Chance to bring knowledge home

16 Sep, 2018 04:00 AM
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Mikaela Baker was able to visit dairy farms in California and Tennessee.
This is not an opportunity you will come across very often.
Mikaela Baker was able to visit dairy farms in California and Tennessee.

Fresh from participating in Dairy Australia's 2018 Dairy Science Travel Grants program, Mikaela Baker feels privileged to have been given a rare opportunity to broaden her knowledge and experience in dairy.

The 24-year-old from Beechport, South Australia, grew up in Mansfield, Victoria and studied a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Charles Sturt University.

Through the Travel Grants program, an annual grants program designed for up-and-comers in dairy, Ms Baker said she was able to design a learning experience overseas tailored to her own interests.

Taking advantage of the program's flexibility, she attended the American Dairy Science Association conference and spent time on farm in both California and Tennessee.

"This meant I was given a real opportunity to ground some of the knowledge I had gained at the conference and ask questions about what I had learned," Ms Baker said.

She said she would not hesitate to recommend the program to others in dairy. "This is not an opportunity you will come across very often," she said.

"I never thought I would be able to go to America and explore their dairy system, but through Dairy Australia's program I was able to do just that very early on in my career."

After graduating from university, Ms Baker went to work as a farmhand before landing her dream job as a farm productivity consultant at Total Result Ag Consulting.

She feels lucky to have had an opportunity to take the time to build relationships with innovative dairy researchers at the top of their field so soon after finishing her studies.

"The highlights for me were identifying the most topical areas of research that the industry believes will have a significant impact on production and profitability," she said.

"The main areas that interested me included the impact of lameness in lactating cows, as well as a larger focus on dry cows, fortified milk powder concentrations, weaning methods and compost barn setup and management.

"All of this is knowledge I can bring back to Australia and apply to the work I am doing in my community."

Passion for dairy research

Receiving one of this year's Dairy Science Travel Grants has reinforced PhD graduate Daniel Espinosa's passion for dairy research at home and abroad.

Mr Espinosa, 44, said the program has real benefits for those who have a keen interest in learning more about dairy science and studying the major advancements being made.

"It was exciting to have the opportunity to see firsthand what researchers from outside Australia and across the world are doing," he said.

After studying Veterinary Medicine at Colombia's La Salle University, Mr Espinosa completed his PhD in Agricultural Sciences at Latrobe University in 2016.

He has worked extensively with cows in areas including ruminant nutrition, animal health protocols and pasture management and has a particular interest in animal welfare.

"The conference covered a number of areas, but I was particularly interested in animal nutrition and pasture management, which were the focus of a number of presentations and posters," he said.

"One concept I found particularly fascinating at the conference was precision dairyfarming, which is research being conducted into collecting data at the farm level and using this to make more informed farm business decisions."

What he saw in the United States confirmed for Mr Espinosa that the dairy science research being conducted at home in Australia was among the best and most advanced in the world.

In Australia, for example, DairyBio is conducting significant research at Latrobe University to create improved pastures and improved herds for the Australian dairy industry through the latest approaches in bioscience.

DairyBio is a co-investment between Dairy Australia, the Victorian Government, the Gardiner Foundation and commercial companies in the dairy industry.

To read more about the ground-breaking research being conducted, visit website www.dairybio.com.au.

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