More than 220 dairy farmers, nutritionists and industry professionals gathered at Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers, on Nov. 30 to discuss preparing for the next generation of dairy farming. The theme of the event was “Traditions That Last: Finding Your Team’s Competitive Advantage.”
The day kicked off with a pre-conference breakfast, during which three dairy producers and one industry professional from the Midwest shared how they use technology within their operations:
- Zoey Brooks of Brooks Farms presented on the advantages of the operation’s automatic calf feeder barn. This automated system has resulted in healthier calves and provides opportunities for public education and a youth apprenticeship program.
- Craig Fietzer of Fietzer Farms discussed the collar-mounted cow identification, rumination and activity tracking sensors used on his dairy. The data from these sensors is used to determine the best times to breed each cow, resulting in improved labor efficiency on the farm.
- Craig Finke of Finke Farm spoke on his farm’s automated feeding system, which delivers fresh feed six times a day. Feeding and milking automation systems allow him to spend more time with his cows in a herd management capacity.
- Jack Hippen, North American and European Sales Director of STgenetics, shared how sexing technology and genomic testing allow for production of higher-value products and services.
Dr. Bob James, owner of Down Home Heifer Solutions and professor emeritus in the dairy science department at Virginia Tech, opened the main conference, speaking on strategies to care for calves and heifers. He encouraged the audience to adopt new technologies that can improve calf care, calf health and labor management.
Dr. Roger Hagevoort of New Mexico State University’s Agriculture Science Center focused on how best to train the next generation of farm workers. He encouraged producers to work with third-party resources such as extension and industry organizations to provide the necessary training. Hagevoort stressed the importance of hands-on training and having managers spend time with their on-farm employees.
Robert Walker, CEO of KEENAN, closed out the morning session with a discussion on how technology is disrupting agriculture worldwide. Walker explained that agriculture is in the midst of a technological revolution that will disrupt current business models.
The afternoon continued with Dr. Roger Scaletti, who supports the Alltech® Mineral Management team, addressing the crowd on mineral use in the diet to capture more profits. Scaletti provided research results indicating that the inclusion of organic trace minerals such as those in Bioplex® and Sel-Plex® improves milk production and the transfer of immunity from cow to calf as well as increasing heifer performance.
Carl Babler concluded the main conference with a market update. He shared his insights on the future of the dairy market in the Midwest, the United States and the world. According to Babler, the United States is positioned to be the animal protein provider of the world, and dairy products will play a factor in this position. There is a need for dairy producers who produce milk as a product and milk as a commodity, but it is important for operations to determine to which group they belong.
Larry McCarren, former Green Bay Packer and current host of “The Mike McCarthy Show,” then shared insight into past and current Packers team members, and how the team’s veteran players take it upon themselves to guide rookie players on how to be successful in Green Bay both on and off the field.
Held each year in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the Alltech Wisconsin Dairy School is a long-standing tradition within the Wisconsin dairy industry. More than 2,700 dairy industry professionals have attended since it was first held in 2003.