May 2018 recap

Here is a belated recap for the month of May:

Dairyland Initiative workshops

At the start of May, I attended the Dairyland Initiative workshops in Green Bay. It was an excellent boot camp on the topics of youngstock facility design, positive-pressure tube ventilation for calf barns, and ventilation for adult cows.

I appreciated that the meeting kicked off with a group discussion of potential welfare and housing needs for calves. The implicit distinction is that housing is something we provide to the animals, but welfare reflects the animals’ intrinsic needs. In this Facebook video with Tina Kolhman from UW Extension Fond du Lac, we chat more about this topic.

Dairyland Init discussion 180503

The kickoff group discussion on housing and animal welfare considerations for calf barn design at the Dairyland Initiave workshop

Wisconsin Idea Seminar

In mid-May, I spent a week traveling around the state by bus along with 40 fellow UW-Madison faculty and staff. The Wisconsin Idea Seminar is meant to help us learn more about the state we serve – and more specifically about the various communities that make up our state, and the issues that are relevant to them.

On the first day, we stopped at Mystic Valley Dairy, which I had visited the previous month. My colleagues, Drs. Kent Weigel and Heather White were there to help answer questions, along with the owner, Mitch Breunig, and his nutrition consultant, James Bailey. Grande Cheese provided a delicious pizza lunch.

For many of my bus-mates, this was the first time they’d set foot on a real dairy farm. Many people were impressed and surprised by how clean the cows were, the level of detail that goes into their care, and the use of precision technology (i.e., “cow fitbits”) to monitor cow activity and health on this facility.

Heather and I are now in the process of helping Catherine Reiland, the organizer, with planning the dairy visit for the next Idea Seminar cohort in 2019.

Mystic Valley Idea Seminar 180515 DySci

Dr. Kent Weigel (department chair) and Dr. Heather White helped lead the tour at Mystic Valley Dairy

Mystic Valley Idea Seminar 180515

About 40 of us spent the week touring the state by bus and learning about Wisconsin’s varied communities

Dairy Cattle Welfare Symposium

I rounded out a month of heavy travel in Scottsdale, AZ at the 3rd Dairy Cattle Welfare Symposium, with my trip made possible with sponsorship from VES Environmental Solutions. I had presented at the 1st meeting in Ohio in 2016, but this time I was there to catch up with collaborators and talk about needs and ideas for future research and outreach projects.

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