The 50th Annual Meeting of the National Mastitis Council (NMC), held January 23 - 26, in Arlington, Va. attracted 400 individuals. The event commemorated the organization’s long standing commitment to mastitis control and milk quality and the kick-off to a year-long celebration of NMC’s 50 years. Attendees from all over the world represented various facets of the dairy industry, including dairy producers, veterinarians, researchers, consultants, equipment and pharmaceutical suppliers, dairy plant field staff, extension educators and students.
A pre-conference symposium focused on consumer perceptions and what we should be doing to meet future consumer demands. Nine specialized short courses were offered, addressing practical mastitis control and milk quality issues. The short courses presented thoughts on topics such as making prevention decisions, communication and motivation, using social media, animal care, lowering somatic cell counts, and real-world case presentations.
Celebrating the Past, Embracing the Future
The first general session kicked off with three past NMC Presidents who recalled what impact NMC had on their discipline. Paul Thompson, now with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, presented a look back at what NMC meant to milking equipment. Larry Smith of Ohio State University followed and reported on what NMC meant to a mastitis research worker. Keith Sterner, from Sterner Veterinary Clinic spoke last on a veterinary practitioner’s perspective on the lessons from NMC. Henk Hogeveen and Joe Hogan from Utrecht University and Ohio State University, respectively, represented an international group of research scientists and spoke on the current status and future challenges of mastitis research. Past President, Norm Schuring from GEA Farm Technologies, Inc., introduced the challenges NMC faces in remaining a dynamic international organization.
General session two outlined what NMC has contributed in the realm of new science from genetics and immunology to bring promise to a new era in mastitis management. Bonnie Mallard from the University of Guelph presented on the ability to select and breed dairy animals based on breeding values of immune response traits. David Kerr from the University of Vermont spoke about the variation in cow response to mastitis predicted by laboratory testing of skin cells. Gina Pighetti from the University of Tennessee helped answer why cows are more resistant to infection by using genetic markers.
The third general session focused on what NMC has contributed through solid advances in mastitis control programs and machine milking. The two key people to summarize the progress made were Ann Godkin from Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and Doug Reinemann from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Godkin provided an overview of the role and impact of NMC on the adoption of mastitis prevention practices and the prevalence of contagious mastitis pathogens over the past 50 years. Reinemann highlighted the top ten activities and publications that had the greatest influence on the advancement of science and practice of machine milking and machine milking management. Finally, attendees had a great time participating in special activities such as NMC team trivia and a 50th anniversary banquet.