The dairy industry in the South remains a major economic boost for the region.

And the Sunbelt Ag Expo dairy exhibit continues to draw big crowds each year that want to watch, hear and feel how dairy products get to refrigerators and freezers across the country.

The Expo dairy exhibits will be found once again for the fourth consecutive year in their permanent exhibit building located at block F-7 in the exhibit grounds.

Outside dairy exhibits featuring silage wagons, feed wagons, manure spreaders and similar equipment will be found nearby at location F-6A of the exhibit grounds.

The dairy exhibit is a big draw for children and students who come to Expo. The Mobile Dairy Classroom is sponsored by the Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission for Milk and has been a popular Expo attraction since 2003.

Nicole Karstedt coordinates the mobile dairy. She’ll be there, too (with the lactating cow) daily with four presentations at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. each day of the show.

Karstedt spends most of her time taking her trailer and the dairy cow to elementary schools throughout Georgia to introduce students to dairy science. Georgia dairy farmers pay for her travel and the educational programs she offers on the importance of drinking milk and consuming other dairy products.

Expo visitors will receive the same information on the importance of the dairy industry that she imparts to students in schools throughout the state.

The mobile classroom is a hands-on history lesson for children who visit the Expo. They can see how to milk cows by hand and how cows are hooked up to modern milking machines used on modern dairies today.

Over the years, Karstedt has become an expert in explaining to children that milk does not come from grocery stores, but rather from the cows on the farms of dairy producers.

Children who visit the Expo dairy exhibit will get to pet the dairy calves, too.

Daily seminars to improve dairymen's bottomlines

The Expo dairy exhibit is about education for dairymen, too, and it’s where they can find information on management practices such as genetics, nutrition and other new dairy farming technology.

“We continue to make the dairy exhibit an educational opportunity for our current dairymen. They’ll be able to come through and see and visit with all the vendors that supply products for their industry, plus they’ll be able to hear some information that they can then take back home and hopefully improve their operations,” said John Bernard, University of Georgia dairy scientist who coordinates the dairy exhibit and education presentations each year.

In addition, dairy farmers will be able to attend special presentations by Bernard. He has successfully coordinated the dairy exhibits and presentations at Expo during the past several years.

Special seminars are scheduled throughout the three-day show at the dairy exhibit.

Tuesday and Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. Klibs Galvao, University of Florida dairy scientist, will talk and show how the use of ultrasound can improve reproduction management for dairies.

Also on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. May Sowerby, University of Florida, will discuss what has become a growing trend on many dairies in the Southeast: grass-grazing. She’ll discuss the best practices to get the most of a yearly grass crop and how to best graze herds on it, showing how dairymen can go from “grass to milk.”

Wednesday, Bernard will speak at 1:30 p.m. about the basics of silage production.

This year in the Deep South has been a challenge to hay and forage growers. Heavy rain has hurt quality and prevented timely management, but there are things dairymen can learn from this year, he said. Bernard will repeat this seminar Thursday at 10:30 a.m.

State cow-milking contest comes with bragging rights

A recent dairy event that started only a few years ago has become more popular each year with Expo visitors. This year, the cow-milking competition will take place on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.

Come and see state agriculture commissioners from the Southeast compete in hand-milking competition. Pride weighs heavy in this fun event.

“This particular event is a great way to come out have some fun and is a great way to highlight the importance of the dairy industry in the states represented in the competition. … A lot of bragging rights goes with it, but come early if you want to stake out a place to see it and cheer because the area fills up fast during this competition,” Bernard said.

While visiting the dairy pavilion, all dairy heifer growers or dairy farms should register for a chance to win a Poly Square Calf Hut sponsored by PolyDome/Polytank, Inc.

The small, square calf hut measures 5 feet by 6 feet and comes complete with side door bucket holder, buckets, bottle holder vent cap, fence brackets and hardware package.

PolyDome features polyethylene products for use in raising farm animals such as huts, hutches and nurseries for calves, cattle and pigs, lick tanks, bulk bins and silo accessories, including the PolyDome Calf Warmer.

Dick Johanneck started Polytank, Inc., in 1972, doing custom roto-moulding. In 1977, he began making calf hutches which became known as Poly Dome Calf nurseries.

The agricultural products division of Polytank was later named PolyDome.

Since that time, Plytank and PolyDome have added more than 200 products to their line. Polytank has dealers across the United States, Canada and 10 foreign countries.

Several companies and organizations have signed up to exhibit in the dairy pavilion. These include Georgia Twine, Southeast United Dairy Industry Association, Mueller Company, Agri-King Nutrition, Inc., Georgia Milk Producers, Inc., Masters Choice, Octaform Systems, LIC USA (Livestock Improvement Corporation), Mobile Dairy Classroom. PolyDome/Polytank has an outside lot next to the Dairy Pavilion.

The Southeast United Dairy Industry Association and the Georgia Milk Producers will be serving milk and ice cream to Expo visitors. Representatives of both organizations will be available to answer questions about the dairy industry.

For people who want information about dairy or milk products and how they fit into nutrition and meals and learn the value of folks on value of milk and how to keep it safe and healthy, the dairy exhibit at Expo is the one-stop place,” Bernard said.

brad.haire@penton.com