UVM Extension’s Dairy Herd Management Technical Assistance Program Supports Farmers Statewide 

by Kelsie Meehan and Whitney Hull, UVM Extension Outreach Professionals 

A group of people stand in a pasture with jersey cows.  One person standing next to the cows is speaking to the group, with a flipchart on an easel next to her, as part of the UVM Dairy Herd Management TA program.
Dr. Dayna Locitzer, DVM, leads a Herd Health Workshop at Richardson Family Farm. Photo credit: Kelsie Meehan

Since 2021, UVM Extension Dairy Specialists Whitney Hull and Kelsie Meehan have been providing direct technical assistance to Vermont dairy farms as part of the Dairy Herd Management Technical Assistance (DHMTA) Program.

This program is funded by the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center and serves dairies of all scales and types (cow, goat, and sheep) statewide.  

Support is provided to farmers through direct consultations, often including farm visits, as well as through workshops and longer-format educational programs. The DHMTA Team has expertise in herd health, milk quality, nutrition, grazing and pasture management, records analysis, and on-farm processing. We stay up to date on the current financial and technical assistance programs available to Vermont dairy farmers and support producers in connecting with these resources, experts, and grant opportunities.  

Since the program began, Whitney and Kelsie have provided individualized technical assistance to 91 Vermont dairy farms and engaged with hundreds of producers through workshops and responses to quick inquiries.  

Holly and Faruk Menguc of Tup’s Crossing Farm in Orwell reached out to the DHMTA program in 2022 with interest in expanding grazing for their 500-head goat dairy. Holly and Faruk share:  

“We first connected with Kelsie when we reached out to UVM Extension for assistance in identifying the cause of a pasture parasite issue. We expressed a desire to expand our pastures and grazing capacity, but lacked the funds to do so. Kelsie recommended we contact NRCS to see if one of their fence cost-sharing programs could work for us. Kelsie was then invaluable to us during the time we worked with NRCS. Kelsie toured our acreage, identified best usage of various areas, and mapped and created a grazing plan that would be appropriate for rotationally grazing of our herd, considering the specific constraints of our scale, goats as a grazing species, and our milking intervals. This past fall we began the first stage of our NRCS project, running waterlines into some of the new paddocks, and we are on the calendar to fence our first of four new pastures this spring.” 

Mark Magnan of Magnan Brothers Dairy in Fairfield began working with Whitney in 2022.

During the summer of 2023, a milk quality issue was discovered on the farm. Whitney worked with the farm to help diagnose the issue and develop a protocol for testing and management moving forward. Mark shares:  

“Whitney was an integral part in helping our farm diagnose a milk quality issue. She was on our farm at 3 am to help sample the cows and helped us navigate the testing process. We were able to identify the problem quickly and put protocols in place for monitoring milk quality on our two farms moving forward.”  

A group of people stand in a milking parlor while a man leads a workshop and cows are connected to milking machines, as part of the UVM Dairy Herd Management TA program.
Dr. Paul Virkler of Cornell’s QMPS leads a Milk Quality Workshop at UVM’s Miller Farm. Photo credit: Whitney Hull

Educational workshops have been another important offering of the program.

Since 2022, the DHMTA team has teamed up with other Extension professionals, veterinarians, and other dairy specialists to host 24 educational workshops focused on various aspects of dairy herd management, including: a milk quality workshop, dairy cost of production workshops, on-farm herd health workshops, and parasite management and protocol development workshops for small ruminant producers. A total of 511 people, including producers and service producers, attended these workshops.  

As the DHMTA program continues this year, we’re looking forward to continuing our one-on-one work with Vermont’s dairy farmers, building on the relationships we’ve built thus far and enrolling more farms in the program, as well as hosting several dairy herd management workshops this summer.  

To work with our team, please fill out the online request form on our website: https://www.uvm.edu/extension/agriculture/dairy-herd-management-technical-assistance

Or reach out to Whitney Hull or Kelsie Meehan directly. Whitney Hull: whitney.hull@uvm.edu / (802) 656-7563 and Kelsie Meehan: kelsie.meehan@uvm.edu / (802) 656-4829 

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