The effort will include:

• Identifying economic, social and psychological factors affecting regional farmers’ limited adoption of practices known to control mastitis. The researchers plan to develop strategies to counter the rationale for non-adoption.

• Conducting applied research and on-farm demonstrations focusing on strategies for controlling mastitis and enhancing milk quality. This will involve working directly with producers to assess on-farm practices. Stakeholders will also include veterinary practitioners, university students, extension personnel and other industry representatives serving the dairy community.

• Training dairy producers and milkers to utilize current and newly developed tools to make on-farm decisions that improve milk quality and therefore production. Methods are expected to include printed publications, face-to-face meetings and electronic teaching tools (including DAIReXNET webinars) in both English and Spanish. 

• Developing continuing education programs for those serving the dairy industry now and providing undergraduate and graduate student education for long-term solutions for the region. For example, directed internships will provide real-world experiences for students and result in a more knowledgeable work force to promote the sustainability of the region’s dairy industry.

The effort should buoy hope for the battered Southeastern dairy industry by motivating producers to change management practices and improve animal health and well-being. “Implementation of cost effective, science-based mastitis prevention and control strategies can help producers improve quality milk, increase production and therefore improve industry profitability and sustainability,” said Oliver.

A scientist in each participating state will head up that state’s research and outreach efforts, and the entire effort is expected to to be funded for five years. Success will be measured by increased production and higher milk quality from participating states.

This award is supported by USDA-NIFA AFRI grant award # 2013-68004-20424.

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