More than 550 dairy farmers, family members and industry representatives were eager to learn better financial practices to improve their dairy businesses at the Leading Dairy Producer Conference hosted by Purina Animal Nutrition and Land O’Lakes.
“Dairies are in the business of making money, not milk,” said Greg Bethard, Ph.D., and chief financial officer for Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy, Dairy Dreams, and Ron’s Wisconsin Cheese located in Kewaunee, Wis. “That means they need to focus on margins, not ratios.”
During his informative financial session Bethard stressed the importance of calculating income over feed costs, and analyzing a profit and loss statement on an annual basis. He also warned attendees of the dangers of benchmarking and focusing on outdated metrics like pounds of milk per cow.
“Dairy farming is a very complex business,” said Elena Lindemann, lactating livestock marketing director with Purina Animal Nutrition. “Producers need to be aware of the latest research and management insights on everything from animal nutrition and cropping to regulations and employee management, but they also need to know the best way to manage their finances to ensure a profitable and sustainable operation.”
In addition to the financial session, Dr. Joel Pankowski, manager of field technical services for Arm and Hammer Animal Nutrition discussed essential fatty acids and their impact on immune function and reproductive performance.
Recommendations for growing healthy calves were provided by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Dr. Amy Stanton. Insights about colostrum management, group housing and disease detection and monitoring were shared with attendees.
Outside of the educational sessions, calves from a full potential feeding demonstration were on display. Calves on display were raised with Cow’s Match® Seasonal Protein Blend Calf Milk Replacer at 2.5 pounds per day from day 1 through week 8, AMPLI-Calf® Seasonal Starter Feed, 22 percent, free choice from day 3 through week 12 and AMPLI-Calf® Grower Feed at 10 pounds per day from week 13 through week 24. Average daily gain from birth to 12 weeks for the two calves displayed was 2.08 and 2.36 pounds per day, respectively.
For the first time, 12 college students from three Wisconsin universities were also invited to the event. The students had the unique opportunity to learn about Purina Animal Nutrition and Land O’Lakes, while networking with employees and also learning about jobs and internships.
“These students are the future of the industry. Our goals were for the students to have an opportunity to network, soak in knowledge and enjoy their time with others that are passionate about the dairy industry,” said Mike Fordyce, sales manager for Purina Animal Nutrition. “As a company, we’re also focused on the next generation of leaders and that starts here by giving them these opportunities and insights,” added Fordyce.
In an effort to present the most applicable and current research and information to attendees, Purina Animal Nutrition partners with several industry companies to host the Leading Dairy Producers Conference each year.