ISU Dairy Specialist Improves Quality of Life Concerns

Name and Position/Title:
Larry Tranel, Extension Dairy Field Specialist

Fiscal Year Submitted:

POW Title and Number:
110  Dairy

ISU Dairy Specialist Improves Quality of Life Concerns

Problem Statement:
2009 was a difficult year for the dairy industry. Low milk prices and high feed prices combined to give losses on many farms between $500 - $1,000 per cow for the year causing both negative cash flows and losses of equity position.  Because of the serious profit issues, dairy producers needed to fine-tune, not just their financial management, but their herd management, facility management and their personnel management as well.

Programmatic Response: 
The ISU Dairy Team conducted meetings around the state on the Dairy Financial Crisis and at their Dairy Days event.  As a follow-up to these meetings, this dairy field specialist highly encouraged farm visits to continue providing education that helps producers survive the current financial crisis.  A survey was sent to 55 producers in May, 2010; 36 responded. Below are the numbers of producers who were assisted with each topic area:

Dairy Herd Management:                 Dairy Financial Management:                      Dairy Facility Management:         
_6__Milk Quality/SCC                        _18_Calculating Milk Production Costs          _19_Milking Parlors/Equipment
_10_Nutrition/Feed Quality                _17_Financial Benchmarking                         _16_Dairy Housing/Cow Comfort
_9_Herd Health/Reproduction           _8_Dairy/Heifer Budgeting                            _17_Labor Efficiency/Ergonomics
_5_Heifer Management                     _19_Managing Dairy Farm Finances             _2_Manure/Environment/Energy
_13_ Rotational Grazing                    _25_Dairy TRANS Financial Analysis              _7_Ventilation/Cow Comfort

Personnel Management:      _9_Farm Family Relationships           _8_Employee Training            _4_Hispanic Labor
Other Areas not listed:  _Share Milking_____________________________________________________

Outcome Statement:  
The dairy producers were asked to comment on impact regarding profit and quality of life for themselves, their family or employees, along with strengths and weaknesses of this dairy field specialist’s performance.  Through anecdotal comments from the respondents, quality of life impacts show the value of Extension professionals and the educational support they are able to provide.

*Larry is a good down to earth person that tells you what actually works...a nice person to talk with…respectful. *Larry’s impact on my farm has been great…put in a low cost parlor and now I milk more cows with less labor...children enjoy milking and I can let them milk if needed or get done earlier to get to their sports events….very lucky to have Larry as our extension agent…he’s always been able to answer my questions.

*Dr. Tranel helped on income tax returns and advised an amended return which helped… *I started out with Larry by taking his seminars for beginning and transitioning dairy farmers…were absolutely outstanding…particularly surprised by how many active farmers came in and talked about real issues…probably the most useful class I ever took.  Dr. Tranel helped me design a milking parlor and convert to rotational grazing…helped me avoid many mistakes on my parlor and grazing system…had complications with my bank later, Dr. Tranel helped me to successfully make my case to the bank.  When my milk company Organic Valley began a quota that would have severely damaged me, Larry helped me write an appeal letter I received a bigger base of 1,750,000 lbs--that’s 450,000 lbs. more at $25 cwt = $112,500 annual increase… don’t think I could have made it through everything without Larry.

*Dr. Tranel has a keen interest in seeing dairy farmers be competitive and financially viable, especially the more environmentally friendly grazing dairy farms. *Dr. Tranel has helped us in many ways-- efficiency on the dairy and also is a great source of information…when I have a question I will call him and if he doesn’t have a answer he will call me with the one who does...great source of information…. he is a great asset to our dairy operation. *Gave well rounded advice, different points of view were great, looking out for our bottom line was appreciated, will have him back again as our operation starts to expand.

*Larry is a good asset to ISU Extension. *Larry has always been very good at being able to help me understand the financial impact of changes/improvements in the way we operate and manage our farm.  His deep understanding of $$ is complemented by his practical know-how. *I have nothing but praise for Larry Tranel.  He has a wealth of knowledge.  He has always promptly tried to be of assistance.  I can’t imagine anyone doing better or more. *We are a start up goat micro dairy making fresh cheese to select Farmer’s Markets.  Early in our planning Larry Tranel met with us.  We had a valuable conversation talking about many things.  Some things he brought up we hadn’t thought of.  Other things he encouraged us to pursue…very grateful that he met with us…appreciate the articles that he has online.  That was also valuable. *My business has totally changed since putting in the swing parlor designed with help by Larry.  I now manage twice the cows in the same amount or possibly less time.  I now focus more on financial management of my business (which Larry helps me to understand).  Quality of my life and family life has improved tremendously, I can now start to fore see my future in dairy.  It’s financially difficult at times, but I believe he has helped me get to the point where I cannot only survive but thrive in my career.  Doubled cows in herd without hiring regular labor, if only he could do this again. 

* Huge asset.  Great to see such knowledge.  Awesome willingness to teach.  Worth the tax dollars! * He made us really stop and think about our expenses.  Also helped us see how to get production up. *Dr. Tranel was very instrumental in helping me start up my dairy farm.  He provided me with all the information I asked regarding location and design of parlor and housing.  He put together a grazing program.  When I was having milk quality issues he gave me ideas and also introduced me to Leo Timms for more support.  His Dairy TRANS program also showed us how unprofitable we were and took a lot of the emotion out of the decision to quit milking.  But it also inspired me that if we can get control of our input costs that we can get back into milking and be profitable.  I cannot put into words my appreciation for Dr. Tranel.  He was alwayswilling to help me with whatever I needed.  THANKS Larry!! *Dr. Tranel is an excellent Extension person.  He is not afraid to tackle any problem. *We are just in the planning stages of our expansion.  So far Dr. Tranel is doing a great job.  We look forward to working more with him in the future!
 *Larry’s presentation and information helped me decide which farm to select to purchase to continue my goal of owning my own dairy farm.  Larry’s information on share-milking originally got me into dairy farming with a senior farmer.  The share-milking information was extremely valuable. *He explains items well.  He understands farmers and talks in terms farmers can understand and put items into use! *With Dr. Tranel’s helpful financial management, I was able to purchase the grazing dairy farm from my parents.  Financially I had to produce more income and I did this through a team approach by changing my feeding and increase the quality of my pastures and forages! *We bought a farm and transformed it into a Management Intensive Grazing operation.  We installed a double 12 swing parlor into the existing barn.  We built 300 ft. fence line feed manger and improved our “quality of life” by reducing chore time (FTE) and increased cows to 140 cows on 150 acres grazing.  *Dr. Tranel has had an impact on how I am thinking of setting up my dairy farm.  He has also had an impact on my decision making as to what I should invest in first as I begin my dairy business. 


110 Dairy

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