Dairy partnership finalized, called Lactanet

Partnership brings together CanWest DHI, Valacta and Canadian Dairy Network

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Canada’s new dairy information organization has a name and will be in effect as of June 3.

Lactanet was formed out of a partnership that includes CanWest DHI and Valacta – which provide herd management and milk testing services, and the Canadian Dairy Network, the national repository of genetic data for the major dairy breeds.

Why it matters: Technology is changing how farmers harvest and manage data, prompting the change in the national dairy management information organizations.

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The process started in late 2017 to bring the organizations together. The challenge has been that the organizations operate across the country with various funding models, including a closer connection by Valacta to the Quebec government then the other organizations have in the rest of the country.

The three organizations will continue to exist in the background, but will partner together as Lactanet, under one management team and board of directors.

Neil Petreny, the head of CanWest DHI will be the chief executive officer, Daniel Lefebvre, formerly the head of Valacta will be chief operating officer and Brian VanDoormaal, formerly the general manager of the Canadian Dairy Network will be chief services officer.

The organizations together have 500 staff across the country.

“Today is a milestone for our industry,” said newly appointed Lactanet Chair Barbara Paquet.

“Lactanet is an example of working together across the country, and in different areas of our industry, for the betterment of the Canadian dairy sector.”

The organization will have two main office locations, in Guelph and Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Que.

Technology is changing the way farmers produce, manage and collect data on dairy farms. For generations CanWest DHI and Valacta have sent staff to dairy farms across the country to collect milk samples and cow milk volume data, resulting in individual cow performance numbers that also were fed into the country’s genetic proving system and have been the envy of the world.

However, advanced dairy milking systems now collect most of the same data automatically and CanWest DHI recently announced it was testing a system that would digitally transfer that data to CanWest DHI’s databases. On the genetics side, genomic testing, which allows a cow or bull’s potential to be assessed with strands of hair or a small piece of tissue is fundamentally changing the way dairy genetics companies choose and select their bulls. Many of those companies now own the top females in the world – something that would have been unheard of 10 years ago.

All those changes, and the declining number of dairy farms in the country led to the partnership.

There is also significant potential to provide dairy farmers with other testing and data management services as factors such as sensor technology produce an explosion of data and it was thought the partnership would help better provide those to farmers.

The organization says the Lactanet name and logo aim to represent innovation and collaboration – a reflection of what the partnership is today, but more importantly, what it will strive to be in the future.

photo: Lactanet

The new organization has a producer-driven governance structure of up to 11 directors on its board. Six of these members are appointed by the organizations that provide dairy herd management services, while one director is appointed by each of Dairy Farmers of Canada, Holstein Canada and Semex Alliance, all of which are also governed by Canadian dairy producers. The board may also have up to two external members, recommended for their particular expertise.

A new website has been launched at lactanet.ca.

About the author


John Greig

John Greig has spent his career in agriculture journalism and communications. He lives on a farm near Ailsa Craig, Ontario. Contact John at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @jgreig

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