"Livestock Your Way" Series Publications: Producer Guides to Goal Setting and Management Options for Dairy and Poultry Enterprises in the Upper Midwest

Final Report for LNC03-232

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2003: $73,500.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Meg Moynihan
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
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Project Information

Summary:

A team of individuals from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan produced and distributed two publications that offer unbiased, side-by-side comparisons of a wide array of dairy and poultry system options: the 125-page Poultry Your Way and 100-page Dairy Your Way. Farmers were involved in project development and served as reviewers. The publications included include farm and farmer profiles of the systems described. The books proved to be very popular and in some cases, audience demand for the publications has already exceeded the supply of books.

Introduction:

Livestock can be an important diversification strategy for the Upper Midwest. Livestock farming is well suited to the natural resource base and to the needs of many farmers and rural communities. Integrating livestock can provide important biological and economic benefits by providing a source of nutrients for subsequent crop years, interrupting pest and disease cycles, providing opportunities to grow a wider array of crops, adding value to crops and crop residues produced on the farm, which are then sold as meat or milk, and reducing risk from weather, pest, and market forces. (Kirschenmann, 1994) Livestock can provide quality of life benefits to farm families – some farmers say they raise livestock simply because they like animals and want their children to grow up with animals (Stassen, 2002, personal communication).

The livestock sector has been particularly hard hit in some North Central states. In Minnesota, for example, the number of Minnesota dairy farms dropped from 14,500 in 1992 to less than 7,000 in 2002. Fewer livestock producers mean fewer local markets for Minnesota's farmers and fewer processors and support industries. Ultimately, it means fewer purchases on Main Street, fewer businesses and schools, and further decline of Minnesota's small towns. In an attempt to alleviate this troubling trend, the Minnesota Legislature directed the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to develop a “Livestock Friendly Counties” program to encourage local communities to enhance their local livestock sectors (MDA, 2002). Promoting animal agriculture is a priority issue for the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF, 2003). In Michigan, a multi-partner “Revitalization of Animal Agriculture in Michigan” won legislative funding in the 1990s and is focusing on research and outreach in livestock systems. (Animal Agriculture Initiative, 2003). What will the desired animal agriculture expansion look like?

When Hogs Your Way: Choosing a Hog Production System in the Upper Midwest (Bergh et. al., 2001) was first published, numerous farmers commented that they did not realize the breadth of options available to them. To date, hundreds of copies have been distributed. At least 24 websites provide a direct link to the electronic version of the publication, while 62 mention Hogs Your Way. The on-line version averages 150 visits per month. Based on calls and requests from producers and others, project team members know similar interest exists in the case of dairy and poultry.

Our team identified a need for further volumes in the Your Way series: Dairy Your Way and Poultry Your Way. Alternative poultry and dairy systems have been researched by farmers in various regions of the country. SARE grants have funded about 100 poultry projects and nearly 200 dairy-related projects. Other sustainable agriculture organizations such as ATTRA and the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) have produced publications on various aspects of poultry and dairy production. Yet, there was a need for publications that synthesized the fragmented information on these systems in a compare-and-contrast format, provided encouragement to farmers to give new options a try, and at the same time identified the resources they need in order to continue deeper exploration of the options they have identified as most suitable for them.

This project set out to develop unbiased materials to introduce producers to the various systems, provide an overview of each system in a user-friendly format, and direct readers to further resources on the systems of most interest to them, and document the experiences of some of the farmers who use these systems.

When our team formed to undertake this project, there was limited regionally-focused information on poultry alternatives in the north central states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. SARE had funded 27 poultry-related projects in the North Central region. Most of those relevant to poultry production systems were projects focused on a particular model of production. The production models included free-range poultry, pastured poultry, integrated greenhouse and poultry production, and integrated orchard and poultry production. In addition there had been three SARE-funded projects on processing of pastured poultry, as well as several projects dealing with marketing of poultry. Both ATTRA and SARE have publications dealing with pastured poultry (see Resources for Poultry in literature cited). While there was a great deal of “how-to” information on various forms of pastured poultry and processing, there was limited information available to help farmers evaluate costs and potential profits from various systems. The CIAS research brief, Raising Poultry on Pasture, provided some economic analysis of pastured poultry systems, but did not compare these to other types of systems.

At the time, State Extension services in Minnesota and Michigan offered series of publications dealing with small farm flocks of layers, chickens, ducks, turkeys, and geese. Most pastured poultry publications were also focused on the small-scale operation. Information on management and options for the mid-size poultry producer was difficult to find. Also hard to find were comparative data on poultry processing options. There were SARE projects that discussed development of pastured poultry processing units, but we saw that economic analysis of these versus using a custom processor would be helpful information for farmers. We also thought producers might be unfamiliar with other marketing options available. The goal of this publication was to present a wide range of poultry production and marketing options, along with resource lists relevant to each option.

Grass-based dairying had been a hot topic in sustainable agriculture circles for more than a decade. Research on pasture legumes and rotational grazing schemes had been done through University-sponsored research, as well as through numerous SARE-funded farmer projects. The North Central SARE had funded 59 dairy-related projects, many of them dealing with some aspect of rotational grazing. Knee Deep in Grass (Loeffler, et. al., 1996) and Pastures for Profit (Undersander, et. al., 1997) both looked at the economics of grass-based enterprises. The Grazing System Planning publication (Blanchet, et. al., 2000) discussed the nuts and bolts of actually setting up a grass-based operation, while Small Dairy Resources (Dunaway, 2000) provided a comprehensive list of resources on specific topics.

Unlike the situation in poultry, there were already several publications comparing conventional dairying with grass-based dairying; such as the SARE-funded project, Quality of Life Study: Comparing Conventional and Rotational Grazing Dairy Systems; and the CIAS research brief, Dairy Grazing Can Provide Good Financial Return (see Resources for Dairy in literature cited). There had also been a number of projects and publications on dairying transitions: from conventional to grass-based, and also transition to organic dairying (see Resources for Dairy in literature cited). As with the poultry publications, most of these dairy publications focused on a single system. A farmer might be able to find a publication that compared a conventional system with a rotational grazing system, but not a wider comparison with other types of systems.

This project team was particularly interested in gathering information on “hybrid” systems that may have some features of both conventional and grass-based dairies. This interest was due in part to the geographic location of the team in the Upper Midwest. “How-to” information available on grass-based dairying often involved seasonal dairying and reduced reliance on stored feeds, such as in ATTRA’s The Economics of Grass-Based and Seasonal Dairying (Johnson, 2002). These aspects may be difficult for Upper Midwest dairies to implement due to climate.

The participants, all traditional dairying states, had a wealth of Extension information available on dairy cattle genetics, reproduction, feeding, herd health, and milk quality. This information was primarily directed at conventional dairies. The project team understood that one of its challenges would be to sift through these conventional resources and suggest ways to apply them to alternative systems.

In the experience of team members, farmer profiles strengthen the credibility and readability of publications. Therefore, Dairy and Poultry Your Way publications featured farmer profiles from each participating state.

Project Objectives:

Short term expected outcomes for this project included:
S-1 Increased awareness of livestock management options available (farmers and agricultural advisor/service providers, including Extension educators, NRCS staff, lenders, farm business management instructors, state inspectors, etc.)

S-2 Increased confidence in the viability of non-conventional methods of raising livestock (farmers and agricultural advisor/service providers)

S-3 Stronger relationships among the Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan participants involved in the project

Intermediate term expected outcomes for this project include:
I-1 Farmers change their farming enterprise based on information provided (seasoned and existing farmers).
I-2 Team members continue to collaborate to tackle needs and issues that emerge during the project.

Long term expected outcomes for this project include:
L-1 Team members work together on subsequent (unrelated) projects because of relationships formed during the “Your Way” project.

In addition, as described in the project proposal it was important to offer unbiased, side-by-side comparisons of a wide array of dairy and poultry system options.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Chuck Cornillie
  • Steve Stevenson and Cris Carusi
  • Mary Jo Forbord
  • Beth Nelson

Research

Materials and methods:
NOTE: Tables are available by contacting PI Meg Moynihan

The major participants that conceived the project shared the resources and responsibilities of this SARE grant. After notification of funding, the team reconvened to recommit to the project and to develop an outline and production schedule for the publications. Meeting via conference call made participation by team members from all three states possible.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), (primary grantee), Meg Moynihan oversaw the project, handled grant administration, and edited the dairy publication.

Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA), Beth Nelson edited the poultry publication and coordinated the external review process and printing of both publications under subcontract.

Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems at University of Wisconsin (CIAS) Steve Stevenson and Cris Carusi served on the project management team and provided profiles of three various types of poultry and dairy operations for each publication under contract.

Michigan Agricultural Stewardship Association (MASA), a farmer organization. Farmer and MASA president Chuck Cornillie served on the project management team. MASA provided profiles of three various types of poultry and dairy operations for each publication under contract.

Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota (SFA), a farmer organization. Executive Director Mary Jo Forbord served on the project management team. SFA provided profiles of three various types of poultry and dairy operations for each publication under contract.

The MDA entered into contracts with each participating organization and the project oversight team met periodically by telephone and once in-person (during the 2003 Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference in LaCrosse, WI) to discuss and determine content, and identify reviewers

The MDA issued a call for proposals to hire contract researcher/writers for each publication (because of the size of these contracts, the MDA was obliged to go through the State’s official bidding process, which delayed the project and added an unanticipated administrative burden). With the with advice and input from Poultry Your Way content Specialist Jacquie Jacob (Poultry Specialist, University of Minnesota) and Dairy Your Way content specialist Dennis Johnson (Dairy Specialist, University of Minnesota), Meg Moynihan and Beth Nelson chose two writers from a total of seven applicants.

The contract writers worked with poultry and dairy writing “sub-teams” that included technical resource people affiliated with research, extension, and farming. Beth Nelson led the Poultry writing team. Meg Moynihan led the Dairy writing team. Participants, including the writers and project partners producing the farm profiles, also communicated by conference call and e-mail.

Poultry Your Way
Draft complete and review process begun: August 2004.
Utility reviewers: Evaluated for usefulness to farmers and target audience
• Alvin Schlangen, MN, former large scale conventional poultry producer, now small-scale organic
• Cindy Dutcher, MI, pasture poultry producer
• Kay Jensen, WI, JenEhr Farms, pasture poultry producer

Technical reviewers: Evaluated for accuracy and completeness
• Paul Dietmann, WI, Sauk County Extension, Baraboo
• Ron Kean, WI, Extension Poultry specialist, UW at Madison
• Bonnie Walters, WI, Animal and Food Science, UW at River Falls—(product section only).
• Kevin Roberson, MI, Extension Poultry Specialist, Michigan State University

Discussion with utility and technical reviewers via conference calls: September 2004

The poultry sub-team considered evaluators’ comments and incorporated many. After final review by poultry sub-team, MISA retained a layout designer who incorporated and improved on some of the design features of an earlier publication called Hogs Your Way. MISA contracted for 2,000 copies with a local printer.

Publication to press: November 2005
________________________________

Dairy Your Way
Draft complete and review process begun: August 2004

Utility reviewers: Evaluated for usefulness to farmers and target audience

• Terry Hawbaker, MI, grazier
• Altfrid Krusenbaum, WI, grazier
• Bob LeFebvre, MN Milk Producers Assn
• Todd Johnson, producer, MN

Technical reviewers: Evaluated for accuracy and completeness

• Gene Krause, MN, Regional Extension Educator, Roseau, MN
• Craig Burns, Dairy Industry Consultant, Corunna, MI
• Thomas Cadwallader, WI, County Extension, Merill, WI
• David Combs, Dairy Nutritionist, Univ. of WI

Discussion with utility and technical reviewers via conference calls: October 2004

The editor and technical advisor considered reviewer comments and incorporated many. After final review by dairy sub team, MISA retained a layout designer who incorporated and improved on some of the design features of an earlier publication called Hogs Your Way. MISA contracted for 2,000 copies with a local printer.

Publication to press: April 2006

During the course of the project, we encountered some unanticipated challenges and problems.

1) Working with new partners and including organizations from multiple states ultimately made for better outputs and for reaching much broader audiences with this project, but it involved a heavier administrative burden than was expected and a great deal of time expended by the PI and lead organization ended up not covered by the grant.

Since NCR-SARE is demonstrably interested in forging regional collaborations and partnerships among states in the region, it’s important to acknowledge that subcontract between the State of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin (for Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems) was particularly difficult. Each was fairly inflexible on contract provisions they insist be included or absent from this relatively small $7,400 subcontract and reconciling the demands involved three lawyers and months of time and energy, delaying the actual work of the project. Although relations between the Minnesota and Wisconsin project participants remained collegial, both parties grew increasingly exasperated with the impasse between the institutions. Situations like these may prove a disincentive to multi-state projects that SARE encourages.

2) Production delays, particularly for Dairy Your Way, caused organizations to miss windows of opportunity for dissemination during the winter 2005/6 “meeting season” and necessitated extension of partner subcontracts and the cooperative agreements with SARE to enable partners more time to disseminate and conduct outreach activities.

3) Toward the end of the project, MASA a merger with MIFFS, another sustainable agriculture organization in Michigan. This merger diverted attention, time and energy. MIFFS cannot have the same sense connection and ownership of the project as the MASA, which had participated since the beginning. The merger also complicated issues such as who would take charge of dissemination and fulfilling the other terms of the contract.

4) Turf and ownership conflicts emerged between a couple of the partners – especially related to how credit was shared in publicity and outreach.

5) Inconsistency in the way we provided reader response cards (described elsewhere in this report)

Research results and discussion:
Note: Graphs and charts that illustrate results are available by contacting PI Meg Moynihan.

As part of our evaluation strategy we tracked distribution of the printed books and web visits, in order to determine interest and scope of our outreach. We also collected feedback from target audiences via reader response cards and informally from project participants to measure changes in knowledge and behavior. We forgot to have the printer stuff reader response cards into the Poultry Your Way. Instead, about three months after the book’s release, we mailed postage-paid cards to readers who had requested them from MDA and MISA with a cover note asking for feedback.

We also provided non-stamped cards in bulk to all project partners and asked them to hand stuff before distribution.

Dairy Your Way cards were inserted by the printer between the last page and the back cover and none were postage paid. Reader response card returns for both books were similar.

Short Term Goal 1 : Increased awareness of livestock management options available (farmers and agricultural advisor/service providers)
The MDA and project partners disseminated news releases about the books to print and broadcast outlets in their respective states and to regional sustainable agriculture outlets. The MDA’s clipping service documented media coverage in Minnesota. Stories about Dairy Your Way reached reader circulation of better than 99,000 and stories about Poultry Your Way
Reached almost 101,000 people in this state alone.

The CIAS and SFA distributed most of their stock at conferences and field days. MASA elected to distribute to and through extension agents and other agricultural advisors. MDA and MISA offered the books on a by-request basis and distributed them at meetings and conferences as well as through MDA’s agricultural inspector network and University Extension offices. While it is difficult to inventory books being distributed by five organizations, we are confident that more than 90% of both titles have been distributed as of the writing of this report. The MDA and MISA have received direct requests (calls, e-mails, etc.) from 415 individuals for hard copies of Poultry Your Way and 396 direct requests for Dairy Your Way. Many requestors asked for multiple copies (for use with Farm Business Management clients or in agricultural courses, for example.) Although the books were designed for producers in the Upper Midwest, we filled requests from as far away as California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New York, North Carolina, Virginia, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, Tennessee, North Dakota, South Dakota and Florida.

MISA maintains the electronic versions of both books on its web site. The web pages offer the books by chapter, making it easier for those with dial-up connections or and/or older computer systems to read and print them. During the 10 months following its publication (October 2005 – August, 2006), online Poultry chapters had been accessed 7,332 times. During the five months following its publication (April – August 2006), Dairy chapters had been accessed 2,702 times. We did not incorporate online “pop up” evaluation forms for web-version readers.

A total of 57 readers returned the Poultry reader response card. Just over 56% were currently poultry producers, and about 49% said they were considering poultry production for the future (and some said they were both current and future producers). About 30% said they had little or knowledge of poultry before reaching the book (1 or 2) , while another 32% classified themselves as knowing a lot (4 or 5) about poultry before reading the book. The remaining 40% rated themselves as knowing a medium amount (score 3).

A total of 67 readers returned the Dairy card. About 19% were current dairy producers; nearly half were considering dairy for the future, which is good news for the dairy industry! Only 16% of respondents said they knew little about dairy before reading the book (score of 1 or 2) , while 42% said they knew a lot about it.

Figures 1 and 2 illustrate how much readers learned from the books, the applicability of the information to their operations, and as the likelihood that they would undertake additional research.

Readers of both publications said they gained knowledge from the books. Not surprisingly, those who said they knew less about the topic to begin with learned more from the book (Fig 1 and 2).

In general, readers of both books and all experience levels also said they planned to do more research in their chosen species. In the case of Dairy readers, those who started with more knowledge to begin with were slightly more likely to be planning additional research.

Short term goal 2: Increased confidence in the viability of non-conventional methods of raising livestock (farmers and agricultural advisor/service providers)
Although we did not ask readers this question directly, we can glean some insight from the way they answered the question “How much of this information will be directly useful to your operation?” When we look at the responses of current or future farmers, the average response of Poultry readers was 3.6 on a scale of 1 (a little) to 5 (a lot), while the average response of Dairy’s farmer readers was 3.2.
About 60% of readers of both books planned to share them with others (Fig. 3 and 4), indicating that readers generally believed the books to be credible and informative. People are more likely to put up with a poor or unsatisfactory service themselves than they are to endorse or recommend it to a friend.

Intermediate Goal 1: Farmers change their farming enterprise based on information provided (seasoned and existing farmers).

Because the outputs (the books) were produced at the end of the project, our team knew it would be difficult to measure actual behavior changes connected with them. Instead, we asked readers to tell us what changes they were considering or planning:

All of the Poultry reader respondents identified themselves as current or future producers. About 60% said they were planning to do more research about poultry for their farm. Slightly more than 60% said they were going to incorporate ideas from the books. About 60% planned to share the book with others.

Whereas all of Poultry’s reader respondents were producers, only about two-thirds of the Dairy reader respondents identified themselves as current or future dairy producers. There are noticeable differences between the way the farmers and the entire pool of readers answered the question. Nearly half of the farmer reader respondents planned to do more research. About 41% of them planned to incorporate ideas from the book into their farming operation. As was true for Poultry, about 60% planned to share the book with others.

Short term goal 3: Stronger relationships among the Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan participants involved in the project
Establishing connections and increased familiarity among project participants was a major success of this project’s first year, when team members met frequently via conference call to make decisions about the project and served on writing teams, and met once in person. One participant commented that “The learning that happened on our conference calls will help us approach future research and communications efforts on these topics.” After the first year, whole-group communication and interaction diminished, and more direct communication between editors at MDA and MISA, and among writing teams took its place.

Intermediate goal 2 Team members continue to collaborate to tackle needs and issues that emerge during the project.
No new cross-state collaborations among team members have emerged to date; this may turn out to be a long, rather than a short-term outcome. In addition, MASA has merged with another sustainable agriculture organization in Michigan. In this case, the personal relationships that began to develop with MASA’s team representative will likely not translate into lasting organizational relationships the way we envisioned early on.

As the project wound down, team members agreed they would disseminate more copies of the books if funds were available for reprinting. The MDA applied to Risk Management Agency’s Small Sessions program for reprinting funds but, as this report is written, that outlook is not good.

Long term goal 1: Team members work together on subsequent (unrelated) projects because of relationships formed during the Your Way” project.
This goal was not measurable during the course of the project.

Research conclusions:

We expect the project will cause new and existing dairy and poultry producers to consider various options they might not have considered before – including housing and production systems, species selection, value-added processing, etc. Neither book was designed as a “how to raise poultry” or “how to dairy farm” primer, and readers were told this specifically in the introduction. Instead, we provided comparison and decision-making worksheets and lots of references so that readers could forge on and continue research in the areas of most interest to them. Most readers (about 84% of Dairy readers and 91% of Poultry readers) planned to do something as a result of reading these books – either continue research, incorporate some of the ideas into their farming operations, or share the book with others.

Objectivity and Usefulness
Although not reflected in any of our stated short, intermediate, or long-term goals, producing books that were unbiased, credible, and practical was critical to the team that conceived and oversaw this project. These topics were discussed and revisited at length throughout the development, reviewing, and editing phases of the books’ production. Were the books objective? Easy to use? To evaluate our performance in these areas, find out, we asked two qualitative questions: 1) What is the best thing about this book? And 2) What should be changed if there are future additions? (e.g., “what didn’t you like about it). Individual reader comments are provided in this report’s Appendix.

A large number of readers rated both books highly for both the scope and diversity of information contained (broad array of management options), and for the books’ organization and ease of use. Many said they liked having real-world examples in the form of farm profiles. Several poultry readers commented that the book provided a solid, general introduction and that the information, was broadly applicable. Several Dairy readers wanted more basic, introductory information, while an equal number wanted more depth and specifics. A couple of readers commented that they particularly liked the self-assessment and planning worksheets provided in both books.

While the editors and writing teams hoped that the lengthy and comprehensive References sections would help readers find more detailed information about lots of the topic areas, readers of both books still suggested specific topics they would like to see treated in future editions of the books. For Poultry, these were: husbandry, hatching, on-farm processing, and specifics for daily pen move management. For Dairy, these topics were: compost barns, low-cost parlors, transition to organic, on-farm processing, and grazing.

There was a marked lack of criticism of the “you clearly have an anti-confinement bias” or “you clearly don’t support organic production” variety. No readers complained that any systems had been omitted or ignored. Two Poultry readers commented that they weren’t interested in the Industrial Confinement section or thought it should be omitted in future editions, but nobody lambasted any section of the book as inappropriate.

Economic Analysis

Not conducted

Farmer Adoption

Farmer adoption was an important intermediate goal of this project. As noted above, since the outputs (the books) were produced at the end of the project, our team knew it would be difficult to measure actual behavior changes connected with them. Instead, we asked readers to tell us what changes they were considering or planning:

About 60% of the Poultry Your Way readers said they were planning to do more research about poultry for their farm. Slightly more than 60% said they were going to incorporate ideas from the books.

Nearly half of Dairy Your Way the farmer reader respondents planned to do more research. About 41% of them planned to incorporate ideas from the book into their farming operation.

Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

Participation Summary:

Education/outreach description:

This project produced 2,000 copies of each of two publications:

The 125-page Poultry Your Way, and the 100-page Dairy Your Way. Both are available in electronic form via the Internet at the MISA web site at www.misa.umn.edu/Misa_Publications2.html and links to the documents appear on of other project partner organizations’ web sites. Poultry Your Way chapters have been accessed 7,332 times since October 2005. Dairy Your Way chapters have been accessed 2,702 times since April 2006.

Project partners used various dissemination strategies including: publicizing the books through news releases to print and broadcast media; listservs; web sites (a Google search of the terms “dairy your way” or “poultry your way” results in 395 “hits”); newsletters published by sustainable and organic organizations; direct mail; and via networks of agricultural advisors like (Extension educators, in Minnesota and Michigan; Farm Business Management instructors and state dairy inspectors in Minnesota, for example).

Measured by requests for copies these multiple publicity efforts were was very successful . Although 2,000 of each publication were printed, and between direct mail, dissemination at events, and filling individual requests for copies, partners have distributed nearly all of them.

As the book supplies dwindled, MISA made cards that every partner organization could displayed at events in lieu of the precious hard copies of the books. Our theory was that a person who picks up a card and made the effort to call or e-mail a request a free copy is a more serious reader than someone helping him or herself to a pretty free book from a display pile (who will decide later if it’s something she or he really wants).

Some of the outreach events at which the books and/or promotional cards were distributed included:

Midwest Value Added Conference,
Wisconsin Farmers Union Convention
Wisconsin Grazing Conference
Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference
Organic Crop Improvement Minnesota Chapter #1 Organic Educational Day
Midwest Poultry Federation Conference
U of MN Southwest Research and Outreach Center Field Day
Minnesota Organic Conference
Midwest Organic Dairy Producers Association Field Day
GrazeFest
Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota Annual Conference 2006
Minnesota Dairy Initiative Steering Committee Meeting
Numerous pasture walks on individual farms, particularly in Wisconsin
Windy River Energy Fair (MN)
Duluth Harvest Festival (MN)
Northern Plains Sustainable Ag Annual Meeting (ND)
Crow River Chapter Sustainable Farming Assn. annual meeting (Central MN)
Cass County Fair (MN)
Rural Land Opportunities Show (MN)
National SARE Conference (WI)
Minnesota Grown Marketing
Living Green Expo (MN)
Minneapolis Mill City Farmers' Market
UMN Southern Research and Outreach Center open house (MN)

Project Outcomes

Recommendations:

Areas needing additional study

With the completion of this project, there are three livestock diversification resources available to farmer in this region: Hogs Your Way, Poultry Your Way, and Dairy Your Way. Additional livestock topics, such as beef and small ruminants (e.g., sheep and goats) should be considered.

The reader response cards provided helpful qualitative and quantitative information. The different methods we used to distribute the cards raise some interesting questions we cannot answer about which method produces greater response from a representative array of readers. With the Poultry cards, we may have “selected” for serious readers, because we targeted cards to people who had already made an effort and requested the book. We also made it easier for those people to return the cards by providing postage. On the other hand, all the Dairy readers received cards (though they may have been hard to find), but had to a) find the card and b) pay their own postage, so they may have been likely to return the card only if they had strong feelings about the book one way or another. We’re not sure which strategy produces the best information, and this question merits further investigation.

Information Products

  • Poulty Your Way (Manual/Guide)
  • Dairy Your Way (Manual/Guide)
  • Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.