Animal Agriculture: Impacting Animal Health and Wellbeing


December 22, 2016

The Issue

As stewards of agriculture, livestock producers are continuously focused on improving production and minimizing risks. Animal health is one area producers are always striving to improve. Additionally, producers are demonstrating how they care for their animals by providing opportunities to the food industry and consumers to experience agriculture first-hand.

MSU Extension Action

MSU Extension programs focus on educating and helping farmers to raise healthy, productive animals that also result in profitable farms and satisfied employees and consumers. Topic areas include: animal health and wellbeing, quality assurance, growth and development, current and emerging diseases, feed management, genetics and reproductive management, meat and milk quality and safety, productivity, marketing, energy efficiency and renewable energy, progressive training for employers and employees, and consumer awareness. 

The Impact

In 2015, these programs reached more than 29,000 adults and youth across the state.

  • Agricultural community participants reported the following impacts:

    • Sixty percent of producers attending the Focus on Dairy Production program planned to make up to three changes on their farm with a total value of over $365,000.

    • Fifty percent of producers attending Calf Care Schools planned to improve practices to ensure newborn calves have strong immune systems.

    • Over 1,300 people were certified in the Pork Quality Assurance Plus program.

    • Annual economic impact of the Michigan Cattlemen’s Association/MSU Extension’s Bull Evaluation Program is estimated to be more than $1.9 million.

    • MSU Extension Breeding Soundness exams saved producers over $120,000.

    • MSU Extension Grass Fed Beef Cooperators went from producing zero finished beef in 2012 to over 300 head in 2016. The grass finished beef produced as a result of this program is valued over $500,000.

    • Lamb and goat producers reported a 13 percent reduction in parasite chemical treatments without compromises in growth performance.

    • Lamb and goat producers reported a 19-27 percent increase in annual birth percentage.

    • One hundred percent of animal control and law enforcement officers attending the Livestock Handling and Management program indicated the program was beneficial and they would use the information gained in their work.

    • Eighty-one percent of responding producers attending a direct marketing meat program indicated they planned to make changes in pricing product and communicating information to their customers.

    • MSU Extension worked with 4-H, fair officials, poultry processors and Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) to find alternatives to traditional market poultry projects in light of the 2015 Avian Influenza epidemic.

    • Energy audits showed producers how to reduce energy consumption by 37 percent. Renewable energy assessments showed an average annual expected income/savings of $104,567 with a 9.17-year payback period.

  • Five Breakfast on the Farm (BOTF) events held in 2015 attracted 12,068 participants and 1,413 volunteers. Based on consumer exit surveys:

    • Trust levels in how farmers care for food producing animals increased from 78 percent before the event to 96 percent after.

    • Trust levels in farmers providing good housing for dairy animals increased from 74 percent before the event to 96 percent after.

    • Seventeen percent of individuals indicated they have increased the amount of dairy products they purchase each week. This increase equates to a jump in retail sales of $341,545 of milk, cheese and yogurt annually.


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