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Tennessee producers' perceptions of dairy farm facilities and their future in the industry.

A. Sen




Tennessee producers' perceptions of dairy farm facilities and their future in the industry.
A. Sen*, S. Schexnayder, D. Bilderback, E. Eckelkamp. University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture Knoxville, TN.

Farm facilities impact cow comfort, production, farm profitability, and success. Our objective was to identify barriers to dairy producers' permanency in Tennessee (TN). Our sub-objective was to assess producers' perceptions of existing farm facilities' longevity, facility investments in the last 5 yr, and planned facility improvements over the next 5 yr. A survey was distributed electronically and by mail in August 2019. Data were collected on producers' decision to stay or exit the dairy industry in the next 5 yr and their perceived longevity, past investments, and investment plan or automation in parlor equipment (PE), milk cow housing (MCH), dry cow housing (DCH), calf housing (CH), young stock housing (YSH), manure handling and storage (MHS), and feed handling and storage (FHS). Ninety surveys were returned and used in the analyses representing 48% of TN dairy producers. The FREQ procedure in SAS 9.4 was used to calculate the frequencies. Univariable logistic regression was done to identify barriers to producers' permanency. Significance level was set at P < 0.10. Mean � SD herd size was 250 � 356 (dry + lactating; range: 14 to 2300). For all facilities, mean � SD perceived longevity was ≤5 yr (30 � 4% of respondents), 6 to 10 yr (32 � 3% of respondents), 11 to 15 yr (18 � 2% of respondents), and >15 yr (20 � 5% of respondents). Over the last 5 yr, producers invested in PE (n = 56), MCH (n = 33), CH (n = 24), YSH (n = 14), MHS (n = 32), and FHS (n = 48) with 15 producers not investing in any improvements. Over the next 5 yr, the top 3 facility improvements were PE (n = 25), MHS (n = 20), and FHS (n = 18), with 20 respondents planning no improvements. Very few producers (12%; n = 10) planned to have automation in any facilities. Producers' who did not invest in MCH (P = 0.01), CH (P = 0.03), and MHS (P = 0.09) in the last 5 yr were more likely to exit the dairy industry. Although 62% of producers perceived facility longevity was <10 yr, ≤ 29% of respondents planned any facility improvements over the next 5 yr. Improved animal housing and manure management might increase dairy producers' permanency in TN.

Keywords: farm facilities, improvement, investment.