March 3, 2008
Contact: Cornell Cooperative Extension: Lewis County: Frans Vokey, 315-376-5270
Jefferson: Ron Kuck, 315-788-8450; St. Lawrence: Brent Buchanan: 315-379-9192

How-to Modernize the Family Dairy Farm: Wisconsin Agricultural Engineer David Kammel March 25 in Canton, March 26 in Carthage

Northern New York � With the opportunity for improved worker comfort and safety, less reliance on hired labor, or the opportunity to position your farm for growth, changing the way your dairy farm operates can be an exciting prospect. The first step is the hardest and that is why, March 25 and 26, agricultural engineer David Kammel of the University of Wisconsin and dairyman Tom Gillette of Turin, NY, will be encouraging farmers in Northern New York to create and work a good plan for modernizing their dairies and for remodeling stall barns into milking parlors.

Kammel and Gillette are sharing their stories as part of Successful Dairy Modernization programs March 25th at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Learning Farm in Canton and March 26th at the Carthage Elks Club. Kammel co-chairs the dairy modernization work group of the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Dairy Team. Gillette successfully converted his dairy farm from a 60-cow tiestall set-up to a 150-cow modern-style operation.

As an agricultural engineer, David Kammel has documented case farms that have successfully designed and retrofitted milking parlors and dairy barns. Kammel has worked with farmers across Wisconsin, and will share designs and talk about low-cost conversions of tiestall operations into new remodeled parlors and dairy housing.

Dairyman Tom Gillette heard Kammel speak in 2003 and his farm conversion is now a local example that proves Kammel�s point. Gillette and son J.C. transitioned their farm with a 63-stall tiestall barn into a modern freestall facility. The old barn was retrofitted into a modern milking parlor facility for $65,000.

Kammel says, �Much of my work has been done with family dairy farms with 60 to 80 cows. For farmers who might struggle with change the key is stepwise, planned growth. You can adopt more labor-efficient technology for your farm with good planning and creative design.�

Program co-organizer Frans Vokey of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Lewis County says, �Converting to a freestall system can allow for growth without hiring extra help and reduce physical labor. Whatever the motivation, the first step tends to be the hardest as you consider making major changes to every working system on the farm. This workshop will help farmers break the transition into feasible options and manageable steps.�

Co-organizer Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County Dairy Educator Ron Kuck says, �David Kammel will share the real-farm success stories he has worked with that closely resemble farm operations similar to those here in Northern New York.�

How do farmers pay for the changes they need to transition from tiestall to freestall farming? Gillette will be talking about some of the cost saving measures that he figures saved at least $120,000 with the conversion.

Farm Management Specialist Jason Karszes with the Cornell University PRO-Dairy Program will talk about the financial planning aspects of dairy modernization at the March meetings.

He says, �Whether you are interested in building new or converting old structures, there are key questions you need to ask. David Kammel work has given us guidelines for evaluating whether the investment you need to make in the changes will bring you a profitable return,� Karszes says.

The conversion process allows for some creative design work. Dairy Housing and Waste Management Engineer Curt Gooch with the Cornell University PRO-Dairy Program will share strategies for housing, feeding and manure management.

The workshop discussion will also cover how to develop a farmstead master plan for changes.

Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Cornell PRO-Dairy Program, the NY Center for Dairy Excellence, Dairylea Cooperative, the Northeast Area Council of Dairy Farmers of America Dairy Marketing Services, and the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program are sponsoring the March 25-26 workshops.

Contact Cornell Cooperative Extension in Jefferson (315-788-8450), Lewis (315-376-5270) or St. Lawrence County (315-379-9192) to register by March 18.