What Is Your Herd's Bottleneck?

Posted: September 2, 2006

Any successful business, regardless if it is a dairy operation or an industrial corporation, devotes many resources to determine the bottlenecks to profitability.

Once they have been identified, specific strategies can be implemented to correct the problem. Operating a dairy business is extremely complex and potentially could have several bottlenecks. The question becomes, which one is having the greatest impact on the operation's bottom line. It is that reason why the PA Dairy Tool: Identifying the Bottlenecks to Higher Dairy Profitability was developed by Penn State Cooperative Extension. It is a tool that examines the whole farm system and identifies the bottlenecks that hinder profitability. The program uses benchmark information to show the areas of greatest financial loss and the opportunities for improvements. Five workshops across Pennsylvania will be offered to teach consultants how to use the PA Dairy Tool. The workshops will run from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The dates and locations are as follows:

  • October 10: Penn State University Forestry Building, University Park
  • November 9: Crawford Coop Extension Office, Meadville
  • November 14: Somerset Coop Extension Office, Somerset
  • December 5: Columbia Coop Extension Office, Bloomsburg

A bottleneck that can have a tremendous impact on profit in respect to milk yield and components is precision feeding. This encompasses nutrition, feeding management and forage quality. Drilling down into the specific areas of precision feeding can help focus attention in the right area. Having this information can help develop the appropriate short-term and long-term strategies to correct the problem. This aspect will also be part of the fall workshops. The registration fee is $225. This covers 2 workshops, the fall workshop for consultants and a winter workshop, where the consultant can bring up to two producer clients. The objective is to train the consultant on the PA Dairy Tool in the fall, have the consultant work with one or two of his/her producers, and bring them to the winter workshop. The producer registration fee would be $25. In addition, the first five consultants from each workshop location in the fall (25 total) that complete the one page precision feeding worksheet on a client's farm will be reimbursed $100. More information on the program and a copy of the brochure can be found at Any questions about the program can be directed to Virginia Ishler at 814-863-3912 or