Extension’s dairy survey results are in

Hello, Tribune Chronicle readers. Zing, the month of July is done.

Today, I would like to give an update on a dairy survey we conducted this past spring, letting farmers know how they can subscribe to our new electronic email list, and inform you on a search for an new agriculture extension educator for Trumbull County.

This past spring, The Ohio State University Extension was part of a team which developed and mailed a survey to dairy farm operations in Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Portage and Trumbull counties. The goal of the survey was to learn more about the concerns and attitudes of dairy farmers in the five-county region.

Forty-three percent of the 189 dairy farms surveyed replied to questions about their plans, prospects and challenges.

Some of the notable survey results included data that showed that more than 78 percent of the local dairy farms plan to continue to operate during the next five years in spite of the many challenges facing dairy operations. Almost 35 percent plan on increasing their herd size during the next five years, adding an additional 818 cows in the region.

The survey coalition was interested in learning more about what was limiting local dairy farms from expanding besides milk prices and input costs such as feed and fuel. The top three reasons cited were land available to grow crops, 60.8 percent; inadequate labor or unavailable labor, 31.4 percent; and access to financing, 29.4 percent.

Participants were asked about the facility improvements they plan on investing in over the next five years, with the top three responses being adding housing for heifers, 55 percent; increasing cow comfort, 51.7 percent; and improving their manure handling systems, 35 percent.

The top three management areas which improvement will be sought by managers over the next five years are feed management, 57.9 percent; genetic improvement, 50.9 percent; and milking herd health management, 45.6 percent.

Each farm was also asked to respond to general issues affecting their farm. Respondents were asked to rank the importance of related topics to dairy farms and then provide qualitative feedback on their greatest success in dairy farming, their greatest concern for the future of dairy farming in northeast Ohio, and to provide advice on how to maintain or increase regional milk production.

These responses can be found in the survey summary, which can be found at go.osu.edu/ NEOHdairysurvey

I would like to thank all the local dairy farms who took time to answer our questions and give their comments on the problems facing dairy farming. The results will be of great help to OSU Extension as we plan educational programs for our dairy farmers.

I am currently working to revamp our electronic and snail mail lists. Through OSU, I have been able to start an electronic email list serve for Trumbull County farmers. I will be using this list to send out weekly agricultural updates. These updates will highlight information about local extension programs, highlight what is happening with diseases, insects and weather, and will provide updates from our state specialists.

If you would like to receive this weekly e-newsletter, you can subscribe by sending me a quick email at marrison.2@osu.edu. This is a great way to get information out quickly to farmers in the county. This is especially important when disease and insect pressures are rising and immediate reaction is needed.

I have been covering the agricultural extension duties on a limited basis during the past three years. I am excited to announce the Trumbull County Extension office is looking to hire a part-time OSU Extension Educator for Agriculture for Trumbull County.

A master’s degree is required for this position and the successful applicant should have an educational background in agriculture. More details about this position can be obtained by calling 330-638-6783.

Marrison is associate professor and extension educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Ohio State University Extension. He can be reached at 440-576-9008 or marrison.2@osu.edu