U.S. Dairy Education & Training Consortium

Howdy!  My name is Madison Crum, and I am a senior Animal Science and Agricultural Communications major at Texas A&M University. This summer I have the privilege of attending the U.S. Dairy Education and Training Consortium in Clovis, New Mexico. In the program, students learn the ins and outs of the dairy industry. Professors, veterinarians and industry professionals lecture about animal welfare, milk chemistry and everything in between.  After lectures, students visit local dairies to apply material learned in the classroom to real-life situations.

Last week, we learned about animal welfare practices in the dairy industry. Dr. James Reynolds, a veterinarian and professor at Western University of Health Sciences, covered the topic. Reynolds has years of experience as a veterinarian in cow-country California, and as an animal welfare analyst. Reynolds’ passion for animal welfare showed in his lectures, where he dared students to not accept industry norms, but challenge them. Controversial topics covered in class included tail docking, calf housing and cow comfort. Being business-minded, I did not agree with everything Reynolds recommended, but his points were interesting and thought provoking. His views of animal welfare were very liberal, and not always feasible in real, business situations. 

In the second half of this week, we learned about food bacteriology from Matthew Taylor, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Animal Science department of Texas A&M University. Taylor covered microbes, viruses and fungi that grow in milk, and covered the proper ways to reduce milk contamination. Raw milk and cheese consumption is a growing issue in the United States, causing an increase in food-borne illnesses. Taylor stressed the importance of proper pasteurization to ensure the death of microbes that may be present in milk. On Thursday, we visited Freanna Dairy in Clovis, New Mexico. The van der Ploeg family immigrated to Clovis in 2003 from the Netherlands. The van der Ploeg’s dairy stands out from the rest in their advanced nutrition and farming, as well as a homemade specialty. Freanna Dairy produces yogurt, mixed from an old, Dutch family recipe. The yogurt contains no added sugars or fillers. If you enjoy plain Greek yogurt, you’ll love Freanna yoghurt. The thinner, stronger tasting yoghurt is refreshing and delicious - definitely something to try! Visit their website, www.Freanna.com for more information.


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