UW study to look at feeding strategies on Wisconsin dairy farms: economic, production, and environmental outcomes

Victor Cabrera, 608-265-8506, vcabrera@wisc.edu
Brad Barham, 608-265-3090, barham@aae.wisc.edu
Rhonda Gildersleeve, 608-723-6243, rhonda.gildersleeve@ces.uwex.edu
Michel Wattiaux, 608-263-3493, wattiaux@wisc.edu

Feed management strategies and their impacts on dairy farm production, profitability, and environmental outcomes is the focus of a study being conducted in eight southwest Wisconsin counties beginning in October. This large survey is a collaborative effort between  the University of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Agriculture Statistical Service, Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection.

University of Wisconsin-Extension and UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences researchers will:
— develop information that will enable producers to evaluate their management strategies for better farm profitability, productivity, and environmental stewardship;
— document the impacts of the diverse feeding strategies used on Wisconsin dairy farms; and
— study the role of farmer-farmer interactions on shaping management and performance.

A wide range of dairy farming systems, including confinement, managed grazing, and organic, will be included in the study with a goal of having 200 participants. Researchers will also look at how feeding strategies vary across different types of farms and affect production, income, and input use.

One of the main economic measures of interest in this study is the ratio of milk income to feed costs. With the data gathered from farmers, researchers will develop comparisons of milk income to feed costs across different types of farming systems and feeding strategies.

Farmers participating in the study will receive comparisons that allow them to evaluate their production and economic outcomes relative to other farmers using similar and distinctive feeding strategies.

An example of tools and publications in the subject area can be found at the UW Dairy Management Website at DairyMGT.info. An example of a type of income over feed cost analysis can be found at the UW Dairy Management Website at http://DairyMGT.info : Tools : Feeding: The 4-State Dairy Extension Feed Cost Evaluator or http://dairymgt.info/iofscdb/login.php .

Individual farm-level comparisons will be shared confidentially only with participant farms. Broader summary reports made public will use group-level statistical comparisons to maintain the full confidentiality of study participants.

The research team leading this project includes Victor Cabrera, Assistant Professor of Dairy Science; Brad Barham, Professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics and Economist for the Program on Agricultural Technology Studies; Rhonda Gildersleeve, UW Extension Grazing Specialist; and Michel Wattiaux, Associate Professor of Dairy Science.

If you are a dairy producer who would like to participate in this study, please contact one of the researchers.


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