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

2004 Annual 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

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


This project is creating two publications to help farmers compare and consider livestock production options. A team of individuals from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan is collaborating to produce two publications that offer unbiased, side-by-side comparisons of a wide array of dairy and poultry system options. During the first year, dairy and poultry teams were formed and developed outlines for the books. Contracted writers researched and drafted manuscripts. Three collaborating organizations – one from each participating state – each provided two producer profiles for the poultry book and two for the dairy book. Reviewers (including farmers) provided feedback to the series editors.

Objectives/Performance Targets

ST1 Increased awareness of livestock management options available (farmers and agricultural advisor/service providers).
ST2 Increased confidence in the viability of non-conventional methods of raising livestock (farmer and agricultural advisor/service providers).
ST3 Stronger relationships among the Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan participants involved in the project.

IT1 Farmers change their farming enterprise based on information provided (seasoned and existing farmers).
IT2 Team members continue to collaborate to tackle needs and issues that emerge during the project.

LT1 Team members work together on subsequent (unrelated) projects because of relationships formed during the “Your Way” project.


At this point in the project, our work is focused on creating outputs – the dairy and poultry publications themselves. Most of the outcomes will not be addressed until after these outputs become available to the public. The exception is objective ST3. Stronger relationships among project participants are already forming as we get to know each other better through personal interaction and decisionmaking. We have used teleconferencing to meet on several occasions, and the leaders of participating organizations all met face to face in LaCrosse, Wisconsin in February of 2004.

Progress on producing the outputs (publications) has been steady:

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) executed a contract with the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) to oversee design and layout, and to compensate producers on the writing and review teams, and to act as series editor for the poultry publication. MISA is also coordinating the Poultry volume, while MDA administers the overall project and the dairy book.

MDA executed contracts with major participants for profiles of producers using these various systems and promotion/outreach activity to be undertaken when books are complete. [Note: Negotiation for one of these contracts took several months of concerted effort because administrators/counsel for the contractor and contractee could not come to agreement on what provisions were reasonable and necessary (e.g. in what state would we go to court if the contract were breached?) Situations like these (i.e., institutions in different states who have never worked together and thus have not worked out a system to handle the administrative and legal requirements of doing so) are frustrating to project participants and may be a practical barrier to cross-regional, multiple-institution collaboration of the kind that SARE encourages.]

MDA and MISA assembled a poultry writing team and a dairy writing team, finishing organization that had begun while crafting the project proposal to SARE.

Poultry team members:
Cris Carusi, Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, University of Wisconsin
Chuck Cornillie, producer and Michigan Agriculture Stewardship Association
Mary Jo Forbord, producer and Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota

Tom Guthrie, Michigan Integrated Food and Farming Systems
Jacqueline Jacob, Animal Science Department, University of Minnesota
Beth Nelson, Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture
Steve Stevenson, Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, University of Wisconsin
Kay Jones, producer, Earth Shine Farm, Michigan

Dairy Team members
Chuck Cornillie, producer and Michigan Agriculture Stewardship Association
Mary Jo Forbord, producer and Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota
Steve Stevenson, Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, University of Wisconsin
Dennis Johnson, Animal Science Department, University of Minnesota
Meg Moynihan, Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Pam Riesgraf, dairy producer, Minnesota
David Weinand, Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Using conference calls, dairy and poultry writing teams met to decide the systems and system topics each publication should cover, as well as what kind of information the producer profiles ought to include.

MDA developed and disseminated a request for applications for publication researcher/writers.

Series editors and technical advisors reviewed and selected an author for the poultry publication and one for the dairy publication. Primary grantee executed contracts with each.

Project participants submitted producer profiles and photographs, which the writers incorporated into their manuscripts.

MISA recruited a team of reviewers for each of the publications. Project team members identified potential reviewers. We took care to ensure that all states and areas of expertise (e.g., farmers, research, extension, industry) were included.

Reviewers read and commented on draft manuscripts. Each review team met by phone to discuss comments and offer suggestions for improving drafts.

Poultry reviewers:
Paul Dietmann, University of Wisconsin Extension, Sauk County
John Dutcher, producer, Dutcher Farms, Michigan
Ron Kean, Department of Animal Sciences, University of Wisconsin
Kevin Roberson, Department of Animal Science, Michigan State University
Alvin Schlangen, producer, Minnesota**
Bonnie Walters, Animal and Food Science, University of Wisconsin**

Dairy reviewers:
Craig Burns, Consultant
Tom Cadwallader, University of Wisconsin Extension
Dave Combs, Dairy Science, University of Wisconsin
Gene Krause, University of Minnesota Extension
Altfrid Krusenbaum, dairy farmer, Wisconsin
Terri Hawbaker , dairy farmer, Michigan
Bob Lefebvre, Minnesota Milk Producers Association

Writers submitted final drafts. MISA began the editing process for the poultry publication; MDA began the editing process for the dairy publication.

Work left to do before project is completed:

Copy editing
Select photos
Develop/select graphics
Outreach events
Evaluation activities

This project was conceived as a two-year effort, but additional time will be needed to accomplish all tasks and we will request a no-cost extension from SARE to complete the project.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

To date, the project has principally impacted its participants. Leaders of participating organizations know each other better as a result of collaborating on this project, although distance has been a barrier to closer working relationships and phone calls, conference calls, and emails have worked because the team coordinators have expended efforts to elicit participation and consult team members about decisions.

Reviewers for both publications were unanimous in agreeing that these publications will fill a currently unmet need in the producer community. Several have followed up to ask when the publication will be ready (as have profile writers and individuals who have learned about the project from team members).

Impact on the producer community will become clear once the outputs are available.


Steve Stevenson and Cris Carusi

Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems
Mary Jo Forbord

Sustainable Farming Association
Beth Nelson

Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture
Chuck Cornillie

Executive Director
Michigan Agricultural Stewardship Association