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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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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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As much as dairy producers and their advisers may try to eliminate the risks associated with dairy expansions, it cannot be done. The key to a successful dairy expansion is to anticipate, reduce and control those risks. Developing a strategic business plan can help producers and their advisers accomplish this. Careful planning reduces risk. However, any business plan is only as good as the information used to develop it. It is therefore important to have a systematic approach to evaluating an expansion plan to determine how effectively it has addressed the above issues. The areas to evaluate include:

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Take care when constructing concrete walking areas for animals. Concrete serves dairy producers well as a material that is durable and economical. It can conform to irregular places and be given a surface that provides cattle adequate traction. Unfortunately, concrete surfaces often end up being too rough, too slippery, too irregular or too level to provide adequate drainage.

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Relocating or expanding a dairy facility is a process that requires a tremendous amount of time and planning. Owners or managers of dairies will go through a number of steps including:

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When there’s any excuse to visit Hawaii, most people take it. Dairy cattle and herd genetics broker Marty Mickelson used his excuse to visit the island four times one summer.

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