USDA Releases Fourth Report from its Dairy Study

The USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) has released Nutrient Management Practices on U.S. Dairy Operations, 2014, the fourth report from its Dairy 2014 study.

Dairy 2014 is NAHMS fifth study of the U.S. dairy industry. The study was conducted in 17 of the nation’s major dairy states. Data presented in the study represent 80.5 percent of U.S. dairy operations and 81.3 percent of U.S. dairy cows.


Here are a few highlights from the NAHMS Nutrient Management Practices on U.S. Dairy Operations, 2014 report:

* Of the 50.8 percent of operations with a written nutrient management plan, 80.0 percent developed the plan in conjunction with USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service or with a local conservation district. Almost half of all operations (43.7 percent) contacted an agronomist/crop consultant regarding nutrient management.


* Overall, 58.0 percent of operations allowed weaned heifers on pasture, and 74.1 percent allowed pregnant heifers on pasture.

* Overall, 90 percent of operations applied manure to land either owned or rented.

* For operations that housed weaned heifers, 34.3 percent used primarily bedded packs to handle manure in weaned-heifer housing areas.

* On average, all operations could store manure for 161.2 days before having to remove it.

* The majority of operations (87.2 percent) applied manure/slurry using a broadcast/solid spreader. Overall, 21.3 percent of operations always or almost always incorporated manure into the soil within 24 hours of application. On average, manure was applied 3,688 feet (0.7 miles) from any surface water.

Nutrient Management Practices on U.S. Dairy Operations, 2014 is available on the NAHMS Web site: