This study evaluated factors that affected decision making and changes within the Minnesota dairy industry. The 50 herds selected for this study had at least 75 cows registered with the Dairy Herd Improvement Association in 1993 and were selected based on the total percentage increase in milk production on the farm from 1989 to 1993. These 50 herds had a mean herd size of 131 cows and a mean milk production of 8807 kg per cow in 1993. On average, from 1989 to 1993, the surveyed herds increased their total milk output by 90%, increased their herd size by 51 cows, and increased mean herd milk production by 926 kg. Of the farms, 50% were partnerships or family corporations, and 50% were owned by a single family. The surveyed producers were 39 yr of age on average. During the period studied, the use of free-stall housing increased from 36 to 48%, use of the milking parlor increased from 32 to 54%, and use of tie stalls decreased from 42 to 28%. The daily hauling of manure decreased from 34 to 20% on these farms. The use of hired labor increased by a mean of 0.61 full-time workers and 0.34 part-time workers. Strategies for herd growth included internal growth (no purchased animals), 24%; the purchase of cows, 24%; and the purchase of springers, 52%. Over 90% of the producers were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with dairy farming operations, but only 33% of the spouses were very or somewhat satisfied. Satisfaction levels were positively associated with overall production levels on the farms. Although there is no single established pattern for the expansion of herds, practices utilized by those producers surveyed can be scrutinized by others who are contemplating expansions to determine what might be efficient for their operations.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Received April 13, 1998. Accepted September 8, 1998. 1Contribution Number 981163801 of the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station based on research supported by the station. 2Work was conducted as part of Cooperative Research Project NE-177, Organizational and Structural Changes in the Dairy Industry.