The 27th edition of the Alltech International Animal Health and Nutrition Symposium, held these days in Lexington, Kentucky, USA, opened on Monday with a welcome from the city's mayor Jim Gray and US Congressman Ben Chandler.
The company’s symposium is intended to be an industry time-out, providing opportunities for professionals to huddle in specialised breakout sessions – including aquaculture, beef, dairy, equine, poultry, pig production, pet food, regulatory, food quality, traceability, and communication in agriculture.
All sessions are dedicated to the open discussion of strategies for turning around industry practices – hence the theme ‘The Game Changers’.
The opening session included a talk from professor Damien McLoughlin, University College Dublin, Ireland, regarding How to transform a half-billion dollar company into a $50 billion company. McLoughlin highlighted several game changing companies such as Nestle, KFC, JBS, Liuhe, Zespri, Google, Apple, Food, IBM, Dell, and the Wall Street Journal. He stated, "Invest in the innovations which make you truly different."
Among his key messages were: don’t follow fashions but simply change; be different; know where your growth comes from; relentlessly pursue the right people; and embrace your full potential.
Farming Film Festival
Following the theme of Game Changers, Alltech announced the winner of their first ever Farming Film Festival, which invited those in the industry to tell their ‘game changing’ story of an innovation that helped them on their farm.
First place was awarded to Adam Dotson who submitted Good Shepherd Cheese, which told the story of a sheep farm in Kentucky. Second place went to the video Cow Comfort, entered by Jonathan Klingenfus who explained how his family farm turned a crisis into an opportunity. Third place, which was Lauren Chase’s Telling The Montana Family Ranching Story, was determined by highest number of online votes.
Dr Pearse Lyons, the company’s president and founder, closed the opening session by discussing his six points to becoming a game changer. Lyons told his story of beginning the animal nutrition company by being relocated to Kentucky on Gold Rush Road, a fitting place for the 31 year old business. "Take a chance; what does it matter if you fail? You can’t make scrambled eggs without first cracking an egg. Take the chance and aim high," said Lyons.
At the symposium, three game changers were awarded: Dr Inge Russell received the 21st Alltech Medal of Excellence, Dr Ronan Tynan received the 1st Alltech Humanitarian Award and Dr Peter Van Soest received the 1st Excellence in Ruminant Nutrition Award.
Dr Inge Russell, who has twice held the title of ‘Canadian Scientist of the Year’, worked on the biotechnology and fermentation of yeast and algae. This work has resulted in significant improvements in the production of feed, food, beverages, and fuel. Of particular note, she obtained Canada’s first patent for genetically modified yeast specifically designed for biofuel production.
New to the symposium this year is the incorporation of several new technologies, such as a Twitter feed wall displaying tweets that contain #alltechsymposium.
The 2011 edition has a record breaking attendance with more than 2,100 attendees representing 72 countries.