Improving the Welfare of Southeastern Dairy Families Through the Adoption of Sustainable Production Systems

2014 Annual Report for LS11-243

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2011: $294,409.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Grant Recipient: University of Georgia
Region: Southern
State: Georgia
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Dennis Hancock
Univ. of Georgia

Improving the Welfare of Southeastern Dairy Families Through the Adoption of Sustainable Production Systems


There were seven trainings conducted in Florida and Georgia to train producers how to properly use the newly developed dairy enterprise budgets and decisions aids in order to make better informed decisions for their operations.

Objectives/Performance Targets

The objective of the budgets and producer trainings was to improve financial stability for Southeastern dairy operations.


Dates and locations of the workshops are as follows:


January 26: Oglethorpe, GA


January 27: Eatonton, GA


January 28: Live Oak, FL


January 29: Quitman, GA


January 30: Marianna, FL


February 3: Waynesboro, GA


February 12: Okeechobee, FL




The seven trainings attracted 40 participants including producers, extension agents, nutritionists, farm credit lenders and consultants. More than 70 percent of participants were producers that represented operations in 13 different counties throughout Georgia and Florida. Figure 1 shows the location of each of the trainings. Nearly half of the operations are small and less than 500 head with an additional 30 percent of operations having less than 1200 head; three operations in attendance had more than 2500 head. Sixty percent of operations classified themselves as a hybrid operation and nearly 30 percent considered themselves a conventional operation. Three operations were strictly grazing style. Figure 2 summarizes the herd size based on the type of operation.


All participant operations in west Georgia had less than 500 head in a hybrid model and one operation was strictly grazing. Operations in north Florida followed suit with participant operations being small and hybrid style. Operations in south and west Georgia had the largest variety in terms of herd size and style of operation. South Georgia operations were either of medium size (500-1200) or large with over 2500 head. Medium sized operations represented 71% of the operations present and were all hybrids. With the large herd operations, one was strictly conventional while the other was classified as grazing. Half of the operations in west Georgia were small and conventional. The largest (more than 2500 head) was also conventional while the medium size operation was a hybrid. In middle Georgia, the larger operations (more than 500 head) were all conventional while the smaller operations had both a grazing and a hybrid operation. Operations in the Florida panhandle were all classified as hybrid. Two-thirds of the operations had less than 500 head while the remaining operation had between 1200 and 2500 head. The operation in south Florida was a conventional dairy with medium sized herd (500-1200 head). Figures 3 and 4 summarize herd size and type of operation based on location.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

When asked if producers were considering changing or modifying their operation (feeding regime, herd size, type, etc.) a little over half of producers said yes. Producers indicated the top three reasons for changing or modifying their operation are potential profits, change in herd size and the cost of feed. All but one participant indicated their desire to use the budgets and decision aids to make future decisions on their operation. Producers mentioned using the budgets as a way to determine herd size, analyze raised versus purchased costs for feeds, and evaluate total costs. Farm credit lenders found the budgets to be helpful in determining whether or not to lend, evaluating cash flows and provided a useful tool for their customers. Producers, lenders and extension agents found the “what if” scenarios the most beneficial and indicated being able to change certain variables and analyze the outcome as one of the best features of the budget. Overall, all the participants found the trainings useful and the budget easy to understand. The majority of participants said this training greatly improved their interest in the topic and increased their knowledge of using spreadsheets and calculations to improve their operation’s efficiency.


Keith Kightlinger

[email protected]
Farm Business Mgmt. Spec
Department of Agricultural & Applied Economics
2360 Rainwater Road
Tifton, GA 31793
Office Phone: 2293863512
Dr. Albert DeVries

[email protected]
University of FLorida
Department of Animal Sciences
PO Box 110910
Gainesville, FL 32611
Office Phone: 3523925594
Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim

[email protected]
Fort Valley State University
1005 State University Drive
Fort Valley, GA 31030
Office Phone: 4788256262
Audrey Luke-Morgan

[email protected]
Agrbusiness Mgmt. Spec.
Center for Agribusiness & Economic Development
2360 Rainwater Road
Tifton, GA 31793
Office Phone: 2293863512
Jeremy Kichler

[email protected]
County Extension Agent
Macon County Extension
P.O. Box 486
Oglethorpe, GA 31068
Office Phone: 4784727588
Dr. Mary Sowerby

[email protected]
University of Florida
1302 11th Street SW
Live Oak, FL 32064
Office Phone: 3863622771