Economics, hoof care, milk quality and nutrition sessions offered at GLRDC

Registration closes soon for Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference, which will be held Feb. 2-4 at Frankenmuth, Michigan.

Dairy calf | MSU Extension

Dairy calf | MSU Extension

EAST LANSING, Mich. – The 15th annual Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference, Feb. 2-4 at the Bavarian Inn and Conference Center in Frankenmuth, Michigan, will focus on the latest in milk quality, hoof care, antimicrobial drug use, consumer transparency and market outlooks to help dairy producers remain successful today and into the future.

The conference agenda on Friday morning features Greg Bethard, a dairy economist with G&R Consulting, will be talking about the economics of dairying today and the most critical economic and societal factors for the future. Milk and feed prices are in constant flux—how does a dairy manager survive and prosper in these cycles?  What tools are available to help?  What can a dairy do strategically to lower costs or improve revenue? Bethard will share tips to help dairies not only survive but thrive in today’s volatile markets.

Then participants will discover new tools and techniques for improved hoof health care with Karl Burgi with the Dairyland Hoof Care Institute.  This session will discuss the reasons for lameness rates ranging internationally from a mere 6 percent to over 65 percent per year.  Focusing on the fundamentals of hoof health for today’s high-yielding dairy cows, this presentation will focus on hoof health tools with benefits of high milk production, reproduction and longevity, and higher profits.  

Pam Ruegg, Ph.D. with the University of Wisconsin, veterinarians Mark Fox and Roger Thomson, and Michigan producers will share their research and real-life experiences to help expand producers’ skills in excelling in milk quality. Experts will review management practices that result in production of high-quality milk and discuss the changing expectations of consumers about how we manage cows to produce high-quality milk.

The formal program will wrap up with inspiring and challenging words from Mike Hutjens, Ph.D., University of Illinois on the four feeding pillars of 2017. Looking ahead, herd size and milk production per cow will be important, along with finding your competitive position, the role of forage quality using uNDF and low-lignin alfalfa, and improving animal health through animal immunity (using nutrition such as trace minerals and DFM) with less antibiotic application.

Friday afternoon, attendees will have the choice of three educational workshops:

  • Q&A With a Producer Down Under

Producers will learn more about Donovan’s Dairy and Mann’s management strategies in a question-and-answer session.

  • In-depth Discussion About Hoof Health with Karl Burgi

Attendees will take a closer look at the details of keeping hoofs healthy: understanding basic hoof anatomy, preventing claw-horn diseases through functional and therapeutic hoof trimming, using timed hoof trimming, preventing digital dermatitis and foot rot, managing a successful hoof bath and setting up a low-lameness action plan.

  • Milk Components: Opportunities for Maximizing Farm Gate Returns

Adam Lock, of MichiganState University; Mike Hutjens, University of Illinois; and producers and nutritionists will discuss maximizing milk components. Historically, this has been one of the biggest challenges of dairy management. Milk component yield, not milk volume, continues to be the key driver of dairy profitability. The workshop will emphasize influences on milk components, both fat and protein, during production while comparing the economics of each.

Friday evening will wrap up with the annual dairy awards dinner showcasing the dairy farmer of the year, MSU Dairy Club awards, association awards and the announcement of the dairy ambassador scholarship winners.

The Jersey Association will conduct its annual meeting on Saturday starting at 10 a.m.

Individual (adult), student and farm registration options are available. Those who register by Jan. 20 will save up to $25 per day. Online registration closes Jan. 29 at midnight. On-site registrations are subject to availability.

Visit to get the complete conference schedule or to register online. Participants can also register by phone by calling 517-884-7089.

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