Any action taken today to reduce production needs to be taken with care and analyzed systematically so that farmers will be in a position to take full advantage of future market opportunities when the market bounces back.
The current dairy market situation—with reduced demand for dairy products—has caused excess product to build up at some processing plants. Some dairy farmers have been instructed to cut the amount of milk they ship to plants. To do so, they are disposing of extra product, including by feeding excess milk to calves, heifers and lactating cows, or in some cases dumping milk into manure lagoons or spreading it on fields. There are also ways to dial back milk production, including reducing milking frequency and adjusting diets. Oftentimes a combination of strategies is needed, notes Victor Cabrera, professor and extension dairy farm management specialist in the Department of Dairy Science. Cabrera helped develop decision support tools, available at http://DairyMGT.info, to help farmers quantify the impacts of the various management strategies they can adopt.