June is National Dairy Month, an acknowledgment of the dairy industry’s important global contributions. These contributions would not be possible without highly trained veterinarians and dairy management professionals. Training these key players is exactly what the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine’s Training Center for Dairy Professionals (TCDP) concentrates on.
The Center is located in Elsie, Michigan, and is a long-standing partnership between the College and Green Meadow Farms, which is owned by Craig Green and his wife, Darcy Green. The Center's mission is to advance the dairy industry by training veterinary students and dairy management professionals. TCDP focuses on clinical and production medicine, outreach to dairy practitioners, and assists with applied research.
"I love the 'AH HA' moments when a student finally accomplishes a task. There are so many of those and I live for that aspect of my job! ”
-Dr. Jill Brester, assistant professor at TCDP
“What’s important to me is that we give the students the opportunity to learn and gain skills under the supervision of Drs. Neuder and Brester,” said Darcy Green, co-owner of Green Meadow Farms. “This is a win for everyone. The students get a top-notch education, the cows have the best care and resources, and the industry gains professionals that are prepared for the future of the industry.”
At TCDP, students work with the Green Meadow dairy herd in a modern facilities and management infrastructure where they receive the necessary specialized training that they will need to contribute to the industry. The Center has 3,200 cows milking, 650 cows dry, 600 calves on milk, 3,500 replacement heifers, and 900 steers and bulls.
"It's hugely rewarding to watch students grow and learn in such a short amount of time.”
-Dr. Rebecca Bean, associate veterinarian, Clinton Veterinary Service
The Center also boasts microbiology and chemistry lab equipment, a heated surgical theater, a special-needs barn with 16 hospital stalls, a maternity barn with 24 stalls and a heated observation area, and a comprehensive animal records database.
“By being involved in all aspects of this dairy operation, we can offer students a large caseload of both clinical and production medicine cases,” said Dr. Lou Neuder, associate professor in Large Animal Clinical Sciences and director of TCDP. “We focus on advanced, cutting-edge clinical therapies for dairy cows, herd-level problem solving to improve dairy efficiency, animal health, welfare, and food safety issues. We also teach ‘ag literacy’ to help students that do not come from an agricultural background understand the importance of proper stewardship of our animals.”
"Students' experience here helps to make them more well-rounded and informed about very important and relevant food safety and veterinary issues."
-Dr. Carley Trcalek, large dairy herd intern, MSU College of Veterinary Medicine
The TCDP is an in-depth and challenging learning experience. All veterinary medical students spend at least two weeks at TCDP where they are immersed in the dairy world, learning about individual cow and calf disease management, reproductive examinations, and obstetrical management. Audrey Lownsbery (’17) is one such student from the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Her responsibilities include examining cows in box stalls, treating and palpating cows, taking blood samples, and conducting laboratory work.
“I have loved my time at the Center so far,” said Lownsbery. “I have seen so many interesting cases that you wouldn't normally see on smaller farms. I have gotten much better at my reproductive exams, and I have learned so much about cow diseases since I've been here. Dr. Neuder, Dr. Brester, Dr. Trcalek, Dr. Bean, and the farm employees have been fantastic! They are very helpful and encouraging.”