Key Take-A-Ways

  • Dairy feed fellowships provided practical experience to animal nutrition graduate students through on-site partnerships with feed manufacturers, feed companies, and nutrition consultants.
  • The 2019–2020 fellowship supported two students in on-farm research projects and internships with nutrition consulting groups.
  • Through these research and internship opportunities, fellows gained important networking contacts, and both continue to work with two nutrition consulting groups largely based on experiences achieved from the fellowship.

Objective:

To support animal nutrition graduate students in their first or second year of study by partnering with feed manufacturers, feed companies, and nutrition consultants to provide a well-rounded, qualified workforce for the dairy and feed industries.

Background, Findings, and Outcomes:

Graduates from animal nutrition degree programs are well trained in the science of nutrition but often lack practical knowledge of the dairy farm industry. Conversely, many feed industry and nutrition positions are available but qualified applicants are lacking because they have no experience with feeding systems and nutrient management in a large dairy herd environment.

To solve these problems, this fellowship partners university-educated interns with the feed industry. Students in their first or second year of study conduct an on-farm research project and then partner with feed manufacturers, feed companies, and nutrition consultants to gain understanding of dairy feeding systems through internships. These students will go on to become leaders who can identify potential areas of concern and can use their scientific knowledge balanced with real-world experience to make informed recommendations.

The 2019–2020 funding supported two graduate students, Oscar Martinez and Tyler Batchelder, who completed their project research at two dairies. Martinez’s project, which was also his master’s thesis, examined the effects of feeding a fibrolytic enzyme product on milk production in lactating Holstein cows from 21 days prior to freshening to 100 days in milk. Batchelder examined changes in blood mitochondrial activity in Holstein dairy cows with and without an immune challenge.

Both fellows were able to complete full internships. Fellows interned with two different nutrition consulting groups to learn ration formulation, monitoring of feed management, and records analyses.

Fellows were able to interact in-person with industry members at the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS) continuing education conference during the fall of 2019, and virtually participated in the online version of the American Dairy Science Association annual meeting.

Through these experiences, fellows gained important networking contacts with whom they shared their research results. They also gained a solid understanding of how a feed company works and monitors product manufacturing. Both fellows are completing their thesis preparation and continue to work with two nutrition consulting groups as a result of their experiences enabled through this fellowship.

 

This fellowship and research experience was funded through check-off dollars (California dairy producers), approved by the CDRF Board of Directors, and managed by CDRF.