When I was asked to cover World Dairy Expo this year in Madison, Wisco., with my colleague Fran O’Leary, I jumped at the chance.
I’ve always heard of expo and how great of a show it was, but I had to see it for myself.
Well, let me tell you, it was a blast. If you’re a dairy farmer and you’ve never been to the expo, put it on your bucket list of things to do.
And Madison itself is a pretty cool town, even for this Penn State fan.
I was just amazed at the amount of technology that was on display. There were robots everywhere, from the latest robotic milking machines to robotic sprayers for teats to autonomous feed pushers and alley cleaners.
I even tried some augmented reality goggles for the first time.
Much of this technology is a little too pricey and, in some cases, not practical for many dairy farmers, especially here in the Northeast. But it’s still cool to see the potential of technology and how it can help dairy farms be more profitable.
But beyond the shiny new robots and salespeople trying to promote their products, the heart of World Dairy Expo is in the barns. I didn’t get much time to stroll around the barns as my schedule was full covering other things, but this is where Mid-Atlantic and Northeast dairy farmers really got their chance to shine.
The list of winners from the region was impressive. Start with the supreme champion, Cutting Edge T Delilah, owned by Ken Main and Kenny Jo Manion of Copake, N.Y. It was the second-straight year this cow won supreme champion, and only the second time in history that a Brown Swiss won back-to-back supreme champions.
If you want proof of how lucrative a supreme champion winner can be, look no further than this cow. According to Cowspolitan, Delilah is the Brown Swiss Cattle Breeders Association’s top-selling cow in history. She sold for a whopping $210,000 at a dispersal sale last month at Elite Dairy, dubbed by many as “the sale of the century.”
I’m sure this cow isn’t done on the tanbark.
The reserve supreme champion, an Ayrshire, also came from the Northeast: De La Plaine Bingo Stinger, owned by Blue Spruce Farm of Bridport, Vt.
The winnings didn’t stop there, though. The top Red and White was Highcroft Absolute Lily-Red of Marietta, N.Y.; the top junior Guernsey was Thurston Farms Primetime of West Winfield, N.Y., with the reserve going to a cow from East Earl, Pa.; the top Milking Shorthorn was Mar-Leigh Presto Juliet-EXP of Bergen, N.Y.; and the top junior Jersey was Four-Hills Velocity Gloriana of Bristol, Vt.
Meanwhile, Chris and Jen Hill of MD-Hillbrook Farm in Thurmont, Md., won the prestigious A.C. “Whitie” Thomson Memorial Award for top herdsman or showman.
Even in these down times for dairy farmers, especially here in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, it’s nice to know that some of the best cows are still close to home.
Congratulations to all the winners; you got some bragging rights!