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Wisconsin School For Beginning Dairy Farmers Offers Distance Education Option

If you”d like to enroll in the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy Farmers but can”t make it to Madison, consider attending over the internet through the school”s distance education option.

Through presentations and discussions, the seminar will familiarize students with the principles and practices of developing and managing a grass-based dairy farm business. Instructors include grass-based dairy farmers, UW-Madison scientists and UW-Extension specialists and county agents, and representatives of ag lending and other ag agencies.

Fees for the remote learning class are $300 for the first student and an additional $50 for each additional student at the same site. Registration deadline is Nov. 1.

In addition to a local internet service provider, participants will need a Pentium-class personal computer with at least a 200 MHz processor and multi-media capabilities (speakers and a sound card), and a 56K modem or faster internet access.

Registered students will receive a CD from the WSBDF with current versions of Internet Explorer and other necessary software, and user names and passwords enabling them to join in classroom discussions.

Project coordinator Arlin Brannstrom will contact registrants to test computer connections at their locations (no on-site visits can be provided). A live rehearsal Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 12:10 p.m. will help participants work out hardware problems before classroom sessions begin.

Classes begin Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 12:10 p.m. Live audio feed and visuals from the lectures in the Animal Sciences building on the UW-Madison campus will be webcast to remote students. Each week”s classes will be videotaped and distributed to participants as time and staff resources permit. The video archives will be distributed on compact disks.

The course will meet on Wednesdays for three terms, concluding in mid-March.

Term 1 will cover starting a grass-based dairy business, including goal-setting, economic and agronomic principles, fencing, watering and lane construction, farm selection and grazing-system layout, winter feeding and housing, milking center design, and for the first time, a session on grass-based sheep dairying.

Term 2 will cover developing a business plan, including loans and grants, business arrangements for a dairy start-up, and software for start-up projections.

Term 3 will cover managing the business, including pasture nutrition and ration balancing, herd health, breeding and reproduction, and buying feed and selling milk.

To register, call (608) 262-5200 or (608) 588-2836; fax: (608) 265-3020; mail: Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy Farmers, c/o CIAS, 146 Agriculture Hall, UW-Madison, Madison, WI 53706,

If you have questions about the process, call Arlin Brannstrom, (608) 265-3030, For questions regarding the course topics contact WSBDF coordinator Dick Cates, (608) 588-2836,

The only program of its kind in the nation, the school is sponsored by the CALS Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems and UW-Madison Farm and Industry Short Course, in cooperation with GrassWorks, Inc.; Cooperative Extension, UW-Extension; the Wisconsin Technical College System; the Farm Link Service of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection; and grants from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Grazing Land Conservation Initiative and Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Additional support comes from the Mike Cannell Scholarship Fund and other private endowments held within the UW Foundation. Contact the UW Foundation to learn more about how you can support the WSBDF.