This project seeks to understand how cattle, one of humankind's most important livestock species, are impacted by the switch from conventional confinement dairy production to a pasture-based management system.
In an increasingly global and changing world, humans need to understand the relationship between our environment and the food we eat.
Humans are in the midst of an epidemiologic transition, in which globalization and ecological disruption are associated with newly emerging infectious diseases as well as reemerging infections previously thought to be under control. As an important livestock species in frequent close contact with humans, cattle may be similarly affected by ecological changes; they also represent a potential source of zoonotic disease. Our proposed research examines the impact of switching from conventional confinement dairy production (low diversity) to pasture-based management (higher diversity) on microbial diversity and composition, cattle rumen and udder health, and milk quality and composition. This cutting-edge work represents the first step in a long-term collaborative research project that will allow the four principal investigators to embark on a new and little studied field: the relationship between biodiversity and cattle health, the role of competitors and predators in disease regulation, and the relationship between habitat structure and cattle well being. The work, which includes an international workshop held at UVM, has the potential to alter farmer and rancher perceptions of wildlife and native habitat, reducing the ecological impact of livestock rearing in Vermont and globally.
Project Final Report
To learn more about the project
- Peer-reviewed article in Frontiers of Microbiology (link opens new page): Alteration of Rumen Bacteria and Protozoa Through Grazing Regime as a Tool to Enhance the Bioactive Fatty Acid Content of Bovine Milk
- See images and video clips on Dr. Alvez's Weebly page.
- Research brief (PDF download) of hand-out from 2015-2016 workshops)
- Research presentation PowerPoint slides (PDF download)
- eOrganic Webinar (Juan P. Alvez, presenter).
- Related eOrganic Webinar (Melissa Bainbridge and Caleb Goosen)
- Pasture Blog post about the project.
Interested in knowing more about the Center's work or do you have a question we haven't answered here? Contact us via email or 802-656-5459 and we'll do our best to help.