Michigan State University has released a new historical documentary in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Dairy Herd Improvement Associations in the United States.
The 35-minute documentary, "DHIA in America - A Foundation for Progress," is now available for purchase on DVD.
"This documentary captures the 100-year history of cow testing in America," says Ted Ferris, a MSU animal science professor and Extension dairy specialist, who produced the documentary. "It delves into the status of the dairy industry at the turn of the century, reports on the individuals involved in starting the first cow-testing association, credits institutions and organizations that fostered DHIA throughout the years, and brings us to the present day."
Ferris, who has worked with Michigan DHIA educational programs, began researching DHIA history in 2004 for what was originally slated to be a PowerPoint presentation.
"I found a lot of original documents, photos and association records in archives and realized we had a pretty good story that needed to be recorded," Ferris says. "We really found much more information than expected, and none of it had been put into a form that's current, so we knew when we finished we'd have something pretty nice."
Ferris discovered numerous documents dating back to 1905, the year the first cow-testing association was formed in Newaygo County and the first year that official DHIA records were kept. With the help of Carl Huisjen, of Fremont, Ferris found the original association papers and membership contract signed by the initial Newaygo County Dairy Testing Association members.
The documentary also discusses the important and ever-changing role of computers in DHIA record keeping from the 1950s to today and features comments from a former DHIA manager, a DHIA supervisor in the 1930s and a dairy farmer who is the son of an original dairy testing association member.
Ferris says farmers, students and others interested in the dairy industry can enjoy and learn from the documentary. It can also be used for educational purposes at the high school or university level and in FFA programs.
"DHIA has provided the information to make better management decisions and weed out unprofitable cows," Ferris said. "Many innovations have boosted production per cow and profits in the U.S. dairy industry in the past century, but the formation of cow-testing associations was the foundation leading to tremendous progress."
For more information on "DHIA in America - A Foundation for Progress" or to purchase a copy of the DVD for $35 ($27 is tax-deductible donation to the MSU Department of Animal Science), visit www.msu.edu/~ferris/dhia/dvdad.pdf or call 517-355-8442.