USDA delves into dairy productivity trends


USDA delves into dairy productivity trends

Analysis by the USDA finds technology has been a major driver behind more productive cows and increased consolidation over the past 20 years.

Economic Research Service ag economist Eric Njuki tells Brownfield innovations include improved breeding, feeding programs, and better data-driven management.

“Everything from nutrient intake to milk production, to detection of estrus, and just the overall being of the cow,” he says.

Researchers analyzed the sharp shift in small to large dairy farms over the past two decades and the regional shifts in where milk is produced.

“Our western and southwestern states experienced the fastest productivity growth,” he says.

Meanwhile, states including Kentucky, Georgia, Missouri, and Tennessee had the slowest growth rate over the same period.

Njuki says larger farms have been able to use their economy of scale to adopt costly technologies like robotics and biosensors and in turn become more productive. 

He adds personal management across all sizes and environmental factors like the weather, forage quality, and disease also impact productivity.