Virginia A. Ishler

Extension Dairy Specialist


    Dairy Herd Management
    Dairy Cattle Nutrition
    Dairy Feed Management
    Dairy Cattle Feed Management
    Dairy Business Management
    Dairy Cattle Business Management



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    About Me

    Focus and Interests

    My appointment is 60% extension and outreach with a main emphasis in nutrient/feed management, dairy cattle nutrition, and business management. The rest of my appointment is split between research, teaching and dairy team co-chair. My responsibilities encompass developing educational materials and conducting workshops and conferences for producers and agricultural professionals. I also assist in troubleshooting problems out in the field.


    The majority of grant monies I receive are focused in the area of feed management and business management. I am co-PI on several large grants focusing on nutrient management and the whole farm system, which includes precision feeding and profitability.

    Extension Activities

    Feed Management - program leader - develop educational programs and tools related to the certified feed management planners program. Business Management - program leader - develop educational programs and tools related to income over feed costs and cash flow planning.

    Work Experience

    • Extension specialist - Penn State University - 1988 - present
    • Dairy Cattle Nutritionist - Brown's Feed Company, Utica, NY - 1986-1987
    • Dairy Cattle Nutritionist - The Penn State NIR Forage Testing Van - 1985
    • Research Assistant - Penn State University - 1982-1984


    Department of Dairy and Animal Science (DAS) Fact Sheets

    • Feed Management: Examining Phosphorus Levels in Component-Fed Herds. Virginia Ishler, Dan Ludwig and Rebecca White. DSE 2013-188.
    • CropCents mobile app, 2013, Virginia Ishler and Rebecca White
    • Feed Management: Examining Phosphorus Levels in Component Fed Herds, 2013 DSE-188
    • DairyCentsPRO mobile app, 2013, Virginia Ishler and Rebecca White
    • DairyCents mobile app, 2012. Virginia Ishler and Rebecca White.
    • Monthly article in Lancaster Farming on Livestock and Nutrient Management, 2011-present. Virginia Ishler
    • Monthly article on IOFC and the Penn State Dairy Herd, 2009 - 2014. Virginia Ishler
    • Monthly newsletter, Certified Feed Management, 2009 - present. Virginia Ishler
    • Managing IOFC, 2009. Kenneth Bailey, Tim Beck, Erica Cowan and Virginia Ishler
    • Phosphorus Monitoring Tools for Certified Feed Management Planners, 2008. (Two Excel worksheets accompany the publication. Virginia Ishler.
    • Protein Monitoring Tools for Certified Feed Management Planners, 2008. (Two Excel worksheets accompany the publication. Virginia Ishler.
    • Interpretation of Milk Urea Nitrogen Values, 2008. Virginia Ishler.
    • Resources for Sampling and Evaluating Forages and TMRs, 2008. Virginia Ishler.
    • Manure Sampling Instructions for Pennsylvania Feed Management Planners, 2008. Virginia Ishler.
    • Carbon, methane emissions, and the dairy cow, 2008. Virginia Ishler.
    • Tracking Milk Prices and Feed Costs, 2007. Kenneth Bailey and Virginia Ishler.
    • Identifying Bottlenecks to Higher Dairy Profitability, 2006.
    • Sources of food processing wastes, hay and feed ingredients, DAS 00-14
    • Evaluating forage quality by visual appraisal, pH and dry matter, DAS 00-7
    • Soybeans and soybean byproducts for dairy cattle, DAS 00-3
    • Monitoring dry matter intake, milk production and milk margin, DAS 00-2
    • Animal diagnostic, forage and feed testing laboratories in the northeast, DAS 99-18
    • Drought-related issues in dairy cattle nutrition, DAS 99-5
    • Trouble-shooting problems with milkfat depression, DAS 99-2
    • Trouble-shooting problems with low milk production, DAS 98-16
    • Therapeutic nutrition for dairy cattle, DAS 98-15
    • Feeding during shortages of homegrown feeds, DAS 97-17
    • Trouble-shooting milk fever and downer cow problems, DAS 96-27
    • Reducing heat stress on dairy cows, DAS 96-4
    • Use of total mixed rations for dairy cows, DAS 94-25
    • Concentrates for dairy cattle, DAS 94-6
    • Mold and mycotoxin problems in livestock feeding, DAS 93-21

    Extension Circulars

    • Dairy Farm Feed Cost Control, 1999
    • Feeding and Managing Dry Cows, 1996
    • From Feed to Milk: Understanding Rumen Function, 1995
    • Harvesting and Utilizing Silage, 1994
    • Body Condition Scoring as a Tool for Dairy Herd Management, 1989

    Natural Resources, Agricultural and Engineering Services

    • Penn State Dairy Reference Manual, Third Edition, 1995

    Department of Ag Economics and Rural Sociology

    • Budgets for corn grain and corn silage, 1999
    • Agricultural Alternatives: Dairy Heifer Replacement Production, 1994 (being updated)
    • Agricultural Alternatives: Dairy Goat Production, 1994

    Department of Crop and Soil Sciences

    • Forage quality testing: Why? How? Where?, 1995

    Department of Veterinary Science

    • Prevention and control of foot problems in dairy cows, DAS 99-20
    • Nutritional evaluation of dairy rations and feeding management, DAS 94-21

    Peer-reviewed publications

    • Evaluating the effect of ration composition on income over feed cost and milk yield. M.H. Buza, L.A. Holden, R.A. White, V.A. Ishler, J. Dairy Sci. 2014 97:3073-3080
    • Utilization of Phosphorus in Lactating Cows Fed Varying Amounts of Phosphorus and Forage. Z. Wu, S. K. Tallam, V. A. Ishler, and D. D. Archibald J. Dairy Sci. 2003 86: 3300-3308.
    • Effects of sucrose supplementation on dry matter intake, milk yield, and blood metabolites of periparturient Holstein dairy cows. 2002.

      R. S. Ordway, V. A. Ishler, and G. A. Varga. J. Dairy Sci. 2002 85: 879-888.

    • Keys to developing an effective dairy satellite extension program, 1996, J. Dairy Sci.
    • The use of fiber concentrations for ration formulations, 1998, J. Dairy Sci.


    • 2014 The Honor Society of Agriculture Gamma Sigma Delta: Certificate of membership in recognition of high scholarship, outstanding achievement or service
    • 2011 Pennsylvania Dairymen's Association Extension Award
    • 2005 Staff Laureate Trailblazer Award
    • 2003 Vice President's Award for Innovation "Pathfinder Award"
    • 1996 Outstanding staff member


    M.S., Dairy Nutrition, The Pennsylvania State University, 1984 B.S., Dairy Science, Delaware Valley College, 1982