VT Dairy Mapping Project Kicks Off at UVM Dairy Farm

Julie Smith, CREAM student, Massle Thach, and Adrian Dixon standing in the UVM dairy barn next to a Holstein cow.
Back to front: Julie Smith, CREAM Summer Student Advisor Julia Gerardi, Massle Thach, Adrian Dixon, and Maddie Beaudry visit the UVM dairy farm for the Vermont Dairy Mapping Project. Photo credit: Joanna Cummings.

During the summer of 2023, the Vermont Dairy Mapping Project launched with a team that visited several dairy farms to interview farmers about their disease-prevention biosecurity practices. The project team collected information that will be used to prepare a disease outbreak response plan for each farm, based on the national Secure Milk Supply Plan template. The team also “field tested” a new online mapping application that was developed to make the visual mapping part of a plan easier to create.

Two veterinary student interns worked on the summer project with Animal and Veterinary Sciences Research Associate Professor Julie Smith. Massle Thach is pursuing her DVM/MPH degree at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Massachusetts. Adrian Dixon is a second year veterinary student at the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine. Maddie Beaudry is a UVM Animal and Veterinary Sciences graduate student with Smith.

A UVM student is looking at a very large, stainless steel tank that holds milk.
CREAM Student Advisor Julia Gerardi talks to the dairy mapping team about the process for collecting milk from cows, loading to a milk truck, and cleaning the tank and facilities.

The interns, along with Smith, are working with Vermont dairy farms to introduce preparedness resources including the newly developed biosecurity mapping tool, the Secure Ag Farm Mapping App. The mapping app was developed by students working with UVM’s Social Ecological Gaming and Simulation Laboratory (SEGS Lab), with oversight by Managing Director Dr. Scott Merrill. The app assists with the creation of enhanced biosecurity maps based on an aerial view of the farm.

In addition to returning completed plans to the participating farms, the interns will complete a project report and submit an abstract (poster or oral) to present at a national veterinary meeting such as the American Association of Bovine Practitioners or the US Animal Health Association.

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