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Winter Update from our CEFS Livestock Apprentice

From the February 2013 e-Newsletter

By Rachael Kearns, CEFS Apprentice

Cow at sunset

Rachael Kearns is CEFS' first primarily livestock-based apprentice. Her experience prior to the apprenticeship involved conducting research on animal behavior and physiology; however, it was through the apprenticeship that she discovered her passion for working on a dairy farm. She has applied to the combined DVM/PhD program at NC State, and hopes to conduct research on organic, homeopathic livestock treatments and humane livestock handling at the CEFS Research Farm while pursuing her degree in veterinary medicine.

Spring approaches and we are in the "heat" of breeding season at the dairy... Keeping accord with our seasonal breeding schedule means that all of our cows and heifers will need to be pregnant by a certain date so that our seasonal calving schedule does not get pushed too late! Right now we are breeding heifers when they come into "heat," or estrus, according to their natural cycles. This means that we watch for behavioral signs of heat twice a day and breed those in heat by artificial insemination. But in order to reach the deadline on some of the repeat breeders, we will consider different options for synchronization of their estrous cycles.




Although our calving season begins in the fall at the dairy, the beef unit calving season has just started! There are several calves bonding with their moms out in pasture at the beef unit, with lots more on the way. These calves will be weaned next fall and will be included in the second replication of our weaning research study. We are working as a team to compile and analyze the data collected from this experiment, and we hope to have some results to present by June. Stay tuned!

Cow at sunset

Click here for more infomation on CEFS' Pasture-Based Dairy Unit, or visit the CEFS Apprentice Blog here.

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