As the dairy industry expands throughout Colorado, the Department of Animal Sciences at Colorado State University is enhancing its role in dairy education and research by adding a new member to its faculty ranks. Dr. Pablo Pinedo, who holds both a DVM and Ph.D., joined the department and focuses on improving the health and well-being of dairy cattle.
"There is no question that the health and welfare of animals are top priorities for dairy farmers and are directly tied to the economics of the industry, especially in terms of sustainability and better performance," said Pinedo. "To put it most simply, happier cows result in happier dairy farmers and, on top of this, produce more."
Pinedo has employed a number innovative technologies to help improve fertility, monitor animal health, and help catch disease early which can help prevent or reduce losses related to illness. Among the tools in his inventory are genomic selection, which can be used to improve fertility, and precision dairy technologies, which can help to improve dairy management.
As a field of animal study, dairy is somewhat unique in that a significant amount of data is continuously produced in the farms. Cows are milked two to three times a day and each of those milkings creates a new data set which can be compiled, analyzed, and used to adjust practices and techniques. Additionally, genomic technologies have improved significantly in the last 10 or even five years and the cost of using them has been greatly reduced.
"Our genomic research is focused on non-traditional traits, exploring the potential for health and fertility improvements through genetic analysis," said Pinedo. "We know that DNA variation is in fact connected to fertility and cattle health, and the industry is eager to work with new genetic data to improve dairy operations."
Having an additional faculty member conducting dairy research will also help the department identify and place more students interested in pursuing dairy careers. Pinedo is currently teaching Bovine Reproduction Management and hopes that new students will see the dairy industry's growth as an exciting career opportunity.
"Dairy is a part of our legacy in the department and the College of Agricultural Sciences," said Kevin Pond, head of CSU's Department of Animal Sciences. "Dr. Pinedo's hiring allows us to offer additional dairy courses while we also serve as a resource to Colorado's growing dairy industry."
The growth of Colorado dairy industry is significant with a 23 percent expansion in the number of milk cows and heifers in just a four-year period, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. The areas around Fort Collins, including Weld, Morgan, Larimer and Adams counties, are home to 90 percent of Colorado's milk production.