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Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference set for Feb. 7-9
Michigan Correspondent

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The 11th annual Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference (GLRDC) Feb. 7-9 will feature workshops on animal care, nutrition, technology, social media and other hot topics aimed at preparing dairy producers for the future.

The three-day conference Bavarian Inn Lodge and Conference Center in Frankenmuth will include educational sessions, panel discussions and breed association meetings.

In addition, the seventh annual Dairy Industry Recognition Night will include honoring the industry’s leading producers and announcing 2013 Michigan Dairy Ambassador Scholarship and Leadership Program recipients.

Other activities include the eighth annual Great Lakes Commercial Heifer Extravaganza Sale and an industry trade show. GLRDC organizer Brian Troyer said some of the educational sessions are aimed at helping producers navigate difficult situations caused last year by weather and economic conditions.

“Widespread drought and subsequent economic conditions changed the outlook of Michigan’s dairy industry in 2012,” Troyer said. “Thursday’s sessions will focus on feeding cows in the aftermath and increasing efficiency in 2013, while acknowledging sustainable practices.”

The first day of the conference will feature keynote speaker Dale Bauman, widely regarded by the industry as the godfather of recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST). He will discuss the impact new technology has on the dairy industry and public perception of change.

During his presentation, “Accepting Technology and Feeding the World,” participants will explore how the dairy industry can work globally to meet the needs of a growing population while observing the changing rules of society.

Mike Hutjens, dairy extension specialist from the University of Illinois, and Greg Zuver, dairy nutritionist with Caledonia Farmers Elevator, will talk about the challenges and opportunities for meeting the nutritional needs of cows during their presentation, “Feeding Cows in 2012-2013: What Has Been Learned, What Are We Still Learning and How Do Dairy Farmers Move Forward?”
A concurrent session by Tom Earleywine, director of nutritional services at Land O’Lakes, is titled “The Latest in Calf Nutrition.” This session will explore the latest research findings for managing groups, using robotic calf feeders and meeting nutritional requirements for calves.

Rounding out the first day of the conference will be a producer panel featuring Nathan Elzinga of Daybreak Dairy, Zeeland; Dr. Lou Neuder, D.V.M., Green Meadow Farms, Inc.; and Elsie and Brian Schaap, Visser Calf Ranch, Strathmore, Calif. They will share their views and experiences related to optimizing newborn calf care and health.

During the dinner program, attendees will hear from Domino’s Pizza President Patrick Doyle about the innovative partnership between Domino’s and the dairy checkoff – what they’ve accomplished together, where they are going and what they have in store for the future.

On Feb. 8, attendees will learn about nutrition, milk quality, social media, dairying in the 2013 economy, business planning, shooting a video and robotic systems. The lineup features Tom Overton, associate professor of dairy nutrition at Cornell University, who will discuss how producers can achieve peak performance from their fresh cows by addressing their specific nutritional needs.

Dr. Ron Erskine, Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Roger Thompson, D.V.M., Team Management Concepts, will offer advice on how prevention is preferable to using drugs as a cure-all. Their session will also offer tips for avoiding drug residue when treatment is the only option.

Producers will also pick up practical tips for improving milk quality from Michigan panelists Dave Schroeder, Cary Dairy, Battle Creek; Steven Vander Hoff, Bebow Dairy, St. Louis; and Tom Oesch, Swisslane Dairy, Alto.

Gary Sipiorski, development manager of Vita Plus Corp., will present Friday’s final morning session, “Dairying in the 2013 Economy.”

This interactive session will offer advice and tips on how to survive – and thrive – in the new global dairy industry.

During the afternoon, attendees will have the choice of attending two of five in-depth workshops including “Business Planning for Your Dairy Succession” with Dennis Stine, MSU extension farm business management educator;  “Connect With Consumers From Your Couch: Social Media 101” with Jane Hillstrom and Samantha Baudhuin, Hillstrom PR; “Dairying in 2013: Question and Answer Follow-up” with Gary Sipiorski; and “Shooting On-farm Videos: Telling Dairy’s Story From Your Cows’ Best Side” with Hillstrom PR.
The fifth workshop is “A Robotic Comparison” with Michigan panelists Amy Martin, Gingrich Meadows, LeRoy; Tom Oesch; Margie Weiss, Weiss Farms, Frankenmuth; and Ben Schaendorf, Schaendorf Dairy, Hopkins. The session will be moderated by Phil Durst, senior MSU extension educator.

The Michigan Brown Swiss and Holstein associations will conduct annual meetings Feb. 9, starting at 10 a.m. A group lunch and statewide Purebred Dairy Cattle Assoc. update will begin at noon. The Michigan Jersey Cattle Club will conduct its annual meeting starting at 1 p.m.

Registration forms and a complete program schedule are available online at

Participants may also register and receive more information on the conference by calling 517-353-3175. Early registration, which includes reduced fees, ends on Jan. 18. Online registration ends Jan. 25. On-site registrations are subject to availability.