The first AABP Conference program from 1968.
The first AABP Conference program from 1968.

The American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) was formally organized in 1965 at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) convention in Chicago, Ill., but AABP did not have its first conference until 1968. In the first issue of AABP’s Bovine Practitioner in January, 1967, Editor Dr. Ray Bradbury wrote: “The AABP was conceived from an idea of several ambitious bovine practitioners that first met in Chicago and Portland. It was born in adversity, floundered in its infancy, but is a stable, energetic, progressive organization.”

The 2017 50th AABP Annual Conference in Omaha will no doubt be a memorable one, but through the years there have been other notable events that have occurred at these gatherings. From the publication American Association of Bovine Practitioners History 1964-1998, edited by Dr. Eric Williams, and other AABP sources, what follows are some memorable AABP Annual Conference events:

Getting started in 1968

The first AABP conference was held in conjunction with AVMA in Chicago, Ill., in November of 1968, with a theme of preconditioning, at that time a new concept in health control of beef cattle. Practice tips were also introduced. More than 350 veterinarians were in attendance. Many of the same concerns as today were highlighted then: veterinarians as supervisors and consultants vs. skilled laborers, regulatory restraints for product approvals and a decreasing number of bovine practitioners.

The 1970s

1970 – At the 3rd Annual Conference in Philadelphia, AABP and the National Mastitis Council (NMC) co-hosted the 6th International Congress on Cattle Diseases with the World Association for Buiatrics. Registration was $25 and dormitory housing at the University of Pennsylvania was $4.50 double occupancy.

1972 - The first Milk Quality Seminar with Dr. James Jarrett and Dr. John Woods was held at the 5th AABP Annual Conference in Milwaukee in 1972, and has been held ever since. On the beef side, preconditioning was still a main topic of discussion. An AI update gave renewed data to support genetic evaluation of breeding programs. Board action at that time increased dues to $25.

1973 - The 6th Annual Conference in Fort Worth was the first themed conference “What’s the Present and Future of Bovine Practice?”

1976 – At the 9th Annual Conference, Dr. Eric Williams coined the AABP phrase: “The sun never sets on the bovine practitioner.”

1978 – At the 11th Annual Conference in Baltimore, Md., the Governor of Maryland proclaimed the week of the conference, Dec. 11-14, as Veterinary Week in Maryland and requested all Marylanders “to recognize the professional activities of veterinarians in safeguarding our state’s livestock population.” The first Bovine Practitioner of the Year was presented to Dr. Edward Sterner, Ionia, Mich., sponsored by Diamond Laboratories.

1979 – The 12th Annual Conference in San Antonio saw the introduction of a preconference seminar in advanced dairy nutrition using the most current technology of the day, a Texas Instruments TI 59 calculator. It was reported at the annual business meeting that AABP’s 2,840 members and 1,500 student members was the largest membership of all of the veterinary specialty organizations. A group of AABP present and past leadership met with NCA to form a technical working group on herd health and bovine respiratory disease.

1980s

1980 – The first Canadian AABP meeting, the 13th Annual Conference, was held in Toronto, Ontario.

1982 – The 15th Annual Conference in Nashville, Tenn., saw animal welfare introduced onto the regular program, and use of bulk drugs for mastitis medications became a hot topic. The AABP Award for Excellence in Preventive Veterinary Medicine, sponsored by MSD-AgVet, was introduced to recognize outstanding preventive medicine programs in beef and dairy. Dr. Elmer Woelffer for dairy and Dr. Bob Bohlender for beef were the first recipients.

1984 – At the 17th Annual Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, AABP President Dr. Jenks Britt foresaw the development of a coalition of food animal practitioners with the American Association of Swine Practitioners and the American Association of Sheep and Goat Practitioners.

1986 – The 19th Annual Conference in Louisville, Ky., introduced a new award, the Amstutz-Williams Award, named for Dr. Harold Amstutz and Dr. Eric Williams, to recognize service given beyond the call of duty to the AABP. The most recent Amstutz-Williams award was given in 2016 to Dr. Gatz Riddell, AABP Executive Vice President, who retired at the end of 2016.

1987 – At the 20th Annual Conference in Phoenix, Ariz., an IBM computer was purchased to which membership rolls and other data was loaded, allowing AABP to enter into the era of more computerized records. AABP Executive Vice President Dr. Harold Amstutz stated that the AABP was now unquestionably recognized as representing the health interests of the cattle industry.

1988 – The 21st Annual Conference, back in Canada to Calgary, introduced the first Research Assistantship award which was awarded to Dr. Terry Bowersock, University of Tennessee.

1989 – At the 22nd Annual Conference in Kansas City, two new awards were created: the Award of Excellence, first sponsored by American Cyanamid to Dr. Glen Hoffsis, and the AABP Distinguished Service Award, now sponsored by Zoetis, Dr. John Fetrow.

The 1990s

1990 – At the 23rd Annual Conference in Indianapolis, Ind., the AABP Annual Conference moved from its November meeting date to September, and convened with NMC for an Inter Mastitis Symposium.

1992 – In St. Paul, Minn. at the 25th Annual Conference, AABP met in conjunction with the World Buiatrics Congress.

1993 – At the 26th Annual Conference in Albuquerque, N.M, Dr. James Jarrett was introduced as the second AABP Executive Vice President. Dues were increased to $95.

1996 – In San Diego at the 29th Annual Conference, for the first time, four $500 Amstutz Scholarships were awarded.

1997 – The 30th Annual Conference in Montreal joined the Society for Theriogenology (SFT) for a joint meeting.

1999 – At the 32ND Annual Conference in Nashville, conference proceedings were to be put on CD ROM for the first time.

The 2000s

2001 – The 34th Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada, was held the same week as the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the East Coast. Some AABP leadership, attendees, speakers and exhibitors were already in Canada, others couldn’t make it. The AABP Board of Directors meeting had to be postponed until December in Denver. Some members donated their already-paid registration fees to AABP even though they could not attend, and $38,000 was refunded to others. AABP was also meeting jointly with the NMC at that time.

2003 – At the 36th Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio, AABP had a joint meeting with SFT.

2004 – The American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners met jointly with AABP at the 37th AABP Annual Conference for the first time in Fort Worth, Texas, at a joint meeting with Southwest Veterinary Conference. Dr. Jim Jarrett was recognized for his 12 years of service as Executive Vice President.

2006 –At the 39th Annual Conference in St Paul, Minn., the first James A. Jarrett Award for Young leaders was given to Dr. Renee Dewell.

2007 – The 40th Annual Conference ventured back to Vancouver, Canada, where RFID technology was used for the first time to track CE for attendees. Gender and generational trends were discussed on the program. Amstutz scholarships were increased to $2,000 each. The first Merck Animal Health Mentor of the Year Award was given to Dr. Otto Radostits.

2008 – The 41st Annual Conference in Charlotte saw the retirement of long-time Exhibits Coordinator Dr. Sam Hutchins, who was in that position since the 1970 meeting in Philadelphia.

2009 – The 42nd Annual Conference ushered in Dr. Charlie Hatcher who takes over for Dr. Hutchins as Exhibits Coordinator, and remains in that position today.

2010s

2010 – The 43rd Annual Conference in Albuquerque, N.M., saw the first joint meeting with the Academy of Veterinary Consultants, the first AABP Student Delegate program, the first student Quiz Bowl and the first Amstutz Scholarship Auction. The Amstutz Scholarship awards were increased to $7,500. The inaugural AgriLabs Dr. Bruce Wren Continuing Education Awards were given to Dr. Luke Schmid (beef) and Dr. Conrad Spangler (dairy). 

AABP Past President Dr. Reilly Glore, Olympia, Wash., recalls, “We had the first Amstutz scholarship auction at a western-themed venue outside of town. Several of us stayed to clean up and collect the unclaimed items which included a large painting, a compressed air vaccination rifle and the proceeds of $25,000. The buses had left and there was no pay phone (and this was before cell phones), so six of us started walking down the unlit gravel road toward civilization, a little nervous about the cash box, but hoping that if we ran into any trouble the vaccination gun would be a deterrent!” Glore says after a mile they were able to make a call from a mini-mart pay phone and have the hotel van retrieve the group.

2011 – The “Mark Hopkins Bronze Bull” was introduced to the Amstutz Scholarship Auction at the 44th Annual Conference in St. Louis, where again AABP met with NMC. The inaugural Cattle Production Veterinarian Hall of Fame award, sponsored by Merck Animal Health, Bovine Veterinarian, AABP, AVC and Osborn Barr, honored Dr. Dan Upson (beef) and Dr. Harold Amstutz (dairy).

2012 – At the 45th Annual Conference in Montreal, Canada, AABP purchased the Mark Hopkins Bronze Bull from the Amstutz Auction to redonate it the following year.

2013 – Runners took their marks at the first 5K Stampede Fun Run sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim at the 46th Annual Conference in Milwaukee, Wis.

2016 – More new awards were given at the 49th Annual Conference in Charlotte, N.C., including AABP Student Chapter and Faculty awards. The new Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) regulations prompted a series of in-depth VFD Q&A sessions. National Milk Producers Federation sessions were also held. The Mark Hopkins Bronze Bull was purchased for a whopping $8,000 by the Southern Crescent Bull Syndicate, and will be redonated to the 2017 Amstutz Scholarship Auction.