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A Harvest Of Information

Dan Truttmann was a good student at New Glarus High School, but he didn’t really want to go on to college. “I thought about technical school or Short Course. But, my Dad said, You have to do more than that. I was floored!” Today, he cannot imagine what life would have been like if he had not gone to UW-Madison.

While Truttmann’s father, Dwight, did not compromise on the education issue, Dan made his own choice about returning to the fifth-generation family dairy farm, Truttmann Dairy LLC, after earning his bachelor’s in dairy science in 1990.

Today, Truttmann and his father apply many of the principles he learned at the College on their 145-cow, 320-acre farm. They have remained profitable in today?s challenging farm economy in part because of their rotational grazing system.

“We chose rotational grazing mainly because of economics. It has allowed us to expand gradually without requiring huge investments. It also has allowed our two families to earn enough income from it,” he says. Between 1990 and 1995, the Truttmanns increased their herd from 60 to 100 cows, which gave them enough cash flow to build a new milking parlor.

A financial management course taught by Bruce Jones, professor of agricultural and applied economics, gave Truttmann the practical skills to compare the economics of rotational grazing to those of a confinement dairy system. “I gained a much better understanding of the financial workings of a business in that class and put that to good use when we considered expanding.” Truttmann says he has always been able to go back to Jones for advice.

The same is true of dairy nutritionist David Combs. “He brought together nutrition information in a practical form and provided a great hands-on education,” says Truttmann.

The college experience, however, provided Truttmann more than just a technical education.
“It opened my eyes to the world around me. I was from a small town and hadn?t traveled a lot. The UW allowed me to meet a great diversity of people.” After talking with classmates and his fellow ag fraternity members, he began to think more about what was happening around the state, the country and the world. “Global trade has such a huge effect on farming. My time at UW gave me a better appreciation of that and much more.”