The Western Dairy Management Conference, one of the nation’s premier educational programs for dairymen, attracted over 1800 dairy producers and those in allied industry from around the West and across the country this week Tuesday through Thursday, Feb. 28 – Mar. 2 in Reno, Nevada.  Over three days, leading dairy Extension staff made more than 20 educational presentations with the latest research on all facets of dairy cattle management.  In addition, a panel of dairy-friendly attorneys talked about environmental litigation impacting dairies today and there was a roundtable discussion about training the next generation of dairy managers and an update on the latest dairy promotion activities.

There is no trade show here but a wide range of commercial companies, some 80 in all, provide sponsorships to underwrite the costs with many hosting hospitality suites for customers and prospects.  For the first time, in a pre-conference session Tuesday morning, experts from these companies shared management information.  In previous conferences, only university staff and dairy producers themselves made presentations.

The first WDMC was held in 1993, back when large-herd dairymen in the West had unique management challenges.  Extension staff led by the late John Smith, then in New Mexico, Dennis Armstrong in Arizona and Mike Gamroth in Oregon created the event that has been held once every two years since then.   Four times it was held in Las Vegas and then in 2001 it moved to Reno.  Today Mike Brouk of Kansas State heads the organizing committee. 

Often referred to as the ‘large-herd conference’ it began to attract dairymen from the Midwest and East.  The full range of dairy management topics and the increasing need to relate to the public are important all who attend, no matter the region.

            Two companies introduced new products at hosted events.  The seed company Mycogen is bringing out a new silage corn variety called “Unmatched” for planting in the 2018 crop season.  The next step beyond its BMR varieties, it will offer a softer kernel with significantly increased fiber and starch digestibility, improving feed efficiency, rumen health and milk production.

            Phibro Animal Health introduced a new line of yeast solutions for improved dairy cow performance.  This product, called Cellerate, joins its line-up of feed additives including Omni-Gen and Animate along with others.

            Attendance here is open to dairy producers and all those who work with them, and the next WDMC will be early March in 2019.

Training the Next Generation

At the podium, Dr. Robert Hagevoort of New Mexico State describes the summer program operated by a group of southwestern universities called the U.S. Dairy Training Consortium.  Shown from left David Douphrate of the University of Texas, Jason White, grad student at Oklahoma State and Jeff Frose, DVM, of Cargill.  This group was one of two panel presentations at the Western Dairy Management Conference held Feb. 28 – Mar. 2 in Reno, Nev.           

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