September 26, 2014— The 2nd Annual Meeting of the Southeast Quality Milk Initiative (SQMI) was held in Blacksburg, September 22-24, 2014. SQMI is the collaborative effort of six southeastern universities to improve milk quality, increase profitability and sustainability of the dairy industry in the southeast.
The quality of milk produced in the Southeast (SE), based on somatic cell count (SCC) and standard plate count (SPC), is consistently lower than the rest of the US. Reduced milk quality increases costs while decreasing revenues and efficiency. The combined effect of these factors contributes to the declining dairy industry in the southeast. Understanding factors that have the greatest impact on milk quality will provide a background for programs aimed at helping producers improve their operations and was the underlying basis for the establishment of the SQMI.
In the southeast the heat and humidity present particular challenges to dairying and is a major factor contributing lower quality. Typically, dairy herds in the southeast expect to see increases in SCC especially during the summer months, but preliminary work associated with this project indicates the increase can be eliminated or at least greatly reduced.
The University of Tennessee, University of Kentucky, The University of Georgia, Mississippi State University, University of Florida and Virginia Tech have joined together on this outreach, research and educational project to formulate solutions for dairy producers and those who advise them. The 2014 SQMI meeting brought together researchers, dairy producers, advisory board members, vets, and industry leaders and representatives. Hands-on demonstrations, short courses and breakout sessions were offered for the first portion of the meeting; the advisory board and SQMI group met later for project updates and planning purposes.
The SQMI group is lead by Dr. Steve Oliver, Professor of Animal Science & Assistant Dean of Research, at the University of Tennessee. University collaborators include: Dr. Raul Almeida (UT); Dr. Mark Fly (UT); Dr. Gina Pighetti (UT); Dr. Peter Krawczel (UT); Dr. Michelle Arnold (UK); Dr. Jeffrey Bewley (UK); Dr. Lori Garkovich, (UK); Dr. Stephen Nickerson (UGA); Dr. Stephanie Ward (MSU); Dr. James Brett (MSU); Dr. Albert DeVries (UF); and Dr. Christina Petersson-Wolfe (VT).
This project is funded by USDANIFA-AFRI sponsored grant #2013-68004-20424.
For more information, visit the SQMI website at http://sequalitymilk.com.
September 20, 2014—This year’s team ‘A’ members are Caitlyn Abbot from Fairfield VT, Lucas DeBlois from Colebrook NH, Jenna Hardy from Perkasie PA and Ryan Zimmerman from Littlestown PA. Team ‘B’ members are Cole Davis from Pleasant Garden NC, Kelly Leatherman from Perkasie PA and Joy Nystrom from Culpeper VA. The judging teams are coached by Drs. Michael Barnes and Katharine Knowlton.
The season started off with both teams competing in the Eastern States contest in Massachusetts. Cole Davis was 1st in Guernseys, 3rd in Holsteins, 4th in Jerseys and Milking Shorthorns, 6th in reasons and 1st overall and was High Individual Overall. Jenna placed 3rd in Brown Swiss, 7th in reasons and 4th overall, Ryan was 5th in Guernseys and 11th overall, Caitlyn 14th overall and Lucas was 1st in Milking Shorthorns. Team A was 2nd overall and 4th in reasons and Team B finished 5th in reasons.
The Pennsylvania All American contest in Harrisburg PA was another successful day. Only the A team competed; they placed 3rd in reasons and 3rd overall. Ryan placed 3rd in Brown Swiss, 3rd in Guernseys, 10th in reasons and 7th overall, Lucas was 8th in Brown Swiss, Caitlyn finished 5th in Guernsey, 8th in Jerseys and 8th overall and Jenna placed 1st in Guernseys, 1st in Holsteins, 3rd in reasons and 3rd overall. In addition to their 3rd place finish in team reasons and overall, the team finished 1st in Guernseys and 2nd in Holsteins, 3rd in reasons.
Team members and coaches greatly appreciate the support of the Virginia State Dairyman’s Association, the Virginia Dairy Foundation, the Virginia Tech Dairy Club, and the many AI organization and alumni donors who provide financial support for this activity. We also thank VANC Select Sire Power for their generous donation of team-member recognition plaques each year. The team is also indebted to the many farms throughout the northeast, mid-Atlantic, southeast and Wisconsin who host judging practices throughout the year.
July 10, 2014—We are pleased to announce that Dr. Kristy Daniels will be joining the Department of Dairy Science in August as our new Animal Systems Biologist. She joins us from the Animal Sciences Department at Ohio State University. Dr. Daniels earned both her M.S. and Ph.D. at Virginia Tech and her B.S. from Michigan State University.
June 30, 2014—Veronica Steer, Cottage Grove, Tenn., was awarded one of seven Young Jersey Breeder Awards given by the American Jersey Cattle Association in ceremonies on June 27, 2014, during the association’s Annual Meetings in Alexandria, Virginia.
The Young Jersey Breeder Award is presented to individuals or couples who are at least 28 years old and under the age of 40 on January 1 of the year nominated, who merit recognition for their expertise in dairy farming, breeding Jersey cattle, participation in programs of the American Jersey Cattle Association and National All-Jersey Inc., and leadership in Jersey and other dairy and agriculture organizations.
Veronica’s work with the Jersey breed started at a young age as she would follow her father Charles around when she was little, opening gates, counting heifers, or watering calves. In 2001, Veronica was the winner of the National Jersey Youth Achievement Contest. Her Jersey experiences encouraged her to pursue a degree in dairy science at Virginia Tech, from which she graduated in 2003.
Since Veronica returned to her home farm, Sunbow Jerseys, in 2005 she has taken over many of the day-to-day responsibilities and management decisions. The 2013 lactation average on the 97-cow herd was 17,783 lbs. milk, 782 lbs. fat, and 618 lbs. protein. Currently, five cows in the herd rank on the Top 1.5% traditional Jersey Performance Index™ list.
Veronica has consistently utilized young sire programs. For 2013, 85% of matings were to genomic young sires and she sold her first bull into A.I. Veronica is the current President of Dixieland Jersey Sires Inc. James Huffard, Huffard Dairy Farms, Crockett, Va., commented on Veronica’s involvement with the program: “She is one of those young Jersey minds that you definitely want on the team.”
The American Jersey Cattle Association, organized in 1868, compiles and maintains animal identification and performance data on Jersey cattle and provides services that support genetic improvement and greater profitability through increasing the value of and demand for Registered Jersey™ cattle and genetics, and Jersey milk and milk products. (from USJersey.com)
June 17, 2014—A true ‘rock-star’ in the department during her time at Virginia Tech, Selinsgrove, PA native Roxanne Seltzer is the subject of today’s student spotlight. Roxy chose to attend Virginia Tech because of the sense of community on campus and quality of faculty in the Dairy Science department. During her time as an undergraduate, Roxy was exposed to coursework that created a strong foundation for a career within the dairy industry. "You have most of the information that you need to succeed, all you need to do is apply the information", remarked Roxy, an honors student and 2nd Vice President of the Dairy Club.
With graduation complete, Roxy is currently working part-time as an assistant herdsman on the Dave Myers Dairy Farm, and plans to seek full-time employment opportunities within the Pennsylvania agriculture industry. When asked about her experience as a DASC major at Virginia Tech, Roxy replied, "VT Dairy Science provides the foundation necessary to continue in a dairy or agricultural career. You have the opportunity to apply what you learn in the classroom to real-world situations."
We wish Roxy the best in her future endeavors, and know she will enjoy the same level of success she is accustomed to!
June 9, 2014—A native of Huntingtown, Maryland, Kelly Quesinberry recently completed a very successful undergraduate career at Virginia Tech. Kelly chose the Department of Dairy Science to help prepare her for veterinary school. Initially, Kelly was unsure whether she wanted to strictly pursue food animal medicine or equine medicine, so she decided to explore the Dairy Industry. In doing so, Kelly found the answers to these questions and much more. Between working in Dr. Mark Hanigan’s nutrition lab, working at the Virginia Tech Dairy, and learning from "top-notch professors", Kelly decided that she wants to work in food animal medicine or perhaps mixed large animal medicine.
When asked about her most memorable experience while a student a Virginia Tech, Kelly offered a perfect synopsis of what makes this community so special. "During my time at Virginia Tech, the most memorable experience was my first football game. While I had terrible seats in the upper stands of the south end zone, there was nothing like jumping to Enter Sandman for the very first time with thousands of other Hokies. The football games perfectly describe what Virginia Tech is all about: a large state school with a small, closely knit community feel. There’s just nothing like it."
With graduation behind her, Kelly is currently on the wait-list for acceptance at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. Completing that program is certainly the primary goal, but if that doesn’t work out, Kelly plans to remain in the New River Valley and reapply to vet schools in the fall.
Proceeds from the Hokie Cow Classic Golf Tournament support travel costs of the Virginia 4-H Teams, Virginia Tech Dairy Challenge and Judging Teams, as well as funding scholarships and student recruiting.
Our 12th Annual Hokie Cow Classic was held Monday, May 19th, 2014—and thanks to our generous supporters was a huge success!
April 17, 2014—Seven Dairy Science students from Virginia Tech traveled to Fort Wayne, Indiana to participate in the 13th annual North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge on April 4 – 6, 2014. The mission of this event is to facilitate education, communication and an exchange of ideas between students, agribusinesses, dairy producers and universities in order to enhance the development of the dairy industry and its leaders. Students from more than 32 colleges and universities participated. This event has two components. The challenge contest is a competition among university teams which tests their knowledge of dairy herd management through the analysis of some of the Midwest’s most progressive dairies. Each team receives nutritional information and performance and financial records prior to a two hour visit to one of four host dairy farms. After the visit the team is allotted 5 hours to summarize their findings in identifying herd strengths and weaknesses and suggestions for improvements to herd management. The following day they present and defend their findings to a panel of 5 industry experts.
The team from Virginia Tech garnered a third place finish this year. Dairy Science seniors participating in the challenge contest were: Erin Klingensmith from New London, PA; Roxanne Selzter from Selingsgrove, PA; Lauren Woloohojian from West Greenwich, RI; and Jason Zimmerman from Littlestown, PA.
Teams from Virginia Tech have consistently performed well at this event placing in the top three places for each of the past 13 years. more...
BLACKSBURG, Va., April 2, 2014 – Katharine Knowlton, professor of dairy science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, was recently named the Colonel Horace E. Alphin Professor in Dairy Science by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.
The Colonel Horace E. Alphin Professorship in Dairy Science was established in 2013 through a gift from Alphin, a member of the Virginia Tech Class of 1934, to support outstanding teaching and research faculty in the Department of Dairy Science. The recipient holds the professorship for a five-year term.
A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1998, Knowlton has been widely recognized for excellence in teaching, advising, and scholarship. more...
Oct. 18, 2014