Producers also might consider leaving the dairy business altogether.
"Under extreme situations, selling the herd may ultimately be the best option to avoid substantial loss of equity in the farm," Schutz said. "However, this decision needs to be made with the help of consultants, along with a thorough evaluation of the entire situation, to ensure that all options have been explored and discussed."
Nennich and Schutz have written a series of papers on issues related to drought and dairy production. "Drought Strategies for Dairy Cattle," "Feeding Dairy Cattle During Drought Conditions," "Determining a Value for Corn Silage" and an accompanying corn silage value calculator, "Culling Dairy Cows: An Opportunity for Improvement When Feed Supplies Are Tight" and "Should I Quit Dairying Because of the Drought?" are on the Animal Sciences Drought Information page at https://ag.purdue.edu/ansc/Pages/Drought.aspx . Additional information about the drought is available at the Purdue Extension drought website at http://www.purdue.edu/drought
Indiana was home to about 1,550 dairy farms in 2011, employing nearly 8,800 people. Those dairies produced 3.54 billion pounds of milk - or 426 million gallons - worth more than $711 million in direct sales. Counting sales of culled cows and heifers, the state's dairy industry generated $1.45 billion in economic value.