INTERNATIONAL Dairy Week is set to make a triumphant return to Tatura, Vic, in January, after last year's event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event, to run January 16-22, returns under new owners Declan Patten and Bradley Cullen who aim to build the event to become a celebration of the Australian dairy industry.
Mr Patten said former owner Brian Leslie had done an amazing job in building the event from a dairy show under the gum trees at Tatura to a world-renowned dairy show.
He and Mr Cullen plan to add technology farm tours, cutting-edge seminars and a celebration of dairy produce.
"We are trying to attract more of that commercial farmer and that corporate farmer to the event and really showcase what the industry has to offer," he said. "In the past, it was very much focused just on the show, we really want to focus on the broader industry."
Their vision is to have something for the Australian industry similar to the World Dairy Expo in the United States, which features the world's largest dairy trade exhibit and an in-depth educational program, as well as a huge dairy show.
Mr Patten spent a decade working and living in the US and attended that event most years - and wants to see IDW grow into something similar.
Mr Patten and Mr Cullen took ownership of IDW midway through last year and have made tweaks to the shows and sales, which they believe will improve the event.
"The cattle show will run in basically the same way; it has been well run, if it is not broke don't fix it," he said.
The biggest change is to the scheduling for the two biggest breeds, the Holsteins and Jerseys.
The Jersey junior show will now be held on the Tuesday afternoon, after the coloured breed shows, and the in-milk classes will be held on the Wednesday morning.
The Holstein junior show will now be held on the Wednesday afternoon and the in-milk classes will be held on the Thursday morning and early afternoon.
Mr Patten said this was done with cow comfort in mind, so milking cows were not being shown in the hottest part of the day.
Another change has been the introduction of associate judges for these two breeds.
This was something Mr Patten said worked well in the US.
It provided an opportunity for a young, upcoming judge to learn from an experienced judge and also helped provide support to the main judge, particularly when judging long lines in some classes.
The feature sale program at the event has also been overhauled.
Instead of a series of breed-specific sales throughout the week, one all-breeds sale - the ST Genetics Australia Create the Future Sale - will be held on the Wednesday evening.
Mr Patten said an all-breeds online sale held in January 2021 in lieu of the cancelled IDW sales had been enormously successful.
The sale would feature high-quality lots from all the breeds and would attract more buyers, creating a great sale atmosphere.
Some of the new features, details of which were still being finalised, included a tour of a large commercial dairy featuring a new compost shed and robotic milking and a celebrity chef holding a cooking demonstration.
Mr Patten said it had been a brave decision to take on the event in the middle of the pandemic, given at that stage, there was uncertainty about whether it would even be able to run.
But since then things had fallen in their favour, with fewer COVID restrictions applying.
Other than everyone who attended needing to be double-vaccinated, at this stage few other requirements would be in place.
The event has moved to digital ticketing as part of the COVID planning to allow for better contract tracing of people attending on any given day if required.
But this would also help the organisers to monitor attendance rates and growth in the event.
Tickets are available at eventbrite.com.au/e/international-dairy-week-2022-tickets-220234807237.
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The story International Dairy Week to make triumphant return first appeared on Farm Online.