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Posts Tagged: dairy

The days of guess work in cattle breeding are gone

Mapping of the cow genome has provided scientists with information on the 3 billion base pairs on cattle DNA.
Advances in cattle breeding over the past 60-plus years has reduced the carbon footprint of the dairy industry. DNA sequencing suggests still more productive cows and less pollution in the future, reported Lesley McClurg on Capital Public Radio.

McClurg spoke to Alison Van Eenennaam, a UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension specialist. Van Eenannaam is an animal geneticist based at UC Davis.

"We used to have somewhere roundabouts 25 million dairy cows in the United States, and we're down to nine million now,” says Van Eenennaam. "It [has] actually reduced the environmental footprint of a glass of milk by two-thirds relative to the 1950's."

Van Eenennaam is currently studying cattle genomics to understand the animals susceptibility to respiratory disease. Her research is funded by the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

Read more about the benefits of genomics to the dairy industry and the environment in the UC Green Blog.

Posted on Friday, June 5, 2015 at 3:12 PM
Tags: Alison Van Eenennaam (25), dairy (29), genomics (3)

Dairies struggle to feed cattle during California drought

Tom Barcellos , a dairy forage production innovator, was featured in the LA Times.
Dairy farmer Tom Barcellos, a longtime member of the UC Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation workgroup, was featured in a Los Angeles Times story about the impact of the drought on the dairy industry. Barcellos said he fallowed 300 acres of farmland this summer and is buying feed from contractors in Nevada, Texas and as far away as Australia.

"If we don't get rain or have a good winter, our farmers might leave the state," Barcellos said.

Dairy products - milk, cream, butter and cheese - are by far the largest segment of California agricultural production, contributing $140 billion annually to the state's economy. But the the state's industry is shrinking.

According to Lesley "Bees" Butler, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis, California has lost 1 to 2 percent of its dairy industry in the last three years. About 100 dairies go out of business every year waiting for rain.

"It's a huge time of uncertainty," Butler said.

Posted on Friday, October 3, 2014 at 2:04 PM
Tags: dairy (29), drought (163)

Drought guidance for dairy producers

The California Dairy Quality Assurance Program created a drought webpage for dairy operators.
The California drought points to a looming crisis for California dairy producers, according to Mike Payne, dairy outreach coordinator at the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security and director of the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program (CDQAP). 

Payne says that one estimate places lost revenue due to the drought from farming and related businesses in California as high as $5 billion. If there is little relief from Mother Nature in the 2014-15 rainfall season, the prospect of devastating effects to California's dairy industry is immeasurable. Skyrocketing feed costs and ultimately more California dairy producers going out of business will likely lead to higher retail prices for dairy products at the supermarket. A dwindling dairy industry will result in the loss of jobs in rural communities as well as to the dairy processing industry in the state.

The CDQAP is a voluntary partnership between dairy producers, government agencies and academia to promote the health of consumers, the health of the environment and the health and welfare of dairy animals, is ramping up drought-related outreach, which will include workshops, assistance application sessions and online resources. The goal of its webpage is to sift through the surge of drought-related announcements and information, bringing back that which is relevant to California dairy producers. Information will continue to develop through the year, as will the outreach to dairy producers struggling with critically limited water resources.

Stay informed of current drought meetings, deadlines for drought assistance programs, CDFA and USDA announcements, and publications such as the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory's UC Whitepaper on Drought-Related Feed Toxicity on the CDQAP website.

Check back at WIFSS Outreach for updates on the drought crisis and other outreach and extension-related projects underway by WIFSS research and scientific staff.

Posted on Monday, March 31, 2014 at 1:35 PM
Tags: dairy (29), drought (163), Mike Payne (1)

California cows going to 'greener pastures'

Mid-west and Southern states are courting California dairies.
At the World Ag Expo in February, nine states had booths designed to recruit California dairy operators out of the Golden State, reported the Los Angeles Times.

South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard himself made a personal appeal for the state, where ag officials estimate that a single dairy cow creates $15,000 in economic activity each year.

In recent years, an average of 100 California dairies have closed annually, said Leslie "Bees" Butler, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis.

"Ten years ago, California was the low-cost producer," Butler said. With low milk prices and high feed costs, "it's become more difficult to dairy here."

Tweaking feed recipes can go a long way toward protecting farmland in and around dairy farms
Joshua Emerson Smith, The Merced Sun-Star

Overfeeding salts and other minerals to dairy cows can negatively affect soil and groundwater quality, according to a research report in the Journal of Dairy Science by Alejandro Castillo, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Merced County.

"This is going to be important for the sustainability of our dairy farms," he said. "We need to try to see the future and imagine the sustainability of our dairy farms and maintain the business for a long time."

A new lease on life
The Davis Enterprise

A series of photos by Sue Cockrell from the recent "groundbreaking" ceremonies for the new home of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources in Davis.

Posted on Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 10:06 AM
Tags: Alejandro Castillo (2), Bees Butler (3), dairy (29)

When oysters and cows collide

California’s scenic Marin County is home to two thriving industries that were once in conflict – oyster farming and dairy farming.

In order to grow healthy and marketable oysters, the farmers depended on clean water in Tomales Bay. But regulations meant to protect the bay from cattle runoff were so strict that dairy farmers feared they could no longer stay in business.

Now, with help from David Lewis, director of UC Cooperative Extension in Marin County, these two communities have found creative solutions that allow both kinds of farmers to share this beautiful and fertile region. Find out how in a four-minute report by Kristen Simoes on UCTV Prime Cuts, “Cooperation Trumps Conflict in Tomales Bay.”

Posted on Friday, July 20, 2012 at 11:57 AM
  • Contributor: Alison Gang, UCTV Prime Cuts
Tags: dairy (29), David Lewis (5), organic (25), oysters (2)

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