Genomics, nutrition and dairy stories, oh my! Don’t miss the Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference

posted on January 20, 2016 11:52am

Producers at the Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference will hear from industry experts and Michigan State University Extension educators on genomics, nutrition, consumer education and management of their dairies in times of low milk prices. Set for Feb. 4‒6, the conference will take place at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

Producers will learn new reproductive and genetic management techniques. They’ll discover the role genomics and in-vitro fertilization can play in allowing dairy producers to raise animals that are healthy, have greater longevity, and are more efficient in providing meat and milk to feed the ever-increasing food needs of a growing world population. In addition, producers will hear from other producers across the United States on their genomic programs and learn about the improvements they have seen in their herds.

Next, producers will take a closer look at current dairy market conditions with dairy financial and market expert Gary Siporski of Vita Plus Corporation. He will examine what is causing the current market conditions, what is to come and most importantly, what producers should do about it. Producers will walk away from this session with practical strategies to survive during these challenging financial times. 

Consumers are inundated every day with conflicting information about the food they eat and the way it was raised. This leaves most people with more questions than answers. Kathi Eckler of the United Dairy Industry of Michigan will highlight consumers’ dairy food nutrition concerns and supply producers with simple techniques for answering these tough questions and telling their dairy stories. 

Three additional sessions will take place Friday afternoon: 

  • Answering Consumer Questions About Dairy Farming Practices
    Producers will learn from United Dairy Industry of Michigan experts how to respectfully address consumers’ questions about dairy farming practices. This session will leave them equipped with the tools, key messages and confidence to answer any questions about their livelihood, including becoming pros at hosting their own farm tours.
  • Improving Feed Efficiency of Lactating Dairy Cows
    Attendees will hear from nutrition experts Mike Vandehaar, Michigan State University, and Kent Weigel, University of Wisconsin, about effective strategies to improve feed efficiency using the latest findings and ideas in nutrition, genetics and grouping management from a panel of researchers, producers and nutritionists.
  • Rebuilding DeVor Dairy – Lessons Learned
    In spring 2015, a tornado passed through DeVor Dairy, leaving a path of destruction and destroying cow barns, and damaging equipment and the parlor. Producers will hear from owner of DeVor Dairy, Henk DeVor, and his insurance agent Peter Patrick about the experience. They’ll share what they have learned with the hopes of helping others be prepared on their farms in case a natural disaster strikes.

Individual (adult), student and farm registration options are available. Participants who register before Jan. 23 will save up to $25 per day. Online registration ends on Jan. 31. 

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