Recognizing 25 Years of Carver County Dairy Expo

Reprinted as posted in ‘Extension Highlights’ at the University of Minnesota.

University of Minnesota Extension and the Carver County Core Dairy Team celebrated 25 years of presenting the Carver County Dairy Expo. This year’s expo took place on Feb. 20 at Central High School in Norwood Young America.

The daylong Carver County Dairy Expo is known for its educational programming, trade show and networking opportunities. Each year—and this 25th year in particular—is a reunion of sorts for the industry to gather, learn and network.

“There is a real feeling of camaraderie,” said Colleen Carlson, Extension educator in Carver and Scott counties.

Carlson spoke with retired Extension educator Vern Oraskovich about the origin of the Dairy Expo. He said, “There was a group of us (Minnesota Dairy Initiative), who met with dairy farmers as a team to help them become better producers; we looked for ways to address herd health, nutrition, production and profitability. We decided we could help more farmers if we had a program where more dairy producers could get information and learn about Extension research. So we hosted our first Carver County Dairy Expo.”

Oraskovich attended the Expo this year along with dairy producers, students and agricultural professionals. The event draws more than 300 people, representing more than 24,000 cows and 23 Minnesota counties.

“We are fortunate,” says Bob Nelson, UFC Nutrition Management Consultant, and 25-year member of the Carver County Core Team, “that Vern had the forethought to bring a group of producers and industry people together.”

The Carver County Dairy Expo programs have had an impact. “Milk quality was a topic for many years,” said Jim Kline, Bongards field representative. “In the 1990s milk somatic cell count ran in a higher range. But today with the new guidelines and education, we have lowered the somatic cell count. Low somatic cell count contributes to improved milk quality, increased milk production and the reduction of antibiotic use.”

Over the years, the Carver County Dairy Expo programs introduced production benchmarks, addressing age of breeding heifers, calving intervals and days in milk production for better herd management. Cow comfort has been a focus for the past decade. This year the event will cover dairy industry outlook, management techniques, forage production and dairy technologies. “I feel honored to carry on this tradition,” said Colleen Carlson, Extension educator in Carver and Scott counties, who now leads the event planning.

The Carver County Dairy Expo provides a chance to build relationships in the dairy community, and even to have some fun.