Dairy consolidation continues
NAHMS survey documents animal health practices over 10-year-period
Aug 01, 2003
Fort Collins, Colo.-A National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS)study has documented that nearly one in two dairy operations has disappeared since 1991, with roughly a 4-5 percent decrease in numbers per year.
NAHMS adds that there has been a much slower decline in milk cow numbers that represent a 73 percent increase in average herd size over the same time period.
McCluskey adds, "I think everyone expects that this trend will continue. As the numbers of farms go down, the size goes up. It seems like establishing an economy of scale is the way to make money in the dairy industry."
The survey adds that milk production increased by 11.9 percent over this 10-year-period, while numbers of milk cows declined by 7.2 percent. The survey also shows a 20.7 percent increase in milk production per cow.
NAHMs reports that a higher percentage of operations fed a total mixed ration in 2001, 47 percent of operations, than in 1995 (35.6 percent).
McCluskey adds that vaccination as a preventive measure is an opportunity for veterinarians and producers.
Other vaccination results for heifers included:
PreventionNAHMS says there were no major changes in the use of specific preventive practices between 1995 and 2001. However, there continues to be a downward trend in the percentage of operations using no preventive practices in dairy heifers.
McCluskey says that is good news. In other words, more producers are adopting more of these prevention strategies for their herds.
States in the West had a greater percentage of operations with positive mycoplasma cultures in comparison to operations in the Midwest, Northeast and Southeast regions.
NAHMS reports that larger herds were also more likely to have positive mycoplasma cultures when compared to medium herds (100-499) and small herds (less than 100 head).
Mycoplasma can be economically "devastating to dairies because of the contagious nature of the organism and its resistance to therapy." Milk transfer during milking is the most common way to mycoplasma mastitis is spread from cow to cow.
NAHMS adds that the percentage of operations positive was likely underestimated because herds were sampled only once.
But the Dairy 2002 shows that only 11 percent of dairy operations required individual cow milk cultures before introducing new cattle to the farm.
Only 10.6 percent also required bulk tank milk cultures, the survey says.