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|The Scottish dairy industry: A glimpse into our future|
|News - Progressive Events|
|Written by Elizabeth Chaney|
|Friday, 25 June 2010 07:48|
However, after a recent visit to Scotland with the University of Kentucky Dairy Club, and an ongoing internship with Alltech, I have worked to overcome the intimidation and have obtained a better understanding of what the dairy industry in the US could potentially look like in the next five years.
Having been born and raised on a dairy farm, gone to the University of Kentucky to study Agricultural Economics (to try and learn how to actually make money in the dairy industry), as well as research projects regarding dairy enterprises, I feel the trip to Scotland was the pinnacle of my college career. The purpose of the trip was to bring back information from farms visited as well as numerous presentations given by animal scientists, PhD students, and research colleges across various parts of Scotland.
How can we as dairy farmers and future dairy farmers utilize this information? It’s simple! We see successes and failures in other parts of the world as lessons learned and do our best to implement these lessons in the very cyclical milk market that we all depend so heavily on.
One farm we visited had a 400-cow Holstein herd bedded on sand; they rarely saw a SCC greater than 100,000. One of the reasons for this was the farmer’s use of sand. Since sand is an inorganic material, it makes it one of the preferred beddings to maximize milk quality.
Scottish farms and some U.S. farms are starting to move toward complete indoor systems with limited grazing. New data is being collected through multiple research projects, some which were using Ice Tags from a company called IceRobotics, measuring the lying time of dairy cattle. This data along with other data from similar technologies will hopefully help us to answer the overlooked age old question. How comfortable are our cows?
Scotland is currently facing similar issues and could possibly be seeing emission quotas or regulations in their future, as is the U.S. One college in particular, the Scottish Agricultural College, is working toward research projects measuring the amount of gases emitted. Contrary to what most people believe, approximately 95 percent of the gases emitted by the cow come out of its mouth rather than through fecal matter.
Premiums have progressively decreased due to oversupply of organic milk and the regulations to get into and stay certified organic are substantially less than here in the U.S. The focus on organic in the U.S. has also seemed to decrease, but not so much as a result of oversupply, as it is the shift towards consumer support of locally produced products as well as the current state of our economy.
Other ways we have found to meet consumer needs include focusing a little more on animal well-being, hosting families on our farms, changing labeling, reforming some farming practices, as well adapting to any other changes that come our way. Farmers are excellent managers and have found ways to meet the needs of everyone, from cows to consumers.
Through the use of natural supplements, some farmers have found that they can improve all the critical components of a dairy herd, such as emissions, estrus detection, calving, recovery, production and breeding.
Scotland has proven to be very innovative in the way they have tackled issues that have surfaced over the last 10 years. However, the U.S has also been a leader at the forefront of technological innovations on dairies.
It is important that we as farmers utilize our fellow herdsman, researchers and businesses and take lessons from others' experiences, whether it be neighbor to neighbor or even country to country. PD
Elizabeth Chaney will be a senior at the University of Kentucky and is a marketing intern at Alltech this summer.