Spotlight - Matthew C. Lucy

Name: Matthew C. Lucy
Title: Professor
Institution: Division of Animal Sciences, University of Missouri

Role with JDS Communications: Editor-in-chief

Can you tell us a bit about your background, and what your current research is focused on?

I grew up in New York State; I have degrees from Cornell, Kansas State, and the University of Florida. I am a professor of animal science at the University of Missouri. I work on reproduction in postpartum cows.

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry since you started? Do you have any predictions for the future?
Consolidation of farms. We have the same number of cows, but there are far fewer dairies and more cows on each dairy. Farms will continue to get larger, and automation including robotics will become more important on dairies.

What has been your biggest challenge/greatest achievement in your career so far?
When I started, the reproduction on dairies was in crisis mode (could not get enough cows pregnant). Now through the work of many people in research and extension, we have too many pregnant cows!

Can you share a particularly memorable experience or breakthrough in your research?
There have been a lot of these. Perhaps when we began to figure out the endocrine mechanisms that enable high milk production can also lead to infertility.

What research areas within the field interest you most? Are there any particular trends of study that you are drawn to?
I am very interested in how animals age and why cows don’t last very long on dairies (three lactations max). I think it is because cows are highly metabolic (high milk production) and they age very quickly. Creating longer-lived cows that stay on the dairy longer (e.g., five or more lactations) will reduce the total number of animals needed for dairy production. Fewer cows will mean greater profits for farmers and less environmental effect for dairy farms.

I am also interested in increasing the total length of lactation from one year (current industry norm) to two years. This can be done by focusing on the cells of the mammary gland and figuring out how to make the production of milk more persistent (meaning that the cow produces the same amount of milk each day for a very long time). Longer (more persistent) lactations will reduce the number of cows in dairy production without decreasing the total amount of milk produced. This will mean greater profits for farmers and less environmental effect for dairy farms.

What kind of papers would you like to attract more to JDS Communications? Do you have any advice for authors that would help them in deciding whether to submit?
I’d like to see more basic biology in dairy sciences. Papers that might be too preliminary for a more traditional journal but are opening up a new field of research with some exciting results. I would consider JDS Communications if your super-good idea has been squashed by the nay-sayers. Remember the phrase “Good ideas have lonely childhoods.” We are looking for those very lonely ideas.

Why do we need a journal like JDS Communications today? Why should authors publish in JDS Communications?
JDS Communications is a place for your short communication in dairy science. It is online only and 100% open access. If you want your best research published quickly and made available immediately, then publish in JDS Communications.

What do you think are the biggest challenges currently facing the dairy industry, and how is JDS Communications part of the solution?
Our challenge is to produce enough milk in an environmentally friendly way at a price that makes it economically feasible to feed people. People sometimes forget that the tremendous strides that we have made in the dairy industry have come about because research was performed and producers adopted best practices based on that research. It’s a partnership based on trust (what you found in your study is valid and will work on my farm). Scientific journals provide a place to publish research results that form the basis for that trust.