Animal Science Professional Masters Projects

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    Associations between close-up dry period and postpartum health disorders for dry cows fed a negative dietary cation-anion close-up diet
    Roquet Arroyo, Maria (2023)
    The transition period is a vulnerable time for dairy cows since it requires enormous physiological adaptations. One of the biggest challenges cows face is an increased Ca demand at the onset of lactation. The inability of some cows to adequately regulate blood Ca concentrations leads to hypocalcemia. A common dietary strategy to prevent hypocalcemia is to decrease the dietary cation-anion difference (DCAD) of the prepartum diet. The degree and effectiveness of implementation of a DCAD diet is monitored using urine pH. Our objective was to establish if there are associations between close-up dry period herd average urine pH or urine pH coefficient of variation and postpartum health disorders. A total of 30 herds in the northeastern United States which feed a negative DCAD close-up diet to multiparous dry cows were enrolled. Urine samples from 12 to 16 multiparous close-up dry cows were collected from each farm, taken within 21 days of their expected due date. The prevalence of milk fever was associated with both average herd urine pH and urine pH coefficient of variation, such that there was an inverse relationship between average herd urine pH and urine pH coefficient of variation. The prevalence of culling within 30 and 60 days in milk was only negatively associated with average herd urine pH. These results suggest that by reducing urine pH coefficient of variation in the close-up dry cow pen, there is no need to induce extreme metabolic acidosis resulting in a very low urine pH. However, if a greater urine pH coefficient of variation is observed, a lower herd average urine pH should be targeted in order to minimize the prevalence of milk fever. These results indicate that herd average urine pH and the variation of urine pH measurements should be accounted for when considering the effectiveness of a negative DCAD diet fed to parous close-up dry cows.
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    Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation Regulations and Comprehensive Nutrient Management Planning in New York State
    Bass, Carly (2023)
    Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are defined as animal farms, meeting certain animal number thresholds, that confine their animals to a non-pasture area for at least 45 days per year. In New York, dairy farms who do not discharge process wastewater from their production area and who confine 300 or more cows are considered a “medium” CAFO. Those same non-discharging operations, that confine 700 or more cows, are defined as “large” CAFOs. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a federal organization that has specific regulations that large CAFO farms must follow to minimize pollution of their surrounding environment. However, New York State has issued additional requirements, beyond what EPA requires, that regulate not only large but also medium CAFOs. In New York State, multiple federal and state organizations work together to create regulations and incentive programs that have shown to reduce the environmental footprint of animal feeding operations over time, reducing risk of impacts on water and air quality, while also supporting the production of high quality, nutritious food for human consumption. Here we outline a short history of CAFO regulations in New York State and describe the requirements and implementation approach for New York State dairy and livestock farms.
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    The Economic Value of Feed Shrink on New York Dairy Farms
    Rapp, Evan (2023)
    Dairy farms have become increasingly more expensive to operate, and with the cost of feed for cows as the single largest expense, it is crucial to examine the economics of feed shrink. Feed costs make up approximately 50% of operating costs on a dairy farm and are rarely monitored as they should be. Feed shrink in the animal agriculture industry is defined as “lost resources that never had the potential for economic return” (Greene, 2014). Shrink disappearance can occur in both forages and purchased commodity ingredients. Disappearance shrink may be observed by contamination, poor fermentation and management of forages, wind or other weather-related disappearance, and pest animals. “Feeder” shrink is caused by employee error and inaccuracy of feed ingredient utilization at the time of feeding. Farm location, feed center size, and storage type all can have a significant effect on the amount of both disappearance and feeder shrink. This project examined eleven New York dairy farms that agreed to have their businesses analyzed through an economic and operational lens. Farms ranged in size from 900 to 2000 milking and dry cows with a total exceeding 15,000. Each farm’s feed center is unique in size and setup in which some consist of a mix of upright grain bins and commodity sheds whereas some had solely one or the other. It was observed that all farms in this study were concerned about shrink on their respective dairy but had never deeply examined its effect on their profitability. This project aims to determine the economic value of shrink for purchased concentrate, commodities, and forages by storage type and as a whole. Once a value is identified, potential solutions will be offered to each specific dairy if deemed necessary based on the data provided. To understand the impact and severity of feed shrink, farms allowed the observation and collection of data from feeding software (FeedWatch or TMR Tracker) and forage yield data sets. Feed mills and commodity distributors shared delivery data to each farm for each of the purchased ingredients. The data was collected during the window of June 1, 2023, to July 18, 2023. Feeder error may also lead to compromised cattle health and production losses which will further negatively impact farm profitability. While this is tied to shrink and the economics of shrink, it was not examined in this project. The second aim of this project was to help client farms identify opportunities within individual ingredients to reduce shrink on their farms. This will be presented to each farm as a confidential report comparing their data to the rest of the study participants. This paper will discuss some of the individual farm’s data and why they may have varying levels of shrink compared to peers. The major findings from this 47-day study are as follows. All purchased feeds had an average of 5.42% combined total shrink in all storage types. All upright bins in this study had an average of 3.06% total shrink and an average of $1316 per farm during the study period. 3-sided commodity bays had an average of 8.06% total shrink and $5733 lost per farm. This amounts to an average cost of approximately $0.095/head/per day across all participant herds.
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    A Web Based Cat and Dog Nutrition Information Center
    Zhu, Wanshi (2023)
    The internet as a source of information on pet food products and pet nutrition is rising among the public. Access to reliable information is questionable and misunderstanding of the information presented on pet food labels have led to misconceptions about commercial pet food products. This project aimed to bridge this gap by developing a web-based platform dedicated to providing reliable information on pet food products and nutrition of cats and dogs. A web structure was designed using a mind map model, and a survey for pet owners was created with the objective of gathering current information on the sources of nutrition information sought after from cat and dog owners. The survey was approved by the Institutional Review Board for Human Participant in Research at Cornell University and will be tested among the Cornell University community prior to being administered to the wider population. Some of the fundamental information on pet nutrition and a section on pet nutrition myths was created the website content. The collected data from the wider survey of pet owners will guide the development of tailored web contents. Ultimately, this web-based nutrition information center will provide pet owners with factual and science-based information on pet nutrition.
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    Exploring Cost-to-Produce through an Equine Farm Model
    Garman, Kendon (2023)
    The purpose of this project was to build a tool that would find the production cost of farm-produced product. This was done by using the Microsoft Excel program to build an interactive tool using expense and income inputs from farms to create a scenario farm to test the tool. A horse farm that would produce lessons was selected for the scenario. Throughout the process of building the model, the importance of good recordkeeping, even for intricate operation costs, was noticed as profits were observed to be lost quickly without the farm management being aware. For the farm scenario, the cost to produce a lesson was predicted to be $54.30. The knowledge of the production cost helped set expense budgeting and other income pricing for the farm in the scenario.
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    Effects of Nutrient-Restriction on Glucose Tolerance in Periparturient Ewes
    Wei, Yuhan (2023)
    The effect of plane of nutrition on metabolism has been an important topic of discussion in ruminants from late pregnancy to early lactation. Lactation represents a unique state of homeorhesis, where metabolism is coordinated to support the mammary gland's energy demands for milk production. The intricate physiological adaptations that lactating ruminants undergo involves the development of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance emerges as a pivotal mechanism that ensures glucose partitioning toward the mammary gland, a process facilitated by insulin-independent glucose transporters. While much is known about these mechanisms in nonruminants and early lactation cows, this study shifts the focus to ewes during the transition from late gestation to early lactation. This critical period is marked by significant physiological changes, yet the precise factors triggering insulin resistance and the influence of plane of nutrition remain elusive. To address these gaps, the research aims to elucidate the relationship between plane of nutrition and changes in glucose tolerance in late gestation and early lactation ewes. By unraveling these intricate interactions, the study contributes to a deeper understanding of the physiological adaptations that underlie successful lactation in ruminants.
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    Welfare of Gene Selection in Canines
    Marciniak, Brooke Danielle (2022-08)
    The selection of traits in dogs has grown more popular over the last couple hundred years. Society has selected for exaggerated morphological features in many known breeds, such as brachycephalic, giant, and toy breeds. This has led to an increased risk of negative health consequences occurring from gene selection, along with inbreeding and low diversity among gene pools and within breed populations. The aim of our study was to distribute three surveys that help us understand the degree of awareness and opinions among United States breeders, veterinarians, and the public about health traits related to morphological selection in brachycephalic breeds, toy breeds, and giant breeds. Our results show that the general public was the most willing to make improvements to breed standards and promote selection for healthier dogs of all breeds, while breeders were more aware of the listed health conditions of brachycephalic, toy, and giant breeds.
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    The Creation of a Custom Dairy Show Cattle Care Business
    Sheets, Preston (2023)
    Throughout the course of this paper the topic of boarding dairy cattle for an elevated showring essence will be discussed and analyzed to determine feasibility from an economic standpoint. The concept revolves around the demand within the show industry for the proper care of heifers and milk cows by owners who do not have the proper facilities or time to meet the adequate care requirements high value animals require. This capstone project serves as a blueprint for myself to potentially implement this as a business in the future. Throughout the paper various topics regarding facility maintenance, cow/heifer/calf care, economics, and more are discussed in detail. A sample contract was constructed and included to display the mutual agreement between the client and farmer. An economic analysis section breaks down the rough estimates of income versus expenses over the span of ten years. Industry professionals, farmers, and professors all weighed into the study in their area of expertise to help conclude about whether this concept could be profitable. By completing this study, it has been determined that, if done correctly, a facility that boards dairy cattle for show purposes can experience economic success.
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    Pond Food Webs Influenced by the Addition of Predatory Fish
    Hu, Wenchengyuan (2023)
    In freshwater ecosystems, top predators can induce trophic cascades to influence the entire food web. In this study, we tested whether adding top predators into ponds could affect the population of species at lower trophic levels and alter the feeding strategy of the secondary consumers. Specifically, we tested whether the addition of largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) to ponds affected the diet composition of sunfish ((pumpkinseed and bluegill; Lepomis gibbosus and Lepomis macrochirus), the dominant secondary consumer in the study ponds. I determined the diet composition of sunfish by analyzing the gastrointestinal tract contents. I found that in the ponds where bass were added, sunfish consumed more macroinvertebrates instead of zooplankton and phytoplankton. Therefore, we found that top predators are able to regulate the food web structure and energy flow through trophic cascades in these study ponds.
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    Partial budget for the acquisition of an Automated Estrous and Health Monitoring System for a small New York dairy farm.
    Gonzalez, Daniela (2023)
    Factors such as labor availability, achieving excellent reproductive performance, and maintaining fresh cow health are some of the most pressing challenges for dairy farms. The increasing trend of larger herds and farm consolidation leaves small dairy farms in a vulnerable situation, continuously at risk, and in need of making changes or adopting new technologies to remain viable. Thus, it is essential for small farms to make informed decisions accounting for economic impacts when considering changes to management or capital investments. A Partial Budget is a financial management tool that can estimate the effect on returns and costs of a potential change in a business. This case study aimed to help a hypothetical small dairy farm make an informed decision about adopting Automated Health Monitoring Technology by accounting for changes in returns and costs of adopting this technology.