Penn Vet helps boost dairy farms in Pa.
Pennsylvania’s dairy industry’s total milk production has declined since 2011
October 17, 2013, 7:06 pm · Updated October 17, 2013, 9:40 pm·
Caroline New | DP
The School of Veterinary Medicine is working to improve the dairy industry of Pennsylvania, one cow at a time.
Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center signed a Memorandum of Understanding recognizing a partnership with the Center for Dairy Excellence, a nonprofit organization that works with dairy companies in Pennsylvania to improve the industry.
With this partnership, Penn Vet is working with CDE to create more efficient business models, research methods and leadership techniques for the entire industry. One of these technologies is a program created by Penn Vet’s Center for Animal Health and Productivity called the Dairy Analyzer, a computer program that compares livestock production rates and business models to the industry’s larger benchmarks in the United States.
The state of Pennsylvania created the CDE in 2004 to increase overall profitability within the industry. Although it has the second largest number of dairy farms in the country, Pennsylvania has historically fallen behind other states’ economic success.
More recently, milk production in the state is down about a half percent from 2011, according to CDE. In addition, industry projections show a milk deficit in PA that would equate to the need for about 50,000 more cows than currently exist.
According to John Frey , executive director of the Center for Dairy Excellence, the problem today is “economic health” of the dairy industry which is directly affected by the health of the livestock. This is where CDE comes in, directly working with local industries to help them keep up-to-date with the industry’s constant change.
According to David Galligan , director of Penn Vet’s Center for Animal Health and Productivity at New Bolton Center, the CDE has already made an important step toward improving the dairy industry by figuring out a way to attach a price value to herd production. He also believes that Penn Vet can greatly enhance how it measures the production value with a set of skills previously unavailable.
“Veterinarians play a critical role on the profit teams because of their knowledge of: the underlying biological principals of production, the impacts of disease on production and food safety, the environmental foot print of various production systems, as well as an understanding of welfare issues in animal production systems,” Galligan said in an email.
Frey is hopeful that this partnership will strengthen work that is already being done while creating new paths to profitability. Since the official partnership, the two organizations have made plans to implement tools for farm performance analysis and improved educational and communication tactics for farmers.
Galligan also said this partnership will bring benefits to the Vet School.
“Our school’s educational and research programs will benefit greatly by having a ‘living’ laboratory of commercial dairy farms where new concepts in animal management as well as emerging technologies can be explored,” Galligan said.