The current COVID-19 situation with supply chain disruption and reduced demand for products has caused excess product to build up at some local dairy processing plants. To reduce milk supply earlier this month, some dairy producers have been instructed to reduce milk shipped with some feeding excess milk to calves, heifers, and lactating cows, or disposing of milk into manure storage facilities or land spreading. However, there are additional cost-effective strategies to reduce production. Using a combination of strategies at lower intensity may also reduce negative impacts on animal health and welfare that may occur with more intense changes.
Due to the financial and animal well-being impact, these reductions may have on the dairy owner, cow, and industry, Dairy & Livestock Agent Tina Kohlman collaborated with UW-Madison Extension Dairy Program Area members in the development of six fact sheets addressing strategies to manage the on-farm surplus of milk while minimizing the impacts on future production. The fact sheet series discuss management practices to manage the excess milk, the economic value of the practice, and risks to be managed with the adoption of strategies:
- Deciding When a Dairy Cow Starts Her Second Career
- From Farm to Market: Maintaining Carcass Quality and Animal Welfare of Market Cows
- Milk Reduction Strategies Through Diet and Nutrition
- Milk Reduction Strategies Through Early Dry Off
- Strategies to Reduce Milk Production
- Switching Cows 3x to 2x Strategy
As part of this program, Kohlman and collaborators partnered with Zoetis Animal Health in the development, delivery, and evaluation of “Managing the Surplus” webinar for nearly 100 individuals. The purpose was to address UW-Madison Dairy Management Decision-Making Tools That Could Support Effective Strategies to Reducing Milk Production; How to reduce dairy herd productivity in a logical fashion; and Making the Connection: Power of Listening.
Based on post-meeting evaluations (n=12), respondents indicated a 1.3 point increase (on a scale of one to five, one being not at all and five being A great deal) in level of knowledge gained regarding extension dairy management decision-making tools and resources to support effective strategies to reduce milk production, a 1.1 point increase in knowledge regarding strategies to reduce herd productivity logically and effectively, while being flexible and nimble should production restrictions change, and 0.6 point increase in knowledge regarding communication strategies with partners, employees, farmers, and/or service providers. As a result of attending the webinar, 100 percent of the respondents indicated they strongly or somewhat strongly agree they are more confident in how to determine strategies to reduce milk on the farm if production restrictions are asked.