Don’t miss out on the opportunity to enhance your World Dairy Expo experience with a stellar lineup of speakers and virtual dairy farm tours.

Presented by industry leaders daily, these seminars address topics centered around policy, research, finances and the future. The expo’s virtual farm tours have been bringing the best dairy operations in North America to Madison for more than 15 years. The eight dairies selected this year are no exception, highlighting topics ranging from technology and genetics to strong community ties and cow comfort.

All expo seminars will be held in the Mendota 2 meeting room of the Alliant Energy Center’s Exhibition Hall. Tours are presented daily during World Dairy Expo, Tuesday through Saturday, in the Mendota Room 1 of the Exhibition Hall.


Gary Sipiorski Entering the dairy industry:
How do young people get started into dairying
Gary Sipiorski, dairy development manager, Vita Plus

Entering the dairy industry can be a daunting task for people of any age but especially for young people. Gary Sipiorski, dairy development manager at Vita Plus, will outline a roadmap into the dynamic dairy industry for beginning farmers during this seminar.


The discussion will include financial, management and animal husbandry skills needed to be successful in addition to possible education routes and the role internships can play.

With experiences on the board of directors for Citizens State Bank of Loyal and as an adviser to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Sipiorski will also cover how money borrowing works in a capital-intense business like dairying. He also spends time offering insight to families in the midst of generational farm transitions.


MasCow Dairy in MoscowVirtual tour:
MasCow, Moscow, Kansas
Highlights: 3,500 milking/youth training

MasCow Dairy in Moscow, Kansas, is home to 3,500 Holsteins milked twice a day in a double-35 parallel parlor. The herd averages 24,000 pounds of milk on a TMR and utilizes a custom breeding index that emphasizes a smaller-framed, efficient cow with longevity in the herd.

MasCow, a part of the Ag Oasis family of dairies, was built in 2006 on 160 acres of land. The team at MasCow is a two-family partnership who each have a rich history in the dairy business.

Outsourcing both heifer raising and crop production, MasCow relies on strong relationships with neighbors and others in the dairy industry to ensure the success of their farm.

Establishing relationships with the next generation of farm labor is a driving force behind the dairy’s newest initiative, Dairy U. Working with Kansas State University to develop and launch Dairy U, MasCow brought its first group of high school students to the dairy for the three-day immersion program this summer.

The program is designed to highlight different segments of the dairy industry and spark career interest in these young students, helping to alleviate foreseen workforce shortages in future years. In addition to the new Dairy U program, MasCow supports local 4-H members, sports teams and charities, and welcomes additional high school and college students to the farm to expose them to the dairy industry.


Brian Houin Large-scale robots: Is it worth the hype?
Brian Houin, Owner, Homestead Dairy LLC

Beginning as a small family farm, Homestead Dairy LLC in Plymouth, Indiana, is now the largest dairy to implement a robotic milking system in the U.S. Still caring for a portion of the herd in two conventional systems, 2,200 cows are milked using 36 robots in the newest facility.

The decision to convert part of the farm to this system was made while the family was working to find a way to stay competitive in the industry by utilizing new technologies. Brian Houin, an owner of Homestead Dairy, will present the data between his traditional and robotic dairies as he discusses if large-scale robot farms are worth the hype.

Houin, who was born and raised at Homestead Dairy, returned to the farm in 2003 after graduating from Purdue University with a degree in meteorology and a minor in Spanish. While he does not practice predicting the weather, this degree has helped to drive his passion for data analysis.


Blue Star DairyVirtual tour: Blue Star Dairy Farms, DeForest, Wisconsin
Highlights: 2,600 milking/family-run, multi-site farm

Beginning in Middleton, Wisconsin, Blue Star Dairy Farms currently milks 2,600 cows on three sites throughout south-central Wisconsin.

Utilizing various sizes of Germania herringbone-style parlors at each site, the Middleton location milks 600 cows, a second site in DeForest milks 800 cows, and the largest of the farms, milking 1,200 cows, is located in Arlington.

These dairies have a combined daily production average of 90 pounds of milk per cow and a somatic cell count of 130,000. The Middleton and DeForest farms raise their own replacement heifers in naturally ventilated barns until they are moved to open-front bedding pack barns at 2 to 3 months old.

Heifers are later moved to a freestall barn until they enter the milking herd. Meanwhile, dry cows from the Arlington location are housed in DeForest. After calving, these cows return to Arlington, while the heifers are raised with the DeForest youngstock.

Blue Star Dairy Farms also operates 4,500 acres of land and purchases feed from neighbors on an additional 1,500 acres. This group of farms is owned and managed by a family partnership of brothers Craig and Brian Meinholz, with their wives, Sherri and Rhonda, respectively, and their uncle Art and his wife, Lori.


Mark Stephenson Will the Farm Bill hurt or help?
Mark Stephenson, director of dairy policy analysis, University of Wisconsin – Madison

Every five years, farmers are faced with the same question: Will the farm bill hurt or help? This piece of federal policy, used to address problems the marketplace cannot fix on its own, impacts farmers every day.

For more than a decade, dairy producers have identified milk price volatility and its impacts on their businesses as the most important issue to address. Today, it might include policy to mitigate the impacts of trade policy talks.

This seminar, presented by Mark Stephenson, will cover what has worked in the past, what might improve current policy, what has been done in other countries and what may be politically feasible during this Farm Bill year.

Stephenson is the director of dairy policy analysis at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. In this role, Stephenson conducts and coordinates research and outreach activities related to the dairy industry. He is also involved in applied research at the farm level and in sector-level performance including dairy policy, international trade and milk price forecasting.


VanderMade Dairy and FreshMade DairyVirtual tour: VanderMade Dairy and FreshMade Dairy, Sherwood, Ohio
Highlights: 2,180 milking/cow comfort and longevity

Since emigrating from the Netherlands at age 18, Lambert VanderMade has farmed in Sherwood, Ohio, at VanderMade Dairy.

In 2014, a second farm site was added to the operation: FreshMade Dairy, allowing the family – Lambert, his wife, Tina; and parents, Bert and Corrie – to expand the herd to 2,100 cows.

The cattle at both sites are fed a TMR including corn silage, haylage and snaplage grown on 1,950 acres.

FreshMade Dairy was constructed with cow comfort as a priority, specifically for larger, mature cows. First- and second-lactation cows are housed at VanderMade Dairy and have a rolling herd average of 28,500 pounds of milk, while FreshMade Dairy houses cows from 4 years old and up, some reaching 12 years old.

This group of mature cows has a rolling herd average of 34,000 pounds of milk. The older cows have a more spacious environment created for their comfort, health and longevity. The facility is automated; alleyway cleaning takes place five times a day, ventilation is controlled by a weather station running everything from fans to curtains, and feed is pushed up by a robot.

Not only are cows very important to Lambert, but people are too, and he values their job satisfaction and input to his decisions. Employee profiles are often featured in the quarterly newsletters created for the community. Always striving to be a good neighbor, Lambert and his team are very connected and involved with their community as well.


Jason Karszes Are you raising the right number of heifers?
Jason Karszes, senior extension associate, PRO-DAIRY at Cornell University

Representing 10 to 20 percent of the total annual operation costs of a dairy farm, a dairy’s heifer replacement program is an investment worth investigating. An evaluation of this program should include the question: How many heifers should be raised?

Jason Karszes, senior extension associate for PRO-DAIRY at Cornell University, will share information about a number of key areas across the dairy business that can provide a roadmap for how individual dairy producers can approach this question.

Karszes’ extension, teaching and research efforts have centered on financial analysis and decision-making programs for dairy farms and the use of Cornell’s Dairy Farm Business Summary and Analysis Program. He also focuses on budgeting, decision-making, activity analysis and goal setting to improve business performance in the dairy industry.


Young's Jersey Dairy, IncVirtual tour: Young’s Jersey Dairy, Inc., Yellow Springs, Ohio
Highlights: 35 milking/value-added products and agritourism

For 149 years, Young’s Jersey Dairy Inc. in Yellow Springs, Ohio, has been owned and managed by the Young family.

Rather than growing in cow numbers to accommodate more family members on the farm, the Young family chose to diversify. In 1958, they began selling milk straight to consumers and, two years later, a small store was built to better suit their needs.

Building again a decade later, the Youngs introduced the first part of the current dairy store, where patrons could buy a variety of items from the on-farm bakery or ice cream shop that had already been added. After growing the dairy store again, Udders & Putters, an 18-hole farm-theme miniature golf course, was opened in 1993 followed by a driving range and a nine-position batting cage.

In 2009, Young’s Jersey Dairy began making farmstead cheese with the milk from the herd’s 35 Jerseys and now sells it alongside other products in its full-service restaurant.

Today, the farm hosts 1.3 million customers annually, churns 80,000 gallons of ice cream, produces 50,000 pounds of farmstead cheeses and employees 320 people, including 15 members of the Young family.

The Youngs use their strong standing in the community to also host agricultural education tours and community events, from Easter egg hunts to charity bike rides, vintage truck shows and more. The Jerseys that call Young’s Jersey Dairy home are all registered and remain the focal point of the family business.


KPIs: Your yardstick to improve what matters on your operation

Tom FuhrmanDr. Tom Fuhrmann, consultant, DairyWorks Management System




Terry Battcher Terry Battcher, consultant, DairyWorks Management System

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are numbers that become tools for measuring effectiveness when making management improvements. This seminar will dive deeper into understanding what numbers can be classified as KPIs and how to implement them into a management strategy.

Leading the discussion is the duo of Dr. Tom Fuhrmann and Terry Battcher of DairyWorks Management System. Fuhrmann founded DairyWorks as an outgrowth of his veterinary consulting practice and now teaches, trains, consults and troubleshoots production management issues for dairy producers and their employees.

Battcher, a specialist in employee training, strategic planning, labor efficiency, milk quality, production and implementation of new technology, brings additional hands-on experience to the team after being a managing partner during his family’s dairy expansion.


Selz-Pralle DairyVirtual tour: Selz-Pralle Dairy, Humbird, Wisconsin
Highlights: 450 milking/genetics and production

Selz-Pralle Dairy in Humbird, Wisconsin, is home to 450 registered Holstein cows and the current world-record holder for milk production.

Selz-Pralle Aftershock 3918 produced 78,170 pounds of milk in 365 days. Owned by Scott Pralle and Pam Selz-Pralle, the dairy maintains a 30,433-pound rolling herd average with cows averaging more than 7 pounds combined fat and protein daily.

Attention to detail and cow comfort has netted Selz-Pralle numerous Holstein USA national elite cow awards. They also manage several high-genomic cows for Leaninghouse Holsteins, New Mexico, whose many active A.I. sons include House, Big Bubba, Clete and Fabio.

As early adopters of new technology, this herd was one of the first to begin using activity and rumination technology, shredlage processing for BMR corn silage and incorporating Berga (palm) fat into their ration.

Scott and Pam’s commitment to agriculture extends to a variety of key leadership positions in state and national organizations, including the Wisconsin Holstein Association, Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin, AgSource, Cooperative Resources International and CommonGround.

FRIDAY, OCT. 5, 11 A.M.

Paul VanRaden Improved genomic selection for health and other traits
Paul VanRaden, research geneticist, USDA-AGIL

In April 2018, the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding introduced six additional health traits that can be evaluated using genomic predictions. While reviewing the current sources, edits and evaluation methods of health traits, this seminar will also look to forecast future improvements to health and other trait evaluations.

This includes the potential for new traits such as feed intake and new tools that could make crossbred genomic prediction a possibility for dairy producers. Leading this discussion is Paul VanRaden, a research geneticist at the USDA-AIPL.

VanRaden has 30 years of experience deriving genetic evaluation methods and introducing new traits for the USDA. In 1994, he introduced the Lifetime Net Merit index and has updated the formula six times since to include additional conformation, calving, fertility, livability and health traits.


Rocky Creek DairyVirtual tour: Rocky Creek Dairy, Olin, North Carolina
Highlights: 1,240 milking/milk quality

The Shelton family moved to Olin, North Carolina, in 1992 and started Rocky Creek Dairy with 400 cows and 450 acres of land.

Since then, Ben Shelton, his wife, Mimi, and son Paul, who own the dairy together, have expanded the farm to 1,400 cows and 1,320 heifers on 2,200 acres.

Pre-weaned calves are cared for in group housing with automatic feeders before transitioning to pasture, followed by freestall housing at 11 months.

Cows are milked three times a day in a double-16 parallel parlor and are housed in sand-bedded freestalls. The milking herd maintains a rolling herd average of 31,200 pounds of milk with 70,000 somatic cell count.

This has led the dairy to receive Don Wesen Milk Quality awards and the 2015 Marvin Senger Distinguished Dairy Farmer Award. Rocky Creek was also the first dairy in North Carolina to be certified by the Secure Milk Supply Plan, a voluntary biosecurity initiative.

Reaching into the community, the farm hosts school groups, college groups, extension programs and other North Carolina dairy industry and county community events. Ben, a practicing veterinarian, also owns Rocky Creek Veterinary Services, which is located at the dairy, and primarily treats cattle.

He also serves on the North Carolina Board of Agriculture, is vice-president of Cobblestone Milk Cooperative and a former board member of North Carolina Dairy Producers Association and NC Dairy Advantage.

FRIDAY, OCT. 5, 1 P.M.

View from the top: How corporate restaurant and food retail sourcing policies are being developed and the implications to the farmer

Mike Brown, director, dairy supply chain, The Kroger Co.

Sarah Hendren, nutrition and quality assurance manager, Culver Franchising System LLC

Angela Anderson Moderator:

Angela Anderson, director, customer outreach, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy

From animal welfare to sustainable sourcing, key restaurant and food retail leaders will be discussing how policy and buying decisions are developed and implemented for their companies.

Sharing decision-making insight and how they work with the dairy industry, these individuals will touch on topics impactful to the dairy community.

The panel discussion, which will also highlight ways dairy farmers and stakeholders can engage with the supply chain, will end with an open question-and-answer segment.

FRIDAY, OCT. 5, 2 P.M.

McCarty Family Farms LLCVirtual tour: McCarty Family Farms LLC, Colby, Kansas
Highlights: 12,000 milking/non-GMO ration

McCarty Family Farms LLC began as one dairy farm in Rexford, Kansas, in 2000.

Since that time, the McCarty family of Tom and Judy McCarty and their four sons, Mike, Clay, David and Ken, have grown the business to include five sites: three in Kansas, one in Nebraska and another in Ohio.

In total, the family is milking 12,000 cows in parallel and rotary parlors. In 2011, the family built a processing center on the original farm site in Rexford, Kansas.

The following year, they began sending their processed milk to Dannon. This partnership allows the McCartys to directly supply Dannon and has given them added stability during the changing dairy markets.

Two years ago, McCarty Family Farms began the transition to a non-GMO ration for their herd and have since received accreditations from Non-GMO Project and Where Food Comes From. The choice to convert to this type of system has required the family to have stronger relationships with their growers and suppliers.

McCarty Family Farms has been recognized as an Innovative Dairy Farm of the Year, U.S. Center of Innovation on Farm Award winner and a Sustainability Award winner. Their sustainability awards have recognized the family’s ability to reduce trucks on the road by 75 percent due to the on-farm processing abilities while also reducing their dependency on water through reclaiming 39,000 gallons of fresh water daily.


Jack Britt Learning from the future: Dairying in 2068
Jack H. Britt, senior consultant, Jack H. Britt Consulting

The dairy industry is constantly changing and evolving. In this seminar, Jack H. Britt, a senior dairy consultant and former professor at three land-grant universities, will share what he believes the industry will look like in 2068, 50 years from now.

With a family dairy farming background, this scientist, teacher, entrepreneur and dairy future enthusiast has teamed up with a group of international experts to create this vision for dairying in the future.

Their vision includes a healthier and more fertile cow with genes from multiple breeds, leaving a smaller environmental footprint. They predict the development of natural microbes specifically for cattle that will replace antibiotics and chemicals used on farms today.

Also foreseeing a structure change in the dairy industry, Britt will share the group’s thoughts on lateral and vertical integration, location and scale, as well as the role of automation, robotics and artificial intelligence in 2068.


Benthem BrothersVirtual tour: Benthem Brothers Inc., McBain, Michigan
Highlights: 2,700 milking/rotary parlor

In 1981, brothers Doug and Bruce Benthem began milking cows in a stanchion barn in McBain, Michigan.

Three expansions later, the brothers are now milking 2,400 cows in a 60-cow rotary parlor at Benthem Brothers Inc. in partnership with Doug’s son, Jason, and Bruce’s son, Ryan.

The rotary system the Benthems installed features the latest Centrus composite platform and is only the third parlor of its kind in the U.S., manufactured by Waikato Milking Systems, whose U.S. office is in Verona, Wisconsin.

Milking three times each day, the farm has a rolling herd average of 29,096 pounds of milk with a somatic cell count of 90,000, earning the Benthems a Michigan Milk Producers Association Gold Quality Milk award in 2017.

Benthem Brothers Inc. was a finalist for the Consumers Energy Project of the Year in 2017 and has verified their farmstead, 3,000 acres and livestock production through the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program. Other members of the Benthem family involved with the dairy include Doug and Bruce’s brother, Mark; Doug’s son, Kyle; Bruce’s son, Andy; and Jason’s wife, Shari.  end mark