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UNH Welcomes Dr. André F. Brito

Added December 2, 2009. The University of New Hampshire has recently added a new staff person to their Organic Dairy Management Team. Dr. André Brito has joined the UNH staff to fill the position of Assistant Professor in Organic Dairy Management. Dr. Brito has 14 years of research experience in ruminant nutrition. His research has focused on the effects of dietary forage and protein supplements on milk production, nitrogen utilization, and microbial protein synthesis in lactating dairy cows. Most notable research was demonstrating that cutting alfalfa at sundown rather than sunup increased forage concentration of sugars resulting in increased milk yield and microbial protein synthesis in lactating dairy cows. Dr. Brito earned his DVM and Master of Science degree from the Federal University of Minas Gerais in his home country Brazil, and his Ph.D. degree in Dairy Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to arriving in New Hampshire, Andre spent three and a half years as a post–doctorate fellow at the Dairy and Swine Research and Development Center/Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada located in Lennoxville, Quebec, Canada.
Since starting his job in August, 2009, André has been actively collaborating with colleagues at UNH to identify the priorities and goals for future research, education, and outreach projects. The Burley-Demeritt Farm in Lee, NH (certified organic since July, 2005) is the core facility where research, education, and extension will be developed at UNH. In fact, the farm already supports intensive research in dairy cattle nutrition and agro-ecosystems with the overall goal to develop sustainable agriculture practices that can be applied not only in New England but also across the nation and worldwide. The new bedded-pack barn is in construction and will be delivered by November of this year.

Research Grants Submitted in 2009

Dr. Brito has been busy collaborating with other members of the organic community and writing some grant proposals for important and much needed research. The first proposal ‘Molasses as an Alternative Energy Feed Source for Organic Dairies’ was sent to the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF). Partners in the grant include Kathy J. Soder (USDA/ARS), Karen Hoffman (USDA NRCS), Richard Kersbergen (University of Maine), and Peter Erickson (University of New Hampshire). The proposal is designed to evaluate the effects of replacing corn with molasses as the sole energy source for grazing lactating cows. The hypothesis is that molasses improves nitrogen utilization and microbial protein synthesis, which may positively impact milk production, milk composition, and body condition.

A second grant proposal was sent to the Farmers Advocating for Organics (FAFO) titled ‘Can sunset Pasture Allocation and Low Concentrate Supplementation Optimize Milk Production?’. Here Dr. Brito, Kathy Soder, Peter Erikson and Robert Berthiaume (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada) hypothesize that afternoon pasture contains higher concentrations of sugar compared to morning pasture and that allocating cows to a fresh pasture strip after the evening milking (rather than morning milking) would minimize the amount of supplemental concentrate needed to meet the high nutritional requirements of grazing lactating organic dairy cows.

A Third proposal will be submitted to OFRF this fall building upon the first proposal, replacing corn with incremental levels of molasses supplementation in order to provide scientific based information to organic dairy producers currently feeding molasses to dairy cows during the winter (no grazing). In this grant, Dr. Brito and his associates are hypothesizing that rapidly available energy from molasses would enhance the ability of ruminal microorganisms to capture ammonia, potentially increasing microbial protein synthesis, milk production, and nitrogen utilization in organic lactating dairy cows during the winter period.

Andre is very excited and proud to be a part of the latest improvements in the Organic Dairy Program at UNH and is looking forward to establishing a solid multidisciplinary research, education and outreach initiative to better serve organic dairy producers in New England and across the nation.

Dr. Brito can be contacted at the University of New Hampshire by phone: (603) 862-1341 or email: Andre.Brito@unh.edu.

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