May 26, 2023 at 8:12 p.m.
Four-state conference focuses on latest research
The recorded version was added after the conference went virtual during the coronavirus pandemic. Organizers said larger numbers of people from other countries were registering.
“When we moved to virtual for two years, we started picking up international participants,” said Jim Salfer, who is chairing the conference. “There are a lot of overseas participants that really like U.S. research. They really want to get their hands on U.S. dairy research but don’t necessarily have access to that.”
Salfer, who is a Minnesota Extension educator in the field of dairy through the University of Minnesota, said sharing that up-to-date research is an important aim of the conference.
“One thing we’ve really tried hard to do is look throughout the world and see who really has the latest and the best research, and then we try to bring in those speakers,” Salfer said. “We’ve also tried to include more discussion with speakers and participants versus just have speakers speak and then have only one or two questions after.”
The conference, which has been recurring annually for over 30 years, is organized by Iowa State University and the universities of Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Throughout the years, attendance has remained steady.
“We’ve really been able to hold on to attendance even with decreasing herd numbers,” Salfer said. “We’ve stayed between about 525 and 585 participates.”
This year, large-group sessions on the first day of the conference will include presentations by Mike Steele and Eduardo Ribeiro of the University of Guelph, a research university in Ontario, Canada. Steele will share new ideas in prenatal and neonatal calf nutrition, and Ribeiro will discuss the economics of transition cow health. Another large-group session by Norm St. Pierre from Per-due Agribusiness will cover dairy nutrition that highlights, according to the conference flier, “goofy things we do in dairy nutrition that are penny wise and dollar foolish.”
Large-group sessions on day two will include a discussion about feeding in robotic milking systems led by Salfer and Marcia Endres. Endres is the director of graduate studies in the area of dairy cattle production at the University of Minnesota. Another session will be led by dairy producers Sam Fessenden and Jake Peissig, where they will share their robot-feeding strategies.
Each day of the conference also has a slate of six 45-minute breakout sessions, each running twice on the day it is scheduled. Topics include everything from improving pregnancy out-comes to postpartum ketones. This year, a contest was offered to graduate students by the four universities where the students gave three-minute oral presentations about their research. One of the breakout sessions on Wednesday will spotlight the winning students, who will share their presentations.
Phibro Animal Health Corporation is sponsoring the pre-conference symposium on the first morning of the conference, focusing on strategies to improve profits. Presenters will cover the dairy economic outlook, pre-partum inflammation, colostrum production and quality, and disease reduction in fresh-cow management.
Throughout the conference will be ample time for questions and answers, discussions, networking and socializing as well as a trade show and evening receptions.
“One of the things I really enjoy, and that I think participants really enjoy, is networking with people from outside of their immediate area and getting a pulse on the dairy industry,” Salfer said. “It’s important to have really great speakers, but it is just as valuable to visit with people from the whole Upper Midwest and to see how the dairy industry is doing and what producers in the area are thinking.”