ANALYSIS – The 46th annual World Dairy Expo is underway in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, and the halls of the exhibit center were busy with dairy producers looking for the latest innovations, along with ways to reduce their feed costs, writes Sarah Mikesell, 5m senior editor live from the show.
Steve Pretz, GEA Farm Technologies VP of Channel Management, said GEA’s feature product at the show is the MI1 Milking Robot. To showcase how it works to Expo attendees, GEA has a live feed from an actual user showing how the machine works and the concept around it – no compromise milking.
GEA is also featuring the Apollo Milking System which is a labor saving device that automatically teet dips the cow when the unit comes off. GEA is the first in the US to offer this technology. The FutureCow Prep System is new product GEA is offering which provides a new teet prep system that ensures that every cow is receives a consisent prep procedure and stimulation.
When asked what’s the biggest concern to dairy producers, he said in the US and worldwide it’s the high price of concentrate feed.
«It’s something that will likely continue for some time,» Pretz said. «It’s a real testimony to the US dairy business – the ways that dairy producers have found to replace corn in their ration. There are a lot of producers who have replaced nearly half of their corn requirements through alternative feed sources to be more economical.»
The other important issue that Pretz said producers continue to talk about is labor.
«Around the world, dairy producers really have a concern about labor – even in China. Finding quality, skilled labor to milk cows is difficult,» he said. «A lot of the hard work on a dairy is done through immigrant labor. The availability of that work force is in question. So producers are looking to automation to reduce the number of people needed. Improved labor efficiency is a key strategy for dairy operations long-term.»
Brian Miller, professional services veterinarian with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., said their business focus is on prevention rather than treatment of disease because they believe it’s the best option for their customers and their animals.
«Vaccination along with management controls are needed,» Dr. Miller said. «We have a broad portfolio of vaccines – modified live and killed. Another area of prevention is for hypocalcemia. We’ve learned a lot about the role that hypocalemia plays in production in terms of health of post-partum animals and the cost of subclinical cases – in terms of milk loss and the inter-relationship of calcium with almost every other disease that a cow faces.»
Hypocalemia is simply low-blood calcium, commonly known as milk fever, which is on the decline in US dairies. However, Dr. Miller said cows with subclinical hypocalcemia, which is low-blood calcium without clincal signs is often missed and not recognized.
«Fifty per cent of second and greater lactation cows that are not on DCAD (dietary cation-anion difference) diets, meaning diets in the pre-calving period that are supplemented with anions, have subclinical hypocalcemia,» he said. «Subclinical hypocalcemia costs dairymen a lot more than clinical milk fever cases. Recent research shows the biggest loss a dairyman sees is milk loss when cows aren’t supplemented with oral calcium. Calcium plays a role in every disease that a cow faces in the immediate paripartuian period. We offer Bovikalc that allows cows to mobilize calcium from their skeleton.»
The 2012 World Dairy Expo features over 850 dairy tradeshow exhibitors, learning seminars, virtual farm tours and a world-class dairy cattle show. The show runs through Saturday, October 6, 2012.
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