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Dairy product marketing and animal care will be the featured first-day topics at the ninth annual Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference (GLRDC) scheduled for Feb. 3–5 at the Bavarian Inn Lodge and Conference Center in Frankenmuth.


Source: Michigan State University, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Animal Care and Product Marketing Will Be Focus of First Day's Schedule at Annual Dairy Conference

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Dairy product marketing and animal care will be the featured first-day topics at the ninth annual Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference (GLRDC) scheduled for Feb. 3–5 at the Bavarian Inn Lodge and Conference Center in Frankenmuth.

The first session, titled "Dairy in the Fast Food Lane!" takes place Thursday morning. Producers in attendance will discover firsthand how partnerships formed through the dairy checkoff program are responsible for bringing additional resources and innovations into existence to grow the sale of dairy products.

"As profit margins get slimmer, it is important to look at new ways of generating income," said Faith Cullens, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension dairy educator. "For some, it may mean adding cows to the herd, but for others the answer may be to diversify an existing operation through direct marketing. These sessions will help producers become familiar with some of the possibilities."

Additionally, Diane Leonard, vice president of strategic initiatives with Dairy Management, Inc. (DMI), will present "The Dairy Pipeline: It’s More than Groceries." Rachel Weber, a dairy scientist employed by DMI and housed full-time at McDonald’s restaurants corporate headquarters, will discuss how some companies are successfully implementing product innovation to drive an increase in the sale of dairy products. Weber, the first DMI employee to be based at a partner’s office, will also talk about the process of developing new ideas using dairy products at McDonald’s.

"The speakers are both engaged in developing innovative new ways to market milk while ensuring that these products meet consumer needs and wants," Cullens said. "Their talks are sure to introduce new ideas to Michigan dairy producers."

Thursday afternoon sessions will focus on cow care and dairy animal health topics. The first speaker after lunch will be Mark Thomas, an Ohio dairy producer and International Hot Rod Association World Champion, who will share how racing and running his family’s 340-cow dairy farm all boil down to the same thing – having a strong team behind you. He’ll also relate how embracing the team approach has improved productivity and profitability on his own dairy farm.

Following Thomas, Drs. Ron Erksine and Dan Grooms of the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine, will deliver the latest updates on leukosis and Johne’s disease research, respectively. Dr. Sam Leadley, calf and heifer specialist with Attica Veterinary Associates, will speak about how dairy farmers can optimize their newborn calf health protocols.

At the conclusion of the animal health session, the speakers will reconvene as a panel facilitated by Dr. Mark Fox of the Deckerville Veterinary Clinic. Conference attendees will be able to ask panel members animal health-related questions.

"I’m excited for the herd health panel," Cullens shared. "It’s a unique opportunity for producers to hear from multiple experts on issues that are very important to all of them."

The 2011 GLRDC includes two days of educational sessions, one half-day of breed association and youth meetings and an industry-wide awards banquet honoring a host of industry winners including the MSU Dairy Farmer of the Year.

Registration forms are available online at www.glrdc.msu.edu or by calling 517-353-3175. Registrations received before Jan. 21 will receive a $50 early bird discount. Online registration closes Jan. 28, 2011.

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