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Universities Working to Stop Falling Dairy Numbers


By: U.S. AgNet
7/5/2013 2:25:42 PM


National dairy numbers have fallen by more than two-thirds since 1995 and staff at the University of Georgia have joined forces with five other universities to try and reverse the decline. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture is funding the $3 million effort.

Steve Oliver, assistant dean of University of Tennessee Ag Research and a professor of animal science, will lead the project. He explained the study will focus on improving herd health and milk quality and quantity by lowering the incidence of mastitis.

"The Southeastern dairy industry is in serious trouble," Oliver said. "Although the nation is experiencing a surge in milk and dairy demand, the Southeast has experienced a greater than 37 percent decline in total milk production. Milk quality is also consistently the poorest of all the regions of the U.S."

The reason for the low milk quality in the region is the high levels of mastitis, an inflammation of the cows' udders.

"Improved milk quality and greater production quantities are all about consistent employment of good management practices for the health and well-being of the cow," Oliver said.

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture will serve as the study's lead institution, and regional participants include the University of Kentucky, the University of Florida, the University of Georgia, Mississippi State University and Virginia Tech.

Researchers plan to reach out to challenged and under performing dairies to enhance regional milk production and improve overall milk quality.

Teams will conduct applied research and on-farm demonstrations focusing on strategies for controlling mastitis and enhancing milk quality. Stakeholders will also include veterinary practitioners, university students, extension personnel and other industry representatives serving the dairy community.


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