March 7, 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

Cost-Effectively Modernize the Family Dairy Farm � Yes, You Can; Learn How March 25 in Canton, March 26 in Carthage

Northern NY - For the Gillette family, the modernizing retrofit of their Kler-Vu Dairy in Turin, NY, meant room to grow into a business that holds a future in agriculture for son J.C. On March 25 and 26, Tom Gillette will share his how-to story at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Learning Farm in Canton and March 26th at the Carthage Elks Club.
David Kammel, the agricultural engineer, who inspired the change will join him.

J.C. Gillette, who returned to his family�s farm after working six years in agri-business, says, �For me to be able to return to the farm, it needed to cost-effectively grow into a modern facility.�

In 2003, J.C.�s father Tom Gillette attended a local dairy meeting and heard agricultural engineer David Kammel of the University of Wisconsin talk about cost-effective ways to convert to a freestall (open housing) dairy system. Planning was the key, Kammel said.

�Planning is just what we did. We spent three years putting together a plan, then we used that step-by-step plan to convert from a 63-stall set-up to a freestall large enough for 180 cows,� Tom says.

Tom will share the details of the conversion that included building a six-row freestall barn and converting a 40x40-foot addition on the old tiestall barn into a double-8 milking parlor. He figures using the existing structure saved approximately $60,000.

�There is no better way to know something really works than to hear from one of your fellow dairy producers how he or she accomplished just what you are interested in doing,� says workshop co-organizer Frans Vokey, dairy educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Lewis County.

�At these meetings, not only will producers hear from one of their own who has successfully modernized his dairy, but they will also hear from the agricultural engineer, David Kammel, who inspired the Gillette family to make the conversion,� adds Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County Dairy Educator Ron Kuck.

�These workshops also address the big question that will be on everyone�s mind � how am I supposed to pay for this conversion. Farm Management Specialist Jason Karszes of the Cornell University PRO-Dairy Program will talk about the financial planning aspects of dairy modernization at the March meetings,� says Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County Agriculture Issue Leader Brent Buchanan.

�Whether you are interested in building new or converting old structures, there are key questions you need to ask. David Kammel�s 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. Cornell University Agricultural Engineer Curt Gooch will share strategies for housing, feeding and manure management.

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 Successful Dairy Modernization: Plan, Implement and Reap the Benefits 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.