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Master of Agribusiness

Considerations for Direct Tanker Loading on Dairy Farms

Earl Biggers, Jr., Dakota Dunes, S.D., defended his thesis, “Considerations for Direct Tanker Loading on Dairy Farms,” Tuesday, April 13, 2010.  Biggers is a Field Supervisor with Dairy Farmers of America in Dakota Dunes.  He graduated from Kansas State University in May with a Master’s in Agribusiness (MAB). 

Since the 1950’s, milk has been stored on farms in refrigerated bulk tanks and then loaded on tanker trucks for shipment. Recently, producers have a new option: direct-tanker loading (DTL). Direct-tanker loading allows the milk to be cooled and immediately loaded onto a tanker as the milk is harvested from cows. This option eliminates the need for producers to purchase and install bulk tanks for their operation. However, it may lead to increased hauling charges.

“My project was born out of ‘real-life’ questions I’d received from dairy producers about whether to use farm bulk tanks or to use direct tanker loading. My desire was to provide dairy producers and the industry with valuable information on the economics of milk cooling and storage,” Biggers said.

He analyzed expenses of both options for three different farm sizes, 700, 1,400 and 2,100 cows, to determine which is more cost effective. His comparison of annualized costs of ownership for all three sizes found only minor differences in the costs of DTL and bulk tanks. For the smaller 700 cow farm, bulk tank yielded a slight savings, but for the two larger farms, DTL provided a larger advantage. However, he cautioned using DTL may increase hauling rates and producers should fully explore any potential hauling rate increases before making the final decision.

Arlo Biere, Professor of Agricultural Economics and Biggers’ thesis advisor, said, “Earl’s research provides useful economic information for larger dairies considering whether to adopt direct tanker loading of milk.  With that approach, the dairy producer can eliminate one step in the milk’s journey from the milking machine to the milk processor.  A considerable number of factors enter into the choice of whether or not to adopt direct tanker loading.  Earl’s work provides a clear picture for anyone considering that question.”

K-State’s Master of Agribusiness is an award-winning, distance-education degree program that focuses on food and agribusiness management.  Students and alumni work in every sector of the food and agribusiness sector and are located in more than 35 states within the United States and in 25 countries. 

“KansasState’s Master of Agribusiness program assisted me with the knowledge and tools to work in the agricultural industry. My thesis may be helpful to today’s dairy producers in making milk cooling and storage choices against a backdrop of volatile feed and milk prices,” Biggers said.=

The full thesis publication can be found online on K-State’s Research Exchange at  http://hdl.handle.net/2097/3873.