Meet the highlight of my day! A Holstein and Gir cross…I wanted to bring her home! Toured the EMBRAPA Dairy Research Farm today! A BLAST!!!!!!
Headed to Brazil for two weeks with the U.S. Grains Council and National FFA Organization for the I-CAL Program! I can’t wait to learn about their agriculture industry and culture!! I will try to keep updates here but most of the news about my journey there will be posted upon my return! See you in two weeks USA!
Buddy at first site haha! Yay! I will call her Bananas. #andshewillbemybanana
Armed and ready for vaccinations and tagging of calves this morning! Each calf has earrings haha that way we know exactly who she is! #dairy
Last month I attended the first ever Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Animal Institute along with 62 students, who are strongly committed to the future of animal health. I had a blast coming together with students and professionals from across the United States, with similar interests to mine! Not only did this event allow me to explore potential career or internship opportunities; it also gave me a unique perspective of the animal health industry within the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor.
During the day and a half event I was put into a tour group with about nine other students and an AFA staff member. My group toured U.S. Premium Beef, Dairy Farmers of America, Ceva Biomune, and Fleishman-Hillard International Communications. Each tour was fantastic; having a chance to sit down with professionals from each company was a treat! Asking questions about their days’ schedule, and how they got where they are in their career was especially interesting, and inspiring! Together with all the students, I was also blessed to listen to speakers with strong interests in animal agriculture. A couple of my favorites were Kevin Murphy of Food Chain Communications and the CEO of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Forrest Roberts. For me, attending AFA events stirs up my passion for agriculture and always challenges me to set new goals for myself within the agriculture industry. It also encourages me to advocate for the God-given industry that I love.
I am writing of this fantastic experience because it is just one of the many highlights AFA has added to my life in agriculture. My first introduction to AFA happened my freshmen year when one of my close friends was chosen as an AFA Community Scholarship Recipient. As a recipient, she received both financial support for her education, and attendance to AFA’s largest event, the AFA Leaders Conference (AFALC), held the first weekend of every November. I have to admit that I was a bit jealous when I learned about her opportunity to attend, and all that she would experience because I had never heard of AFA before. Since it was too late for me to apply for sponsorship for that year’s conference. I applied the following year and thankfully received sponsorship from the Midwest Dairy Association! The AFALC is an event that can change students lives through bridging their academic, leadership and work experiences by further developing and teaching them about the tools they need for success, personally and professionally. Literally, it’s as if AFA sets these lessons, tools, and skills on the table so students can decide to embrace them and come away ready for whatever their life in the agriculture and food industry brings! OK, so that may be a bit a of a dramatized picture, so let me explain.
At the AFA Leaders Conference students are placed into one of four tracks, with each track being specifically designed for that student’s level of development. Generally, starting out as a freshmen in college, one would attend Track 1, and follow through with Track 2 as a sophomore, 3 as a junior and now 4 as a senior. Each track is specifically designed to shape students in a way that prepares them for an exciting career in agriculture, no matter which specific place they may belong. Track 1 focuses on assessing and developing fundamental skills needed for success in college and a career. Track 2 pinpoints communication skills and preparation for employment. Track 3 prepares students for living and working in a global market. Finally Track 4 serves as a capstone for students who have attended the other tracks, and builds on the skills that each track developed. I attended my first conference as a sophomore and started in Track 2 because that lined up with my experiences until that point in my life. Then, I went on as a junior to attend Track 3, and as a senior I helped to plan, prepare and staff this amazing conference as a member of the Student Advisory Team. I was also blessed to attend the AFA Policy Institute in conjunction with National Ag Day in Washington D.C. in March 2012.
So why take the time to write about AFA on my blog, The Dairy Lady? As I stated earlier, it has been instrumental in encouraging me through my college career. AFA’s mission is to create partnerships that identify, encourage and support outstanding college men and women preparing for careers in the agriculture and food industry. Started in 1996 by R. Crosby Kemper with the help of other agri-business leaders, this young organization holds an extremely special and important place in our world and my heart. It is helping meet the needs of agriculture through preparing students with the real skills that they need from the first day on the job to retirement! It is meeting the needs of students who need to be taught and encouraged as they look forward to taking their place in the agriculture and food industry! Even if you have no plans for a career in agriculture, believe me, how this organization impacts the 500 student attendees at the AFA Leaders Conference each year, affects you. These students as I said before have the tools set on the table before them, they can pick them up and embrace them and come away ready for whatever life brings in their agriculture and food industry careers! This training allows them to act as a rising tide, bringing others around them up as they surf through challenges that the future will bring. Whether it is creating the next greatest piece of precision agriculture technology to help feed the world, or learning to connect with food consumers, the experiences that AFA students gain will impact all of us. AFA sets the table with vital experiences, tools and skills for student success so that YOUR dinner table may serve up a juicy steak, a succulent pork chop, a baked potato and broccoli, or a sweet apple with some delicious cheese in the future!
How AFA has impacted me is far greater than what I have expressed in the five paragraphs above, but I hope that this gives you a glimpse into what I know and believe to be, one of the greatest key pieces to success for the future of agriculture in our nation and world.
Hey folks! I have been trying to perfect the links at the top of my blog homepage, such as ‘Walking with Jesus’, ‘Meet the Herd’ and ‘About the Dairy Lady’. I would love for you to check them out! Hope you enjoy! Happy Cinco de Mayo!
Administered some some supportive therapy in the vein (intravenous) to one of the first calf heifers who had a bit of a temperature tonight. I want the new momma to feel good. :) #dairylife
Watching her on the camera to see when she is done licking her baby off. Then we will feed colostrum, momma’s first #milk after giving birth, and the baby’s first, extremely important, nutritious meal. #dairy (at Watertown Holsteins)
Helped this first-time momma! She had a heifer! #thankful #wannabeavet (at Watertown Holsteins)
Well this was not my first 4-H showing experience, but it is my first #throwbackthursday #tbt haha not sure which one to hash tag! 🐮❤😊
Growing up in the dairy industry on my family’s registered (purebred) Holstein farm taught me a lot about what the ideal (true-type as we call it in the dairy world) Holstein looks like. At a young age I started judging and showing dairy cattle so that deepened my understanding of what desirable characteristics both dairy farmers and dairy cattle judges search for. Through a course at South Dakota State University, where I gained my Bachelors in Agriculture Dairy Production, I learned more specifically why each of the characteristics are desired and what their specific purpose is. Each trait or characteristic that a dairy cattle judge views as ideal has a purpose beyond just “looks”. For example, the udder is the most important part of a dairy cow because it is what produces the delicious milk for all of us. So when a judge is looking at an udder, he or she wants that udder to look a certain way, because often times when the udder is phenotypically correct (looks correct) it CAN perform it’s function well, by producing a lot of quality milk! There are many more details to looking at an udder as a judge, but I hope that helps you understand the general idea. Beyond learning about specific characteristics, I personally learned what the ideal Holstein looks like through working with dairy cattle most of my life, and got to see why these traits are necessary and why they help the cow. The topic of this post is about embryo transfer making that a long introduction that doesn’t exactly cover the very scientific, technical procedure of transferring embryos. While there may be some of you interested in the science side of embryo transfer that isn’t why I am writing about it today. I would just like to help folks understand why we do it. Although the science is very interesting so I would encourage you to read this book, found at the Hoard’s Dairyman, http://www.hoards.com/bookstore/EMBR. I share a copy with my brother, and highly recommend it!
First the definition of embryo transfer, according to the California Department of Consumer Affairs, Veterinary Medical Board, “Embryo transfer is a procedure whereby an embryo is removed from a donor cow and placed in the uterus of a recipient cow for the duration of gestation (full-term pregnancy). The procedure is commenced by administering hormones to the donor cow to induce “superovulation” (meaning the cow ovulates more than one egg) whereupon the animal is usually artificially bred. Approximately seven to ten days later, the transfer takes place by administering an epidural anesthesia to the donor cow and removing the fertilized ova by a manual procedure of directing a catheter through the cervix into the uterine horn. Several doses of small amounts of nutrient medial are placed into the uterine horn and then pulled out by either suction with a syringe or gravity flow. The media recovered from the uterine horns is searched for ova and those deemed viable are inserted into the recipient cow in a procedure similar to artificial insemination.”
Last summer, while interning, I had the opportunity to shadow a veterinarian, Dr. Daniela, also known as the embryologist for the Maddox Dairy and RuAnn Dairy, for a couple of days (www.maddoxdairy.com for more information). My other experiences around embryo transfer are on my family’s dairy, Watertown Holsteins, where my younger brother, now certified in embryo transfer, performs the procedure. In the past we have also had another great embryo transfer technician from Simple Dreams Genetics Inc. of Hull, IA. So here’s the point, we along many other dairy farmers and ranchers use embryo transfer to help increase the rate at which our genetics improve. As stated earlier, the traits we want in animals help them to live happier and more productive lives. We choose to flush, (slang for embryo transfer, in reference to flushing the uterine body) cows because they have those desirable traits that make give their bodies longevity, productivity and beauty. Another huge part of the decision to flush a cow is knowing the cow’s pedigree, who her parents and grandparents were. In the dairy world we call her mother, her dam, and her father, her sire. Then granddam for grandma, and grandsire for grandpa. Currently there is a huge boom in genomics in the dairy industry, and that also largely affects which cattle are chosen for the embryo transfer procedure. By increasing the rate at which our genetics progress in our herd, we can increase the number of animals that have the desirable characteristics, and decrease the number that don’t. Basically we would like more beautiful cows, who do a fabulous job producing high quality milk. Instead of waiting for that one beautiful cow (who has the desirable traits, pedigree, and produces lots of milk) to have one baby a year, we can have multiple babies from her! The thing is, she doesn’t have to physically have all of the embryos found thanks to being able to transfer the embryos to recipients for the full pregnancy. As the world population increases to 9 billion people by 2050, farmers and ranchers across the livestock industry will be expected to produce more food. As we look to do this we want and need to have cattle that perform their best, look their best and because they look their best, in turn will feel their best since these traits help that cow live a longer, happier and more productive life. Having my cows feel their best is very important to me, so next time you hear about embryo transfer remember it is not only about having better cows, but cows that feel better and do their job better too!
Be sure to email any questions to me at email@example.com. I love telling people about one of my passions, dairy!
In January of this year I was blessed to be featured on the Young Dairyman’s page of the Hoard’s Dairyman (HD) Magazine. It was only possible because of the amazing internship I had at Maddox Dairy, because I met the Managing Editor, Corey Geiger, of Hoard’s Dairyman while attending the National FFA New Century Farmer Conference in Iowa, and lastly because Chelsey Johnson, last years HD Intern was a fellow SDSU Jackrabbit. Thank you all!! I was also recently given a copy of the HD in Japanese, in their April publication my story was featured! Goes to show just how international agriculture truly is. The picture above is only one page of the column in Japanese, the article in English took one page, but in Japanese it took a few!