OSU research supports Oregon’s $1 billion dairy industry

Dairy cows walk in a pasture
OSU research helps keep dairy cows healthy while optimizing income and the quality of the milk. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)
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OSU studies health of organic and conventional dairy cows

There's not much data about how management practices influence the health of cows at organic and conventional dairy farms.

To put some real numbers on that, OSU helped conduct a study on the subject. OSU researchers visited 50 organic and conventional farms in Oregon as part of a tri-state study that included 250 other farms in New York and Wisconsin. They collected milk samples, counted bacteria, and screened for common infectious diseases including mastitis, a costly infection of the mammary gland. They found connections between certain management practices, incidences of diseases and the amount of milk produced. They now plan to use this data to develop recommendations for keeping dairy cows healthy while optimizing income and the quality of the milk.

Milk is Oregon’s official state beverage and its fourth-largest agricultural commodity, with dairy farmers grossing $528 million in sales in 2013. The state's dairy industry contributes more than $1 billion to Oregon's economy each year thanks to its approximately 350 dairy farms and 123,000 dairy cows.

Sources: Dairy Farmers of Oregon; USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service; Oregon Dairy Products Commission; OSU professor emeritus Mike Gamroth.

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