Implications of Cow Nutrition on Whole-Farm Profitability of Minnesota Dairy Farms Alex Gambonini

November 23, 2021

Alex Gambonini grew up on her family’s dairy farm in northern California, leading her to study Dairy Science and Agricultural Business at the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. During her time at the University of Minnesota, she was a Graduate Research Assistant to Dr. Joleen Hadrich, focusing her research on dairy farm management economics. Her MS thesis, entitled “Implications of Cow Nutrition on Whole-Farm Profitability of Minnesota Dairy Farms,” was recognized with the Department’s 2020 Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award.  In her thesis, she combined farm-level financial data from the Center for Farm Financial Management’s FINBIN with cow-level production data to analyze how nutrition and other herd management aspects impact long-term whole-farm profitability. A key aspect of her research was finding appropriate ways to allocate whole-farm yearly financials to individual cows across 82 farms.

During her program, Alex collaborated with Dr. Hadrich and Amber Roberts, an Agricultural Business Management Extension Educator at the University of Minnesota. Funding for their research was provided through a USDA-NIFA grant titled “Merging Milk Quality and Financial Databases to Improve Farm Level Decisions and Enhance the Economic Viability of Small and Medium-sized Dairy Farms.”

Gambonini is currently employed full-time as an Agricultural Economist for the California Federal Milk Marketing Order, which is a part of the USDA-Agricultural Marketing Service-Dairy Program. Although most of her time as a University of Minnesota student was spent virtually due to the pandemic, she truly enjoyed her time in person and online with her fellow students and faculty. “The University of Minnesota provided me with great opportunities to expand my knowledge of economics and how it relates to the dairy industry and dairy business management, accelerating me to my career as a dairy economist today.”

Figure 1: The percentage of cows from the break-even sample that achieve a cumulative lifetime break-even by lactation for all farms, resilient farms, and non-resilient farms.1
1All three groups are statistically different as determined through t-tests. Lactation 1 had a t-stat of -3.82 and a P-value less than 0.01; Lactation 2 had a t-stat of -25.59 and a P-value less than 0.01; and Lactation 3 had a t-stat of -4.00 and a P-value less than 0.01.