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Workshop Shows How to Milk More Profit From Dairy

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Written Tuesday, December 10, 2002  

Workshop shows how to milk more profit from dairy

Milk is the bread and butter of dairy producers. More producers now are choosing to make the butter, too. And ice cream. And cheese. And their own name-brand milk.

A workshop sponsored by the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service and the Office of the Indiana Commissioner of Agriculture will assist dairy farmers interested in processing the milk they produce into consumer products.

The Farmstead Milk Processing Workshop takes place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 3 and 10, 2003, at the LaGrange County 4-H Fairgrounds Community Building. The fairgrounds is located east of Indiana 9 on County Road 75 N, near LaGrange, Ind.

Registration is $20 through Dec. 20 and $30 after that date. The registration fee includes lunch on both days of the workshop. Advance registration can be made by contacting the Purdue Extension LaGrange County office, at (260) 499-6334.

The workshop fills a growing need within the dairy industry, said Kelly Easterday, educator, Purdue Extension Kosciusko County and a workshop organizer.

"A lot of dairy producers talk to us about looking at other avenues to try to make more money from their milk than just selling it directly to the co-op," Easterday said. "There's a lot of interest by dairy people wanting to investigate whether or not they can process milk on their farm.

"In this workshop we're going to talk about more than just cheese. We're going to talk about ice cream and butter and, perhaps, even packaging or bottling milk on the farm. We'll look at what you can do on the farm to your milk to capture some of that money that you think you don't get because you pass it on to your co-op when you sell the raw product."

On-farm milk processing is growing across the country but is relatively new in Indiana, Easterday said. Only a few dairy producers in the state currently process milk. Adding a processing line can be expensive and a producer must be sure there is regional market for his or her product, Easterday said.

"You can make all the ice cream you want but if there's no one to buy it, you're going to run into trouble," she said.

Workshop sessions address such topics as starting a processing line, machinery, the fundamentals of cheese making and where to obtain financial help and other information.

"The first day of the workshop will be the producer day part of the workshop," Easterday said. "We're bringing in four people who currently are doing on-farm milk processing to share their experiences, so that workshop attendees can learn from those who are successfully doing it right now.

"Speakers the first day include Judy Schad, a producer who processes goat milk; Alan Yegerlehner, a producer who has a grazing-based dairy; Alyce Berchenough, a producer from Alabama who has just 20 cows; and Debbie Crave from Wisconsin, a producer whose farm has 600-700 cows and on-farm processing. Hopefully attendees will see that there's a wide variety of people trying this and that you don't have to be a certain size or have a certain type of cow in order to make it work for you."

Day two focuses on technical aspects of milk processing, grants available for start-ups and additional resources for dairy producers. Speakers include Kirby Hayes, a Purdue food processing specialist and Scott Rankin, a food science specialist from the University of Wisconsin.

Milk processing equipment dealers will display their products and answer questions during the workshop's second day.

For more information about the Farmstead Milk Processing Workshop, contact Easterday at (574) 372-2340 or by e-mail at keasterday@purdue.edu; Steve Engleking, educator, Purdue Extension LaGrange County, at (260) 499-6334 or by e-mail at sengleking@purdue.edu; or Myron Bozell, dairy specialist, Purdue Department of Animal Sciences, at (765) 494-8289 or by e-mail at mbozell@purdue.edu.

Workshop brochures are available at county offices of Purdue Extension.

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