Dairy services partnership not yet finalized

The new name for the partnership has not yet been released and groups ask for patience

Board members and staff from Can West DHI, Canadian Dairy Network and Valacta continue to work toward finalizing their new partnership and collective new name and service delivery model.

CanWest DHI Board Chair Ed Friesen told farmers at the CanWest DHI annual meeting to have patience.

“Managing the process and doing things right is more important than working to artificial deadlines,” he said.

Why it matters: The partnership between the three groups should create more financial stability, provide more integration of data and more efficient delivery of dairy farm management data services.

Neil Petreny.
photo: John Greig

Neil Petreny, CanWest DHI general manager, said at the annual meeting in Toronto that he expected the partnership to be in place by the end of the year.

The new board for the three organizations will have three representatives from CanWest DHI, two from Ontario and one from the West, said Friesen. That’s a reduction from the current 11-member board.

CanWest DHI serves Ontario to the West Coast with herd management information and milk-level testing. Canadian Dairy Network is the repository and manager of genetic information for dairy cattle and Valacta performs the same function as CanWest DHI in Quebec and the Maritimes.

CanWest DHI has lost some farm numbers in the past year, but the percentage of the dairy farms that use the service remains strong. In 1988, 67 per cent of dairy farmers used the service and 74 per cent did in 2018.

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The growth in the ability of milking systems, both parlour and robotic, to gather their own data has challenged CanWest DHI’s relevancy. It continues to provide benchmarking, official herd records and testing of milk for areas like ketosis, Johne’s disease and pregnancy.

CanWest DHI is launching a new service that deals with some of these challenges. After 18 months of testing, the service will upload data from on-farm recording systems to CanWest DHI servers, without sending a milk testing recorder to the farm.

Petreny provided some predictions for the coming years in milk recording.

They included:

  • That CanWest DHI will be part of an international milk recording organization.
  • That 30 per cent of cows will be milked by robots.
  • There will be increased data from milk samples including feed efficiency information.
  • More sensors are coming to milking parlours.
  • With 1,200 data points collected from each milk sample, artificial intelligence will become more important in managing and interpreting dairy data.

About the author


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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