Eighty attendees from twelve countries as well as all corners of the United States gathered in Lexington, Kentucky for the annual Kentucky Equine Research spring conference for feed manufacturers. The conference was opened with a welcome by Dr. Joe Pagan, founder and president of KER. Pagan continued with a lesson on comparative anatomy of the digestive tracts of various mammals to illustrate how the horse processes forage and concentrated feeds. Using an interactive response system, audience members were asked to differentiate the equine tract from those of animals as diverse as the sloth, chinchilla, and fruit bat.
KER Team Members enjoy box lunches at the KER research farm.
Pagan continued the morning meeting with a review of significant changes in the new NRC Nutrient Requirements of Horses, and followed this presentation with a talk entitled "Feed Formulation for Nutrition and Practicality." Rick Wohlschlaeger of ARKAT Milling wound up the session with an overview of "When the Worst Happens." ARKAT's mill took a devastating hit from a tornado earlier in the year, and Wohlschlaeger outlined the steps involved in getting back into production as well as the safeguards any company can take to minimize financial losses in the wake of a disaster.
Top eventing rider Phillip Dutton entertained the lunchtime group with a look into the realities of campaigning elite equine athletes. Management involves training, nutrition, and an eye for the unique qualities and temperament of each horse.
The afternoon began with an analysis by Dr. Larry Lawrence, KER's senior nutritionist, of changes and trends in the U.S. horse population. Melissa Fryer followed with a description of the motivational factors that influence purchasing by different customers. The audience response system was again utilized to help dealers become aware of how a variety of promotional techniques can reach various segments of the market.
A wrap-up of KER's ongoing innovations by Joe Pagan finished the afternoon sessions, and delegates gathered to enjoy drinks and conversation in the hotel's atrium. Small groups of staff members and guests departed for dinner destinations, reconvening in the hospitality suite for an evening of relaxation and a further exchange of ideas.
The conference's second day offered forums on either manufacturing and formulation, or sales and marketing. Lively discussions of sales strategies, pricing, and marketing philosophy filled both rooms as manufacturers, dealers, and sales representatives listened to talks and shared personal experiences in the equine feed industry.
Lunch at the KER research farm, a demonstration of treadmill exercise tests, and tours of leading Bluegrass breeding farms finished up the conference. The staff of Kentucky Equine Research thanks all delegates who attended this year's meeting, and extends the hope that guests gained useful knowledge with which to improve their business operations.