If you want to see more than 2,000 cows and dairy cows, you should tour the dairy barns at the World Dairy Expo. (Dates from 3 to 7 October). You’ll see cattle, owners, and handlers walking around spreading hay, filling feed buckets, setting up signs and doing all the hundreds of other things to prepare the cattle for the show ring while you quietly and patiently watch the cows.
Over 2,000 registered dairy cattle traveled to Madison for the Seven Breed Shows held over the five days. They began arriving by trailer load or in a van or semi, four days before the World Dairy Expo actually kicks off.
They came with loads of supplies: fodder, hay, and equipment ranging from forks to brooms to display boxes full of everything needed to get ready for the show ring. This means clippers, scissors, shoe polish, blankets and concoctions of many kinds to make the calf or cow the most beautiful it has ever been.
What do they think?
Do cows and calves understand why they make the trip from their home barn to Madison, by trailer or truck to brush, wash and display at a strange place called the Alliant Energy Center?
Do they realize that one day during the week they will be led into a large hall called the Amphitheater of the Veterans Memorial and ramble and ramble in mulch with a group of other animals and a referee watching their every move, with perhaps 100 or even 5,000 people looking on?
Are they wondering why they are milked with a bucket or in a strange milking parlour run by a group of young men they have never seen before?
No one knows for sure
Cows don’t say much – but they sure do enjoy the pampered life they lead. And there are those who say that these animals are like top-level athletes who just love to enter the arena and compete.
Of course, these elite animals did not come to the dairy fair on their own. Each has an owner and a caregiver who spend a lot of time, effort, and money to be in Madison by October 1st and will not leave until October 7th after the Supreme Champion is crowned.
Each dairy cattle owner may have a slightly different reason(s) for coming to the World Dairy Expo. But they all know that this is the US and Canada Show of Show, the World Championship, the Super Bowl and the final seventh of the dairy competition, (No, dairy animals from other countries don’t compete due to very strict animal health regulations.)
Barn walks at the World Dairy Fair will show the diversity of dairy products: large and small operations, multi-generational family farmers and industrialists new to the field; Grandparents and high school students are all devoted to dairy cows. It is a sight to be seen.
cattle and technology
But remember, the World Dairy Fair is two events that go hand in hand: the livestock fair and the fair trade fair (October 4-7). Why such a huge trade fair, one might ask? Because dairy is diverse. There are commercial dairy farmers who only milk cows to make milk. They may never feature a dairy animal in the show ring, except for maybe a 4-H animal or two. They attend Dairy Fair to see the products and technology offered by 700 trade exhibitors that can help them with the most profitable dairy products. They make up the bulk of the Albanian herd of nations.
Then there are the farmers who keep registered dairy herds for milk and genetic improvement. They raise livestock that are judged by milk production, appearance and ability to pass on these values to future generations. They bring their best dairy animals to Madison to compete in the show ring, advertise their animals and seek future sales and possibly buy genes for their herd.
The World Dairy Show really has it all: livestock and ever-increasing technology to help make the dairy industry profitable.
see you there!
You can reach John F Oncken at email@example.com