The 2018 Dairy Cattle Improvement Industry Forum achieved record attendance with over 120 attendees including industry leaders associated with dairy cattle improvement organizations in Canada. This year’s event was co-hosted by Valacta and held at the Château Vaudreuil near Montreal, Quebec, which provided a fantastic location and facility for participants to interact and discuss the outstanding program of quality topics and speakers. Other meetings surrounding this year’s Forum included the 23rd Annual General Meeting of Canadian Dairy Network (CDN) as well as meetings of the CDN Board of Directors. The following is a summary of key actions and highlights of those meetings.
- Given the pending partnership between CDN, CanWest DHI and Valacta, which is targeted for early 2019, the CDN membership agreed it was important to have continuity and stability to achieve this pivotal direction for the industry. For this reason, the CDN voting delegates passed a motion to extend the current term for each member of the Board of Directors by one year. At a meeting of the Board of Directors following the AGM, all officers and other appointments were also maintained for the coming year. Therefore, the CDN Board includes Norm McNaughton (from A.I.) as Chairman, Ed Friesen (from Canadian DHI) as Vice-Chairman, Barbara Paquet also representing Canadian DHI, Harry Van der Linden and Gilles Côté from breeds, Robert Wright and Bill Young from the A.I. sector, Gert Schrijver from Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) and David Chalack as a Director-at-Large. As for recent years, Ed Friesen was re-appointed as the CDN representative on the DFC Board of Directors, Gert Schrijver was re-appointed as Chairman of the DairyTrace Advisory Committee, which also includes Robert Wright and Gilles Côté, and David Chalack was reappointed as the CDN Board liaison on the DairyGen Council.
- The audited financial statements for 2017-2018 were presented during the CDN AGM and subsequently approved by the membership. The year showed a net surplus of operational revenue compared to expenses of $143,118, which increased members’ equity to $442,834 as of March 31, 2018. Operational revenue was +1.7% higher than budgeted at $2,142,545 while expenses were 5.1% below budget totalling $1,999,427, mainly due to lower staff costs. 2017-2018 also marked the first year for CDN to report activities specifically related to the development of the DairyTrace Program, which had revenue and expenses balanced at $165,382. The budget for 2018-2019, as approved by the CDN Board of Directors, was presented to the membership showing a 2.1% increase in operational expenses to $2.042M. Targeting a balanced operational budget for 2018-2019 and planning for an expected reduction in revenue from other sources, the CDN Board approved a 3.5% increase in member funding for evaluation services to $1.927M. For DairyGen activities, revenue remains consistent with last year at roughly $430K and the carryover from year to year is expected to exceed $750K to plan for pending projects submitted for government funding under Dairy Research Cluster 3.
- The Board considered continued correspondence received from industry partners related to the motion approved in July 2018 to no longer publish Direct Genomic Values (DGV) for any animals with a target implementation date of April 2019. CDN management provided an update on actions taken by CDN including the planning of a significant time slot being allocated for presentation of data analysis and continued discussion during the Open Industry Session to be held in St. Hyacinthe, QC on October 24, 2018, which will be followed by a meeting of the Genetic Evaluation Board (GEB) the next day. In the end, the Board of Directors agreed to allow time for the analysis and discussions to continue via the planned process and to consider any subsequent recommendations that the GEB may bring forward to the next Board meeting in December.
On another topic related to discussions of CDN advisory committees, the Board reviewed actions and recommendations stemming from the Industry Standards Committee (ISC) meeting held on September 5, 2018. The topic of electronic data collection was a major agenda item and the following key points were brought forward to the CDN Board:
- There seems to be an opportunity for sensor data from at least some robotic systems to be used for herd management information and possibly publishable lactations.
- Accuracy of sensor data is highly dependent upon the frequency and method of calibration (i.e.: individual cow versus bulk tank averages).
- There may be a need to implement a strategy to randomly confirm accurate cross referencing within herd between herd management ID and registration number.
- Routine bulk tank calibration will require producer permission for DHI to access milk payment analysis results controlled by the provincial dairy organizations.
In preparation for the launch of an electronic data collection system, the ISC recommended that CDN assess the current process for assigning lactation publishability status and prepare a proposal for implementing the previously approved concept for labelling lactation records based solely on data collected electronically, including the publication of three distinct parts of a lactation record (i.e.: only kg and BCA milk, addition of kg and BCA for fat and protein, addition of herdmate deviations for milk and components). The Board approved this direction with the understanding that the ISC will plan another meeting early in 2019 to consider the assessment to be completed by CDN with industry partner involvement.
- Management also provided an update on progress achieved towards the development and implementation of DairyTrace under the vision that CDN becomes the national administrator for dairy cattle traceability. The development by ATQ of the DairyTrace database and associated user interface has continued well as members of the DairyTrace Advisory Committee have completed the process of reviewing and defining the business requirements for dairy cattle traceability. In addition, CDN management has progressed on discussions with other organizations regarding the development of data exchange protocols required for dairy cattle traceability under DairyTrace.
- The Board of Directors received an update on the status of the development of Compass, in partnership with Holstein Canada, as a genetics-based decision tool for Canadian dairy producers. Given a recent review of the software functionality and the complexity of the technical developments at the root of the decision recommendations, the planned launch date is now expected for some time in 2019.
- To conclude CDN’s 23rd Annual Meeting, as President of WestGen, Eric Iverson extended an invitation for all industry partners to attend the 2019 Dairy Cattle Improvement Industry Forum and CDN AGM to be held in the Western Canada during the week of September 16, 2019.
- The CDN Board of Directors confirmed the date of its next meeting as Monday, December 10, 2018 in Guelph, Ontario.
For further clarification regarding these decisions, please feel free to contact any member of the CDN Board of Directors or the management staff.