Two leading artificial insemination experts and a well-known dairy producer will share insight on the value of sexed semen during the fifth annual Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference, February 8-10 at the Bavarian Inn Lodge and Conference Center in Frankenmuth.
Hap Allen, Genex Cooperative's associate vice president for market development, and Dave Thorbahn, general manager for Select Sires, will present "The XY factor: does sexed semen work?"
Mark Adam, GLRDC program planning committee co-chair and DHI manager for NorthStar Cooperative, says producers requested that sexed semen be discussed during the 2007 conference because it is a hot button issue.
"With heifers and calves at such a premium price, people are looking for ways to maximize their herd from a reproductive standpoint," he explains. "We can't really import animals from Canada so we have to be able to make our own replacement heifers."
According to Adam, Allen and Thorbahn are well-known leaders in the industry and respected experts when it comes to artificial insemination.
"Each brings a unique perspective to the topic," he says. "They complement each other because they bring opinions and information from different organizations that use different technology."
Adam warns producers that the duo's message won't be all sunshine and roses.
"If a producer is going to utilize sexed semen technology, they have to realize that there are risks that come with the reward," he says. "They'll cover the pros and cons and likely point out that this technology is not for everybody. Your management skills have to be top-notch in order to make it work."
Allen and Thorbahn's presentation will be followed by "Sexed semen: how it works on my dairy", a discussion led by Tom Stamp of Dale-Stamp Farms in Marlette.
Brian Troyer, GLRDC program planning committee co-chair and dairy nutrition specialist for Caledonia Farmers Elevator, says Stamp is an innovative manager who is not afraid to try something new.
"Only a few producers in Michigan use sexed semen on a regular basis," Troyer explains. "Tom has been using it for 18 months and has calves on the ground. He'll relate his experiences with this technology and give producers an idea of how it might work for them."
The conference will also feature other well-known speakers, including farm boy turned Olympic champion Rulon Gardner; Ron Erskine, DVM with the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine; Ernest Yates, director of milk procurement from Dean Foods; Pat Hoffman, a dairy scientist with the University of Wisconsin-Marshfield; and Trent Loos, an agriculture activist and radio personality.
Organizers of the Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference expect to draw more than 300 producers from the Midwest and Canada. For a detailed schedule as well as registration and pricing information, visit www.glrdc.msu.edu, or call the registration hot line at (866) 387-6048.