The Right Focus: Vita Plus Dairy Summit 2017 Recap

Posted on January 8, 2018 in Dairy Performance
More than 330 dairy producers, Vita Plus consultants and industry peers came together December 6 and 7 for Vita Plus Dairy Summit 2017 in Madison, Wisconsin.  Follow the links in this post to access full event coverage, including speakers’ PowerPoint presentations, articles, videos and more.

Communicating with consumers about dairy cattle welfare – Dr. Beth Ventura, University of Minnesota
When dairy farmers tell their stories of animal care and well-being to the public, Dr. Beth Ventura said farmers should seek to understand their target audience and identify with shared values, and then some common ground can be achieved. If not, then those messages could fall on deaf ears.

It’s 2017:  Do you know where your phosphorus is? – Jeff Endres, Endres Berryridge Farms
Ten years ago, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk assembled a task force to address water quality in Dane County, Wisconsin after a winter manure run-off incident resulted in a fish kill. Jeff Endres, a dairy producer in Waunakee, Wisconsin, joined the team and has since teamed up with area farmers to create Yahara Pride Farms to help protect natural resources and promote agricultural stewardship.

New milk analysis tools to improve animal performance – Dr. Dave Barbano, Cornell University
For more than 130 years, dairy producers and milk processors have been analyzing the content of milk to improve quality and profitability. Dr. Dave Barbano and his team are bringing together years of work to develop new milk analysis tools to study fatty acid composition and how this data can be used to evaluate herd performance.

Dairy economics:  Creating winners in any environment – Dr. Michael Swanson, Wells Fargo
The dairy industry is volatile and unpredictable, and that isn’t likely to change, according to Dr. Michael Swanson. Dairy managers must embrace and adapt to that mentality to be successful. Swanson shared why he is bullish on agriculture long-term and what producers can do to be successful.

Address short-term financial challenges – Rod Waultet, Agri-Business Consultants LLC
While the long-term outlook for agriculture is bullish, dairy producers face short-term financial challenges. Rod Wautlet shared his thoughts on what dairy producers need to address financially to help weather these challenges.

Analysis finds wide range in ‘basis’ – Rod Wautlet, Agri-Business Consultants LLC
Basis – the amount received from a milk buyer above the monthly federal milk marketing order Class III minimum price – has been shrinking. Rod Wautlet reported that basis payments differ among processors and payment scenarios.

‘Buyer’s market’ cutting farmer prices and premiums – Larry Hermanson, Rolling Hills Dairy Producers Cooperative
With too much milk supply, milk marketing has become a ‘buyer’s market,’ according to Larry Hermanson. With his perspective as a general manager of a milk procurement cooperative, Hermanson shared how the supply-demand imbalance has affected milk prices and premiums, and he also provided his advice for farmers.

Digging into copper & trace minerals – Dr. Mat Faulkner, Vita Plus
When it comes to trace minerals like copper, it is possible for a dairy cow to have too much of a good thing, and it can even be deadly sometimes. Dr. Mat Faulkner shared why trace minerals matter, how requirements are determined, where absorption occurs, and how much is too much in a dairy cow diet.

Serotonin & the coordination of calcium metabolism in transition dairy cows – Dr. Laura Hernandez, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Hypocalcemia (milk fever) has long been a struggle on dairy farms. New research from Dr. Laura Hernandez shows serotonin may play a more significant role in reducing the incidence of hypocalcemia.

Animal handling done right – Jim Lewis, animal handling consultant
Training employees in the basics of dairy cattle handling can do more than save hours of labor, it can even save a life. Jim Lewis shared how many deaths related to dairy cattle most likely could have been avoided if people knew how to safely work with cattle according to their natural instincts.

Getting more milk from forages – Dr. Dan Undersander, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Getting the most value form homegrown forages continues to be a top priority for dairy producers. Dr. Dan Undersander presented the three key factors producers should focus on to have the most impact on alfalfa and hay quality.

Optimizing feed behavior of dairy cows – Dr. Trevor DeVries, University of Guelph
How cows eat and ruminate is just as important as the nutritional composition of the feed in front of them. Dr. Trevor DeVries shared how dairy producers can make the most of every minute at the feedbunk by understanding dairy cow behavior and incorporating that into daily herd management.

Putting more ‘Ma’ in maternity – Dr. Noah Litherland, Vita Plus
The maternity is a high-impact area affecting the health and performance of the cow and calf, yet it is classically overlooked and poorly understood, according to Dr. Noah Litherland. He presented results from a recent large herd maternity analysis and what factors impact maternity success most.

Key financial management considerations for robotic milk systems – Jim Salfer, University of Minnesota
Installing a new milking system of any kind is a significant investment for a dairy farm. With many methods being used to measure profitability, Jim Salfer and his colleagues surveyed dairy producers using robots to gather some key financial considerations for anyone thinking about installing one of their own.

Success factors for robotic milking – Jack Rodenburg, DairyLogix Consulting
Jack Rodenburg has been fascinated with robotic milking facilities since the first one was built down the road from his office in 1999. With more than 35 years of experience in dairy extension and dairy barn renovating, Rodenburg shared the factors he believes can lead to robotic milking success.

Producer panel:  Robotic milking systems – Wulfekuhle Dairy & Pfaff’s Prairie Dairy
Following two industry presenters on robotic milking-related topics, Dan Wulfekuhle and Tom Pfaff each shared their stories and first-hand experiences in using automated milking systems.

Category: Animal handling
Animal health
Business and economics
Calf and heifer nutrition
Colostrum management
Cow comfort
Dairy Performance
Facility design
Feed additives
Feed quality and nutrition
Forage harvesting
Milk production and components
Technology and data management
Transition and reproduction