Internship Profile: James Downey

Name: James Downey

Hometown: Valders, WI

Year: Senior

Internship Employer: High Tower Farms

Learning objective: The learning objective of this internship was to learn more about dairy herd management, focus on fresh cow management, and utilize skills and ideas learned in school on the farm.

Description of internship: I took care of the fresh cows at High Tower Farms and managed the lactating herd. Every day I helped finish up milking the hospital and fresh cows and administered any treatments necessary in the parlor. Then I checked temperatures on the fresh cows, monitored appetite, and also performed BHBA blood sampling to test for clinical and subclinical ketosis. I administered treatments and worked closely with the herd owners and veterinarian to ensure that problem cows were taken care of. Further, I walked the dry cow pen each day to make sure no issues were present. I vaccinated the milking herd and heifers as well. Lastly, I performed general farm labor as needed, milked, and took careful records to keep everyone in the loop. I loved every minute of it!!

Favorite part of the internship?– I loved the fact that I worked with cows all day and learned so much at the same time!

Most interesting thing you have learned? – I don’t think there is one most interesting thing that I have learned in this internship, but rather I think the entire experience was interesting. I learned volumes of information in one summer and was able to connect ideas from school and publications, etc with the needs and requirements of the farm and the herd. The herd owners, especially Loren, taught me so much. It was a real treat to have someone with decades of cattle experience let me ask them questions constantly and allow me to learn from them.

How did the dairy science curriculum help prepare you and help you succeed in this internship? – The curriculum prepared me by exposing me to ideas and concepts that were practical and could be utilized on the farm. UW Dairy Science is a top-notch program and the material covered is very comprehensive. I believe that the curriculum is focused on constantly trying to make the farm better, whether students are returning to their own farms, are planning on working in the industry, or planning on continuing in academia. The improvements and discoveries from UW Dairy Science are truly astounding and are a real asset to the state of WI, the United States, and the world. The aspect that I enjoy most about the Dairy Science Department (and Animal Science too) is that each faculty member is very open to students asking questions and furthering their understanding.

How does this internship fit with your long-term goals? This internship gave me a first-hand look at herd management. I am not positive what my future career will be, but this internship helped provide an understanding of cow and herd management that I can utilize in any career I have in the future. As an employee or farmer or any player in the dairy industry, it doesn’t matter if one is trying to design a barn, selling a nutrition product or drug, or trying to help a farm reach its full potential. I believe that it all comes back to the cow level and general herd management.