With the theme “35 Years of Dairying: Knowledge, Pride and Passion,” the seminar will be held March 7-10 at the Sheraton in Red Deer, Alberta.

Topics to be covered include farm management, nutrition, reproduction, technologies, facilities, cow management and welfare. In addition, three pre-conference events will be held which consist of farm tours, a precision dairy monitoring workshop and a hoof trimming workshop.

Visit Western Canadian Dairy Seminars for the full agenda or to register.

To get a glimpse of this year’s event, Progressive Dairyman asked the presenters of the first session on industry challenges and perspectives to answer a couple of questions. See their responses below.

Canadian Dairy Industry: Past, Present and Future 


John Kennelly
John Kennelly
University of Alberta




Why is this topic important?

KENNELLY: I was responsible for initiating the Western Canadian Dairy Seminar (WCDS) way back in 1983, and I was program director for the first 21 years.

In this presentation, we are essentially looking at the evolution of the dairy industry over the past 35 years – over the lifetime of the WCDS.

We will also attempt to look ahead at what the future may hold for the industry based on the changes we have seen over the past 35 years.

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

KENNELLY: The dairy industry has undergone many changes over the past 35 years. The number of producers in Alberta has decreased from about 1,500 to a little over 500.

Consolidation and collaboration has been the focus of the dairy industry in all aspects – from research to marketing and promotion over that period.

Consolidation will continue and could very well lead to the industry being governed at a regional level – Western Milk Pool Board governing the industry in western Canada – in the next 35 years.

The WCDS will continue to be an important contributor to maintaining the overall efficiency and productivity of the Canadian dairy industry by providing all stakeholders with an opportunity to keep abreast of the latest developments in research, technology and policy that influence production efficiency, quality and marketing of milk and milk products.

GMOs: Food Supply Saviour or the Devil in Disguise?

Margaret Smith

Margaret Smith
Cornell University



Why is this topic important?

SMITH: While many farmers in North America have adopted genetically engineered crop varieties, and they are planted on a large share of our crop acreage, there are significant groups of people who remain very concerned about whether these varieties are a good thing and whether food and feed products from them are safe.

A better understanding of what genetically engineered crops are, how they fit into the long history of crop genetic improvement by humans, where and in what forms they are found in our food system, and what we know about their risks and benefits should contribute to more thoughtful dialog about this technology.

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

SMITH: My hope is attendees will gain an understanding of the profound changes that humans have brought about in crop genetics over thousands of years, the ways in which genetic engineering is different from previously used tools for genetic improvement and the ways in which it is similar, the range of crops that are currently commercially available as genetically engineered varieties, and the reasons for opposing viewpoints on genetically engineered varieties.

An understanding of how and why others might view this technology differently is essential to engaging in constructive dialog with people whose perspectives are different from our own.

A goal is for attendees to begin to grasp some of the logic behind others’ viewpoints on this issue.

Healthy Drug-Free Cows: A Producer’s Approach to Reducing Antibiotic Use

Lloyd Holterman

Lloyd Holterman
Rosy-Lane Holsteins
Watertown, Wisconsin



Why is this topic important?

HOLTERMAN: The topic is important because consumers want milk produced from cows that are healthy and well cared for.

The USDA has reduced the number of animal health products and antibiotics available to dairy farmers that would help animals fight infections.

Most of these ailments are preventable through changes in herd management and by breeding a more disease-resistant cow.

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

HOLTERMAN: It’s possible to reduce the health care costs of a dairy herd by more than 50 percent over time and increase milk production per cow at the same time. This also has indirect benefits of lowering labour costs and increasing feed efficiency.  end mark