An Overview of WisconsinDairy Farmers Who Modernized Their Operations

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Journal of Dairy Science

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Wisconsin dairy producers who modernized their operations between 1994 and 1998 had positive feelings about their expansion experiences, accompanied by increased production and improved profitability and quality of life. The average herd in this survey experienced increased production during the 5-yr period studied. Nearly all producers were satisfied with their expansion experience. The negative effect on milk production normally associated with expansion was minimal for most years and did not exist if all herds were summarized together. Managing labor appeared to be the most daunting challenge facing producers following expansion. Respondents who built all new facilities observed higher production, greater labor efficiency, and satisfaction with measures of profitability and quality of life than respondents who modified facilities or added no new facilities. As herd size increased, milk production, labor efficiency, and satisfaction with herd performance, profitability, and quality of life increased. Producers who built all new facilities spent less time on farm work, more time managing employees, and had less difficulty finding, training, supervising, and keeping farm employees than producers who modified facilities or added new facilities to existing operations. Larger herds were associated with an increased reliance on nonfamily labor. Managing labor appears to be an easier task for managers of larger herds. The most difficult challenges for producers who modernized their operations were with labor management, financing, and loan procurement, construction and cost overruns, and feet and leg health. Difficulties with expansion differed little between expansion types (same type, some new, or all new facilities) or herd sizes.

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