by Stephen Wagner
Half the battle of putting on a successful trade show often depends upon where it is held. For the 2013 Dairy Calf and Heifer Conference, the Lancaster Convention Center in Lancaster, PA proved to be ideal. In recent years has the former Watt & Shand department store been transformed into a center that is state-of-the-art in architectural splendor, a complex that retains the old exterior of the former landmark store, with an imaginative interior full of color, comfort, and comportment.
It was in a half-length football field general session ballroom where Conference Chair Lane Sollenberger explained DCHA’s goals for this year. “To get people to know who we are,” he said. “I think there’s a perception that we are strictly an organization catering to contract heifer raisers. We are not! We realize that there are far more dairy farms raising heifers than there are contracted. We also want people to be a part of our Gold Standards. (Those are reachable targets to be successful in this business.)”
“If you want to be in this business [agriculture], you’ve got to understand the numbers!” So says numbers guru Gary Sipiorski, the keynote speaker at the opening general session. Sipiorski is dairy development manager for Vita Plus Corporation. “You’ve got to know your balance sheet, you’ve got to know your cash flow, and you’ve got to know your cost of production. It isn’t going to work if you don’t know that stuff.” Citing the incident of a congressman visiting a dairy farm, this congressman supposedly said, “I can’t believe how hard you folks work. Do you really do this five days a week?”
Strolling into Freedom Hall, where exhibitors offer their wares and sundry farm equipment, the first one that presents itself is Roto-Mix. Sales Representative Brady Moy stands at the ready to tout the values of single auger simplicity with the new VX series of single auger feed mixers. “Roto-Mix has sponsored DCHA for quite a few years,” Moy said. “This year we’ve brought a display unit that is particular to the cow-calf operation market.” This particular unit was introduced within the last month at their annual national dealer meeting in Dodge City, KS. The model on display was a prototype unit and the real deal will be ready for sale by late summer. “We came out with a new single-screw mixer in series of 300, 400, and 500 cubic feet — the VX series. This gives us a unique placement in the market with both a single screw and a twin screw mixer of that capacity size. This is primarily used in the processing of round bales, or baleage, large square bales, and so on and so forth. That is where this particular unit shines. But it also does a very fine job in the straight TMR base ration of haylage, corn silage, and grain base additives.” Roto-Mix was founded in 1985. The inventor of the original feed wagon was Ben Neier who engineered the first feed mixer in 1963. “We do trade shows all over the U.S. and Canada,” Moy adds, “and we also have product in 35 different countries.”
What do you do if the FDA comes to your farm? This was the subject of a topic on the second day of the DCHA seminars. “New FDA regulations regarding antibiotic residue have come to the forefront,” said Lane Sollenberger in introducing veterinary specialist Dr. Gregory Edwards, a Technical Service Veterinarian for Dairy at Pfizer Animal Health.
“What if the FDA came to your farm and found out that you didn’t maintain adequate records when it comes to drugs?” Edwards began, “that you use drugs that potentially create a residue? In fact, they could file civil proceedings against you.” Edwards then stepped back and issued the caveat that he didn’t think any of the attendees would wind up in that situation, but “that’s how far this could go.”
Edwards disliked using the word ‘drugs’ in his talks, preferring instead to use ‘products.’ The Food and Drug Administration is the governmental agency that is responsible for human safety when it comes to food. That includes meat and milk, and that’s where the FDA is on this. The other agency of note is the Food Safety Inspection Service [FSIS] which is in charge of all inspection at meat slaughter plants and enforcing regulations that are handed to them. When there is a suspected violation, they transfer that back to the FDA.
A relatively new phenomenon is called Extra Label Drug Use, which is defined this way: Using it in any way that’s not on the label, whether it’s a prescription drug or an over-the-counter product. If a product is going to be used in a manner different than what is on the label, it will automatically become a prescription and requires the involvement of a veterinarian. In order to implement Extra Label usage, special conditions must be met. The situation has to be life-threatening, or it has to be a burden that other available products are incapable of handling. “This whole residue thing is about human health safety,” Edwards said.
Assuming that penicillin is the number one residue creator, there are minimum residue limits. “What that means,” Edwards explained, “is that this is how much can be there, and it’s okay. If it is over that, then that becomes a potential violation. The tolerance level on penicillin is .05 parts per million. Putting that into context, one part per million is one second in 11 1/2 days. One part per billion is one second is 31 years. And one part per trillion (which is coming soon) is one second in 31,000 years. That’s not zero, but it’s pretty close. How long does it take for a product to get to that level? I think it’s a risk, no matter what that product is or how long you want to hold it.”