It’s a dilemma for dairy farmers. While dairy cattle’s capacity to produce milk continues to increase, their ability to reproduce is on the decline.

Unraveling this reproduction puzzle is the focus of a new research program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Dairy Science. A team of researchers there has landed a new $1 million grant from USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative to sort through all of the factors that influence reproduction such as nutrition, genetics, health, housing and management. The team will employ new statistical processes and computing power to tie together these factors, says Victor Cabrera, University of Wisconsin dairy management specialist and the team leader.

The goal is to give dairy producers the knowledge to adjust management of all the appropriate areas to increase reproductive performance, rather than fixating on a single factor as is often done now, Cabrera notes.

Wisconsin producers will be seeing activity on the project soon. The researchers will begin to identify 200 dairies to participate in the research as early as January 2010. Once those dairies are chosen, management teams will be formed to gather real-world data, and will begin helping participating producers manage reproduction right away.

Source: University of Wisconsin