Text: JoDee Sattler
Once again, the National Mastitis Council (NMC) expanded its global presence at its annual meeting. Typically, 25 percent of attendees reside in a country outside of the United States. That number rose to 38 percent in 2021.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NMC members met virtually, rather than in person, for the NMC 60th Annual Meeting, held during January. Attendees represented 24 countries, 37 U.S. states and seven Canadian provinces. More than 370 individuals, representing milk quality, mastitis and udder health researchers, dairy producers and dairy industry partners, gathered for the virtual event. This year’s NMC Annual Meeting addressed dairy farm-related digital technologies, employee training and engagement, animal health and welfare programs, milking system evaluations and dairy’s pivoting power during a pandemic.
“Given the ‘virtual world’ of 2020 and early 2021, holding NMC’s 60th Annual Meeting virtually was so fitting for this global organization,” said Patrick Christian, newly installed NMC president and annual meeting program chair, and partner in Christian Hill Dairy, Lomira, Wisconsin, USA. “Despite the many challenges dairy producers and processors around the world faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, dairy producers and their marketing partners proved their resiliency. Superior milk quality is essential to fostering a nimble food supply chain.”
NMC recognized several milk quality experts during its annual meeting. Gary Neubauer, a retired senior manager, Dairy Technical Services, with Zoetis, New Ulm, Minnesota, USA, received the NMC Award of Excellence for Contribution to Mastitis Prevention and Control, which is sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim. The 2015 NMC president, Neubauer dedicated his veterinary medicine career to advancing the scientific principles of milk quality to his peer veterinarians and the allied professional services industry, to dairy producers and their employees, and to processors and handlers. His contributions to NMC included two terms on the board of directors and chair of the National Residue Avoidance Committee.
In the National Dairy Quality Awards program, NMC honored six dairy operations as Platinum winners. These top-quality milk producers included Blue Star Dairy Middleton LLC (Art and Lori Meinholz), Middleton, Wisconsin, USA; Christop Dairy (Neil Christianson), Shiocton, Wisconsin, USA; Country Aire Farms (Tom, Mike, Nick, Matt, Craig and Jonathan Gerrits), Kaukauna, Wisconsin, USA; Riverside Dairy LLC (Andy Fisher and Tom and Jean Tienor), Reedsville, Wisconsin, USA; University of Wisconsin Marshfield Agricultural Research Station, Stratford, Wisconsin, USA; and Wilson Centennial Farm LLC (Brent, Nancy, Tyler and Ben Wilson), Carson City, Michigan, USA. Judges selected outstanding dairies to receive this honor based on quality milk production indicators, such as somatic cell count and bacteria count, along with milking routine, systems of monitoring udder health, treatment protocols and strategies for overall herd health and welfare. These herds ranged in size from 187 to 958 cows. Annual milk production (per cow) averaged from 12,513 kilograms (27,586 pounds) to 14,300 kilograms (31,526 pounds). For average somatic cell count (June 1, 2019-May 31, 2020), these dairies varied from 66,000 to 82,000 cells/ml.
NMC awarded scholarships to four outstanding graduate students to attend the NMC Annual Meeting. This year’s NMC Scholars were Ellen de Jong, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Hannah Woodhouse, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada; Valentina Monistero, University of Milan, Milan, Italy; and Bruno Silva, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium. The NMC Scholars program fosters the development of mastitis research and milk quality professionals from around the world.
During the NMC annual business meeting, members elected Rick Watters, Quality Milk Production Services, Warsaw, New York, USA; and Christy Dinsmoore, Novi, Michigan, USA; to the NMC board of directors. Executive committee members are Patrick Christian, Christian Hill Dairy, Lomira, Wisconsin, USA, president; Linda Tikofsky, Boehringer Ingelheim, Trumansburg, New York, USA, first vice president; Christina Petersson-Wolfe, Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA, second vice president; Keith Engel, GEA, Hampshire, Illinois, USA, secretary-treasurer; and Sarne De Vliegher, Ghent University, Merelbeke, Belgium, past president. Other board members include Marcos Munoz, University of Concepcion, Chile; Roger Thomson, MQ-IQ Consulting LLC, Battle Creek, Michigan, USA; Lowell “Jim” Davenport, Tollgate Holsteins, Ancramdale, New York, USA; Alfonso Lago, DairyExperts, Inc., Tulare, California, USA; Justine Britten, Udder Health Systems, Meridian, Idaho, USA; Juan “Rodrigo” Pedraza, Zoetis, Lubbock, Texas, USA; Brandon Treichler, Select Milk Producers, Canyon, Texas, USA; and Elizabeth Berry, Animax, Hereford, United Kingdom. Jason Lombard, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA; and Steve Lehman, Michigan Milk Producers Association, Novi, Michigan, USA; retired from the board.
NMC thanks its annual meeting sponsors who contributed to the program’s success. Diamond sponsors were Boehringer Ingelheim, GEA, Merck Animal Health and Zoetis. Platinum sponsors were Ecolab, Inc. and Land O’Lakes. Gold sponsors included Dairy Farmers of America, Kersia and Udder Health Systems. Silver sponsors were ABS Global, Inc., Ambic Equipment Limited, BouMatic, Lely, PortaCheck, Inc. and Udder Tech. The Udderly Ridiculous 5K Fun Run/Walk sponsors included Christian Hill Dairy, Luck-E Holsteins, Tollgate Holsteins, Gardner & Gardner Communications, and Corner Window Communications. In addition, Christian Hill Dairy, Luck-E Holsteins and Tollgate Holsteins joined the sponsor list as Dairy Partners.
NMC members may access the NMC 60th Annual Meeting Proceedings by logging into the NMC Member Center (https://www.nmconline.org/member-signin). Annual meeting and regional meeting research papers, available through this portal, date back to 1960.
The 61st NMC Annual Meeting is set for February 1-3, 2022, in San Diego, California, USA. For additional information, go to: www.nmconline.org.