Charles Hutchison, Bogren, Richard C. | 7/20/2007 12:40:23 AM
The LSU AgCenter’s dairy farm in Baton Rouge recently reached a milestone in Louisiana agriculture when it recorded the highest rolling herd average milk production ever in the state.
"This is the highest RHA (rolling herd average) for any herd in the state of Louisiana ever according to the records of Louisiana DHIA," said Dr. Charles Hutchison, LSU AgCenter dairy specialist, who manages the farm.
The LSU AgCenter’s rolling herd average reached 24,002 pounds of milk at the July measurement, Hutchison said. That’s nearly 2,800 gallons of milk per cow over a year’s time.
The rolling herd average is calculated as the average production per cow in the herd for the prior 12 months, the dairy specialist said. It’s "rolling," because as each month’s results are added to the average, the same month from the prior year is dropped.
"This gives us – and any producers who participate in DHIA – the opportunity to measure our performance compared to the same month last year," Hutchison said. "We can track changes over time and evaluate our management practices."
The Dairy Herd Improvement Association, DHIA, is a national dairy-producer cooperative that maintains a national dairy records program for participating dairy producers. Approximately 33 percent of the Louisiana dairy farms, which account for about 40 percent of the state’s dairy cows, are enrolled in the program, Hutchison said.
Hutchison said the LSU AgCenter’s 85-cow herd in Baton Rouge is maintained in what the dairy industry calls "confinement." The animals are not put on pasture, but they are in open lots with access to large barns with individual stalls.
"Some people call it a ‘cow motel,’" Hutchison said with a smile.
The confinement operation is dictated by the limited space available in Baton Rouge. Another LSU AgCenter dairy farm at the Southeast Research Station at Franklinton has more space, and cows are often put on pastures there.
"The confinement operation allows us to closely monitor nutrition and feed management," Hutchison said. "And the free-stall system allows us to group cows based on production and body condition."
Data and research results gained from operating the LSU AgCenter dairy farms provide Hutchison and other AgCenter experts with important information that is shared with Louisiana dairy producers to help them improve their productivity.
For more information on the variety of research and educational efforts conducted by the LSU AgCenter across Louisiana, visit www.lsuagcenter.com.