Overall, our impression of the elite herds in our Wisconsin dairy industry is that the cows and their owners are doing great. In many of these herds, we are seeing production for the herd exceed 95 pounds per cow per day, while health and well-being are being preserved. These cows generally don’t have access to pasture, and some people will maintain that this is the preferred way to manage cows. However, if we are serious about feeding the world’s growing population, we will need to house dairy cattle in operations such as the ones we visited. Our data suggest that this can be done successfully, with the well-being of the cow preserved.
Nigel Cook manages the Dairyland Initiative Program at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine and is the incoming President of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners.