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Peruse practical information for the dairy producer on essential topics including management, A.I. and breeding, new technology, and feed and nutrition.

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Editor’s note: The following is the first installment of a four-part series summarizing fact sheets written by Wendy Powers entitled “The Power of Smell.”

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There are a wide variety of farms. They vary in their resources and their environmental concerns. Some farms have access to more capital, skilled labor, management ability, land resources, water resources and markets than other farms. Different manure treatment and handling methods are needed to match the resources and needs of different farms. Recent studies have shown manure-handling costs on farms can be significant. Figure 1* shows costs collected from western New York dairies in 1996. These do not include storage costs and they do not include additional costs that increased management from the implementation of a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) would require.

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Editor’s Note: The following is the first of a three-part series which discusses labor issues for the progressive dairy.

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It’s a sad fact that many agricultural businesspeople have gotten too good at what they do. If this statement sounds wrong to you, examine the theory behind it. In many cases, producers have gotten better at producing, allowing their businesses to grow. But with those larger businesses come more responsibilities and, frequently, more need for labor that, at one time, would have been provided by an individual family. Both declining family sizes and larger operations have increased the overall need for hired labor.

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Over the past 65 years, the number of dairy farms in the United States has decreased from approximately 4.5 million to 74,000. During the same period, the number of cows per dairy farm increased from five to 125. The total number of dairy cows in this country decreased from 21.5 to 9.1 million while milk per cow increased from 4,500 to 19,000 pounds per year. The current national milk production could be produced in 8,000 dairies milking 1,000 cows producing 20,000 pounds each, thus requiring a 90-percent further reduction in the number of dairy farms.

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A 2003 Vermont study found approximately 50 percent of farms have at least one nonfamily employee. A Wisconsin study of farm characteristics found that 63 percent of Wisconsin dairy farms utilize only family labor. Regardless of which survey you’d like to use, it means nonfamily labor is a significant and important factor in dairy farming today. The misconception is that only those with employees need to manage their labor resource.

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