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Washington State University Dairy News

September 2023 WSU Dairy Newsletter

Note from the Editor

By Amber Adams Progar, Associate Professor and Dairy Management Specialist

The leaves are starting to change color here in Pullman, signaling that we are well into our Fall 2023 Semester. As the leaves change, the WSU Dairy Program will follow suit. In this issue of the WSU Dairy Newsletter we will introduce a new Animal Sciences faculty member with much passion for the dairy industry. We will also announce a transition in the CUDS program advisor position. Additionally, I am making a big move to Florida while maintaining my role as a WSU Animal Sciences Dairy Management Specialist.

Wait! Did you read that right? Yes, you did! My family is moving to Florida this week. Wish us luck as we pack our car with two dogs, two cats, a bird, a three-year-old child, and two adults. I am sure our 42-hour journey will make for a fun adventure. The fact that you (the WA State dairy industry) and I will be able to continue all the great work we have been working on the past 9 years is absolutely wonderful. I will still be at all our in-person Extension events and industry meetings, including the Washington State Dairy Conference in December. I will still be available via an email, phone call, or text message. As always, I am here for you.



Welcome Dr. Kimberly Davenport!

Dr. Davenport enthusiastically joined the Department of Animal Sciences at WSU in August as an Assistant Professor of Functional Genomics Teaching and Extension! Dr. Davenport grew up in Moscow, Idaho where she became interested in agriculture by participating in 4-H and spending time on her grandparents’ farm in Weiser, Idaho. She received her undergraduate education at University of Idaho where she discovered her love of the dairy industry and enjoyed learning about dairy production across the US. Dr. Davenport also completed a semester at Massey University in New Zealand, where she studied dairy production in a seasonal pasture-based system. She continued her education at the University of Idaho and earned her PhD in livestock genetics with Dr. Brenda Murdoch, and then spent two years at the University of Missouri for a postdoctoral fellowship in dairy cattle reproduction with Dr. Tom Spencer before joining WSU as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Davenport is thrilled to be back in the Palouse and looks forward to serving the agricultural industries in Washington.

Dr. Davenport’s integrated research and Extension program will focus on genomics and biotechnology in agricultural species. She is interested in understanding how different genes are regulated to influence economically important traits, as well as how cutting-edge genetic technologies can be better understood and incorporated to improve sustainability and profitability of the dairy industry. Dr. Davenport is looking forward to learning more about the Washington dairy industry, and how she can translate the genomics research and technology developed in the laboratory to directly meet the needs of the industry. Please contact Dr. Davenport with any questions and/or to talk about anything related to animal genetics! Contact information and more information about Dr. Davenport can be found on her departmental website (


Figure Above: CUDS recruitment table at CAHNRS Fall Festival

CUDS in Recruitment Mode

By Jiwon Ha, CUDS Public Relations Chair

The Cooperative University Dairy Students (CUDS) organization is currently run by 17 undergraduate students from WSU from a variety of majors. We meet twice a week for a meeting focused on topics about dairy management styles and other protocols that pertain to our current herd. Additionally, each member is required to participate in two of the shifts available each week. There are four shifts available that is divided into the morning and afternoon time-frames to accommodate for a busy college student’s schedule; the two types of shifts include milking and heat checkups.

With the new school year, the current members were able to share about the club’s success and future goals with the public through events that took place in both August and September. In August, the yearly Welcome Back BBQ from WSU Animal Sciences department allowed countless other clubs including ours to set up a booth to engage with incoming freshmen and other students. In addition, we also had an opportunity to promote the cooperative during the CAHNRS Fall Festival held in September.

With a lot of people interested in joining clubs, we have opened up our application for anyone who wishes to join our organization for next year. For any questions, email Kaycie Leslie: The application form was released to the public last week and will stay open until October 27th at 5:30 pm. When the time-frame for the application closes, our members will evaluate and release a schedule for interviews of those who have passed the first stage of the recruiting process. Everyone in CUDS is excited to meet new people who are equally eager to learn more about handling dairy cows and dairy management overall

We have both sad and happy news coming towards the end of this month. Our current CUDS advisor, Dr. Adams Progar, is moving to Florida (all the way on the other end of the US) and won’t be able to stay with us throughout the rest of the year in-person. However, we are fortunate enough to welcome Dr. Marcos Marcondes, an amazing dairy nutritionist and faculty member of the WSU Animal Sciences department. Although a lot of changes are happening, there are also exciting events that await all of us CUDS members.


New WSU Research: Regrouping is Stressful for Heifers

By Amber Adams Progar, Associate Professor and Dairy Management Specialist


Dairy animals go through multiple regroupings during their lifetime. As you probably know, groups of dairy cattle have a social structure or hierarchy. With every regrouping of animals, the social structure is altered and needs to be re-established. My research team was interested in evaluating whether regrouping 6-month-old heifers would affect heifer behavior or salivary cortisol concentrations. As a reminder, cortisol concentrations increase when an animal experiences stress.

For this study, we allowed heifers housed together (existing heifers) to establish a social structure and then introduced new (novel) heifers to the group. We measured behavior and salivary cortisol concentrations in both types of heifers (existing and novel). Salivary cortisol concentrations on the day of regrouping and one day post-regrouping were higher in both novel and existing heifers, when compared to cortisol concentrations one day prior to regrouping. This result would indicated that regrouping is stressful for both novel and existing heifers. In regards to changes in behavior, novel heifers spent more time standing and less time lying than existing heifers. We frequently observed existing heifers displacing novel heifers that were lying down. Being displaced often can cause negative effects on heifer growth and reproduction, especially if displacements are also occurring at the feedbunk. My research team recently published a scientific journal article from this study that can be found at:

Take a look and let me know if you want to chat about our results.




Thanks for reading our September 2023 issue of the WSU Dairy Newsletter! Our next newsletter will be available in December 2023.