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Rebecca Nagle

Position/Title: M.Sc. by thesis

I graduated from a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree at the University of Guelph in Animal Sciences. I am currently a thesis master student working under Gail Carpenter studying Dairy Nutrition.  I have always had a love for animals growing up on my parent’s hobby farm but my true passion for the dairy industry started when I was in high school working on a dairy operation.

My research is focussed on switchgrass in lactating dairy rations to reduce milk fat depression. Milk fat depression is a concern in the Canadian dairy industry as cow health can be affected as well as producer’s profitability. Milk fat depression results in a lower milk fat percentage, reducing producer profitability. Low rumen pH caused by acidosis can compromise and have an inhibitory effect on fat synthesis in the mammary gland resulting in milk fat depression. Switchgrass could potentially reduce acidosis and therefore reduce milk fat depression. This would improve overall cow health and producer profitability. Switchgrass is also affordable as it is cheap and easy to grow, sustainable and has many environmental benefits. In my research trial I will have two groups of lactating dairy cows, one group will receive a high energy diet with switchgrass and the other will receive a control high energy diet. The purpose of the diets is to induce the cows into a milk fat depression to see if switchgrass can reduce milk fat depression. The trial is currently in process and the results are being interpreted. In the future, switchgrass could be a sustainable alternative in a dairy diet as it is cheap to grow, and has many environmental benefits.

When I am not doing research I enjoy playing soccer and hockey, as well as riding my horse. In the future, I hope to have a career that will advance the dairy industry.