Barry J Bradford

Barry Bradford

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Professor, C. E. Meadows Endowed Chair in Dairy Management and Nutrition
Department of Animal Science



Research: Dairy Cattle Metabolic Physiology

Our aims are to better understand the metabolic physiology of dairy cattle to identify strategies that will improve the economic and environmental sustainability of dairy production. We focus on three primary areas of interest.

Inflammation and immunity in the transition to lactation

The time around calving is period of great physiological change and high disease risk. We have helped to document an underlying inflammatory state during this period of time and we continue to explore the impacts of altering this state through pharmacological and nutritional tools. 

Nutrients as signals

One of the most significant developments in nutritional science (across species) is the recognition that nutrients and other feed components can have direct impacts on cellular function. Our team is contributing to the fundamental understand of nutrients as signals and also exploring applications of “nutraceuticals” in the livestock sector

Advancing the role of ruminants as up-cyclers in the food system

Ruminants have a unique ability to turn waste streams from many industries into nutritious food. Think of the cottonseed left over after making your shirt – without ruminants, there would be few palatable options left for making use of this product. We have utilized our modern understanding of nutrient requirements to look for creative ways to meet the needs of dairy cattle while minimizing resource use. Our work has also helped to provide creative strategies for farms to thrive despite drought or other cropping challenges.

The video below provides an overview of broad topics of interest and comes from a presentation Dr. Bradford did while a faculty member at Kansas State University.

Extension program

With a 50% Extension appointment, Dr. Bradford collaborates with dairy producers and their advisors to address questions around dairy farm management. Although his core expertise is dairy cattle nutrition, Bradford has a longstanding interest in data analysis and its use in making decisions that impact dairy farms on a daily basis. For example, previous research with collated data from thousands of dairy farms demonstrated that first-lactation cows giving birth to a heifer calf produce more milk for multiple lactations thereafter, influencing decisions on the use of sexed semen.

We look to develop two-way learning opportunities with dairy management teams to explore how to improve and streamline dairy decision making. Data generated on-farm is often not used to its full potential, and very few farms carry out their own studies to directly test the impact of management changes within their own environment. With the help of MSU expertise, dairy managers can develop more evidence-based decision-making.