Trends in the Northeast dairy industry: large-scale modern confinement feeding and management-intensive grazing

J Dairy Sci. 2010 Apr;93(4):1759-69. doi: 10.3168/jds.2008-1831.


This paper provides a summary of results from a recent survey of 987 dairy farmers in 4 northeastern US states. The survey results provide descriptive characteristics of the current state of dairy farming in the region, as well as farmer satisfaction levels, concerns, and plans for the future of their farming operations. The paper analyses characteristics of two increasingly important dairy production systems used in the Northeast. Averages from across the survey states (Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, and Vermont) show that approximately 13% of dairy producers use management-intensive or rotational grazing and 7% use large, modern confinement systems with more than 300 cows. These more specialized production systems show many significant differences in farm and farmer characteristics, satisfaction levels, and plans for the future compared with farms using more traditional production systems. The changing structure of the dairy industry has potentially important implications for environmental quality, rural communities, and the food system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed*
  • Animal Husbandry / methods
  • Animal Husbandry / trends*
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Animals
  • Cattle / physiology*
  • Dairying / methods
  • Dairying / trends*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactation / physiology*
  • Milk / metabolism
  • New England
  • Population Density