Dairy Digressions

A monthly podcast celebrating dairy science and featuring the leading thinkers in dairy production and foods.

Welcome to Dairy Digressions, the podcast from the American Dairy Science Association and the minds behind JDS Communications and the Journal of Dairy Science. Every other month, host Matt Lucy, PhD, an ADSA Fellow and former editor in chief of JDS Communications, explores the latest developments, fascinating discoveries, and breaking trends in the world of dairy science.

From pioneering technologies to innovative research, we cover a range of topics related to the dairy industry and go behind the scenes of the top labs and minds in dairy research. Our guests are leading experts in their fields, providing unique insights and perspectives on dairy career paths, research philosophies, and what excites them about the science of dairy production and dairy foods.

Whether you’re a dairy researcher, a student, dairy professional, or simply interested in learning more about the science behind the food we consume, Dairy Digressions is the show for you. Listen in as we dig deep into the science of dairy and discover what’s new and exciting in this ever-evolving field.

 

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Episode Twelve: Dairy’s Environmental Progress, Greenhouse Gas 101, and Key Outcomes from COP28 with Frank Mitloehner, PhD

 

Why does the dairy sector have such a good story to tell about environmental sustainability, and how can each of us be a better storyteller for the industry? Join us for a mega episode of Dairy Digressions to find out! Host Matt Lucy is joined by esteemed guest Frank Mitloehner, PhD, a professor and extension specialist in the Department of Animal Science at the University of California, Davis, and director of the UC Davis CLEAR Center. An agricultural engineer and air-quality expert, Frank explains exactly why today’s climate change is outside of normal climate patterns, outlines the three main gases responsible for the greenhouse gas effect (carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide), and illustrates how their increase leads to higher environmental temperatures. While we know that the energy sector, particularly carbon from fossil fuels, accounts for the majority of global emissions, agriculture and the methane from livestock play a critical role in moving the needle toward our shared net zero–emissions future. With a majority of American refrigerators containing animal-sourced foods, Frank is focused on how we can produce those foods while addressing environmental issues ranging from air quality and emissions to animal welfare, worker health and safety, and more. Using Frank’s home state of California as an example, the two discuss how agriculture is currently excelling in finding ways to turn methane from a liability into an asset; dairy farms are on track to achieve 40% or more methane reduction by 2030, reach climate neutrality, and sell credits to other sectors. Despite these incredible advancements, it can feel like the climate narrative around agriculture remains thorny. Frank explains why he established the CLEAR Center and his work—including a recent trip to speak at COP28—to not only advance the science around climate in agriculture but to break down misconceptions and help consumers and thought leaders better understand the importance of agriculture in sustainably nourishing the world.

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Episode Eleven: Heat Stress, Combating Embryonic Loss, and Tips for Running a Lab That Sparks the Principles—and Passion—for Lifelong Scientific Discovery with Pete Hansen, PhD

 

We're kicking off the new year—and our new season of Dairy Digressions—with a special guest, Pete Hansen, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Animal Sciences and L. E. “Red” Larson Professor at the University of Florida. Pete’s research focuses on embryo physiology and developing new management strategies for increasing dairy cattle fertility, particularly in the face of heat stress and a warming climate. A leader in embryology and early embryonic loss, Pete explains when embryos are most sensitive to heat stress and why—including the scientific tools we have for preventing these effects—from genetic selection to embryo transfer to management for cow health and the potential future of artificial embryos from stem cells. A longtime mentor to undergraduate and graduate students (don’t miss his paper on the topic!), Pete also lets listeners in on his teaching philosophy and shares tips for crafting a lab environment that fosters collaboration, hard work, and joy around science.

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Episode Eleven Show Notes

Learn more about Pete Hansen’s work at the University of Florida, and connect with him on LinkedIn and X/Twitter.

Are you interested in learning more about the journal loyalty program mentioned in the episode? Get all the details, and sign up today!

Catch up on the papers and the news article discussed on the episode:

Reflections on a career as a graduate mentor—from baby steps at Wisconsin to today, Journal of Animal Science (2023)

Stem cells used to model a two-week-old human embryo, Nature News and Views (2023)

Complete human day 14 post-implantation embryo models from naive ES cells, Nature (2023)

Pluripotent stem cell-derived model of the post-implantation human embryo, Nature (2023)

Episode Ten: Stewardship Toward Healthier Cows, a Sustainable Climate, and Responsible Antibiotic Use with Daryl Nydam, DVM, PhD | cohosted by Kimmi Devaney of the Progressive Dairy Podcast

 

Join us for a very special episode of Dairy Digressions with our first-ever guest cohost, Kimmi Devaney of the Progressive Dairy Podcast and former ADSA Undergraduate Student Division president. Joining host Matt Lucy, the two sit down with Daryl Nydam, DVM, PhD, dairy health and production professor who serves as a director in Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine and the faculty director at the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability. Daryl’s journey—from his childhood in a dairy and veterinary medicine family to a college student studying science while shooting hoops to working at the nexus of dairy, veterinary medicine, and human health—has been fascinating. Amidst growing consumer concerns about environmental and animal welfare issues, Daryl reassures listeners that cows today are thriving because of monumental advancements in veterinary care and management. The discussion covers the importance of optimal replacement decisions to reduce enteric methane production and ensure that each herd has the best cows in the barn. The trio also gets into another critical conservation issue: antimicrobial resistance. Daryl explains a novel, pathogen-based strategy for clinical mastitis treatment during lactation so farmers can make economical and stewardship-driven decisions, thereby reducing the need for antibiotics and hospital pen time. Listeners can also learn more about selective dry cow therapy: For some farms, gone are the days of treating every cow at dry off; now, with advanced diagnostics, we can treat only those cows with infections or at high risk of acquiring an infection during the dry period, maintaining milk quality and herd health without unnecessary antimicrobial exposure. Join us in this enlightening episode as we navigate the intricate landscape of dairy stewardship and why we should all feel optimistic about the dairy industry.

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Episode Ten Show Notes

Learn more about the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability and Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, and connect with Daryl Nydam on LinkedIn.

Read Progressive Dairy, explore the Progressive Dairy Podcast, and connect with Kimmi Devaney on LinkedIn and Twitter/X.

Are you interested in participating in future Discover Conference meetings? Save the date for the 46th Discover Conference on precision dairy farming (May 6–9, 2024; Itasca, IL).

Catch up on the papers and article discussed on the episode:

Herd turnover rate reexamined: A tool for improving profitability, welfare, and sustainability, American Journal of Veterinary Research (2023)

Dairy production sustainability through a one-health lens, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (2022)

Implementing selective dry cow therapy on farms across New York state, Progressive Dairy (2022)

Episode Nine: Behind the Scenes of Ireland’s Economic Breeding Index, the Complexity of Dairy Longevity, and Our Genetic Progress Towards Next Generation Herds with Donagh Berry, PhD

 

Pull up a seat as we dive into dairy genetics and Ireland’s esteemed national dairy breeding index—the Economic Breeding Index (EBI)—with the man who championed it, Donagh Berry, PhD. Berry is a quantitative geneticist and a Senior Principal Research Officer with Teagasc Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre and Director of VistaMilk SFI Research Centre. He joins longtime friend Matt for a special installment of Dairy Digressions recorded during the ADSA Discover Conference on dairy cattle lifespan to explain how he became interested in animal genetics through a love of math and his work developing technologies and tools to help improve dairy farm profitability and futureproof dairy production for the next generation and beyond. Berry takes us behind the decisions that go into selecting traits for the EBI as well as the history of genetic selection—which up until 30 years ago focused mainly on milk production. The two discuss the state of dairy in Ireland and applaud the resilience and ability of Irish farmers to change and adapt over time, from adopting the EBI despite doubts to transitioning from seeing clover as a weed to a tool reducing dairy’s environmental footprint. Finally, Donagh walk us through the evolving discussion of dairy cow longevity as it relates to genetic progress, profitability, and dairy’s carbon footprint—including how genomics and sexed semen have turned the discussion on its head.

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Episode Nine Show Notes

Learn more about Teagasc Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre and VistaMilk SFI Research Centre, and connect with Donagh Berry on LinkedIn and Twitter/X.   

Are you interested in participating in future Discover Conference meetings? Save the date for the 46th Discover on precision dairy farming happening May 6-9, 2024 in Itasca, IL.

Catch up on the papers discussed on the episode:

Invited review: Beef-on-dairy—The generation of crossbred beef × dairy cattle, Journal of Dairy Science (2021)

Predicting methane emissions of individual grazing dairy cows from spectral analyses of their milk samplesJournal of Dairy Science (2023)

Episode Eight: ADSA’s Graduate Student Division Award Winners on the Art of Scientific Presentations, the Power of Mentoring, and the Bright Future of Dairy

 

In the latest episode of Dairy Digressions, Matt welcomes a full house with the winners of ADSA’s Graduate Student Division awards. These young leaders are forging dairy’s future path—not just with groundbreaking scientific research but with their dedication, professionalism, and vision for where dairy is headed. Connor McCabe, current Graduate Student Division President, joins us to explain the division and what drew him to ADSA. Joining Connor are award winners representing both dairy foods and dairy production: Ursula Abou-Rjeileh, Richard Lobo, and Erica Kosmerl. Each pitches their winning research, which covers some of the most cited and popular work in the field today—from methane reduction to fatty acids in animal nutrition to alternative feeds and protein sources to interactions between dairy foods and human health. Matt chats with each guest about their expert strategies for a memorable presentation, their approaches to competitions, and tips for effectively communicating complex scientific concepts to any audience. They also explore the benefits of entering into a competition, including building confidence, communication skills, and comfort with feedback; gaining exposure to industry professionals and opportunities; and prepping for the rigors of a career in science. Finally, the group chats about the importance of mentoring and gives their best advice for surviving and thriving in graduate school. If you’re a dairy science student, hiring young dairy professionals, or teaching and mentoring students and young professionals, this episode is a must-listen!

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Episode Eight Show Notes

Learn more about ADSA’s Graduate Student Division and Undergraduate Student Division, including their robust award programs and the many benefits for student members.  

Are you interested in participating in ADSA’s student awards program? Submit your abstract now and save the date for the 2024 Annual Meeting!

Connect with and follow our graduate student guests on LinkedIn:

Episode Seven: Navigating Transition Cow Health and Accelerating Dairy’s Progress via Science and Medicine with Stephen LeBlanc, DVM, DVSc

 

Why is it such an incredibly exciting time in both dairy science and veterinary medicine? Find out as Matt sits down with Stephen LeBlanc, director of the prestigious Dairy at Guelph—a center that supports collaboration between dairy-related researchers—a member of the ADSA Board of Directors, and professor and research leadership chair at the University of Guelph. Stephen walks us through exactly what goes into a doctor of veterinary science (DVSc) degree and outlines his research to improve the prevention and treatment of reproductive disease in dairy herds, as well as his passion for bridging applied veterinary medicine with dairy science research. The two unpack the learnings from the joint reproduction, physiology, and endocrinology and ruminant nutrition symposium at the ADSA Annual Meeting, and wrestle with the hot topic of what is “normal” around dairy cow inflammation. Stephen gives Matt a rapid-fire round of the latest clinical recommendations and treatment protocols for uterine health issues frequently faced by dairy producers, including metritis and postpartum purulent vaginal discharge. Finally, don’t miss a boost of inspiration as Stephen explains why breaking down traditional barriers between dairy disciplines is accelerating our progress as an industry and making today the best time to be in dairy.

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Episode Seven Show Notes

Learn more about Dr. Stephen LeBlanc and connect with him on LinkedIn and via the Dairy at Guelph Twitter.

Check out the ADSA Annual Meeting session mentioned in the episode and save the date for the 2024 Annual Meeting:

Joint Reproduction, Physiology, and Endocrinology and Ruminant Nutrition Symposium: Mechanisms Linking Transition Health, Nutrition, and Fertility of Dairy Cattle

Episode Six: Methane’s Genetic Heritability, Big Data, and the Changing Meaning of AI with Filippo Miglior, PhD

 

Are dairy cows second only to humans in terms of the amount of genetic testing they’ve received? Join in on the debate—and get an infusion of vibrant ADSA Annual Meeting energy—in episode six with Filippo Miglior, senior advisor of genetic strategic initiatives with Lactanet, dairy geneticist at the University of Guelph, and member of the 2023 Journal of Dairy Science Club 100. Filippo and Matt chat about the explosion of genetics data in dairy and how researchers are working with artificial intelligence to understand these metrics, then standardize and share them in order to help dairies become more profitable, efficient, and sustainable. Filippo unpacks an example of his team’s work on a genetic evaluation for milk-predicted methane in dairy cows. Using milk spectral data and an artificial neural network, they were able to isolate a trait to reduce methane without impacting fat, protein, and milk yield. This staggering scientific breakthrough, combined with nutrition strategies, could lead to a 50% reduction in dairy methane emissions by 2050—and save dairy producers millions of dollars in energy losses along the way. A prolific and decorated writer, Filippo also takes the time to give his best advice for getting a tough review and explains how essential reviewers are to the scientific process.

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Episode Five: Dairy Nutrition and Managing the Rumen Microbiome for Productivity and Sustainability with Jeff Firkins, PhD

 

Come for the dairy nutritionist banter—stay for the fascinating advancements in rumen microbiome science. In episode five, Matt sits down with Jeff Firkins, a dairy microbiologist and nutritionist at The Ohio State University and senior editor at the Journal of Dairy Science at the 2023 ADSA Annual Meeting. The two friends and colleagues reflect on lessons learned from the ruminant nutrition symposium on rumen microbiota—reviewing the forward leap dairy science has taken in understanding the thousands of microbial species in the rumen. Jeff explains his work on rumen fermentation and nutrient–rumen microbiota interactions, along with how he works directly with dairy farmers to think through nutrition challenges in their herds. Matt and Jeff dive into the state of dairy in Ohio and share their mutual respect for the incredible work dairymen perform in the field. Finally—just for you, listeners!—Jeff peers into his crystal ball and shares what he sees as the most promising approaches to improving cow efficiency and reducing methane production—from soil amendments like biochar to feed additives, improvements to forage quality, and more.

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Episode Four: The Dairy Reproduction Revolution of the Past and the Technology Breakthroughs of the Future with Paul Fricke, PhD

 

How is dairy technology similar to Star Trek? Beam in to find out as Matt interviews fellow reproductive physiologist and extension specialist Paul Fricke, PhD, from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and an editor at the Journal of Dairy Science. Paul chats through his lauded career to improve the reproductive efficiency of dairy cattle through research-driven, practical management strategies and new reproductive technologies applied on the farm. The two repro experts explain how getting cows pregnant is a hugely important piece of the profitability and productivity puzzle for dairy farmers, and benefits the health and longevity of dairy herds. Paul outlines what he calls the reproduction revolution—advancements in dairy fertility programs and management—that has taken place over the past few decades to dramatically improve pregnancy success in dairy herds, including the management steps for achieving an optimal high fertility cycle. The two then discuss where dairy reproduction is headed in the future, including the latest innovative approaches to the reproductive management of dairy cows. Will wearable devices, robotics, or needle-free pneumatic injection devices replace catching cows and giving shots—and help cows be cows? Tune in to learn more.

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Episode Four Show Notes

Learn more about Dr. Paul Fricke and connect with him on LinkedIn.  

Meet Dr. Julio Giordano, head of the Giordano lab at Cornell, whose students presented posters during the ADSA Annual Meeting sessions mentioned in the episode and save the date for the 2024 Annual Meeting

For those interested in the reproduction discussion, Dr. Fricke and Dr. Lucy will be presenting on reproductive decision making at ADSA’s 45th Discover Conference taking place on October 23–26, 2023.

Episode Three: Dairy Foods Microbiology, the Good and Bad of Bacteria, and Lessons from the Infant Formula Crisis with Olivia McAuliffe, PhD

 

Recording in person from the 2023 ADSA Annual Meeting, Matt steps out of his production comfort zone to chat about dairy microbiology with Olivia McAuliffe, a principal food scientist at Teagasc Food Research Center in Ireland, honorary professor at Queen’s University Belfast, and senior editor of the Journal of Dairy Science. Explaining her research in strain discovery, Olivia pulls back the curtains for listeners on the small army of dairy foods professionals working behind the scenes to optimize dairy microbiology, ensuring that dairy products are full of healthy and delicious microorganisms for fermentation and free of pathogens that might harm our health. Olivia outlines how she and the Teagasc Cultures, Fermentation, and Biotransformation team map the history of the bacteria used in fermented foods and discover novel starter cultures, pushing the industry toward new flavors and textures for the dairy products we know and love. The two also discuss the ADSA symposium on lessons learned from the 2022 US infant formula crisis, explaining the pathogen Cronobacter sakazakii and the advancements in dry sanitation and safety steps in the infant powder formula supply chain, including exciting new frontiers in bacteriophages—viruses deployed to act as natural predators to unhealthy bacteria, infesting and fighting them off in lieu of traditional antibiotics.

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Episode Three Show Notes

Episode Two: Ruminant Methane, Sustainability, and the Future of Dairy in the Netherlands with Jan Dijkstra, PhD

 

In episode two of Dairy Digressions, Matt sits down with Jan Dijkstra, PhD, associate professor of ruminant nutrition at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, to talk about the topic on every dairy professional’s mind: the sustainable future of dairying. While this topic has taken center stage in the Netherlands—with the government’s plan to cut 50% of its current nitrogen emissions by 2030 to meet European Union climate targets—reducing greenhouse gasses is a global goal and a pressing research topic within the dairy science community worldwide. The two discuss the state of farming and the environment, tracing the link between human population growth to the growth of ruminants via a staggering recent analysis of global mammal biomass. Jan dives into the latest research on whether 3-nitrooxypropanol—an emerging feed additive—can effectively reduce methane production in dairy cows. Jan also shares his findings on the most effective strategies to mitigate ruminant methane emissions toward 2030 and 2050 climate goals. Listen in as they unpack the differences between dairy science research in the US versus the Netherlands and find out why Jan advises all students (especially those in science) to have a controversial attitude in their work.

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EPISODE TWO SHOW NOTES

Learn more about Dr. Jan Dijkstra and connect with him on Twitter @CUJanD

Check out the Progressive Dairy podcast episode mentioned in the discussion.  

Catch up on the papers discussed on the episode:

A meta-analysis of effects of 3-nitrooxypropanol on methane production, yield, and intensity in dairy cattle, Journal of Dairy Science (2023)

The global biomass of wild mammals, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2023)

Full adoption of the most effective strategies to mitigate methane emissions by ruminants can help meet the 1.5 °C target by 2030 but not 2050, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2022)

Episode One: Dairy Genetics and the Genomic Sequencing Revolution with Jennie Pryce, PhD

 

In the inaugural episode of Dairy Digressions, Matt sits down with Jennie Pryce, PhD, principal research scientist at Agriculture Victoria and professor at La Trobe University in Australia, to talk all things genetics—connecting the scientific dots behind dairy cow traits to human height to inbreeding within the population of threatened hihi birds on New Zealand’s Tiritiri Mātangi Island. They discuss how Jennie came to be interested in dairy science—from showing calves in the All Britain Calf Show as a child to her trailblazing career in dairy genetics. The two marvel at the past 50 years of advances and investments in genetic sequencing and how they have impacted not just the dairy industry, but all types of plant and animal breeding. They also dig into what a genetics lab looks like and how researchers are working with massive data sets and super computers, including Jennie’s best advice for a career in genomic science.

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Meet the Host

Matthew Lucy, PhD, is a professor of animal science at the University of Missouri. Hailing from New York State, he received his BS from Cornell University before moving to Kansas State University to study reproduction in postpartum dairy cows, and later completed a PhD in dairy science at the University of Florida. He became a member of ADSA as a graduate student and has been an active and leading member serving as the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Dairy Science, before helping to launch JDS Communications. During his tenure, Lucy maintained and boosted the journal’s history of excellence, growing its published pages and overall impact. He is a passionate advocate for dairy science and for making science accessible, as well as mentoring the next generation of leaders in the field.

Have thoughts about the show? Connect with Matt on Twitter @Matt_Lucy_JDS or email us at adsa@adsa.org.