STRATFORD -- Organizers of the Canadian Dairy XPO are touting "phenomenal support" received from the dairy industry as the fourth annual event switched to new spring operating dates last month.
Drawing 14,900 visitors -- including dairy producers from across Canada, the United States and further afield -- nearly three quarters of attendees preferred the new schedule over the previous February timeframe, according to a CDX survey.
Operational dates are now permanently set for the first week of April for the next five years.
"We've attended the XPO each year now ... a place where our dairy families can see the latest in innovation, educate ourselves with the newest tools available and connect with our fellow producers and industry -- before we get busy in the fields," said Joe Terpstra from Cranbrook Farms Ltd., in a press release issued by event organizers. "February weather can create on-farm challenges and April is a safer time to travel for everyone attending CDX. The probability of having road closures in February is much higher than the probability of producers being in the fields the first week of April. "
Terpstra was a featured panelist on the Milking Robot Producer Panel, sponsored by Shur-Gain and held in the Purina Dairy Classroom on Day 1 (Wed., April 6). The panel featured one producer representing each of the leading milking robot manufacturers -- Lely, BouMatic, GEA and Delaval -- all of whom put on live displays in the WeCover Cow Coliseum as part of the Milking Robot Showcase. Day 2 of the dairy classroom featured an On-Farm Processing Producer Panel with four elite farm operations from across Canada.
The event also featured international speakers, virtual farm tours as well as the Incredible Dr. Pol,' from the popular cable channel Nat Geo WILD. Pol spoke about his career as a veterinarian, his passion for animal welfare and living in front of the camera. He delivered a targeted message to a dairy audience of producers, youth and enthusiastic fans, promoting agriculture as a path to success for young people.
"I was honoured to speak at CDX to a vibrant standing-room-only crowd of Canadian dairy producers. The people we met were so genuine about their commitment to making the dairy industry better for the next generation. There was great vision and faith for the future," Pol said. CDX has already put in a request to have him back for CDX 2017 and this time with his sidekick son Charles.
Farmers and exhibiting companies showed off their pride in all things dairy at CDX by immersing themselves in a sea of blue -- the blue cow spirit campaign.' A strategic partnership between CDX and Dairy Farmers of Canada, the campaign boosts Canadian dairy products and the farmers that produce them. The theme saw blue cow apparel offered at onsite retail locations, selfie stations, face painting, decorating exhibits, samples of blue cow fruit punch and 100 per cent Canadian milk and dairy products at all onsite food booths.
Canadian cheese was served by 4-H dairy youth clubs who had record-breaking sales of grilled cheese and milkshakes at the Gay Lea Skyview Café. 4-H clubs have been actively fundraising at the XPO since inception, alongside the Junior Farmers of Perth County.
Connected to the Stratford Rotary complex by a unique, 100-foot pedestrian bridge, the permanent new 400-foot WeCover Cow Coliseum -- presented by John Deere and Shur-Gain -- served as the CDX launch pad for three global companies in the dairy innovation sector. Afimilk of Israel, ADF of the U.K., and SAC of the Netherlands demonstrated their technologies for the first time at CDX 2016. All three have suggested they will return for CDX 2017.
Four of the top milking robotic manufacturers (Lely, DeLaval, BouMatic, and GEA) naturally showcased their latest as well.
Cattle and genetic displays were featured in both the Dairy Daughter Showcase and the Component Breed Showcase. The National Milk Bar, presented by National Bank, in the new hospitality area served Canadian Milk, alongside the DeLaval Beer Nut Depot and John Deere Kidz Zone.
CDX Marketing Manager Donna Underhill confidently stated in the press release: "The facts are clear, CDX draws active dairy producers that are well connected to technology and plan to sustain and prosper in the Canadian dairy industry for generations to come. We asked the question to attending producers, In one or two words, can you tell us why you decided to attend CDX 2016'? The feedback was very encouraging with words such as; exclusive, 100 per cent dairy, location, youth support, information, 4H milkshakes, education, global innovation.' We are very encouraged by this feedback and look to continue to improve and advance the Canadian Dairy XPO to serve Canadian dairy producers."
Will Donkers, from Will Cher Farms, was the winner of the Kubota Canada coupon program. Kubota Canada Ltd. will provide 250 hours of high-powered equipment to Will Cher Farms.
Robert Hird from Oxford County won the Select GenerVations heifer calf draw, raising $3,600 for the Oxford County 4-H dairy club.
CDX next returns April 5-6 in 2017, at the Stratford Rotary Complex, Stratford, Ont., with the support of founding partners Jaylor Fabricating Inc, EastGen, ADM Alliance Nutrition, Zoetis, Grand Valley Fortifiers, Royal Bank, Lely North America, DFK Equipment, Progressive Dairyman, and Collins Barrow Accounting.