DIMMITT, TX (KFDA) - As Texas milk production continues to rise, more and more dairy producers are packing up and heading west to the Panhandle.
State dairy specialist with the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service, Dr. Ellen Jordan, says the climate in the Panhandle is good for taking care of the needs of cattle.
"This is a very good environment for cattle," said Dr. Jordan. "They like it when the temperatures are between 40 and 70 degrees, and that's kind of the temperatures you have here in the night times or the day times all year round, so that's one reason.
You have less rainfall and cows like to be dry, so it's a good environment for our cows. And then of course you have a lot of height quality feed here as well for those cows to eat. So we're taking care of two of their needs."
Dairy producers need an agriculture-friendly environment, which Dr. Jordan says is exactly what is offered here.
"The third reason is our producers," said Dr. Jordan. "They're finding that this is a very Ag-friendly environment and that they have been welcomed as they move this direction."
A recent Texas A&M Agrilife report says milk production in this region continues to boom from less than one percent in the 80's to more than 68 percent in 2017. The report also goes on to predict Texas becoming a top-five milk producing state in the nation this year.
"Well I expect we will continue to see some increase in milk production here in the Panhandle," said Dr. Jordan. "It's not going to continue at the nine percent it was last year.
That was kind of a recovery from winter storm Goliath, as well as last years increase, but I do expect we'll see probably a three-percent increase in milk production."
Dairy is currently producing eight billion pounds of milk in the Panhandle, which is roughly $1.5 billion of impact on the local economy from the sale of that milk.
However, dairy producers are having to overcome certain challenges as they continue to increase their productions.
"They continue to strive to find ways to produce their forage with less water to conserve water every way that they can," said Dr. Jordan. "Cow's drinking water is really a minor part of that water discussion. When we look at all livestock, they consume less than two percent of the water out of the Ogallala.
But, it's our feeds that were grown here before and continue to be grown that consume water, and so we need to be more efficient in that respect."
Next month, local dairy producers will be able to learn more on the latest techniques as well as management and labor topics at the High Plains Dairy Conference.
The conference will focus on the needs of Panhandle producers.