These presentations will be delivered in a new virtual (online) format, spread out over five days – for two to three hours a day – from March 8-12.

There will be presentations related to calf health, nutrition and reproduction; virtual farm tours; a student research presentation competition and producer panel. The event includes a virtual trade show area with more than 60 industry sponsors, as well as a virtual research poster display section.

This seminar is designed for dairy producers, technology transfer specialists, researchers and dairy service and supply representatives. Registration for the entire virtual event is $50 and can be completed at Western Canadian Dairy Seminar.

Sneak peek

Progressive Dairy reached out to each of the session chairs to provide a preview of what attendees can expect to learn at this year’s seminar. Here are their responses.

Session I: Calf Health
Monday, March 8
Session chair: Karin Orsel,

University of Calgary,
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine


What topics will be covered by the presenters?

We tackle calf health from three different angles with a focus on nutraceuticals to improve calf immunity without the use of antimicrobials, focus on parasitic infections with coccidiosis and finally a focus on welfare and behaviour to give calves a good start in life.

Why are they important to share across the dairy industry?

I have chosen to focus a full session on calf health, as they are the future generation. A good start is essential for building a strong new generation of replacement heifers.

Session II: Nutrition
Tuesday, March 9
Session chair: Masahito Oba,
University of Alberta

What topics will be covered by the presenters?

1. Nutritional management of dairy heifers from weaning to calving

2. Management of high-straw diets before calving

3. Protein nutrition during the calving transition

Why are they important to share across the dairy industry?

These are important management areas affecting productivity of dairy cows and profitability of dairy operations, and recent research sheds light on novel perspectives. Information provided in this session will be directly applicable to improve nutritional management of dairies.

Session III: Virtual Farm Tours
Wednesday, March 10
Session chair: Tietsia Huyzer, dairy producer

What topics will be covered by the presenters?

We invite you to come along and pay a visit to these progressive farms spread over western Canada. We are taking you on their yards, into the barns and show you what these farmers have accomplished. They will share with us their challenges and successes, and you have a chance to participate in a live question-and-answer period with these amazing people so they can explain to you in detail what you saw (and maybe did not see) in the video of their farm operation.

Why are they important to share across the dairy industry?

This will provide you with a great opportunity to visit a farm in a different province with a different climate and environmental challenges that could open our eyes to new applications on our own farms.

Session IV: Student Research Presentation Competition
Thursday, March 11
Session chair: Karen Beauchemin, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

What topics will be covered by the presenters?

This year, we feature abstracts submitted by 22 graduate students from universities across Canada that cover the latest research developments in dairy farming. The students will present their latest findings covering a diverse range of topics including herd health, reproduction, genetics, nutrition, calf husbandry, welfare, milk quality and management. All students will prepare a short presentation that will be made available on the website, while four students will be chosen to give a 10-minute oral presentation followed by a live Q&A session.

Why are they important to share across the dairy industry?

The student presentations allow the audience to hear the latest research findings in dairy farming, and the feedback the students receive from the audience allows them to further develop as leaders in the dairy industry.

Session V: Producer Panel
Thursday, March 11
Session chair: Devon Simmelink, dairy producer

What topics will be covered by the presenters?

The topics being covered are the effects of COVID-19 on the dairy industry and mental health.

Why are they important to share across the dairy industry?

COVID-19 is something that has impacted all of us over the last year in different ways. Mental health is a constant struggle in agriculture, and the more we discuss it, hopefully it becomes easier to seek help when needed.

Session VI: Reproduction and Genetics
Friday, March 12
Session chair: Divakar Ambrose,
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

What topics will be covered by the presenters?

The topics to be covered include genomics and reproductive technologies to improve genetic gain, the economics of extending voluntary waiting period and profitability of three-breed crossbreds compared with Holsteins.

Why are they important to share across the dairy industry?

Topic 1: The use of sexed semen along with embryo transfer and in-vitro fertilization technologies can lead to remarkable rates of genetic progress in dairy herds. The vast potential to increase genetic progress and net farm profitability by combining these technologies to create customized herd breeding programs will be discussed.

Topic 2: Extending the duration of the voluntary waiting period from about 60 days to 88 days in milk can increase first-service pregnancy per A.I. but delay overall time to pregnancy. This strategy could result in greater profitability in primiparous cows but not in multiparous cows. Changes in voluntary waiting period duration affected profitability primarily by differences in replacement cost and, to a lesser extent, by income over feed cost.

Topic 3: This talk will discuss results from a 10-year crossbreeding study using Holstein, Viking Red and Montbeliarde breeds. Crossbreds had fewer days open, had increased longevity, lower still birthrates, lower health treatment costs and up to 13% higher daily profits compared with their Holstein herdmates.  end mark