Dr. Jennifer Spencer joined the faculty at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Stephenville earlier this month as a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service dairy specialist.
Spencer earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Idaho. Her research focused on management strategies and improving reproductive outcomes while reducing producer inputs.
Moving from Idaho to Texas will be a big change in climate, but Spencer said she is looking forward to the challenges covering such a big state will offer.
“Idaho ranks fourth in dairy production, and I have experience working with large animal management operations, some with 5,000 to 8,000 cows, but also much smaller herds,” she said. “I am excited knowing producers in Texas are progressive and that there is room to improve and make Texas one of the top milk producing states in the nation.”
Spencer said she will be working with regional producers to improve reproduction, reduce animal stresses, such as heat and handling, improve worker safety and work with AgriLife Extension agents to provide Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Dairy Outreach Program Area training.
She is engaging with staff at the Tarleton State University Southwest Regional Dairy Center to continue research regarding promising stress-reduction and reproduction technologies, such as cross-ventilated barns and precision monitoring technology.
“Cross-ventilated barns have shown to be very effective in cooling dairy cows to avoid heat stress, which is a top priority when considering animal welfare and milk production,” she said. “But we’ve also seen some potential challenges, like higher ammonia levels, which may provide opportunities to improve the technology.
“Precision technology gives the advantage of being able to monitor aspects like reproduction or disease presence. We want to help large and small operations find the best options for improving animal welfare, worker safety, waste management, reproduction and milk production on their farms.”
Spencer is involved with the American Dairy Science Association, American Society of Animal Science and will assist with the Western Dairy Management Conference to be held in spring 2019.
“I am very excited about seeing the different regions of the state and addressing the challenges that such a variety of climates and conditions can present,” she said.