Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Central New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops team hosted this year’s Dairy Day event on April 11 at the Otesaga Resort Hotel in Cooperstown, NY. The meeting was led by dairy management specialist Dave Balbian, in coordination with colleagues Nicole Tommell (farm business management specialist), Eric Smith (field crop specialist) and Ashley McFarland.

The gathering represented a broad swath of Central New York’s farmers – including attendees from Fulton, Montgomery, Herkimer, Saratoga, Schoharie, Chenango, Madison and Otsego counties.

The day began with a trade show, where attendees could filter into the venue, grab coffee and refreshments, network and visit with each other – and connect with key players from Farm Credit East, Balchem, ASAP Interiors, NBT Bank and many more. Attendees were then directed into breakout sessions.

In her opening session, titled “What Does the Data Say About High Production and Profitability?” Tommell spoke briefly to her own background and her work as team lead for CNYDLFC before launching into the focus for the day: increased profit and profitability through good management. The focus of her session and the talks with farm operational teams was on isolating each facet of the farming operation, from the nutrition to reproductive program, evaluating the costs involved while weighing necessary investment and maximizing each output to increase the bottom line.

A quote mentioned in her presentation, attributed to Peter Drucker, summed this up this approach well: “You cannot manage what you can’t measure.” Some cost factors that were mentioned were feed cost per cow per day, marginal milk response and feed efficiency – as well as some factors that are often overlooked, such as feed cost per kilogram of dry matter or cost per unit of nutrient.

“When we go home today,” Tommell wrapped up, “we don’t have the luxury of choosing our bill prices. However, we can do everything that we can in order to improve our milk yield. I put that to you as a challenge. Like I said in the beginning, there are things on your farm that you can change. After listening [to these farm teams today] think about everything and take home one thing that you can do to impact your farm on a very basic level. That’s our challenge to you today.”

Two farm operations presented in two separate sessions – first, the Brumar Farm Team of Fort Plain, NY, represented by owner/operators Bruce, Marcy and Eric Matis, nutritionist Shawn Lasher and Dr. Lisa Tobler, DVM. The second farm team represented Woodlawn Dairy of Richfield Springs, NY – owner/operators Tim and Mike Cantwell, nutritionist Kienan Gridley and Dr. Erika Osborne, DVM.

Both teams discussed their origins and backgrounds, the span of growth for their operations and the specifics of their current operational setup: herd size, the size of their calving program, the number of barns and enclosures, types of pasture setup, etc.

Then, in a roundtable setup, they walked through each aspect of their operation and discussed how they managed each of those facets to maximum results, from crop rotation and harvest to animal feed and nutrition to reproduction and more. Once each session was complete, both teams took questions from attendees.

To take part in other upcoming events through the CNYDLFC, visit

by Andrew Haman