Beneficiaries of a New Dairy Fund

US - Two Michigan State University (MSU) dairy science research projects were recently selected to receive the first funds awarded from the Elwood Kirkpatrick Dairy Science Research Endowment. One of the projects aims to model the role of herd management in reproducing dairy cows, whilst the other will study the leukosis virus and hopes to identify the use of vaccines.
calendar icon 1 May 2008
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The funds were established in honor of Elwood Kirkpatrick, former president of the Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA).

The endowment, with matching support from the MSU Department of Animal Science, the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, MSU Extension, the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station and the MMPA, awarded $10,000 in competitive research dollars for 2008.

Recipients of the first funding cycle are Robert Tempelman, MSU Department of Animal Science biostatistician and geneticist, and Nora Bello, MSU animal science Ph.D. student, who were awarded funding for their project, “Modeling the role of herd management on the relationship between production and reproduction in dairy cows.” Lorraine Sordillo and Ronald Erskine, professors from the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences in the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine, also received funding for their project, “Bovine leukosis virus and vaccine responsiveness in dairy cattle.”

Researchers were encouraged to submit proposals addressing dairy industry-identified priorities: animal waste recycling, nutrient management/utilization, and manure handling and storage; animal comfort and well-being, health and reproduction; business, financial management skills, management information systems and profitability; labor and management skills; or planned growth and profit strategies.

Bello said that she and Tempelman were honored to receive the award. She said their current research addresses a challenge facing all dairy producers: examining the factors that influence the relationship between high milk yield and reproductive efficiency in dairy cows.

“Previous studies conflict as to whether the relationship between milk yield and fertility is antagonistic,” Bello said. “Because of this funding, we will be able to perform an in-depth study on more than 1 million cow records from 800 herds supplied to us by Michigan DHI [Dairy Herd Improvement]. Our objective is to identify the herd management factors that are jointly responsible for high production and reproductive success.”

The MMPA board of directors established the Elwood Kirkpatrick Dairy Science Research Endowment at MSU in 2007 upon Kirkpatrick’s retirement from the MMPA, which he served as president for 26 years. Numerous industry organizations and individuals have also contributed to the endowment fund in support of dairy and dairy-related research and education programs.

“Elwood believed that more applied research was needed in the dairy sciences at the university level and that investing in this research would directly benefit the lives of Michigan dairy producers and their families,” said Ken Nobis, MMPA president. “The endowment established at MSU recognizes Elwood’s dedication and service to the dairy industry, and it guarantees that seed money will continue to be available for dairy scientists to undertake new applied research projects there.”

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