Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference to feature producers from across the country

Producers from across the country will share their strategies and experiences with in vitro fertilization and robotics at this year’s Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference (GLRDC).

The 16th annual GLRDC will be held Feb. 8-10 in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. Producers arriving early may join the United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM) at a 7 p.m. session Feb. 7 to learn how dairy promotion dollars are used across the state. The conference will continue Thursday and Friday with sessions for producers and a small trade show. The conference concludes Feb. 10 with the Holstein Breed Association meeting.

The conference features an extensive line-up of experts providing updates on the industry.  In addition, producers from across the country will gather to share their knowledge on in vitro fertilization (IVF) and robotics.

The producers featured on the IVF panel include:

Tyler Boyd – A fourth-generation registered Jersey breeder from Tennessee. Since 2013, he has served as the general manager of Jerseyland Sires in Hilmar, California. Jerseyland Sires is an AI company that works closely with the 12 dairy farm families who make up the organization, in addition to its marketing partner, Select Sires, to provide elite Jersey bulls. Previously, he worked at World Wide Sires. He oversees all daily operations, including the Primus female IVF Program for Jerseyland Sires. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Brent Wickstrom – A third-generation producer who handles the day-to-day management and record keeping,  oversees labor, and has now started the IVF program on their farm, located in Hilmar, California Brent saw this technology as an opportunity to rapidly reproduce from the farms group of elite animals, improve herd genetics and have high-end animals to market in various sales. The operation started in 1973 with 500 cows and now has more than 2,400 animals. Brent graduated from Cal Poly in 2013 with a major in dairy science and minors in ag business and crop science.

Steve Buschur – Plain-Knoll Dairy, located in New Weston, Ohio, is a family-operated farm that has been in business since the end of WWII. It formally incorporated in 1982.  The farm features about 680 registered Holsteins with many uncommonly high-genomic cows. The farm has focused for many years on using top genetics to breed well-balanced, long-lasting cows capable of high production. As a result, the farm has been marketing 30 to 45 percent of their herd each year for the past 25 years. This summer the farm became a satellite location for a Trans Ova Genetics IVF facility.

In addition to learning more about IVF strategies, producers who attend GLRDC will have the opportunity to learn more about robotic milking systems. Producers who have installed robotic systems from Lely, DeLaval and GEA will share their experiences in a panel discussion. Hear about their successes and stumbles from installation to operation and their best management strategies to move their operations forward. Producers featured on the panel include:

Bill Gordon – A fifth-generation producer, Bill runs Gordons Roxburgh Farms located 35 miles northeast of Port Huron, Michigan, in Ontario, Canada. The operation milks 300 cows and raises all replacements on the farm, which comprises 900 acres owned and 35 acres rented. The farm started using robots in April 2016 with five GEA MIone robots. An additional robot was added in March 2017, and there are plans to add two more in the near future as quota purchases allow and additional family members return home to the operation.

Jeremy Higgins – Dairy Manager of an operation located in Mendon, Michigan. The operation was started more than 30 years ago by Al Riedstra, who has another operation in Rolling Prairie, Indiana. In total, they milk 4500 cows with 480 on Delaval robots.  Jeremy has been with the operation for four years and has served the dairy industry for 25 years.

Brian Houin – Third generation producers and one of six family members helping manage Homestead Dairy, located in Plymouth, Indiana. They milk 3200 cows and manage all of their young stock. A portion of the herd is milked using a 24-robot Lely system. The other cows are milked in a traditional rotary system.  Brian joined the operation in 2003 when he graduated from Purdue University.

Martin brothers – The Martin brothers (Micah, Japheth, Clement) were raised on a 280-cow dairy and then started Milky Way Dairy in 2017, milking 300 cows on an AMS Galaxy robot system. The dairy is located in New Paris, Indiana. Their operation is unique in that they also bed the cows robotically and use a flush manure system in a cross-ventilation barn.

Visit to get the complete conference schedule or to register online. Participants can also register by phone by calling 517-884-7089. Individual (adult), student and farm registration options are available. Registering by Jan. 21, 2018, will save you up to $25 per day. Online registration closes Feb. 4, 2018, at midnight and on-site registrations are subject to availability.