55th Annual Meeting of National DHIA

Joel Hastings

Data Uses – a Broader View Panel: Phil Dukas moderated a discussion with this group. From left, Dan Noldolf, Wisconsin dairy producer; Bob McKaig, Indiana producer; Allen Chester, N.Y. producer; Dan Moyer, Central Star Cooperative; George Dick, Canadian producer; and Miels Hostens.

With over 100 people attending coming from more than 15 states coast to coast and three foreign countries, the National DHIA Convention just beat the rash of event cancellations caused by the reaction to coronavirus. The session was held Mar 2 – 5 in Savannah, Ga. National DHIA comprises 15 DHI service providers across the U.S.



Dairy farmer Allen Chester of Lisbon, N.Y. was elected president for the year ahead, moving up from the VP slot.  He’s on the board of DairyOne based in New York.  Kevin Haase, on the management team at Central Star Cooperative in Michigan, was chosen as vice-president. Susan Lee, manager at Idaho DHI, and Bob McKaig, Indiana dairyman, were reelected as secretary and treasurer, respectively. Chester, McKaig and Haase had been reelected to their board seats by the delegates, completing the transition of board members elected at large.

NDHIA Officers: From left are Bob McKaig, Kevin Haas, Susan Lee and Allen Chester

In his reports, CEO Jay Mattison reiterated that DHI has the information needed to manage for dairy producer payment plans… milk, fat, protein and somatic cell counts. The issue of animal ID along with new information provided by automated milking systems and sensor technologies will challenge DHI to keep up… incorporating this new data while finding ways to verify its accuracy.

He pointed out that participation in supervised testing plans was at the highest level in decades in 2019. There were 12,324 herds submitting data to the National Cooperator Database at the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding, representing over 4.1 million cows in an average herd size of 244 cows/herd.  The annual report shows that 57% of DHI cows are in herds of more than 750 cows, with 365 herds of more than 2000 cows/herd. Nevertheless, 52% of DHI herds have fewer than 100 cows. Perhaps most importantly, herds participating in DHI programs over the past five years averaged 1,355 lbs. more milk per cow than the entire U.S. dairy cattle population.

With new technologies on the dairy farm creating more identification issues for the production and health data collected, several speakers and a panel discussion identified some of the challenges. NDHIA has become part of a multi-country effort called International Dairy Data Exchange Network with milk recording organizations in Germany, Holland, Australia, Canada and the Nordic region.  It has been a longtime member of ICAR, the International Committee on Animal Recording. A resolution was unanimously passed supporting the move toward nationwide use of the USDA “840” series electronic tags for all dairy cattle.

Lactanet Canada: The Canadian affiliation of DHI organizations and Canadian Dairy Network was represented by, from left, Daniel Lefebvre of Valacta (DHI Quebec); Korb Whale, Canada West DHI board chair; Barb Paquet, Lactanet chair; and Neil Petreny, Canada West DHI CEO.

The “Leadership Workshop” at this event typically brings speakers with new ideas not regularly found in U.S. dairy meetings.  This year was no exception with a university veterinarian from Holland and a dairy farmer from Canada speaking.

Miels Hostens is on the faculty at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Utrecht in Holland. He’s known for his work with dairy production data.  He spoke about “transforming

big data” into value for producers. He believes the characteristics of data impacting its value are “volume, velocity, variety and veracity.” He is an advocate for making the data currently available more widely used and re-used, urging researchers to focus on what producers need to manager their herds.

Dairy breeder George Dick of Dickland Farms in Chilliwack, B.C., Canada was an engaging speaker with the topic of “Old Data for New Traits; New Data for Old Traits.” Milking some 300 registered Holsteins, he raises a similar number of heifers and grows most of his own forage. A user of genomic testing across the board, he said, “I’m a huge believer in genetic gain.”

He supports the coming feed efficiency traits and for the future hopes to see genetic predictions for the length of lactation that’s right for each cow, for acidosis resistance and rumen function, and for prediction of calfhood health and disease resistance. More comments from Clark can be found in our video at https://www.dairybusiness.com/george-dick-of-dicklands-farms-on-old-data-for-new-traits-and-new-data-for-old-traits/

During the annual banquet, Phil Dukas, former NDHIA CEO and retiring executive at DRMS, was presented the Martin A. Wilson Leadership Award. The annual auction of donated items successfully raised over $10,000 for the NDHIA scholarships.

Phil Dukas, center, with his wife, Kit, receives the Martin A. Wilson leadership award from John Clay.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.