More than 390 milk quality, mastitis and udder health researchers, dairy producers and dairy industry partners attended the National Mastitis Council (NMC) 51st Annual Meeting held Jan. 22-24, in St. Pete Beach, Fla. The meeting provided a forum for exchanging information pertaining to mastitis control, udder health, quality milk production and the safe and judicious use of antimicrobials on farm. Approximately 25 percent of the attendees arrived from 23 different countries other than the United States, 18 percent of attendees were from countries outside North America.
"NMC continues to focus on all aspects of milk quality and udder health. This year's meeting is a perfect example of that. The meeting provided the foundation for discussion on the use of antimicrobials for mastitis treatment, dry cow therapies and antimicrobial resistance," says Eric Hillerton of DairyNZ and this year's past NMC president. "This issue is a hot topic and we were able to have a discussion, not a lecture, but a discussion to share opinions and understand all sides of the issue. Listening and talking is a key part to make sure as an industry we are using all products, not just antimicrobial products, in the most appropriate manner."
International attendees were able to share firsthand how they have dealt with issues related to antimicrobials, including a speaker from The Netherlands who shared insight on how they will achieve the goal of a 50 percent reduction in antibiotic use. Other sessions focused on a global perspective on milk quality and trade, novel methods for mastitis prevention and treatment, and the use of precision dairy to improve milk quality.
In addition to the regular conference sessions, nine short courses were held for attendees to gain hands-on experience in specific areas. Short courses at this year's conference covered a variety of topics including Prototheca mastitis, dairy stockmanship, milking system evaluation and Klebsiella mastitis.
A technology transfer session complemented this year's agenda. With 40 posters on view, researchers shared cutting edge information and solutions for the future of mastitis control and milk quality.
All of the sessions offered attendees an opportunity to discuss global milk quality challenges, share valuable experiences and network with others from around the world who are interested in quality milk production. "Networking is one of the most beneficial parts of attending this conference," notes Hillerton. "There is no mystique to this organization. Everyone at the conference is approachable, it's a fellowship and we welcome new people and the opportunity to connect with them."
Ron and Teri Brooks, Waupaca, Wis.; Ryan and Charina Dellar, Harrisville, Mich.; Mike and Nancy Kleinhaus, Kiel, Wis.; Dean and Patti Tohl, Tillamook, Ore. (not pictured); and Duane and Laurie Van Polen, Marion, Mich.
The 2011 National Dairy Quality Award winners were recognized during the Jan. 24 luncheon. The Platinum winners were Ron and Teri Brooks, Waupaca, Wis.; Ryan and Charina Dellar, Harrisville, Mich.; Mike and Nancy Kleinhaus, Kiel, Wis.; Dean and Patti Tohl, Tillamook, Ore.; and Duane and Laurie Van Polen, Marion, Mich. Judges selected these dairy producers based on quality milk production indicators, such as somatic cell count, bacteria count and mastitis incidence, along with milking routine, systems of monitoring udder health, treatment protocols and strategies for overall herd health and welfare. The awards program is sponsored by Merial, GEA Farm Technologies, IBA Inc., Ecolab Inc., Elanco Animal Health, QMI, Select Sires, Hoard's Dairyman and NMC.
New this year was the Award of Excellence for Mastitis Prevention and Control. This honor will be awarded annually to an active NMC member for sustained contribution to mastitis prevention and control through research, extension or education, clinical practice, or service to producers. The award is open to NMC members from around the world. This year's award winner was Dr. Ken Leslie, Emeritus Professor at the University of Guelph. The award is sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.
Receiving special recognition this year was Anne Saeman. Saeman has served as the executive director for NMC for the past 25 years.
For the fifth consecutive year, the National Mastitis Research Foundation (NMRF) awarded travel scholarships to four outstanding graduate students so they could attend the NMC Annual Meeting. The 2012 NMC Scholars were Amanda Sterrett, University of Kentucky; Roxann Weix, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Diana Sorg, Technische Universität München, Germany; and Joren Verbeke, Ghent University, Belgium. NMRF initiated the NMC Scholars program to support the development of mastitis research and milk quality professionals from around the world. This year a team trivia fundraising event was hosted during the meeting, raising more than $4,000 for the NMRF. Proceeds will be used to fund future graduate student participation in NMC programs and activities.
NMC thanks its annual meeting sponsors who contributed to the program's success. Diamond sponsors were Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., GEA Farm Technologies, Inc., Merck, and Pfizer Animal Health. Supporting at the Platinum level were DeLaval, Ecolab Inc., Elanco Animal Health, IBA Inc., Land O'Lakes, Inc., and Lauren AgriSystems. Gold sponsors included A&L Laboratories, Inc., Advanced Animal Diagnostics, Alltech and Hypred. Silver level sponsorships were received from ABS Global, Inc., Ambic Equipment Limited, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, BouMatic, Capitol Plastic Products, Dairy Farmers of America, Fight Bac/Deep Valley Farm and Grande Cheese Company. Pfizer Animal Health sponsored this year's reception and Premier Milk Inc., sponsored the milk breaks.
NMC is a professional organization devoted to reducing mastitis and enhancing milk quality. NMC promotes research and provides information to the dairy industry on udder health, milking management, milk quality and milk safety. Founded in 1961, NMC has close to 1,500 members in more than 40 countries throughout the world.