For Holsten Canada the logistics of organizing a World Conference are huge. The organizers faced this challenge by starting several years in advance to forecast what would be of interest to delegates, where to find the experts and in many ways they had to work in the dark. Then add to that the fact that the Internet and our 24-7 connected economy has turned old methods of sharing information on its head. Now, farmers are not only out-standing in their fields, they are outstanding with a smart phone in their hands. No longer are seminar audiences motivated by overheads and dry paper presentations. Presenters will be using IPADs and even the audience will be “linked up”.

A Fork Full or the Whole Load?

While 18 speakers in 1 ½ days seems like a lot to absorb, in reality it’s a hyper-compressed overview of the issues, challenges and potential facing “Holsteins Today for a Better Tomorrow”. On the one hand, it’s an opportunity to see the future through the eyes of the best in the business. On the other hand, it could be a mind numbing experience. It’s up to you to pick and choose and know what you`re hungry for.

What do you know? What do you need to know?

The social aspect of the conference is a perfectly good reason to attend and develop personal relationships that you can build on later but don’t forget that there is also the opportunity to add dairy business insights and scientific expertise to your resources. Today we will briefly preview the highlights of the sessions.

SESSION 1: It`s a Genomics Talk and Bull Session by The Know it Alls!

After four years of genomics, there is growing data to support or contradict the experts. Entitled The Genomics Revolution, three speakers from France, Australia and Canada will cover the following topics and The Bullvine will pose questions that need to be answered.

Session 2 Impact of Genomics on the Industry

  • How Genomics is changing the Business and Services of Associations – Josef Pott
    This is a hot topic in today’s dairy industry. A recent article in the Bullvine (Select Sires vs Semex: A Contrast In Cooperatives) generated discussion and raised even more questions. From the services side it would be interesting to know if there a cost effective way to include genomic and parentage testing with every registration?
  • Making More Profitable Holsteins (Male Selection) – Marjorie Faust
    There are always lots of questions in this goal setting topic which is of economic interest to every dairy breeder. Here’s a way to get your questions about how to get your bulls in a row and look toward a healthy bottom line (see the Bullvine article Going Off the Map).
  • Using Genotyped Cows to Enhance Reliability of Genomic EBV –Sander de Roos
    This topic stirred the interest of more than one of us at the Bullvine. We look forward to a description of the planned study and would like to know from which countries will the inclusion of cow performance be studied?

We’ve only looked at two of the six sessions and might be forgiven for saying “Wow! Let’s not bite off more than we can chew!” However, here’s a question for you? “When you think back to the last ten years of your dairy business, how much of what you haven’t achieved is due to missed opportunities – the technology you didn’t use, the heats you missed, or the heifers that didn’t make it to the milking string. Missed opportunities often rise out of lack of information, not being prepared or reluctance to try something new. The third session might be the one you need most.

SESSION 3: Improving Reproduction Using New Technologies

Getting our cows to reproduce is the foundation that our dairy businesses are built on. It’s so obvious that sometimes we are distracted by other issues of the moment. But if we are driven to make a positive difference in the business of making milk, reproduction has to go to the top of the priority list. It doesn’t matter how much milk the cows make if we are having problems making cows.

SESSION 4: Improving Our Cow’s Health & Welfare

There have been many who feel their concerns about healthy cattle are falling on deaf ears. We live in denial of the coming health crisis and hope that we will be lucky and miss being put out of business by the next bovine disease. Even if we can practice what I call sand box farming (that`s where you can bury your heads until the problem goes away) the problem is your money goes away too! Health is not just important it`s imperative. And even if the BIG ONE doesn`t get you, the little details of cattle health management could. Remember, on the human side 100,000 North Americans check into a hospital every year … and don`t check out because of infections or other illnesses caused by the system. Barns have systems too. The expectation is that that`s the best place to be. Check out these conference speakers, if you`re ready to shake off the sand.

Where’s YOUR Beaten Path? To the Milkhouse. To the Bank. To Retirement.
Dairy farming isn`t something you take up for the short term. It requires commitment, stamina and money. That said over time we tend to get into familiar routines and the path, or rut, becomes well worn. With our heads hunkered down we may lose sight of the goals we were originally aiming for. If we haven`t planned for the future, we may not have one. The way we use our resources and the products we produce matter to the industry, our customers and our families. What matters to you?

SESSION 5: Ensuring Farm Sustainability

SESSION 6: Getting More Out of Milk


In the business of dairy farming, knowledge is power. Are you milking it for all it’s worth?

(For more information on the 2012 World Holstein Conference go to