UGA closes Tifton Dairy Research Center
From the Georgia Milk Producers
After several years of battling low milk prices, changes in administrators and recent state budget cuts from COVID-19, the vacuum pumps at the University of Georgia (UGA) Tifton Dairy Research Center were permanently turned off on Sept. 4, Georgia Milk Producers reported in its September Georgia Milk Review.
Since 1998, UGA faculty have utilized these facilities to conduct research in the areas of nutrition, lactation and metabolic physiology, milk quality, animal health, heat stress abatement, production management, nutrient management and water quality.
With the announced retirement of Dr. John Bernard earlier this year, a noted animal nutritionist focusing on applied dairy nutrition, the Tifton campus was left with only one researcher conducting trials at the facility, Dr. Sha Tao. Upper administration for the UGA College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences decided to shift Dr. Tao to the UGA Athens campus, to interact closer with remaining UGA dairy scientists, Dr. Jillian Bohlen, a reproductive physiologist, and Dr. Valerie Ryman, an immunologist whose research focuses on mastitis.
According to a letter sent to the Georgia Milk Producers Board of Directors, Dr. Francis Fluharty, head of the Animal and Dairy Science Department, said that Tao’s move to Athens will allow students in ADS to learn more about the interaction of heat stress and immunity, and will allow for more opportunities for undergraduate and graduate research.
“Dr. Tao’s research uses technology that is not currently available in Athens. The movement of his equipment to Athens brings new opportunities in both teaching and research and will strengthen our overall undergraduate and graduate programs in the dairy area,” Fluharty said.
While the closure of the dairy is a major hit for Georgia dairy production research, Fluharty is certain that the department will not abandon its mission in Tifton. With 1.3 million beef cows in Georgia, the ADS department will transition the Tifton campus toward research and Extension efforts impacting the beef industry. Fluharty plans to hire an extension researcher for beef at the Tifton campus in the spring of 2021.
“The goal of these changes is to use our fiscal, personnel, and land resources responsibly to best serve the beef and dairy industries in Georgia, and to consolidate our scientists serving these two industries into groups with a greater critical mass in both Athens and Tifton so that interaction is strengthened, thus increasing interdisciplinary research and Extension efforts that addresses the complex issues facing animal agriculture.” Fluharty said.