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How Wisconsin Dairy Farmers Feed Their Cows: Results of the 1999 Wisconsin Dairy Herd Feeding Study
Research Summaries No. 5, July 2000
by Douglas Jackson-Smith and J. Mark Powell

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Wisconsin dairy farms have been under serious pressure in recent years. Increasing costs of production, competition from large farms in the western and southern states, volatile milk prices, and pressure from non-agricultural development have discouraged the entry of new young dairy farmers and made survival increasingly difficult for the many operators. In addition, growing public concern about the environmental impacts of agricultural activities has led to state and federal efforts to develop new rules for the storage, handling and use of manure on crop fields. The loss of nutrients (like nitrogen and phosphorus) from farm fields and barnyards to Wisconsin’s surface and groundwaters has attracted particular public attention. Feeding practices are one area where farmer management can have an impact on both their bottom line and nutrient losses. University scientists and extension staff are constantly working on new dairy feeding technologies and management practices. However, there has been relatively little information available about what farmers are already doing, which makes it difficult to target public programs to the kinds of dairy feeding systems farmers actually use in a state like Wisconsin. This report fills that gap.