Researcher: Dr. Heidi Rossow, UC Davis
• The 2021 Feed Industry Fellowship supported two graduate students while they conducted on-farm research projects and completed industry internships in dairy nutrition and feed management.
• Fellows communicated research results at the California Animal Nutrition Conference (CANC) and the American Dairy Science Association (ADSA) meetings and helped teach a course in applied dairy nutrition at UC Davis.
• Both Feed Industry Fellows are continuing work on their master’s theses and one fellow is continuing their internship with a dairy nutritionist consulting firm as a direct result of connections made from this fellowship.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE
The Feed Industry Fellowship partners university educated interns with the feed industry to develop a qualified, well-rounded workforce for the dairy and feed industries. For this fellowship, graduate students in their first or second year of study conduct an on-farm research project and then partner with feed manufacturers, feed companies, and/or nutritional consultants to complete an internship and gain practical knowledge of the dairy farm industry. The on-farm research project provides the opportunity to learn the day-to-day challenges of a dairy operation and the internships allow for real-world learning and networking with practicing nutritionists and dairy producers. These fellowships train future leaders in the dairy feed and nutrition industries to be able to identify potential areas of concern and use their scientific knowledge and real-world experience to make informed recommendations.
METHODS, FINDINGS AND OUTCOMES
The 2021 Fellowship supported two graduate students, one from UC Davis and oner from the Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. One fellow’s project was focused on dairy cows that were previously enrolled as calves in a pre- and probiotic study during the pre-weaning period. The fellow examined how these types of supplements influenced milk production and health events in adulthood. The second fellow’s project involved feeding a probiotic to calves from birth to 180 days of age on a commercial dairy farm and then examining immune function and rumen development. This project was additionally supported by a bioscience company that manufactures probiotics. After completing their on-farm research projects in the spring of 2022, both fellows interned with nutrition consulting groups. One fellow completed their internships at Pine Creek Nutrition and another for John Kennedy (Dairy Nutrition Consulting).
The second fellow completed their two internships with the MILC group, one focusing on nutrient analysis and the other on feed management software. These internships enabled fellows to gain practical understanding of the application of nutritional principles to dairy feeding systems and to make important networking contacts with nutritionists and dairymen. Both fellows presented their research results at the CANC and the ADSA meetings in 2022 and early 2023. The results of both projects speak to the role of feed supplements, such as probiotics, in improving health and productivity of dairy cows, research that will ultimately support the sustainability of the dairy industry. Additionally, both fellows had the opportunity to assist with teaching a one week intensive Applied Dairy Nutrition course for dairy graduate students, qualified undergraduates, and veterinary students at the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center (VMTRC).
The 2021 fellows gained important, real world experience in dairy feed management, and valuable research and teaching experience in their academic field and networking contacts with nutritionists and dairy producers. These fellowships ensure that the dairy industry gains a more educated, well-rounded workforce that has experience in many aspects of the feed industry.