Dairy feed research from the ground up and the people who make it happen

An inside look at our Dairy Research Team at the Purina Animal Nutrition Center in Gray Summit, Mo.

A Dairy Farmer With His Cows

You're sleeping, it's 3:00 AM. That's a safe assumption, right? During the summer months, outside of St. Louis Missouri, 3 a.m. is about two and a half hours before sunrise. It is -- when Chris Joslin starts his workday, driving in to work. Joslin is the Department Manager of Dairy Research at the Purina Animal Nutrition Center, AKA "The Farm" in Gray Summit Missouri.
He started working at "The Farm" in 1997 and now manages 29 people on the Dairy Research team where everyone plays an important role in making sure the dairy herd of 300 cows is happy and healthy. Joslin describes himself as someone who has "always liked science and research". His great-grandfather had a farm he spent time on as a kid, so it all seems natural for him to be where he's at.
That background runs deep on the team. Take Mike Hackman for example -- Supervisor for the Dairy Research team. "I started here 27 years ago. My first job was scraping manure." Hackman jokes that he "started as low as anybody" and worked his way up. Before that he and his dad ran their own dairy farm. Hackman just turned 70 this Spring and says, "I don't even want to retire. I still like coming here every day." For Hackman, it's not just a job, rather a labor of love for both co-worker and cow. "The team does a heck of a good job taking care of the animals.”
Talking with Chris Joslin, you won't get very far in a conversation without him pulling in the rest of his team, "Everybody here is really good about working together and making stuff happen." Joslin says, "If something goes down every employee at the dairy knows how important it is to take care of those cows and get them milked.
Operating the dairy at the Purina Animal Nutrition Center is, in many ways, like a small family dairy farm; the work never ends, cows are always the priority and milked three times a day. Where it differs though? The 302 million points of data collected each month - from the cow's weight to components in the milk.
As Assistant Manager of the Dairy Research team, Derek Segelhorst is familiar with each piece of data that ultimately helps test or prove a product can work. "Each cow wears an ear tag that tells us their activity. How much time they lay down and digestion patterns. We collect a lot of data here so we can prove what works" In two words, that's Animal Tech. "We have a great team that's committed to getting it right." Says Segelhorst.
The stakes are higher because each variable must be removed from the equation; the feed formulations must be perfectly mixed, cows fed at the same time, their weight constantly recorded -- the list goes on. "Our team really takes care of the animals." Joslin adds that the bar is set high in order to keep the cows happy and healthy. "It’s important we do that because they’re the reason why we’re able to come to work here every day."
He takes pride, that in a sense -- it's the birthplace of innovative products in animal nutrition. "It starts with the idea but then you have to test it and follow research protocols. That all happens here."
Take for example AMPLI-Calf® Starter or AMPLI-Calf® Grower, both are unique products that help calves reach their full potential in providing a healthy diet. Chris and his team were involved in the research and helped study metabolism and palatability.
"We spend all day doing research. There are things we're doing today that you might not even hear about for years." Hackman says.
When you ask the question “Who’s out there?” consider Chris, Mike, Derek and the rest of their team. Their just a few of the thousands of employees who make our mission of Feeding Human Progress possible.
Ampli-calf® is a trademark of Land O’Lakes, Inc.