CHAZY — Miner Institute will share two research grants totaling $1 million for projects aimed at improving the health and well-being of dairy cows.
The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.
It will be distributed between Miner Institute and collaborators at Ohio State University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
"This first-of-its-kind research will provide valuable information to farmers to help them manage their cows and improve animal well-being,” Miner Institute President Dr. Rick Grant said in a statement.
One of the grants will examine the housing environment of dairy cows when they are pregnant and when they give birth.
The research will be led by the team of Dr. Heather Dann at Miner Institute; Dr. Katy Proudfoot, Ohio State; and Dr. Peter Krawczel, University of Tennessee.
They will assess how space available in a pen before giving birth and the opportunity for cows to seclude themselves from other cows when giving birth — as often occurs in a pasture setting — will impact behavior and health.
Findings will be very valuable to farmers, a Miner Institute news release said, as there are few evidence-based recommendations for management of pregnant cows housed either on pasture or in barns.
The other grant, also led by Grant, Dann and Krawzcel, will look at the interaction of the space available in pens and factors such as fiber particle size and fresh feed availability on animal health, behavior and performance.
When dairy cows are overcrowded, previous research has shown, their daily time budget may be disrupted. They tend to spend less time lying, and they eat at a faster rate and exhibit more feed-bunk aggression.
This disruption can impact milk production, as well as the health and stress levels of the cow, thus impacting farm profitability.
Measuring the effects of stocking density and the feeding environment will be beneficial in making recommendations that can help farmers increase efficiency by improving the welfare of their animals, the release said.