Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Madison hosts 56th annual World Dairy Expo

Organizations, farmers, agronomists provide insight into Wisconsin dairy industry
Ben Kapp

Madison hosted the World Dairy Expo last week at the Alliant Energy Center, bringing dairy lovers from all over the world to Wisconsin for six days.

The World Dairy Expo serves as a forum for dairy producers, companies with a focus on dairy-based technologies and dairy enthusiasts. The Expo brings farmers together to compete in cattle shows, while other dairy professionals exchange technology and dairy industry knowledge, according to the World Dairy Expo.

America’s Dairyland has long been the state’s slogan, starting back in 1940 when the Wisconsin Legislature cemented this reputation by placing it on Wisconsin license plates, according to the Wisconsin Historical Society.


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The event also benefits Dane County economically. Last year’s Dairy Expo brought in an estimated $31.8 million to the county, according to a World Dairy Expo press release.

Over 54,000 people visited the Expo in 2022, including visitors from 86 countries and participants from 36 states and five Canadian provinces, according to the World Dairy Expo.

Bryan Voegeli is a fifth-generation family farmer from Monticello, Wisconsin and has been coming to the World Dairy Expo since its inception.

“The expo … is the place to be,” Voegeli said. “It allows us all to come together right here in Wisconsin.”

Voegeli’s father, Howard Voegeli, was one of four founding members of the World Dairy Expo in 1967, according to the World Dairy Expo. Following in his father’s footsteps, Bryan Voegeli has since served on both the World Dairy Expo Board of Directors and the World Dairy Expo Executive Committee.

Voegeli Farms is known for its Brown Swiss cows and has exclusively milked the breed for the last 130 years, according to the Chalet Cheese Cooperative.

Voegeli said the farm started in 1854 when the family’s ancestors immigrated to the U.S. from Switzerland. Today, the family loves to share their rich Swiss heritage through their Brown Swiss cows, Voegeli said.

“Being able to showcase our cows on such a large stage is so neat,” Voegeli said.

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The World Dairy Expo also encourages learning opportunities for its attendees, offering a wide range of presentations. This year’s event included a presentation on FBI Agrosecurity and a presentation on digitizing dairy barn design, showcasing the vast scope of the dairy field.

José G. Franco is a research agronomist at the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center. Franco gave a presentation on the Dairy Forage Seminar Stage about dual-purpose crops for forage and conservation. Forage crops are an essential part of livestock production, so picking crops that can be used as forage along with preserving soil levels and soil health is vital, according to Franco.

This is an important topic for many dairy farmers, as forage crops are grown specifically for grazing by livestock, like cows, or harvested to help make up seasonal shortfalls between feed supply and demand, according to Penn State Extension.

“What we’re trying to accomplish is increasing biodiversity in our cropping systems, but also increasing continuous soil cover in different ways,” Franco said. “This will prevent soil erosion and increase ground quality.”

The World Dairy Expo also features a variety of dairy-focused organizations. The University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine hosted an information booth to showcase the university’s commitment to taking part in and contributing to Wisconsin’s living history of dairy farming.

The materials in the booth highlighted that the School of Veterinary Medicine is where cows and knowledge come together, according to pamphlet handouts. It encouraged prospective students to come to UW, as Wisconsin is heavily invested in the dairy industry with nearly 6,000 licensed dairy farms and more than 1.3 million cows calling the state home.

The pamphlet by the School of Veterinary Medicine also emphasized that Wisconsin is one of the few veterinary schools in the nation to provide students with the opportunity to interact with an actual working dairy herd through cooperation with UW’s Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences. This allows veterinary students to be taught handling, examination, herd management and investigation strategies with real cows both on campus and off campus with a large cattle herd the Emmons Blaine Dairy Cattle Research Center near Arlington, Wisconsin.

The World Dairy Expo concluded Friday, Oct. 6 with the parade of champions, the finale and the crowning moment of the expo where the top cows of the year are named.

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A Holstein cow, named Shakira, won the top prize and was named the Supreme Champion of the 2023 World Dairy Expo.

Shakira, whose full name is Erbacres Snapple Shakira, is not new to the spotlight. She returns to reclaim her spot as Supreme Champion after previously winning in 2021, according to Cattle Club.

The World Dairy Expo will return to Madison and the Alliant Energy Center next year, Oct. 1-4. This is possible due to a five-year extension contract signed by the World Dairy Expo and Dane County in July, according to a World Dairy Expo press release. This contract guarantees that the World Dairy Expo will be held in Madison at the Alliant Energy Center through at least 2028.

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