The information below has been supplied by dairy marketers and other industry organizations. It has not been edited, verified or endorsed by Hoard's Dairyman.

FISC Ag Forward, a new short course offered by University of Wisconsin­–Madison’s Farm and Industry Short Course program, will be offered Jan. 16-19 on the UW–Madison campus. The short course – which centers on the theme “The Dairy Industry in an Everchanging Landscape” this year – provides training in dairy production and management topics, as well as information about industry and career trends. Sessions will be led by faculty members in the UW–Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS).

Participants can sign up for the full four-day short course, or for individual days. Wednesday and Thursday involve full days of programing, and Tuesday and Friday are half-days. The cost to attend an individual full day is $150. The cost for a half-day is $90. There is a reduced price of $480 for attending all four days. Prices include refreshments and lunch each day.

Discounts are available for current university and tech college students as well as CALS/FISC alumni.

Each faculty-led training session last 2.5 hours, to give ample time for discussion and hands-on experiences. The homebase for the short course is UW–Madison’s new Center for Dairy Research facility, the largest dairy products research center in the United States. All Ag Forward training sessions will occur at the CDR or nearby.

Featured speakers and session topics are, by date:

Tuesday, January 16:

Paul Mitchell, professor and extension specialist, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics

“Understanding farm profitability” (afternoon session)

In this session, Mitchell will go over the strengths and weakness of different measures of farm profitability. He will also cover partial budgeting as an essential tool for thinking about changes to farm operations to improve profitability.

Wednesday, January 17:

Luiz Ferraretto, assistant professor and extension specialist, Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences

“Roaming the rumen - from field to milk” (morning session)

Ferraretto will provide an overview of multiple aspects of dairy nutrition. Participants will learn about forage production and management and describe its impact on cow digestion, behavior and productivity. Ferraretto will also discuss and show how the rumen of a lactating cow works.

Marta Moura Kohmann, assistant professor and extension specialist, Department of Plant and Agroecosystem Sciences

“Forages for Sustainability – A Systems Approach” (afternoon session)

Forages are typically grown for animal feeding – but what other services can they provide? This session will look at how forages can fit in different production systems, and the advantages of using them to increase production while protecting our natural resources. Kohmann will go over production potential of different forage crops under various management systems, both harvested and grazed, and explore how they are contributing to a healthier environment.

Thursday, January 18:

Paul Fricke, professor and extension specialist, Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences

"Developing a foundational reproduction program” (morning session)

In this session, Fricke will cover strategies to achieve excellent reproductive performance; the high fertility cycle; approaches to optimize heifer growth; and how to optimize the use of sexed semen in dairy herds.

Kent Weigel, professor and extension specialist, Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences

“Improving dairy cattle through genetic selection” (afternoon session)

Weigel will cover the latest advances in genetic selection programs for dairy cattle, including UW-Madison’s role in developing a national genetic evaluation system for improved feed utilization efficiency as well as current work on genetic selection for reduced methane emissions. Participants will also learn about the role of genomic testing in commercial dairy herds, as well as strategies for maximizing the genetic potential of replacement heifers while capturing added value from crossbreeding genetically inferior cows and heifers.

Friday, January 19:

Jennifer Van Os, professor and extension specialist, Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences

“Showing how much you care: The importance of animal welfare to dairy cows, farmers, and the public” (morning session)

Van Os will cover the role of animal welfare science in the dairy industry, including information about how national standards for animal care are established as well as an overview of industry and public perceptions and expectations for animal care. She will also cover examples of research studies that “give cows a voice through science” – the motto of Van Os’ research group – to better understand impacts of management practices on animal welfare. Finally, participants will have a chance to experience Mooving Cows, an innovative, interactive new tool to practice handling cows in a virtual setting.

FISC Ag Forward is open to farmers, farm managers and ag professionals already engaged in agriculture, as well as anyone interested in starting a career in the dairy industry. It will take place during winter break, so that students in the UW-River Falls residential FISC program can participate, as well as other interested university and tech college students.

For more details about FISC Ag Forward, including information about registration, fees and lodging, visit: