With the theme “Achieving Dairy Excellence,” the seminar will be held March 6-9 at the Sheraton Hotel in Red Deer, Alberta.

The seminar is open to dairy producers, technology transfer specialists, researchers and dairy service and supply representatives. The agenda covers a wide range of topics, including farm management, dairy cattle nutrition, replacements, herd health, genetics and reproduction. For the second year in a row, the Thursday morning plenary session will include student research presentations and a dairy producer panel.

As always, the seminar’s opening session will highlight current dairy policy and other challenges and opportunities facing the dairy industry.

Gwyn Jones, a member of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board in the United Kingdom, will look at the immediate challenges faced by the British dairy industry and how they might apply to Canada. Next, Harvey Anderson, director of the University-Industry Program in Food Safety, Nutrition and Regulatory Affairs, University of Toronto, will explain what the changes to the Canadian Food Guide mean for dairy.

Lastly, Tine van Werven, associate professor, Utrecht University, will share her experiences from the Netherlands to tackle the issue of managing dairy cows with fewer antibiotics.


Progressive Dairyman asked the presenters of the first session to answer a couple of questions about their presentation. Here are the responses received from van Werven.

Why is this topic of managing dairy cows with fewer antibiotics important?

VAN WERVEN: This topic is important because the use of antimicrobials leads to a potential risk for public health. Excessive use contributes to the selection and spread of resistant bacteria. The increase of bacteria resistant to several antibiotics is a global threat, especially in human medicine. If we lose the efficacy of antibiotics, we have to realize we will lose a lot of the modern medical applications such as surgery, neonatal care or chemotherapy.

Therefore, we should use antibiotics only when it is necessary and not as an easy and cheap routine. In the Netherlands, we worked for almost 10 years on the reduction of antibiotics in veterinary medicine. The government forced Dutch farmers to reduce the use of antibiotics by 20 percent in 2011, 50 percent in 2013 and 70 percent in 2015.

A combination of mandatory and voluntary actions resulted in an overall decrease of 58.4 percent from 2009 to 2015. On dairy farms, the vast majority of the total antimicrobial use is used intramammary. More than 75 percent of the total use was administered to treat mastitis or as dry cow treatment.

The implementation of selective dry cow treatment had a huge impact on the total use without having detrimental effect on udder health performance. Improvement of transition management is the best way to implement selective dry cow treatment.

What do you hope attendees will take away from this presentation?

VAN WERVEN: I hope the Canadian attendees will get inspired by the results of the Dutch and it helps them move to a more prudent use of antimicrobials. I know it takes time to change the mindset of farmers and vets, and I understand it is hard to change routines that were applied for decades.

But there are so many examples showing dairy life goes on with the use of fewer antibiotics. I therefore hope attendees will review antimicrobial usage at their farms and get inspired to use solutions that help them to reduce the use of antimicrobials.

A 75-booth trade show held in conjunction with the event offers a forum to discuss the important industry topics shared during the formal program. In addition, pre-conference events on Tuesday will offer the opportunity to visit three local dairy farms or delve into a three-hour session all about milk quality and the best practices for milk harvest.

Visit Western Canadian Dairy Seminar for the full agenda or to register.  end mark

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

  • Pre-Conference Farm Tour

  • Workshop: Milk Quality – The Drive for Consistent Delivery of Top Quality Milk – Facilitators: David Kelton, University of Guelph; Herman Barkema, University of Calgary; and Steven Roche, ACER Consulting

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Morning Plenary Session
Session I: Transforming Challenges into Opportunities

  • Welcome, Introductory Remarks and Conference Overview – Norman Machell, Vétoquinol, Chair, WCDS Advisory Committee, and Mike Steele, University of Alberta, Chair, WCDS Program Committee

  • Are the Immediate Challenges Faced by the British Dairy Industry Applicable to Canada? – Gwyn Jones, Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, United Kingdom

  • What Does the Re-vamp of the Canadian Food Guide Mean for Dairy? – Harvey Anderson, University of Toronto

  • Managing the Dairy Cow with Less Antibiotics – Tine van Werven, Utrecht University

Afternoon Concurrent Sessions
Session II: Principles of Farm Management

• A Requirement for Dairy Farm Success: Hiring and Retaining an Excellent Workforce – Bob Milligan, Dairy Strategies LLC

  • Motivating On-Farm Change – Steven Roche, ACER Consulting

  • What is Happening in Facility Design to Improve Cow Comfort and Health? – Jan Hulsen, Vetvice Group

  • Benchmarking Health and Management across the Canadian Dairy Herd – David Kelton, University of Guelph

Session III: Fundamentals of Nutritional Management

  • Adapting Current Practices to Automatic Milking Systems: Pros and Cons – Àlex Bach, Institute for Research and Technology in Agrifood

  • Nutritional Management of Fresh Cows: Helping for a Smooth Take Off – Masahito Oba, University of Alberta

  • Recent Advances in Our Understanding of Fatty Acid Digestion and Metabolism in Lactating Dairy Cows – Adam Lock, Michigan State University

  • The Key to Producing High Quality Corn Silage in Western Canada – Karen Beauchemin, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Evening Banquet
Entertainment – Calgary Dueling Pianos

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Morning Plenary Session
Session IV: Student Research and Producer Panel

  • Student Research Presentation Competition – Five graduate students will present their dairy-related research findings.

  • High Management Score Herds: How Do They Achieve It? – Producer Panel

Afternoon Concurrent Sessions
Session V: Replacements – Management Pre- and Post-weaning

  • Setting the Stage for the Future Cow: Managing and Feeding During Early Life – Àlex Bach, Institute for Research and Technology in Agrifood

  • Group Housing of Calves: What You Need to Know Before, During and After – Joao Costa, University of Kentucky

  • Post-natal Communication from the Dam to the Calf: The Various Roles of Colostrum and Milk – Mike Van Amburgh, Cornell University

  • Pre-weaning Effects on Nutrient Supply Post Weaning – James Quigley, Provimi

Session VI: Advances in Genetics and Reproduction

  • Genetics, Genomics and Beyond: What to Expect From New Technologies in Dairy Cattle Breeding – Christine Baes, University of Guelph

  • Farm Management Decisions in the Era of Genomics – Brian Van Doormaal, Canadian Dairy Network

  • Can Genomics be Used to Improve Reproductive Performance? – Pablo Pinedo, Colorado State University

  • New Advances in the Reproductive Management of Uterine Disease – Fabio Lima, University of Illinois

Friday, March 9, 2018

Morning Plenary Session
Session VII: Healthy Cows Produce Healthy Milk

  • New Developments in Mastitis Research – Tine van Werven, Utrecht University

  • Lessons Learned from the Canadian Johne’s Disease Programs – Herman Barkema, University of Calgary

  • Lameness Detection: Anytime and All the Time – Karin Orsel, University of Calgary

  • Lameness Treatment and Prevention: No Pain, No Lame – Gerard Cramer, University of Minnesota