First Dairy Cattle Welfare Symposium Scheduled

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Registration is open for the first Dairy Cattle Welfare Symposium, set for May 20-21 in the Ohio Union at The Ohio State University in Columbus.

The event “will bring together dairymen, veterinarians, consultants, universities, and industry leaders to discuss best recommended practices of animal care with emphasis on animal welfare and health, animal-human interaction, and sustainability of the dairy industry,” said co-organizer Gustavo Schuenemann, dairy Extension veterinarian with Ohio State University Extension.

More than 260 people — including dairy producers, industry experts and scientists — are expected to attend.

OSU Extension is the outreach arm of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

The Dairy Cattle Welfare Council, a newly created national organization, is hosting the event.

“The symposium is targeted toward dairy producers, consultants, dairy industry reps, academicians, Extension professionals and veterinarians,” said Schuenemann, who’s also an associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine in Ohio State’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

“The roster of speakers includes several dairymen and dairy managers who will discuss routine welfare challenges observed in dairy operations,” he said.

Sessions at the symposium will be divided into four main topics: Lameness; Youngstock Care; Promoting Teamwork and Personnel Performance; and Mass Communication, Marketing and Economics of Animal Welfare.

Schuenemann said he expects the symposium to generate meaningful discussion on the farm-level application of science. Registrants are strongly encouraged to submit questions before the symposium to be used for the roundtable discussions.

Schuenemann, whose research interests include transition cow management and the performance of dairy workers, will moderate a roundtable discussion after the Lameness sessions and will later present his own session called “Monitoring Personnel Performance with Emphasis on Animal Welfare.”

Also involved in the program from Ohio State will be Katy Proudfoot, animal welfare and behavior specialist with OSU Extension and assistant professor in the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, who will moderate a roundtable discussion after the Youngstock Care sessions.

Other sessions during the symposium will include:

  • “The History of Dairy Welfare Assessment Programs” by Emily Meredith of the Arlington, Virginia-based National Milk Producers Federation.
  • “The Future of Dairy Welfare Assessment Programs” by Jennifer Walker, Dean Foods, Forney, Texas.
  • “Lameness and Animal Welfare: Effects of Lameness on Animal Comfort, Production and Survival” by Marcia Endres, University of Minnesota.
  • “Leading Risk Factors for Lameness: Individual and Herd-level” by Dana Tomlinson of Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based Zinpro Performance Minerals.
  • “Science-based Consensus for Animal Welfare Assessment Programs’ Recommended Prevalence of Lameness in Dairy Herds” by Jan Shearer of Iowa State University.
  • “Replacement Heifer Management: Going Beyond Performance” by Dave Sjeklocha of Cattle Empire, Satanta, Kansas.
  • “Consequences of Feed and Housing Practices for Animal Welfare and Performance” by Emily Miller-Cushon, University of Florida.
  • “Veterinary Feed Directive: From an Animal Welfare Perspective” by Elizabeth Adams of Madison, New Jersey-based Merck Animal Health.
  • “Pain Management: Science-based Guidelines for Welfare Audits” by James P. Reynolds of Praedium Ventures LLC, Urbandale, Iowa.
  • “On-farm Needs for Dairy Personnel Training” by Frank Dinis, Hilmar, California.
  • “Building an Effective Training Program for Dairy Personnel” by Luis Mendonca, Kansas State University.
  • “Mass Communication: Putting the Good Word Out There About Common Practices of the Dairy Industry” by Antone Mickelson of Seattle-based Darigold.
  • “Food Integrity and Consumer Perception” by Charlie Arnot of the Center for Food Integrity, Kansas City, Missouri.
  • “How Did I Change or Build My Dairy to Adapt to New Animal Welfare Standards?” by Don Bennink of North Florida Holsteins, Bell, Florida; Teun Verhoeven of Twin Oaks Dairy, South Solon, Ohio; and Juan Velez of Aurora Organic Dairy, Boulder, Colorado.

The program also will include short oral presentations on dairy welfare-related research by students from universities across the country.

The full conference schedule, other details and online registration are available on the symposium’s website at

Registration, which includes a sponsored lunch both days, is $200 until April 1 and $250 afterward. Student registration is $75, includes lunch both days and is limited to 30 students. Total registration for the event is limited to 265.

Sponsors of the event include Merck Animal Health, Zinpro, Aurora Organic Dairy, SCR Dairy, Virtus Nutrition, Diamond V, the American Dairy Association Mideast, Arm and Hammer Animal Nutrition, Dean Foods, and Organic Valley.

For more information, contact: 

Gustavo Schuenemann