It’s all about the cows when the early October mainstay of the Dairy Industry, World Dairy Expo, takes place in Madison, WI. 2,500 head of the world’s finest cows show up in Madison for the largest dairy show in the country. Along with this annual cow frenzy is an exceptional trade show where over 800 exhibitors display their goods and services to the some 65,000 attendees to the five day show.
The cows demand most of the attention in the ring and at the trade show. The “cow” is the emphasis whether it’s feed and silage quality, animal care, state of the art milking technology, or genetics. It amazes the novice and expert alike to see the wide array of goods dedicated to the cow and milk production.
Illinois Livestock Development Group and the Illinois Milk Producers’ Association have been exhibiting at World Dairy Expo the last five years. Each year seems to bring industry issues, topics and latest technology to the forefront for the industry to address in an open forum of leaders, attendees and producers.
This year was no exception. Pounds of milk produced, price paid per hundred, forage quality/availability, and technology were the leading discussions up for consideration. With Class III milk hovering in the $17 – $18 / hundred range, the price of feed becomes biggest factor in maintaining profits across the industry. Most concede that $20 milk is needed to compete with still elevated grain in the 6$ – 7$ per bushel equivalent price range.
New technology also demands a lot of discussion each year. This year, robotics was the primary focus as smaller producers struggle to maintain labor, performance, and profitability in a changing industry. Lely USA, DeLaval, and Westfalia/Surge all have an automatic robotic system that is becoming easier for producers to implement into their existing management and production plans. In essence, the cows decide when they need milked and the robot provides the service 24 hr a day. The producer can then focus on cow comfort, feed and management of the herd.
Another theme in the dairy technology discussion is manure and/or nutrient management. Methane digesters have taken over the discussion of the ultimate renewable energy COW POWER. This highly regarded technology continues to grow in acceptance and efficiency and affordability as it addresses environmental compliance for producers.
I enjoy representing the Illinois Livestock Development Group every year at this top notch event. Not only does it keep me abreast of upcoming issues and innovations in the industry, but it helps me think through new themes and challenges that we might face as we continue to grow the industry in Illinois. I love talking to dairy farmers from all over the country, and I’m always happy to find that Prairie Farms offers a market opportunity that continues to draw producers to the Illinois booth. Of course, feed and water availability are key strengths of Illinois’ as well.
World Dairy Expo serves as a forum for dairy producers, companies, organizations and other dairy enthusiasts to come together to compete, and to exchange ideas, knowledge, technology and commerce. Illinois Livestock Development Group hopes to engage producers from Illinois and beyond to help them grow and expand their animal agriculture endeavors responsibly and profitably. I happen to think the two are a great fit.
Livestock Development Group