Statewide Dairy Facility Conference Draws Large Attendance

April- June 2002

Daniel J. Meyer , agricultural engineering field specialist

Problem

Dairy producers of all size need ideas to renovate their facilities to get the maximum output from their cows in order to stay profitable. Outdated building features and equipment can keep cows from reaching their maximum potential and cause inefficient with labor. These include poor cow comfort, inadequate lighting, use of low cost parlors, use of manure storage and automatic alley scrapers, and inadequate ventilation. Building new facilities is often more expensive when compared to remodeling.

Response

A dairy facility conference was designed to show producers how to reinvest in their existing facilities. The program was held through the Iowa Communications Network (ICN) system on March 22. Leo Timms did the legwork to make the ICN program work. To keep cost per person down, the six speakers were interconnected at the four different sites. One of these sites was Guelph , Ontario . This ICN hookup saved his travel time and travel expenses of at least $1000.

In another effort to increase attendance and reduce cost, we allowed dairy facility and equipment suppliers in our attendance. We also allowed 10 of then to exhibit at one of the larger attendance sites to again reduce attendees' fees. A total of seven sites were used around the state of Iowa to minimize attendees' travel distance. A web site at the Animal Science department in Ames was used to post information from the talks to minimize proceedings costs. It will also be used to help answer future questions on facilities.

Impact

A total of 58 attended the exhibitor site in Calmar. The other six sites had a total attendance of 28 people. The 29 evaluations from Calmar showed 23 people thought the conference was quite or very helpful. It was interesting that the most helpful of the seven talks had at least 8 votes. One talk on cow comfort showed that everyone responding thought it was helpful. If every attendee followed the Guelph , Ontario veterinarian's advice and got the 2 pounds of milk minimum per cow by improving their stall's comfort it would generate over 5.5 million pounds per year of milk. At $12.00 per hundredweight that translates to $660,000 for these 70 producers or $9,400 each. When asked whether they planned to do something as a result of this meeting, 11 of the 15 responses said yes. Two attendees said maybe. One of the comments from the question on what future topics attendees would like discussed was very helpful. If we would like milk companies to help promote this type of conference and to get producers to attend, we need to work with them.

 

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