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man and woman kneeling in front of cow in dairy barn stall with woman stretching out her hand to feed the cow silage

FFAR Grant Helps Heat-Stressed Dairy Cows Weather Increasing Temperatures

Generating Advanced Animal Systems Solutions

Program Contact

Dr. Tim Kurt

Dr. Joseph McFadden

Cornell University

Year Awarded   2019

FFAR award amount   $736,392

Total award amount   $1,470,000

Location   Ithaca, NY

Program   Seeding Solutions

Matching Funders   AB VistaAdisseoBalchem CorporationBerg + SchmidtElancoPhibro Animal Health and Vetagro S.p.A.

  • Advanced Animal Systems

The demand for dairy products and milk globally is expected to increase 57% by 2050. However, rising temperatures are compromising the American dairy industry’s ability to meet these demands because a cow’s milk production can decline up to 70% in warm weather. Holsteins, by far the dominant breed in US dairy farming, begin to suffer heat stress at 75 degrees Fahrenheit. These heat-stressed dairy cows cost the American dairy industry an alarming $1.5 billion annually. Heat-stressed dairy cows also have reduced fertility, are more likely to develop infectious and metabolic diseases and may succumb to premature death.

Why this research is important

This research supports sustainable animal systems through innovative technologies, environmentally sound production practices and advancements in animal health and welfare. It also has the potential to develop solutions that can improve the American dairy industry.

Climate change and extreme heat represent key barriers for the sustainable production of milk that meets consumer expectations for quality as well as the rising global demand for dairy foods. We must act now to develop innovative solutions that revolutionize how we feed heat-stressed cows to ensure optimum animal health and welfare while achieving gains in efficient milk production. Dr. Joseph McFadden
Associate Professor of dairy cattle biology in the Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Details About this Research 

This research is part of FFAR’s Seeding Solutions annual grant program that funds audacious research supporting each of our Challenge Areas. The pioneering science funded through this program convenes unique partners from across the food and agriculture sector to solve bold challenges.

Scope of Work

Researchers will start by understanding the relationship between dairy cattle’s gut health, intestinal permeability, liver health, immunity and milk production. McFadden’s team will also determine whether heat-stressed dairy cows can recover if fed specific remedies. His team will partner with industry collaborators to reduce the use of limited natural resources and drive down dairy production costs in support of a more sustainable and economically viable American dairy industry. The involvement of the consortium of allied industry partners that committed support is essential to ensure the translation of discoveries into practical on-farm dairy nutrition strategies that improve heat stress resilience in cows. McFadden will work with each sponsor and the Cornell PRO-DAIRY program to disseminate knowledge in an annual editorial series called “Beat the Heat: Dairy Nutrition Strategies for Optimum Cow Health” that will be shared with thousands of American dairy farmers.

FFAR Fellows Program Assists with Research

Ananda Fontoura, a doctoral student in McFadden’s lab and a 2018-2021 FFAR Fellows Program, is assisting with this research.
Learn more about how her research assistance is impacting the dairy cow industry.

How This Research Contributes to Our Mission

FFAR supports pioneering science to provide everyone access to affordable, nutritious food grown on thriving farms. This research identifies methods to mitigate the decline in heat-stressed dairy cows’ milk production to meet the expected 57-percent increase in global consumer demand for dairy products by 2050.

Matching Funders & Collaborators

Thank you to our matching funders and collaborators: AB VistaAdisseoBalchem CorporationBerg + SchmidtElancoPhibro Animal Health and Vetagro S.p.A.

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