PDPW Dairy's Bottom Line November 2019

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BOTTOM LINE Thursday, November 14, 2019 SECTION E

Sharing ideas, solutions, resources and experiences that help dairy producers succeed.

Mind net herd-replacement costs


et herd-replacement cost is a frequently underestimated expense on dairies. It’s a significant determining factor in overall dairy profitability. Producers often view having plenty of heifers as the most effective hedge against herd-replacement cost. While that may be a proud testament to reproduction management and genetic selection, if there are more heifers than MATT needed it’s a drain LANGE on operational performance and profitability. Knowing and understanding net herd-replacement cost and managing that margin can improve an operation’s performance, cash flow and profitability. It’s important to note that net herd-replacement cost is not the cost of raising a heifer. Rather it’s her value as a replacement compared to her cull value. Net herd-replacement cost per hundredweight is the difference between the cost of a replacement heifer and the value of the re-

in key areas can be benchmarked. For a 1,000 cow dairy – dry cows included – with a calving interval of 24 months, a replacement rate of 30 percent, and an 8 percent loss represented by heifers that don’t enter the milking herd, it takes about 648 heifers to maintain herd size. That’s 27 heifers each month. At more than the target number, every additional heifer entering the milking herd increases the replacement rate. With the goal of reducing additional heifers in mind, set a benchmark for replacement rate. CONTRIBUTED Determine a value for each heifer based on her productive life less Knowing and understanding net herd-replacement cost and managing her cull value. that margin can improve an operation’s performance, cash flow and Keep in mind increasing profitability. It’s important to note that net herd-replacement cost is milk production can reduce net not the cost of raising a heifer. Rather it’s her value as a replacement herd-replacement costs, but it’s compared to her cull value. just a small piece of the puzzle. To realize true cost savings it’s also placed cull cow. If a cow is valued $210,000.  If the herd shipped 27 million important to decrease the number at $1,700 and the cull value is of involuntary culls. Managing $700 cash, the net herd-replace- pounds a year, the net herd-rethat area allows for greater opplacement cost would be $1.43 ment cost is $1,000. portunity to increase overall milk  If a 1,000-cow dairy has 300 per hundredweight. production while reducing net There are a number of ways to cull cows and a mortality rate of herd-replacement costs. 50 cows annually, it will have a to- manage that margin and reduce Of course greater cull prices tal cull-cow revenue of $210,000. its impact on total cost of producalso shrink net herd-replacement tion.  The net herd-replacement costs. Though cull-cow prices Begin by establishing a target cost would be $385,000 – which is 350 multiplied by $1,700 minus replacement rate so performance have generally been depressed the

Calf-care managers learn from experts In a workshop series designed to challenge even the most seasoned calf-care managers, three experts will present the latest in calfcare management strategies and research. The PDPW Calf Care Connection® will be held in three Wisconsin locations – Nov. 19 in Chilton, Nov. 20 in Eau Claire and Nov. 21 in Fennimore. Featured presenters are Jennifer Van Os and veterinarians Dr. Theresa Ollivett and Dr. Franklyn Garry. They will offer several sessions.  Learn what scientific data indicates regarding social calf housing.  Learn how to diagnose clinical and subclinical pneumonia.  Be part of a hands-on session to examine postmortem calf lungs. Participants will also learn data-keeping and tissue-sampling techniques in a session led by Garry. Showcasing normal and abnormal calf anatomy, he’ll highlight the most common causes of calf mortality and how to enhance calf care. The program is geared to calf feeders and team members who work with young stock and newborn calves. College and technical students studying animalor dairy-science-related courses are also encouraged to attend. Craig Lallensack, dairy-agribusiness instructor at Lakeshore Technical

PDPW Calf Care Connection workshops 9 a.m.-4:15 p.m. Nov. 19, Fox Valley Technical College, Chilton Regional Center, 1200 Chestnut St., Chilton, Wisconsin 9 a.m.-4:15 p.m. Nov. 20, Chippewa Valley Technical College, Energy Education Center, 4000 Campus Road, Eau Claire, Wisconsin

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9 a.m.-4:15 p.m. Nov. 21, Southwest Technical College, 1800 Bronson Blvd., Fennimore, Wisconsin

College in Cleveland, Wisconsin, has participated in Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin programs during the past five years, accompanied by students enrolled in his courses. He said the program presents an off-campus opportunity to gather with producers and industry professionals to network and share their knowledge about the newest methods and research specific to calf raising. “The value of the educational benefit to them – and me – is immeasurable,” he said. “The Calf Care Connection workshops keep all those in the industry up-todate on the latest practices and research to allow all of us to provide the best life for ourselves and the animals we care for.” Each one-day session will begin with registration at 9 a.m. and conclude at 4:15 p.m. The registration fee covers the workshop, materials and lunch. Visit pdpw.org or contact 800947-7379 or email@pdpw. org for more information.

past two years, there are strategies to increase those values. Managers can establish sound voluntarily culling protocols to reduce the herd’s mortality rate. Proactively culling can also lessen the negative financial impact of death loss. Soundly managing animal-health basics such as transition-cow management, hoof care and overall herd health can also reduce the number of involuntary culls – and increase the value of cows that are culled. Reducing net herd-replacement costs is a fundamental component to lessening the overall cost of production and improving profitability. When a strategy is formulated that includes raising the correct number of heifers, wisely choosing which heifers to cull or sell, minimizing mortality and optimizing animal wellbeing, a full barn can be a testament to an operation that is both soundly managed and positioned for profitability. Matt Lange is a dairy-business consultant with Compeer Financial, a vision sponsor of PDPW. Email matt. lange@compeer.com to reach him.

Consider serotonin’s relationship with calcium


uring late pregnancy and lactation, the udder undergoes an immense amount of change to support milk production. Calcium is the major mineral in milk; large quantities of calcium are excreted into milk as the cow starts lactation. Immediately before and after calving, a cow experiences a substantial nutritional LAURA HERNANDEZ and physiological demand to support milk production while simultaneously maintaining health. During the past several years, improving the processes by which the cow maintains adequate calcium levels during the transition period has been given a lot of attention. Research has been primarily focused on improving cow health, welfare and overall herd productivity. Researchers have sought to learn more about such management

active compounds. Those compounds impact milk synthesis and secretion. They also interact with tissues to coordinate maternal metabolism and physiology – one of them being calcium. Our research team conducted a study into late-lactation dairy cows. We demonstrated that treatment with 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan – a direct precursor for serotonin synthesis – acutely decreased circulating total CONTRIBUTED calcium and urine-calThe relationship between serotonin and calcium in the cium concentrations. But transition cow is a complex one. Researchers continue to it increased milk-calcium study how oral calcium boluses and a ration’s dietary cation- concentrations. That anion difference can be used as effective management tools finding suggested that to optimize cow health, welfare and herd productivity. serotonin was potentially coordinating calcium flux between the kidneys, tendency to maintain tools as dietary catrelative physiological sta- bones, intestines and ion-anion difference and the udder. It was seen by oral calcium boluses – and bility. Another goal is to determine how serotonin changes in calcium in the how those tools impact blood, urine and milk. may synergize with – or cow health during her When multipawork independently from corresponding lactation. – management tools cur- rous-transition cows The fundamental goals were treated with 5-hyrently available for reguof my research program lating calcium metabolism droxy-L-tryptophan for have been to understand one week prepartum, during the transition how serotonin that’s total calcium concentraperiod. produced outside the tions increased during During the transition brain works to regulate period the udder produces calcium signaling and homeostasis – the body’s and secretes biologically Please see HERNANDEZ, Page E2

“But what impressed me is we had zero mastitis...” — Bob Keefer

HARD EARNED ACRES, Bob and Barb Keefer SHIPPENSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA 700 cows, RHA 28,900M SCC 100 to 135,000 “We try to do things right and get better. After starting fresh cows on Udder Comfort™ 2 years ago, I was impressed with our improved SCC Quality Udders Make Quality Milk and production. I’m sold on this even before the pre-fresh trial,” says Bob To locate a distributor and learn more about the Keefer, milking 700 cows at Hard Earned Acres, Shippensburg, Pa. Bob alternated months for groups of heifers to get Udder Comfort mostly before they calved, 1x/day 5 to 7 days pre-fresh and 2x/day 1 to 2 days post-fresh. “We averaged more milk across groups getting it pre-fresh, and I could see the benefits when I lined them up every Friday. “But what impressed me is we had zero mastitis in groups getting Udder Comfort pre-fresh, and treated 5 cases in groups that did not,” Bob reports. “That’s big. We’ll keep using Udder Comfort on the pre-fresh and include the mature cows.”

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BOTTOM LINE Sharing ideas, solutions, resources and experiences that help dairy producers succeed.

Apply now for PDPW Mentor Program Students who are eligible to participate in the PDPW Mentor Program are encouraged to apply by Nov. 17. Eligible are those considering a career in the dairy industry – and who are currently enrolled at a four-year university, a technical school or the University of Wisconsin-Farm and Industry Short Course. The PDPW Mentor Program provides a unique opportunity for students to gain on-the-farm experience at leading dairy farms. They are also able to network with farmers and industry professionals. Each accepted applicant will be matched with a host farm based on the student’s preferences. Once matched the student will spend an eight- to 10-hour

PDPW Board of Directors President Jay Heeg Colby, Wis. 715-507-0030 jcheeg@yahoo.com

Vice President Katy Schultz Fox Lake, Wis. 920-210-9661 katylschultz@gmail.com Secretary Dan Scheider Freeport, Ill. 815-812-4012 dnscheider@gmail.com Treasurer Janet Clark Rosendale, Wis. 608-341-6709 vafarmsllc@hotmail.com

day job-shadowing the mentor. The program allows a student to learn about the host farm, technologies, cow-side animal-care practices, business and financial management, and other management and leadership responsibilities. After the job-shadowing experience each student will complete a one-page summary of his or her day to complete phase one of the Mentor Program. Phase two of the program takes place during the Professional Dairy Producers of

Wisconsin’s business conference, to be held March 18-19, 2020, in Madison, Wisconsin. Complimentary registration is included for mentors and mentees, as is a Mentor Program breakfast. For students attending schools outside of Madison, a one-night hotel stay is also included. Developed to increase opportunities for students to experience modern dairy-production systems, the PDPW Mentor Program has played an integral role in stimulating student-career planning with production agriculture as an option. While a dairy-science student at UW-Platteville, Jenna Achterhof participated in the Mentor Program.

“I absolutely loved it,” she said. “And the conference they put on was by far the best I attended during my three and a half years at school.” Now that she’s returned to the family farm in a management position, Achterhof said she’s eager to serve as a mentor in the program. Applications and resumes for the program are due by Nov. 17. Students will be matched with a mentor farm by Nov. 25, based on interests and geographical locations. Those interested can apply online at pdpw.org/mentor-program or email efranke@pdpw. org to reach PDPW intern Emily Franke.

expectation to learn new things every day, one will be surprised at the incremental growth that occurs through time. When a tree is newly planted it grows a s we grow older it seems like it’s easier to put weight little every day though the human eye can’t perceive it. The on and harder to take it same is true about the seeds of off. Though this article will outline keys to expanding, it has greatness within us. It may be difficult to see their growth until nothing to do with unwanted life has moved ahead a little. physical gain. When we look back after some Instead I want to time has transpired, the growth draw attention is much more obvious. to the kind of Another key to nurturing growth that can’t be measured on a seeds of greatness is to allow the challenges of life to expand bathroom scale. one’s inside. Regardless of what That type of exHANK we do life will present to us pansion springs WAGNER from some of our both good times and bad. It’s in the difficult times that we most valuable experience the best conditions treasure. It’s a treasure that’s for inner growth. When diffinearly impossible to quantify cult circumstances occur in our and represents a priceless lilives because of decisions we’ve brary of life-altering value to made, it’s important to ask, those privileged to it. “What can I learn from this so it There are seeds of greatness never happens again?” inside each person. I insist it’s As we advance further ahead true and I want to share five in life our experiences and ways to grow those precious challenges have the potential to seeds. dramatically increase our value Make a goal to expand on by what we allow to happen inthe inside; then expect it to side. Challenges seem to find us happen. “Seek and you shall find” is a proverb often quoted. without our needing to go looking for them. What we do with People from all walks of life them requires an intentional have attested to its truth for effort to ensure the best possible generations. When setting an

outcome. Here’s a fun key to growth – pack a suitcase and travel somewhere. One of the best ways to expand our insides is to step out of our little corners of this giant world. It’s also a great way to have some fun. When out and about, intentionally seek to understand those people encountered; learn why they do certain things. Think about what historical events have shaped their cultures, traditions and their personal lives. Consider what lessons can be learned from their experiences. Perhaps the trip will position one to expand his or her inside by giving away some of what’s already inside. For me, a trip to Togo, Africa, was one of those life-altering events that forever changed my inside. And a trip to the “poor side” of the Dominican Republic with my daughter Laura changed both of us for life. Here’s a simple but oh-so-important key – listen. While listening is something most of us begin doing at a very young age, it’s a skill that must be learned and diligently practiced. Becoming a proficient listener starts with a strong desire to understand. It can be easy to surround ourselves with

people who are just like us but that doesn’t usually broaden our perspective – or help us to expand our inside. It’s important to be willing to listen to those who have different views than we do. Being a good listener isn’t about agreeing with others. Rather it’s about deepening our understanding of those around us. And once we’ve begun to expand our inside, we need to start giving it away. All that good stuff being grown and developed inside isn’t meant to stay inside and remain dormant. It’s also not meant to be taken to the grave; it should be given away. The lives of countless people are connected to us – many of whom we’ll never realize were positively impacted by us. Consider making part of life’s purpose to expand the inside. Then strive to give it away.

PEOPLE PERSPECTIVE Expand inside; share with others

Directors Andy Buttles Lancaster, Wis. 608-723-4712 stonefront@tds.net


Ken Feltz Stevens Point, Wis. 715-570-6390 feltzfarms@hotmail.com John Haag Dane, Wis. 608-576-0812 jahaag5@gmail.com Corey Hodorff Eden, Wis. 920-602-6449 corey@secondlookholsteins.com Steven Orth Cleveland, Wis. 920-905-2575 orthlanddairy@gmail.com

PDPW Advisers Jim Barmore GPS Dairy Consulting Verona, Wis. jmbarmore@gpsdairy.com

Paul Fricke UW-Madison Dairy Science Madison, Wis. pmfricke@wisc.edu Kurt Petik Rabo AgriFinance Fond du Lac, Wis. kurt.petik@raboag.com Andrew Skwor MSA Professional Services Baraboo, Wis. askwor@msa-ps.com

Online catalog connects suppliers, producers Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin recently launched an online tool to offer dairy producers a comprehensive array of resources from premier suppliers in the industry. From a central hub, PDPW Prime™ directs users to the digital storefronts of hundreds of service and product providers. Searchable by industry category, company name

or keyword, PDPW Prime also affords suppliers a convenient forum for announcing PDPW farmer specials, launching products and promotions, and sharing documents and videos. Visit www.pdpw.org/pdpwprime or contact email@ pdpw.org or 800-947-7379 for more information.

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suggested that serotonin induced changes in the expression of calcium From E1 transporters and pumps in the mammary gland. the first few days postOur research team conpartum – as compared to firmed those findings in cows not receiving 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan. The the dairy cow. We demonimprovement in total and strated that transcription ionized-calcium concen- of several pumps and trations postpartum were transporters, along with even more profound when parathyroid hormone 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan related-protein, was inwas given in combination creased on day eight of lactation in the udders of with a negative dietary cows treated prepartum cation-anion difference with 5-hydroxy-L-trypdiet. tophan. Interestingly cows Calcium is transported treated with 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan had into the mammary gland for milk synthesis as well decreased circulating as for intracellular calparathyroid-hormone concentrations compared cium signaling. Calcium is increased in the blood to controls. They had inby a negative feedback creased concentrations response. Because of that of urinary deoxypyridinthe increase in calcium oline, a bone-resorption in the milk results in inmarker. These findings creased calcium mobilisuggest the effects of zation from bone – and serotonin on calcium uptake by the gut, which metabolism during the increases blood-calcium transition period may be independent of the classic levels. Research in mice and calcium-parathyroid hormone-vitamin D pathway. humans has demonstrated the mammary gland Previous data gathered produces parathyroid from research with mice ideaL FOr Mud & SnOW!

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serotonin concentrations during lactation. Interestingly there were no differences in circulating serotonin concentrations when equal amounts of calcium were present in the diet and calcium was chelated. Therefore our data to this point indicate that serotonin and calcium work in a complex feedback loop to regulate calcium homeostasis in the transition cow. We are currently working on dissecting the pathways involved in the serotonin-calcium feedback loop as well as the mammary gland’s contribution in regulating the process. We are also interested in learning more about how serotonin responds to various management tools such as dietary cation-anion difference, clay binders and oral calcium boluses. We want to further determine how serotonin is involved in the physiology that improves calcium status when using those tools. Laura Hernandez is an associate professor in the Dairy Science Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Email llhernandez@wisc.edu to reach her.


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hormone RP. That’s responsible for regulating bone turnover to support maternal-calcium homeostasis and milk synthesis during lactation. Based on our findings it appears that serotonin may be involved in regulating parathyroid hormone-related protein’s control of calcium status during lactation. That’s opposed to the classical calcium-parathyroid hormone-vitamin D pathway. We attempted to determine if serotonin and calcium work in a feedback loop to maintain blood-calcium concentrations. Our research team measured circulating serotonin in response to a chelation challenge in non-pregnant non-lactating cows fed varying levels of dietary calcium. We determined that circulating serotonin concentrations responded differently to the challenge, based on the amount of calcium cows were fed. In addition we showed that lactating cows have greater serotonin concentrations in the blood compared to non-pregnant non-lactating dairy cows. That finding further supports the udder’s contribution to circulating

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BOTTOM LINE Sharing ideas, solutions, resources and experiences that help dairy producers succeed.

Reassess methods to cope with weather AMBER RADATZ

It’s a thought-provoking time to be involved with agriculture and water in Wisconsin. For starters there has been plenty of water in the form of precipitation. While about 34 inches annually is the Wisconsin’s averAmber age, data collected Radatz by the Wisconsin State Climatology Office shows that precipitation has exceeded the average seven years in a row – and that feels like a long time. The amount more than the annual average varied from 1 inch to 16 inches. Already this year, January through October, rates are more than average to the tune of about 10 inches. That more-than-average streak definitely has impacted agricultural operations by making field operations difficult or even impossible to complete in a timely manner. In conjunction with markets that continue to merely limp along, it can seem there isn’t much to be optimistic about in agriculture today. Discovery Farms has recently received inquiries about potential partnerships from organizations that aren’t traditionally considered natural partners of agriculture. That makes sense because innovation is birthed out of necessity. To give two examples, the Wisconsin Wetlands Association and Pheasants Forever have reached out to Discovery Farms for conversations about various solutions. Both groups are interested in working with farmers to identify areas of the farm that are consistently unprofitable – or could be better connected to the local water cycle to prevent water from impeding farm operations. It appears now is the time to put all options on the table and consider things that might otherwise be considered outside the normal realm. Several options are being discussed that have value for farms

across Wisconsin.  While there is potential in every acre the greatest potential lies in focusing energy and inputs on acres that are consistently reliable for production. Use precision-agriculture data to identify areas of the farm that don’t dependably meet average or more-than-average yields. Analyze whether inputs used on those acres contribute to return on investment or if they’re a liability.  Perpetually battling against flooding, ponding or saturated areas can be tiring. Assess the landscape and areas toward which water naturally moves instead of areas that would be most agreeable for managing the farm. Considering ways to work with the farm’s geography instead of against it can have unforeseen benefits – while also mitigating stress. It may make sense to create holding areas on the farm to assist in slowing water and holding it during precipitation events. Do that rather than battling with water surplus in fields – and lawns, ditches and driveways.  Forages provide more than food for the herd. When considering a ration, assess whether forages raised limits farm options or expands them. Some interesting mixes are gaining traction that have positive implications for broadening the manure-application time frame. They can provide different planting windows while maintaining similar nutritional components to traditional corn silage or haylage. With weather being quite unreliable, those options are worth considering to be armed with feasible options to adapt in unpredictable conditions. To showcase a variety of alternative options geared to fixing pain points on the farm or in fields, Discovery Farms will host events in two locations.  Working with and feeding alternative forages is the focus of a farmer panel at the Discovery Farms Conference to be held Dec. 11 in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.  A multi-state Discovery


ABOVE: Discovery Farms farmer participant Joe Bragger, right, gives a tour of his farm this spring to Erin O’Brien and Tracy Hames of the Wisconsin Wetlands Association. RIGHT: Used as forage for a dairy herd near Western, Wisconsin, is a field of sorghum-sudan grass, two types of clover and Italian ryegrass – a blend that offers multiple benefits to soil and water quality. Farms Summit will be held Jan. 7-8, 2020, in Bloomington, Minnesota. It will offer an opportunity to connect with other farmers, farm advisers and other innovative minds who are thinking and learning about agriculture and water quality. Visit www.uwdiscoveryfarms. org for more information. Amber Radatz is co-director of University of Wisconsin-Discovery Farms. She has spent the past decade working with dairy farmers on soil and nutrient-loss risk reduction. She can be reached at aradatz@wisc.edu or 715-983-5668.


The current look at Crystal Ball Farms reflects rebuilding after an electrical fire burned the milking barn.

Osceola creamery rises from ashes FOCUS ON ENERGY

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OSCEOLA, Wis. – Holistic farming is an approach owners Troy and Barb DeRosier practice at their dairy farm and creamery in northwestern Wisconsin. Located along the St. Croix River near Osceola in Polk County, Crystal Ball Farms is a family-owned business. The DeRosiers focus on making all aspects of the business sustainable – from the crops fed to the animals, to the production and processing of milk on the farm. Crystal Ball Farms in 2015 received funding from Focus on Energy to increase the farm’s sustainability through the organization’s Renewable Energy Competitive Incentive Program. The DeRosiers used the funds to install rooftop solar panels on the barns, creamery and granary. The renewable energy produced on the farm reduced energy costs for lighting and other operations. Those improvements created momentum for the progressive

organic-dairy farm. But the dairy faced a tragic setback in March 2018 when an electrical fire caused the milking barn to burn down. After losing cattle and their organic certification, the DeRosiers decided to forge ahead to start the rebuilding process. Constructing a new milking barn required a significant investment. Fortunately the dairy is an Xcel Energy customer, one of 107 Wisconsin utilities that partner with the Focus on Energy program. That meant the energy-efficient equipment installed in the new barn qualified for financial incentives. Not only did that help offset initial costs, it also contributed to lesser operational costs and energy usage

– and will continue to do so throughout the lifetime of the facility. “Sustainable farming has a larger impact beyond the animals and the soil,” Troy DeRosier said. “It’s a promise to your community. We are proud to work with a program that has repeatedly supported us in our commitment to being responsible stewards of our environment.” Working with an energy adviser from Focus on Energy and an Xcel Energy representative, the couple installed energy-efficient equipment.  dual-thermostat water heater  hot-water modulating boiler

 refrigeration heat-recovery unit  pre-cooler and variable-frequency drive for the milk pump Crystal Ball Dairy reopened in June 2019 thanks to the help and support the DeRosiers received. The farm received $12,253 in financial incentives. The DeRosiers will save more than $12,000 each year on their energy bills. There were hardships experienced after the fire and during the process of decision-making and rebuilding the past two years. But Crystal Ball Dairy has stayed true to its commitment to keep their cows healthy and happy. Focus on Energy is a PDPW mission sponsor. It’s a Wisconsin-utilities statewide energy-efficiency and renewable-resource program funded by the state’s investor-owned energy utilities as well as participating municipal and electric cooperative utilities. Visit www.focusonenergy.com or call 800-762-7077 for more information.

Summit to cover traceability, water, more Industry leaders and stakeholders will learn the latest about a broad range of topics at the upcoming PDPW Dairy Insights Summit. The event will be held Dec. 5 at the Sheraton Hotel, 706 John Nolen Drive, Madison, Wisconsin Attendees will hear the newest updates regarding Wisconsin cheese and how it’s marketed. Also discussed will be important lessons learned by the poultry industry in its work with large global retailers, showing parallels to the dairy industry. Blockchain technology will be featured – what it is and how it may transform the supply chain and regulatory tracking. Discussion will be held concerning the problems, practices and policies related to Wisconsin waters. A zoonotic case study of tuberculosis will shed light on a California dairy producer’s story of how the human-to-animal transmission of the bacteria changed his family’s dairy – and how the government and regulatory system responded. Visit pdpw.org or contact 800947-7379 or email@pdpw.org to register and for more information.

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