By Hannah Thompson, OCJ staff writer
Every year during the first week of October, Madison, Wis., is flooded with dairy enthusiasts from around the globe looking to view some of the best dairy cattle in the world, eat some of the best cheese curds and dairy treats, and take advantage of the expertise of leaders in the industry’s top companies.
This year, 71,788 visitors from 96 countries traveled to Madison for the World Dairy Expo, themed “Market Fresh” and held October 2-6 at the Alliant Energy Center. The Buckeye state was well represented as always among those visitors, cattle, and businesses
The trade show at World Dairy Expo is one of the largest in the world, with 863 exhibiting companies hailing from 28 countries filling spots in multiple buildings. Visitors can find everything from art, jewelry and clothing to milking systems, cattle waterbeds and feed additives, while also stopping to enjoy some cheese curds or ice cream.
One of those companies, Select Sires, Inc., calls Plain City home. This year, 15 staff members from the dairy and beef genetics company’s Ohio headquarters teamed up with representatives of its nine member cooperatives to operate two booths.
“Since Expo started having a trade show in 1971, Select Sires has been here,” said Terri Smith, sales and marketing specialist at Select Sires. “Our booth in the coliseum is one of the original booths and it’s been in the same spot every year.”
Companies exhibiting in the trade show have the ability to meet and talk with the thousands of Expo visitors touring the grounds looking for the right products and equipment to meet their needs.
“This is the meeting place of the industry,” Smith said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to meet with all segments of the market. A lot of large commercial breeders are here looking for equipment, genetics, and solutions on their farm, so it’s important for us to be here and touch base with so many people in one place.”
This year, the company was rewarding visitors to its booths with calendars, red tote bags sporting the company logo, and can koozies celebrating the Expo debut of daughters of GW Atwood, a popular sire on the lineup. Select Sires also offered a drawing for semen, products, gift certificates and semen tanks.
In addition to the trade show, Ohioans could be spotted capturing top placings in the shows held throughout the week. A total of 2,385 cattle were paraded through the ring by 1,234 exhibitors representing 41 states and 8 Canadian provinces.
Triple-T Holsteins and Jerseys, North Lewisburg, enjoyed particular success in both the Grand International Red and White Show and the International Holstein Show. Triple-T is owned and operated by Nathan and Jenny Thomas along with John, Mark and Andy Thomas.
Triple-T has been exhibiting at World Dairy Expo for seven years, taking strings of as many of 15
animals owned by the Thomas family or their boarding clients. This year, the string included nine Jerseys, Red and Whites, and Holsteins.
“Our niche in the industry has been marketing elite show cattle that excel in type and pedigree,” Jenny Thomas said. “We try to buy animals that will compete well in the show ring but also have some pedigree to fall back on, making them more valuable in the end.”
For the Triple-T crew, World Dairy Expo is both a fun week of visiting with friends in the industry and a business trip to market the farm’s genetics.
“The biggest reason we go to World Dairy Expo is to market and promote our cattle and the cow families that we’re working with. It’s a big merchandising trip for us. It’s what we work for all year, so it’s our reward and our way of showing people what we have to offer on a worldwide stage,” Thomas said.
The farm enjoyed considerable success on that stage this year, with Starmark Ad Hotstuff-Red capturing the reserve grand champion banner in the Red and White show. Hotstuff, a five-year-old, was bred by Starmark Farms in Wooster and is now owned by Nathan Thomas, Mike Heath and Will Iager.
“In 2010, we had Hotstuff there and she was second as a junior three-year-old, so to have her come back and win her class and later on be named reserve grand was a real honor,” Thomas said.
Hotstuff possess a unique pedigree that, combined with her show ring success, has allowed the Thomas family to do IVF (in-vitro fertilization) and embryo work with her, resulting in many offspring sold. Winning reserve grand champion honors will take her marketing potential to the next level, Thomas said.
Triple-T Holsteins and Jerseys also acquired notable success in the Holstein arena with their own breeding, as T-Triple-T Gold Prize brought home the first place medal in the four-year-old class, besting 21 other entries.
“Gold Prize was junior champion at both Expo and the Royal Winter Fair in 2009, so we were pretty excited to have her come back that way and win her class,” Thomas said. “We hope to further emphasize the T-Triple-T Dundee Paige family and show off the results, because the family is really breeding nicely for us. On the breeder level, Gold Prize’s win was a nice touch.”
Outside of the ring
In addition to top-notch show cattle, Ohio is also home to notable dairy industry leaders who were honored at World Dairy Expo, in addition to dairy youth who attended the event to hone their skills.
Several Ohioans were recognized at the National Dairy Shrine banquet, with Laura Gordon, Shreve, and Mikayla Conrad, New Holland, earning scholarship awards. Dr. Charles Plumb, late-1800s champion of humane animal care and namesake of the Ohio State University’s Plumb Hall, was honored as an Industry Pioneer and inducted into the Dairy Hall of Fame for his work as a visionary professor of animal husbandry at Purdue University and Ohio State.
Ohio youth also traveled to the Expo as members of the 4-H and collegiate dairy judging teams, enjoying visits to notable farms and industry locations in the days leading up to the competition.
“Through the generous support of those that give to the judging program and endowments, the team members are able to have a special experience that will stay with them for the rest of their lives,” said Bonnie Ayars, dairy extension specialist with Ohio State and 4-H and collegiate judging team coach.
Highlights of the experience include visits to the National Dairy Shrine Museum, the Nasco company headquarters, and the Hoards Dairyman Farm. Ayars, whose family has exhibited at World Dairy Expo since 1976, notes that the experience of attending World Dairy Expo is just as valuable to the team members as the competition.
“You can relate Expo to so many other activities, experiences, and educational opportunities,” Ayars said. “The ambiance, the shavings, the decorations…it’s just phenomenal. It just has everything for a full dairy vacation package.”
Next year’s World Dairy Expo, themed “Center of the Dairy Universe,” is sure to be bigger than ever, building up to the event’s 50th anniversary in 2016. For one week in October, Madison is certainly the center of the international dairy industry, and Ohioans will no doubt continue to participate in all aspects of the exposition, which Smith, Thomas, and Ayars all agree is a must-see for all dairy enthusiasts.
“It’s the World Series of dairy,” Ayars said. “It’s the Super Bowl of the dairy industry.”