- Agronomic: corn, soybeans, grass (misc. perennial), hay
- Animal Products: dairy
- Animal Production: feed formulation, feed rations, feed/forage
- Education and Training: participatory research, workshop
- Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, budgets/cost and returns
- Production Systems: integrated crop and livestock systems
Cornell University Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Yates County will partner with Cornell University’s North West New York Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops Team (NWNY Team) to work with owners of small dairy operations on adopting Precision Feed Management (PFM), an approach for using farm resources more wisely. This group will be referred to as the PFM Work Group. Yates County is unique due to its vast water resources (three large Finger Lakes) and rapidly expanding agricultural community (20% increase in farms and 10% increase in acreage according to the USDA 2007 Ag Census). By providing new approaches to dairy feeding to a relatively small number of dairy farmers in this region, the water quality of over 200,000 people will be better protected and improved. Where adopted, PFM has resulted in better herd health, increased milk yield, reduced input costs, and ultimately improved environmental stewardship. Due to their small scale (under 200 cows), 258 of the 262 Yates County dairy farms do not fall under federal and state Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) regulations that mitigate and monitor environmental impact. Runoff of manure containing nitrogen and phosphorus into surface water and leaching of nitrogen into groundwater are documented concerns in the watershed. This project will draw from the PFM program in the New York City Watershed. Farm operators there learned the many benefits of feeding cows more accurately to save money, increase milk production, and ultimately reduce nutrient export into the environment. Both nutritionists and nutrient management specialists will contribute time towards the promotion and implementation of this project. Replication of these efforts within regional watersheds is expected. Initial contact will be made via informational flyers sent to all 258 small farm owners. A spectrum of dairy influencers will be invited to a workshop outlining the project. Two subsequent workshop meetings will inform interested producers about PFM. Participating farms will be involved with forage management field days, pasture management tours and nutrient management workshops. Throughout the project, individual farm visits by members of the PFM Work Group will facilitate PFM plan implementation and data collection. Emphasis will be placed on tracking feed nitrogen and phosphorus inputs, feed costs, milk production, overall cow health, forage quality improvements, forage intake and manure management. A spreadsheet using seven easily obtained benchmarks will be used to quantify pre-evaluation, interim progress and final assessments of each farm’s income over feed costs, efficiencies of nitrogen and phosphorus utilization and herd productivity. Twenty dairy farmers in Yates County, NY will successfully adopt precision feed management practices impacting feeding practices on 1,200 mature dairy cattle and increasing milk income over all grain cost, a measure of profitability, by 5 percent, while contributing approximately 443,250 pounds less nitrogen and 42,750 pounds less phosphorus annually to the environment.
Performance targets from proposal:
Twenty dairy farmers in Yates County, NY will successfully adopt precision feed management practices impacting feeding practices on 1,200 mature dairy cattle and increasing milk income over all grain cost, a measure of profitability, by 5 percent or $7,600, while contributing approximately 443,250 pounds less nitrogen and 42,750 pounds less phosphorus to the environment (per CNCPS Model estimates).