Introduction to the SA Large Herds Conference

Ever since a Large Herds Conference was first mooted for South Africa during the latter part of 1998, there has been a growing interest from farmers and industry alike both here and overseas. News spread fast and requests for more information are regularly received from various European countries, North America, South America, and several from New Zealand.

Since the first conference in 1999, several overseas delegates have attended the twelve conferences held to date.

The biggest challenge facing the organising committee as always, is to find a big enough venue! Next year the Milk Producer’s Organisation (The MPO) will host the conference at the Sun International Board Walk Hotel in Gqeberha previously named Port Elizabeth, and colloquially referred to as P.E. from 26 to 28 May 2024.

A Large Herds Conference takes a holistic approach to dairy farming, concentrating on issues peculiar to the large herds operator.

Topics such as Systems Management, Strategies for change, Sustainability and Resilience, Operations Management, Market Trends, Environmental and Technological Trends, Finance and Taxation, Human Resource Management, Motivation and Lifestyle are addressed. These conferences are for progressive dairy farmers serious about their business. However, the conferences are not all work – happy hours, cocktail, virtual farm tours, etc are the order of the day.

This event gives South Africa a unique opportunity to join a select group in the farming community and benefit from the most up-to-date information available. Delegates from leading dairy farming areas around the world regularly share knowledge and information on techniques and technology that are of enormous benefit to local farmers.

The aim of the conferences is to put participants in the position to take away a strategic business plan for their own farms after the conference, based on their own individual circumstances and needs. This is achieved by creating one-on-one interaction during the conference in the form of the happy hours where delegates can relax and interact to their heart’s content.

The 2024 conference addressed the theme of: The Science of Energy.

Named not so much because of the power challenges facing South Africa currently but more in recognition of the energy, drive and focus required to be a successful dairy farmer in our current climate of high input costs, with milk prices under pressure and challenging weather patterns always around the next corner.  We will address some of the main issues around managing people, plants and animals that our famers face on a daily basis, and hope to leave our delegates feeling inspired and motivated with energy in abundance to go home and make changes for the better.