To the editor: Organic dairy farmers sought for quick survey

Mastitis is one of the costliest health issues for dairy cows, and a team of UVM researchers is working to address it by exploring the risks and benefits of common bedding strategies used by Vermont organic farmers.

According to co-project director Deb Neher, Ph.D., “Reducing mastitis is an opportunity for increased profitability for organic dairy farmers, healthier animals, improved animal welfare, and a better product for consumers.”

“But to understand and address it, we need to hear from organic dairy farmers,” she adds. The team is requesting that farmers take the quick survey posted online by clicking here.

The team is particularly interested in testing the bedded pack winter housing system – and to do so, they’re hoping to hear from farmers using tie-stall and free-stall barns too. Neher adds: “Our preliminary research shows that bedded pack housing systems may support conditions that promote udder health and milk quality.  So now we’re seeking to gather information from certified commercial organic farms and get a closer look to compare how different systems impact animal health and milk yield.”

Bedded pack winter housing systems are becoming popular to promote animal health, cow comfort, improve manure management, and meet consumer perceptions.

Jenn Colby, Pasture Program coordinator at the UVM Extension Center for Sustainable Agriculture,  says, “The team is excited that the project will provide a usable budget tool, and that this research addresses multiple important goals for dairy farmers:  animal welfare, economics and environmental concerns by understanding more about how farmers can manage manure as a solid rather than as a liquid.”

The study was awarded by the National Institute for Food and Agriculture, and is supported by USDA’s Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative .

For more information, contact Dr. John Barlow at john.barlow@uvm.edu or 802-656-1395, or visit the research project web page by clicking here.

Cheryl Herrick
Communications Specialist
Who Farms? project co-coordinator
UVM Extension Center for Sustainable Agriculture
Burlington

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