The Penn State Dairy Alliance team recently welcomed Italian and French dairy nutritionists to Penn State University for advanced training in their field. The intensive four-day program explored current and emerging strategies in dairy nutrition management.
“We wanted a program that would give us practical, but advanced, training in various areas of dairy nutrition, so we approached Penn State,” explains Paolo Colturato, manager of Team Paragon, the dairy consulting firm that sponsored the training. Team Paragon is comprised of nutrition specialists who provide technical and marketing support to feed millers and mineral and additive producers across Europe. Combined, the visitors serve more than 20 percent of the dairy cows in France and Italy.
The program was very successful from many aspects, notes Gabriella Varga Penn State University animal science professor. “The visitors continually asked questions and shared their personal experiences in their own countries. We discovered many similarities in feeding programs and especially in the economic challenges facing dairy producers in the U.S. and Europe,” she added.
One afternoon was spent at the Penn State Dairy Research Facility, where the guests participated in hands-on training in bunk management, forage quality and particle size evaluation. A second afternoon was devoted to sharing the slate of new research in dairy nutrition, reproductive physiology, protein metabolism and feeding behavior currently under way by Penn State faculty, staff and students.
“There was always interaction and we found many similarities in the challenges our dairy industries are facing, especially today,” says Varga. “The one interesting fact that we appreciated was that their dairy producers have been very conscientious about importing nitrogen onto the farm. They have been feeding lower protein rations (15 percent – 16 percent) for quite awhile.”
Colturato reports the nutritionists are making good use of their new knowledge back home. Some are implementing new strategies with transition cows, another has applied suggested changes in soluble-degradable protein on farms he works with while another is meeting with his company’s sales force to share the new skills and strategies he learned.
Future collaboration between the groups is expected. “All want to come back in a short period,” said Colturato. Penn State Dairy Alliance’s goal is to hold future educational programs here or abroad, as well as host web-based training on specific topical areas.

Source: Penn State Dairy Alliance