PROJECT LEAD: Dr. Heidi Rossow, VMTRC, UC Davis, 2020


• Dairy feed fellowships provide graduate students in animal nutrition with practical knowledge and experience about feeding systems and nutrient management in a large dairy herd environment. 

• The 2020-2021 fellowship program supported two graduate students in on-farm research projects and internships with nutrition consulting groups.

• Both fellows are completing their thesis preparation and will continue to intern for dairy nutrition consulting groups over the summer with potential future job opportunities in the California dairy nutrition industry because of experiences enabled through this fellowship. 


Dairy feed fellowships support animal nutrition graduate students during their first or second year of study. Fellows conduct an on-farm research project and then partner with feed manufacturers, feed companies, and nutrition consultants to gain practical knowledge of the dairy farm industry. The goal is to train future leaders who can identify potential areas of concern and use their scientific knowledge, balanced with real world experience, to make informed recommendations. Dairy feed fellows contribute to a well-rounded, more educated workforce for the California dairy and feed industries.  

The 2020-2021 fellowship supported two graduate students. One fellow’s project focused on identification of positive or negative cation anion diet in a ration sample using a mineral meter. She collected feed samples from ten dairies and examined their mineral contents. The second fellow’s project tested six different somatic cell count (SCC) cow side meters to determine which best predicted quarter SCC. She sampled four dairies as well as 50 bulk tank samples. The results of these studies will contribute to the sustainability of the dairy industry.

Both fellows completed internships with nutrition consulting groups to learn ration formulation, monitoring of feed management, and records analysis. One fellow interned at DDS dairy nutrition consulting and the other at Nutrisystem dairy nutrition consulting. In addition, both fellows completed an internship at Western Milling. Both fellows plan to continue to work with dairy nutrition consulting firms this summer.

The pandemic unfortunately prevented the fellows from presenting their research at scientific conferences and industry meetings. Instead, both fellows will be presenting their research this summer at the American Dairy Science Association meeting.

The 2020-2021 fellows gained a solid understanding of dairy nutrition consulting. The fellowship also provided important networking contacts including other nutritionists and dairy producers, and they have been able to share research results among these contacts. The dairy feed fellowships were successful in helping these students gain experience and insight into the feed industry and also in making the connections that will support them as they begin their careers in the California dairy industry.