The relationship between dairy heifer management style and profitability
Dairy Business Management Educator
Penn State Extension
In an ongoing USDA NIFA funded research project, members of Penn State Extension are collecting heifer growth, management, and financial data from 20 organic and 20 conventional dairies in Pennsylvania. Researchers are tracking heifer growth by collecting hip height and body weight at four different time points, birth, weaning, pre-breeding, and freshening. Body condition scores were recorded at the pre-breeding and freshening time points. Heifer management questions assessing the specific age range are asked to the farmers at each of the four measuring time points and ranked. How the farmer answers the questions are ranked as a high risk, moderate risk, or low risk practice. Degree of risk is also determined based on researcher observations regarding current management practices. Whole farm financial analyses are completed on each of the 40 farms to separate out the heifer enterprise from the dairy enterprise to determine the cost to raise a healthy heifer from birth to first calving. More than 500 heifers have been measured across all the farms and many different heifer management practices have been observed that have influenced heifer growth. One of the project’s goals is to calculate the cost to produce heifers and explore how management practices and heifer growth impact dairy profitability. Farm financial data and heifer growth data has been summarized for 2021. Data analysis for 2022 is in progress. The 2021 dairy and heifer cost of production for conventional farms ranged from $14.77 to $25.92 per day. The cost of production (COP) to raise a heifer from birth to first calving ranged from $1,489 to $3,789, with the average at $2,235. Dairy and heifer COP for organic farms ranged from $22.69 to $37.81 per day. The heifer COP for organic farms ranged from $1,082 to $4,384 with the average at $2,149. Feed cost per day was a big contributor to the difference in heifer cost per day. With the data collected from this project, the researchers will share improved management strategies relating to heifer nutrition, housing, and health programs that can address the problems that contribute to a higher heifer COP.
Poster has NOT been presented at any previous NACAA AM/PIC
This poster is being submitted for judging. It will be displayed at the AM/PIC if not selected as a State winner. The abstract will be published in the proceedings.
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Authors: Samantha Gehrett, Cassie Yost, Carly Becker, Tim Beck
Gehrett, S. Dairy Business Management Educator, Penn State Extension, Pennsylvania, 17013
Yost, C. Dairy Educator, Penn State Extension, Pennsylvania, 16652
Becker, C. Dairy Educator, Penn State Extension, Pennsylvania, 17601
Beck, T. Dairy Business Educator, Penn State Extension, Pennsylvania, 17402