too!

Hey all!

HAPPY SPRING! Finally. I’m ready for the joys of spring, even the mud. I’m no winter gal.

What are your favorite spring and (upcoming) summer foods? I love romaine hearts on the grill with a special dressing! Yay for Pinterest finds! Speaking of,  let’s jump right onto today’s topic.

Dairy cattle get a TMR. Sounds fancy, but it stands for Total Mixed Ration, and, as the name suggests, it is a mixture of feedstuffs to make their breakfast/lunch/dinner. Meaning, they eat like all you who mix your food together on your plate – those of the philosophy that “it all gets mixed together in the end anyway.” I’m not in that camp, I’m in the keep-everything-strictly-separate group. But, I digress. We can argue that later.

 

So, along with a TMR comes your picky eatin’ gals. And these gals will just eat the bits they like. Like when you were a kid and would slip those nasty green beans to the pooch begging under the table and tell your ma you did, in fact, eat all of your dinner. Some of our bovine friends are just the same way. This has a really fancy name….sorting.  So if you ever hear of any agriculturalist talk about cows “sorting” they’re really talking about the picky eaters in the barn.

Now, it’s not as detrimental in humans, but when cows don’t eat everything they are supposed to, it can cause some health issues and issues for them to produce the milk they should.  TMRs are put together so that each “ingredient”, or feedstuff, has it’s purpose, whether that be for energy/fat, protein, or fiber. That way, these gals have a nice, balanced diet! So, if they’re being picky, and eating only certain things, they can be missing majorly in one of these nutrient departments.

There actually have been a lot of studies done on this, and some of what can lead to sorting is dry matter content (too wet, too dry), the particle size of all the feed stuffs (think if all of your food was cut to about the same size), and number of meals they get each day (some farmers will deliver fresh feed to the gals 3-4 times a day, some 2 times a day). Some discovered that cows will even sort based on their mood and how they feel that day!

 

Well, speaking of, time for me to find my evening TMR. I hope you all are getting a chance to experience some wonderful spring weather! Let me know in the comment below what kind of eater you are and some of your favorite seasonal dishes!

 

Until next time,

< Meg

Blazin’ The Trail

Hello all!

It’s now time to get back into a rhythm of blogging after the dust has began to settle from moving and starting my new job. And I’ll tell you, it’s an adjustment on many levels. And to get 100% real with you, I can see why some people stay in their comfort zone and make a life there. Moving away from family and significant others or other loved ones is no joke. And yet, there are all of those quotes about the happiness on the outside of your comfort zone plastered on Pinterest boards and in pretty picture frame across the globe.

This being the second go-round for me for moving away from home for a job, I thought I would share some tips on how I cope and move forward in starting in a new town.

 

Make your new place feel like home. Especially if you are going to be living alone. You won’t be comfortable and feel settled unless your new places feels home-y, and not like some hotel room you’ll get to leave in a few days. Maybe you have a favorite set of photos of you and your friends, maybe you have a blanket your grandmother made you, and sometimes, it’s just the feel of the house or apartment itself. Whatever it is, it’s vital for your peace of mind. Bring it all, set up the place how you like, which brings me to my next point.

 

Be excited that a new, empty space means you can FINALLY make use of that “Dream Home” Pinterest board.  I know most people probably won’t have the money to just throw around buying every shiny new glass and home decor item they would like, but scour Pinterest and find some budget-friendly projects and home decor tips to get started on. This will firstly go along with making your new digs feel like home, but it also gives your mind something to look forward to. You can come home from work the first few days and picture the potential on your empty “canvas” of space. Go for the color scheme you love – hell, mine is turquoise, gold, and red! There are so many resources out there now that give you tips on how to organize, decorate, and transform a space – and alot that don’t break the bank. Do keep in mind whatever your budget is, because some of that money could go toward my next tip.

 

Don’t hesitate – start right on getting the lay of the land. Find the local shops, cafes, what restaurants there are to eat at, where the grocery stores are – take it all in. This will keep you busy and get you thinking of some exciting outings you could take. Maybe there’s a restaurant you’ve never been to, or that one store you love that didn’t have a chain too close in your hometown. And while you are at it, don’t be afraid to treat yourself a little. Maybe you find a cute new shirt for work, or you’ve been waiting awhile to get that new pair of shoes. You’ve just made a big change – go for the reward to yourself!

 

Get out and about. Going along with the previous tip – start thinking of groups or activities you like and start finding local chapters. If you like fitness, start looking into what local gyms or yoga studios have to offer. By looking forward to that spin class on Wednesday, you occupy your mind and open up opportunities to meet people! Don’t be afraid, just get out and do it!

 

Be sure you are moving for the right reason. This really comes before everything, but it’s also the biggest tip I have. It will be hard to start a new chapter in your life if you aren’t excited for the chapter to start to begin with. I have an example on each end of the spectrum with the two times I have moved for a job. The first wasn’t the right job for me and it ended in me being miserable and making some big mistakes, and, consequently, moving back home. This new job I have, however, is one I love and I can go far with. The difference in my mindset is astronomical. And sometimes its not a job you are moving for, it’s for a person, or some other reason. Whatever the reason, be sure it’s a good one and the right one FOR YOU. YOU are the one that has to live with this choice, don’t choose misery for yourself.

 

Feel free to tell me about your moving journeys in the comments below!

 

Until next time,

❤ Meg

“You Only Limit Your Impact On The World By The Limits You Place On Yourself”

Hello All!

First of all, those wise words were spoken by author and agvocate Michele Payn – I can’t take credit for the brilliance that is that sentence.  Secondly, I am so sorry for taking so long to write another post. I’ve been in such a whirlwind!

Long story short, I got offered a new job and have accepted, went to Wisconsin for a week to train, and moved closer to the lab where I now work. And boy, do I love my job.

I loved milking the cows at the dairy in my hometown, I loved the daily interaction with the gals and the calves, as well as the fantastic people I worked for. I also learned such a great deal from the wonderful people that  I learned from in my role as an independent nutrition consultant for Agri-Nutrition Consulting. But in my heart, I knew I wanted to be in a job that challenged me, made me grow, and one that I could make my greatest impact with my personal strengths in the agricultural industry. And I think that job just dropped into my lap.  The hardest part is that I would have to move away from my family again, and thus cause my boyfriend and I to have a long distance relationship again. But, the joy I feel in my heart and the glowing enthusiasm I have with every day tells me I made the right choice.

And that is where this quote I think fits in perfect.  I heard it on a podcast I was listening to where Michele was being interviewed about two months ago, and I knew I wanted to remember this quote, so I recorded myself saying it. I believe that sometimes, whether you are ready or not, life opens doors for you and you have to make the choice to go through.  And, in my experience, there aren’t many decisions in life, especially larger ones, that don’t come with cons to go along with the pros. This is where I have found that unless there is a blaring red flag that tells you you shouldn’t take it, sometimes you just have to take a deep breath, trust those who love you and will support you through anything, and take the jump. When you start looking, the most successful people have taken a big leap of faith at some point in their life, and that it may not have always been gravy to go through.

So, what am I doing now? I am Rock River Laboratory – Ohio’s Nutrition Analytic Consultant. My main responsibilities include ensuring the satisfaction of our customers and adding value to their experience with us when I can.  I will also be traveling to meet with prospective customers to show them the wonderful offerings Rock River can provide.

So, what does Rock River Laboratory do? We are based out of Watertown, Wisconsin with satellite locations in California, Ohio, New York, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, and Germany.  We are an agricultural analysis laboratory that can analyze soils, plant tissues, feeds, forages, and manure.  Bottom line, as our Animal Nutrition, Research,  and Innovations Director explains, “We sell the nutrition facts on your Cheerios box.” In the feeds and forages department, we take the different types of foods dairy cattle nutritionists (like I used to be) want to put together to make the cows’ meal, and we test them to get an accurate prediction of how much of each nutrient is in that feed to be sure our bovine gals get the most out of their breakfasts! I think this is so cool and fascinating, I can’t help but be ecstatic about the fact that I get to be a part of such a great company!

And one of the best parts? It gives me more topics to share with you all as I move into yet another perspective of the agricultural industry! I am back in my hometown for the weekend, so for now I am going to sign off and joy a wonderful dinner with my family before heading back to start an exciting new week!

Here’s a few pictures from my weekend home – the awesome BBQ joint on the lake, and a glass of wine I enjoyed in celebration of my first week with my BBQ dinner!

Have a great week and I challenge you to be on the look out for life’s opportunities!

 

❤ Meg

The Dreaded R Word: Resume

Well, I’m not sure about you all, but one of adulthood’s most painful tasks to me is updating/revamping my resume.  Seriously, it elicits a tantrum that could rival a teething toddler inside my head.  I save all of mine on Google drive and currently my “Cover Letters and Resumes” file has 71 files in it.  Yep, I’ve done a resume/cover letter that many times for job applications.  Not that I necessarily do any major work each time, but I tailor my resume to each job application.

In college, it seemed like at least once a semester I had a professor who would invite our college’s career guru to do a speech.  And, given it was the same guy, it was the same speech.  Every.  Time.  Then, my senior year, before I sent out resume after resume, I went to the university’s resource center to work one-on-one with someone on my resume.

So, here I am, sharing my resume tips with you all in hopes it may lessen your pain in the process.  Take note, the creative and artsy fields may have different guidelines for their resumes, these tips are meant  for the other fields.

First off we will start with the general tips.

  • Stay consistent – however you choose to format your resume, keep that formatting all the way through, from section to section
  • Simple fonts like Times New Roman or Arial – nothing too crazy
  • Typically stay in 10 – 12 point  font
  • List your previous jobs, etc in descending order – present first followed by next most recent and so on.

Now, here’s my tips to make your resume really pop.  I can honestly say that my resume improved tenfold after the one-on-one visit, and, without meaning to toot my own horn, I can count on one hand the times that I have not received a call back after submitting my resume.

Without further ado:

  1. Make use of bold, italics, and underlining.  This helps divvy up the monotony.  But, as with the theme consistency, if you italicize a date, italicize all the dates. Or if you bold and italicize a job title, bold and italicize all job titles.
  2.  Use numbers whenever possible when describing your job duties – it gives the company you are applying to a measurement of your impact and contribution.
  3. At the beginning of each bullet point of job description, use an action verb – and for every job description besides your current job, remember to use past tense.  Your current job should start each bullet point with a present tense action verb.
  4. Pinterest is a great resource if you search “resume power words.” These are a great sampling of words to use.  And try not to use the same action verb more than twice.
  5. If you have the job description available for the job you are applying for, plug words and phrases into your resume from the job description. For example, if the job description says “proficient in popular software such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel”, under that office job you had a few years back, make a bullet point that says “Developed my proficiency in popular software with the use of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel”

I know this post wasn’t about agriculture, but I am hoping to mix in a little variety and share what I know!

 

Happy job hunting!

❤ Meg

Morning Milking Musings: Beauty Routine Part 2 – Bovine Edition

Hello all!

My last post discussed beauty hacks for farm gals, this post is going to continue with beauty hacks, but this time for our bovine friends.  Yes, dairy cows have a beauty routine as well.

To start, a great many farms have put in mechanical cow brushes – large, heavy bristled brushes that spin so a cow can stand up against it to get a good scratch! Some barns have other products that are on the market that are attachable to a sturdy post, to do the same job.

Farmers also use different kinds of bedding, all of which reduce the amount of dirt and manure that stick to the girls! Bedding material options include straw, sand, and sawdust.  Bedding material choice is also affected by how comfortable it is for the cows and how easy it is for the farmer to work with.

The cows also get their hooves trimmed regularly – most importantly for health reasons, but also for cow comfort and keeping her able to move around freely!

Until next time,

❤ Meg