Sunbelt Expo to promote dairy herd health, industry expansion

The Sunbelt Expo’s dairy exhibits keep getting better each year. These exhibits are an ideal place for visitors to take a milk break and learn more about the modern dairy industry.

Check locations F-7 and F6-A for the dairy exhibits which are easily accessible through Gate 4.

The Expo has long been a source of equipment aimed at meeting the needs of dairy farmers. The dairy exhibits first appeared during the 1989 Sunbelt Expo. They return again this year with information on dairy barn layout, milking machinery, feed mixers, artificial insemination services and feed supplements.

In 1999, the Expo hosted its first series of dairy production seminars. This tradition will continue during the 2006 show with a series of presentations aimed at foot and hoof health for dairy cows.

This year for the fourth consecutive year, the Expo will welcome a mobile dairy classroom sponsored by the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association. The centerpiece of the exhibit will be cow-milking demonstrations conducted throughout each day of the show.

SUDIA’s mobile classroom will also provide information on where milk comes from, how it is processed, the health and nutritional benefits of consuming dairy products and how dairy farmers manage natural resources.

The Expo will welcome a new exhibit in the dairy section sponsored by Alabama Dairy Producers. Alabama Dairy Producers is a division of the Alabama Farmers Federation and its goal is to help producer work together to build up the state’s dairy industry.

Alabama and most states in the Southeast are deficit milk markets. That means the local milk production isn’t enough to meet the demand for milk in the Southeast. As fuel costs increase for importing out-of-state milk to the Southeast, the Alabama Dairy Producers and other organizations are working to attract new dairy producers to Alabama as a location for expanded milk production.

“We are losing dairy producers in Alabama, mostly small ones, at an alarming rate,” says Perry Mobley, dairy commodity director with the Farmers Federation. “We are trying to recruit dairy producers to Alabama. We just want to show what Alabama has to offer the dairy industry, and we want to visit with any dairy producers who are interested in relocating to Alabama from other parts of the country.”

The Georgia Milk Producers, Inc., has similar objectives as the Alabama Dairy Producers and will also have an exhibit in the Expo dairy section.

This year, University of Georgia Dairy Scientists Joe West and John Bernard are helping to coordinate the dairy seminars at Expo.

Lameness is one of the main reasons why dairy cows are culled prematurely. At Expo, University of Florida Extension Veterinarian Jan Shearer will cover the important topic of hoof and foot care for cows. He’s an expert on topics such as hoof trimming, foot warts, other causes of lameness and how healthy feet can contribute to top milk production.

It is estimated that nearly a third of the dairy cows in the United States will develop some type of lameness during their lifetimes. Lameness typically leads to reduced feed consumption and lowered milk production. Offering advice on early identification and treatment of lameness has been a major objective of Shearer’s professional career.

In their own presentations, West and Bernard will cover the important topics of feed rations and feed particle size. They plan to bring a feed particle size separator. It consists of a series of sieves in a box. When the box is shaken the feed is separated into different groups according to particle size.

They’ll also show examples of well-mixed and poorly mixed feed rations, and tell how these can impact cow health. West points out that feed particle size also can relate to foot health. “Poorly mixed rations can lead to acidosis which contributes to lameness and poor foot health,” adds West.

The schedule calls for SUDIA milking demonstrations to take place each day of the show at 10 a.m., 12 noon and 3 p.m. Also at the SUDIA exhibit, children will have the opportunity to feed baby dairy calves at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. each day.

Shearer’s presentations on hoof and leg care of dairy cows will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday at 11 a.m.

West and Bernard will make their presentations on feed mixes and silage rations which will take place on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

This year’s Sunbelt Expo is scheduled for Oct. 17-19 at Moultrie, Ga. For more information visit

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