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Survey of Management Practices Used for the Highest Producing DHI Herds in the United States

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      Abstract

      This study was initiated to identify management practices that characterize the highest producing dairy herds. The top Dairy Herd Improvement herds, based on yearly rolling herd average for milk, were identified, and producers were surveyed to obtain information on nutritional management, reproductive management, herd health management, facilities, implementation incentives, preferred information delivery systems, and future plans. Survey forms were returned from 133 of 250 Holstein and 20 of 47 Jersey farms that were identified as top producing herds. The average production of identified Holstein herds was 13,368 kg/yr of milk, 479.9 kg/yr of fat (3.59%), and 424.5 kg/yr of protein (3.17%). The 47 Jersey herds averaged 8,844 kg/yr of milk, 409.8 kg/yr of fat (4.63%), and 332.2 kg/yr of protein (3.17%). Breeding efficiency of high producing Holstein herds apparently declined since a 1992 survey, with means of 100.2 d to first service, 2.8 services per conception, 163.0 d open, and 14.5 mo calving interval. Feeds primarily used (percentage of respondents) were: corn silage (91.0%), legume haylage (81.2%), legume hay (57.9%), corn grain (83.5%), soybean meal (70.7%), whole cottonseed (70.8%), and roasted soybeans (47.7%). Producers responding to the survey remained optimistic that they can continue to increase production per cow. They express most interest in receiving new information from farm magazines, on-farm demonstrations, farm visits, printed fact sheets, farm field days, and group meetings. Although 87.5% have a computer, these producers strongly resist satellite programs, home study courses, Internet, and computer programs as a means of receiving information.

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