Compare Your Dairy to USDA’s 2007 NAHMS Survey Findings

September 1, 2009 07:00 PM

Wonder how your operation compares with other U.S. dairies?


USDA recently released findings from its 2007 survey on the health and management of U.S. dairy cattle. Conducted by the National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS), the report provides an in-depth look at changes in the U.S. dairy industry from 1996-2007. It summarizes findings from 2,194 herds in 17 states.


J.W. Schroeder, Dairy Specialist for the North Dakota State University Extension Service, recently highlighted some of the survey findings in his "Dare to Compare” article. Read it at:


Among the highlights USDA/NAHMS emphasizes in the fifth report of its Dairy 2007 study:


Dramatic employee growth - The percentage of operations that had employees increased from 47.2% in 2002 to 75.7% in 2007. This increase was primarily driven by the percentage of small operations (fewer than 100 cows) with employees, which doubled from 32.2 percent in 2002 to 65.6 percent in 2007.


More Johne's control - Participation in a Johne's disease control or certification programs and testing for Johne's has increased since 1996. Approximately one-third of operations participated in a program and /or testing in 2007.


Concrete flooring declines - As facilities change with the ever-increasing size of dairy operations, the use of concrete as the predominant flooring type has decreased from 85.8% of operations in 1996 to 51.1% in 2007. In 2007, pasture was the predominant flooring for lactating cows on 10.1% of operations and for 5.1% of cows. Dirt was the predominant flooring on 5.4% of operations and 20.0 percent of cows in 2007, which likely reflects the use of drylots on large operations.


More gloves in the milk barn - The percentage of operations in which milkers wore gloves to milk all cows increased from 32.9 percent in 2002 to 55.2 percent in 2007. The percentage of cows on operations in which milkers wore gloves increased from 48.7 percent in 2002 to 76.8 percent in 2007.


Lameness problems persist - Lameness in bred heifers and cows continues to be a challenge for dairy producers. The percentage of operations with cases of lameness in bred heifers increased from 36.5% in 2002 to 58.7% in 2007. The percentage of operations that had 50.0% or more cows affected with lameness increased from 5.0% in 1996 to 12.0% in 2007. With this increase in lameness, a higher percentage of operations used footbaths and routine hoof trimming in 2007 than in 1996.


You can find the NAHMS report at: /files/Dairy2007_PartV_rev.pdf,


Catherine Merlo is Western editor for Dairy Today. You can reach her at

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