Sponsored by Zoetis and Holstein Association USA
Educational programming provided by the Wisconsin Holstein Foundation, Inc.
Wednesday June, 26 • 1 p.m. to Thursday, June 27 • Noon

This June, the 2019 National Genetics Conference will be held in conjunction with the 2019 National Holstein Convention. This joint gathering will bring together thought leaders in the dairy industry from around the world to advance dairy cattle genetics. 


It’s been a decade since genomics came on the scene in April 2009 and this marks a good time to review what we have learned, examine where we are today, and address what the future might bring.


The National Genetics Conference will begin Wednesday, June 26 at 1 p.m., and conclude at noon Thursday, June 27. Thanks to generous sponsorships from Zoetis and other industry partners, dairy cattle enthusiasts can attend this dynamic meeting as guests of the 2019 National Holstein Convention. All organizers ask is that you pre-register by May 25. 


The 10-year report card on genomics: Mike Lohuis, Semex, will evaluate the 10-year journey since the introduction of genomics in April 2009. 

The state of dairy genetic programs today: Dan Weigel, Zoetis, will delve into the wealth of predictions available with genomic testing today and examine the value of the information. Along the way, Weigel will weave in his how forward-thinking producers are leveraging genetic improvement to enhance profitability of their farms. 

Pros and cons of hitchhiking — the truth about inbreeding: John Cole, USDA-AGIL, will lead a discussion knowing that genomics has stepped up genetic progress and inbreeding by answering the question: How can we manage inbreeding moving forward? Throughout Cole’s presentation, he will consider how selection indexes in different countries are moving apart and how different genetic lines might develop. 

Where is milk going in the future? Bruce German, University of California-Davis, knows full well that milk programs the immune system in humans and all mammals. Specific to dairy, milk guides neonatal development of all mammals, including humans. Real milk also nurtures internal, bodily bacterial populations that have evolved over a millennium. German will engage the audience on milk’s bright future and its important role in programming the immune system in this rapidly evolving area of science. 

How precision dairy will influence animal breeding: Jeffrey Bewley, Alltech, may have researched and worked with more dairy technology than any person on the planet. Robots, sensors, and the data that these new technologies generate will transform animal breeding. Bewley will share his perspective on how this is already happening on the farm and how this might evolve further in the future. 

Epigenetics: different environments, different reactions: Jack Britt, EarthCast Techologies, will dig deeper into the world of epigenetics and turning genes on and off. As a lifelong learner with strong dairy roots, Britt will bring unique perspective as to how cows might evolve in the future. 

We live in the genetics era: Jim Rohl's, Choice Genetics, presentation will focus on this premise — If we live in the data and information age, then dairy cattle genetics and the DNA it tests is the largest data set in the animal kingdom. Knowing that genetics are permanent and additive, Rohl will share how we can harness this information for innovative projects moving forward. 

The evolving role of breeders in the genomics era: Tom Lawlor, Holstein Association USA, knows dairy cattle breeders well and will lead a discussion on the value of genetics. He also will remind all of us why we got excited about genetics in the first place. Remember, it’s more than breeding the top bull and heifers; it’s about breeding a better cow and a better herd. 

Hay burners versus hay converters: Kent Weigel, University of Wisconsin-Madison, will lead a discussion on the latest on feed intake and feed efficiency and how it translates into efficient milk and milk component production. 

The genetic super cow isn’t in sight: Chad Dechow, Pennsylvania State University, will bring the 2019 National Genetics Conference to its crescendo by sharing what “Miss Perfect the Cow” may look like if we plucked the very best genes from the population. As he paints that futuristic picture, he will share thoughts about balancing the biological optimum and considering economic reality. 


“How I use genetic information to better manage my herds” will be the focus of a dairy farm breeder panel at the National Genetics Conference on June 26 to June 27. Holstein Association USA’s Lindsey Worden will moderate the panel as conference attendees hear first-hand perspectives from four dairymen hailing from California, Michigan, New York, and Wisconsin.

Patrick Crave, Crave Brothers Dairy, Waterloo, Wis., has been conducting genomic testing on the family’s 2,600-head Holstein dairy for a number of years. With a keen interest in genetics, Patrick has developed a system of protocols that include genomic testing the farm’s heifer calves born from the herd averaging over 30,000 pounds of milk. Patrick also uses sexed semen to get more females from the herd’s top genetics. The farm’s approach to genetics also closely aligns to its work producing cheese at Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese.

Jeff King, Kings-Ransom Farm, Schuylerville, N.Y., does 100 percent genomic testing on all the farm’s heifer calves. An on-farm IVF facility supports an active embryo transfer and genetic program for the 1,100 cows and 1,200 head of young stock. With a focus on sales of embryos, females and bulls to A.I., Jeff will share his philosophy on getting the most from genetics. In addition, the family matches their genetic goals with products produced for their retail business King Brothers Dairy.

Tom Oesch, Swisslane Dairy, Alto, Mich., has employed a great deal of technology to develop a more productive family dairy business. In addition to milking 25 percent of the farm’s dairy herd with robots, the Oesch family uses activity monitors to collect data on his dairy cows. Given this situation, genomic testing of DNA from his family’s dairy animals also was a logical step to improve the herd’s genetic potential. The farm also has on onsite lab to better incorporate embryo transfer with a keen interest in selecting with high rankings for Net Merit and Dairy Wellness Traits.

Simon Vander Woude, Vander Woude Dairy, Merced, Calif., has run over 10,000 genomic tests on his Golden State dairy farm. These tests have been run on every female through the fourth lactation. Along with fully using genomics, Vander Woude uses embryo transfer, in-vitro fertilization, and sexed semen on his dairy herd. After being in growth mode for 18 years, Vander Woude is smart-sizing the dairy by breeding genetically inferior cattle to Angus to plan his salable animals. This is done by looking at the breeding age population and anticipating conception rates to make the best economic decision.


Wednesday, June 26

1 to 1:05 p.m.

Corey Geiger, Emcee

Conference Open and Welcome


1:05 to 1:35 p.m.

Mike Lohuis, Semex

The 10-year report card on genomics


1:35 to 2:05 p.m.

Dan Weigel, Zoetis

The state of dairy genetic programs today


2:05 to 2:35 p.m.

John Cole, USDA-AGIL

Pros and cons of hitchhiking: The truth about inbreeding


2:35 to 2:55 p.m.



2:55 to 3:50 p.m.

Lindsey Worden & Dan Weigel, HOUSA & Zoetis

Panelists: Jeff King, Kings-Ransom Farm; Simon Vander Woude, Vander Woude Dairy; Patrick Crave, Crave Brothers Farm; Tom Oesch, Swiss Lane Dairy

Panel-How I use genetic information to better manage my herd


3:50 to 4:20 p.m.

Jeffrey Bewley, Alltech

How precision dairy will influence animal breeding

Thursday, June 27

7:30 to 8 a.m.

Jack Britt, Jack Britt Consulting

Epigenetics: different environments, different reactions


8 to 8:30 a.m.

R. Bruce German, University of California-Davis

Where is milk going in the future?


8:30 to 9 a.m.

Jim Rohl, Choice Genetics of Groupe Grimald

We live in the genetics era


9 to 9:30 a.m.



9:30 to 10 a.m.

Tom Lawlor, HOUSA

The evolving role of breeders in the genomics era


10 to 10:30 a.m.

Kent Weigel, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Hay burners versus hay converters


10:30 to 11 a.m.

Chad Dechow, Penn State University

The genetic super cow isn't in sight


11 to 11:40 a.m.

All Panelist Q and A 

Phone: 1-800-223-4269


© 2018 by Wisconsin Holstein Association

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