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Five takeaways from a World Dairy Expo rookie

Progressive Forage Editor Joy Hendrix Published on 11 November 2019

Last month, I attended World Dairy Expo (WDE) in Madison, Wisconsin, for the first time. After three days at the show, here are five things I think every first-timer should experience.

1. Dairy Forage Seminar Stage

The seminar stage was full of presenters covering new topics with interesting perspectives. Some of my personal favorites included John Grabber’s “Interseeding alfalfa into corn silage,” and Eric Young’s “Managing manure on forage crops for economic and environmental benefits.”

A recording of all the presentations can be found at the World Dairy Expo website.

2. Aisles and aisles of products 

The number of companies involved in the dairy industry will always be greater than I can imagine. Roaming the exhibition halls and seeing the variety of products available speaks to the innovation of the industry. Behind every new product is an idea and research of how a producer could benefit from the product. The conversations behind new product development are some of my favorite because they always stem from a problem in the industry and present an idea of how to address it (even if it isn’t always perfect).

3. Feed quality = Animal quality

The caliber of cows and heifers in the barns at WDE is physical evidence of the hard work put into developing some of the most high-producing animals in the business, but I think it’s worth taking a walk around and seeing what they are being fed. The diet of each of these animals is just as spectacular as the animal itself, and the base of each of these is forage. For a forage producer, it’s just as exciting to examine the high-quality hay being fed to these animals. One of my favorite conversations came from a producer in Wisconsin. He prided himself on being able to raise high-enough-quality forages to feed his own show line.

4. Be a tire kicker

Seeing new equipment being rolled out can be exciting, and with plenty of room to showcase it, you can almost guarantee your brand of choice will have their latest and greatest on display and may even have special promotions running. New Holland showcased some of the tools being given away in their $400,000 giveaway next spring. Go explore what’s new, and ask questions without the pressure of your dealer calling you the first time they get one in stock. There is nothing quite like that new tractor smell (especially when you aren’t the one paying for it).

5. Sampling some of Wisconsin’s finest products

The famous grilled cheese and chocolate shake taste better when eaten in the forage barn after you’ve decided to stand in line in the pouring rain. 

Whether it’s your first time in Madison or taking your annual trip, the show has plenty to see and even more people to talk to.  end mark

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