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Table 1 Technologies, management practices, and production systems analyzed in the study

From: The adoption of technologies, management practices, and production systems in U.S. milk production

TMPPS Description
Computerized and/or Automated Technologies
Computerized feed delivery system Provides specific feed ration to an individual or group of cows, depending upon cow's lactation phase. Typically used with total mixed ration designed to meet the animal's full nutritional needs.
Computerized milking system At least compiles computerized milking data from milker, but may also refer to an automatic milking system or fully automated robotic system. Data provided useful for making individual cow decisions (Gillespie et al., [2009]a).
On-farm computer to manage Dairy Records Provides not only convenient way for farmers to keep farm records, but also facilitates analysis of the records.
Accessing the internet for dairy Information May yield information on prices, input and output markets, and other useful data. Larger dairy farmers more prone to adopt technology and hold off-farm jobs have had greater internet experience (Grisham and Gillespie, [2008]).
Automatic take-offs for milking units Ensure cows are not under- or over-milked (resulting in increased mastitis incidence). Senses end of milk flow, shutting off milking unit vacuum and releasing it from the cow. Results in increased labor productivity and comfort.
Holding pen with an udder Washer Facilitates automatic washing of cow teats prior to cow entering the milking parlor.
Breeding and/or Biological Technologies
Artificial insemination Involves artificially introducing semen into cow after collection from bull and processing. Introduced in the 1940s. Realized quick diffusion as a means to introduce superior genetics and eliminate transfer of venereal diseases (Foote, [1996]), increase economic advantage (Barber, [1983]), and avoid the need for farmers to deal with bulls. Khanal and Gillespie ([2013]) found higher profitability and lower costs with artificial insemination.
Sexed semen Once collected from the bull, sperm separated into female X-bearing and male Y-bearing sperm cells prior to artificially inseminating. Advantage is ability to produce calves of desired sex (DeVries et al., [2008]), though lower conception rates have been of concern (Wiegel, [2004]).
Embryo transfer Involves flushing embryos from a donor cow and transferring them to a recipient cow that is usually less valuable.
Recombinant bovine somatotropin Released for commercial use in 1994 and expected to increase milk yield by about 10 lbs/day. Adoption and effect on farm profitability extensively studied (e.g., McBride et al., [2004]; Tauer, [2009]; Gillespie et al., [2010]), with most finding no significant impact of use on farm cost and/or profitability. Modest adoption, partly due to negative consumer reactions to its use.
Management Practices
Regular veterinary services Promotes improved herd health and feed efficiency, with the objective of increasing production efficiency.
Use of a nutritionist to design feed mixes or purchase feed Improves herd health and efficiency, with objective of increasing production efficiency. May help in curbing excretion of specific nutrients that are of environmental concern.
Keeping individual cow Production Records Provides information on performance of each animal, assisting farmer in breeding, culling, and other decisions to increase production efficiency.
Forward purchasing of inputs Involves contracting with an input supplier prior to purchase to ensure steady supply of inputs at a specified price, reducing risk.
Negotiating price discounts for dairy inputs Facilitates procurement of lower-cost inputs. Generally more useful for larger operations that can purchase inputs in bulk. 32% of U.S. farms used forward contracts in 1994, with cash crop farmers using them more extensively than dairy farmers (Mishra and Perry, [1999]).
Production systems
Milk cows three or more times per day Facilitates efficient parlor usage and increased cow productivity. Third milking increases milk production per cow 6% to 19% (Amos et al., [1985]; DePeters et al., [1985]). Additional yield similar across cows regardless of cow productivity (Erdman and Varner, [1995]). Reduced reproductive efficiency may result as cow spends more time being milked (Gisi et al., [1986]).
Use of a dairy parlor Compared to stanchion milking systems, use of a parlor generally reduces milking labor costs and is more cost-efficient for larger herds (Tauer [1998]). Various configurations include swing, herringbone, parallel, side opening, polygon, carousel, flat barn. Cows enter stalls for milking, usually on raised platforms, and are released after milking.
Pasture-based milk production Refers to extensive use of pasture for cow's forage needs. Provision of ≥50% of the cow's forage ration from pasture during the grazing months (Gillespie et al., [2009b]). Generally produces less milk per cow, but at lower cost per cow. Some consumers willing to pay premium prices for milk from pasture-based operations. No significant differences found in profitability between pasture-based and similar-scale conventional milk production (Gillespie et al., [2009b]).
USDA certified organic milk production Has increased over past decade in response to consumer demand. Requires use of organically-grown feed and no growth promotants or antibiotics. U.S. organic milk production costs shown to be $5 - $8/cwt higher than for conventional milk (McBride and Greene, [2009]). No significant differences in technical efficiency found between U.S. organic and non-organic dairy farms (Mayen et al., [2010]).
Controlling the breeding and/or calving season Refers to practice of synchronizing breeding, calving, lactation, and dry seasons in dairy herd. Most often used in pasture-based operations to exploit optimal pasture conditions throughout year, but also other advantages (Turner and Skele, [2007]).