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Florida International Dairy Academy

Florida International Dairy Academy

FIDA Course Descriptions

Florida International Dairy Academy offers four 2-unit core courses and eleven 1-unit elective courses. FIDA Professional Program is a one-year program with a minimum of 12 completed units (including a minimum of three core courses) required for graduation.  

Two-Unit Core Courses

  • Dairy Production Medicine (DPM)

    Healthy dairy calves and cows are the bedrock for the efficient production of milk that is nutritious and safe for human consumption. This course is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to identify major production diseases, perform herd investigations focused on health and performance, and develop protocols for the prevention and monitoring of diseases relevant to dairy herds. After completion of the course, students should be able to 1) understand concepts of dairy records and epidemiology, 2) identify infectious diseases and metabolic disorders that impact health and productivity, 3) evaluate transition programs, 4) develop strategies to prevent disease based on biosecurity, vaccination, and best management practices, 5) understand concepts of residue avoidance, and 6) recognize the importance of training for dairy farm workers. Principles in this course are illustrated using up-to-date scientific knowledge and practical examples from commercial operations.

    Instructor: Dr. Rafael Bisinotto

  • Genetics (G)

     Dairy cattle selection programs have systematically evolved to improve the profitability and sustainability of the dairy industryIn the Genetics course, we will address the basics of genetic selection, understand the dairy cattle breeding program structure, recognize technologies that have helped to accelerate the genetic gain in dairy cattle, and learn how to make genetic-driven management, selection, and breeding decisions. We will consider the many different traits that are evaluated by farmers and breeders during genetic selection, emphasizing the value of selection indexes on the selection process. We will discuss how genomics has revolutionized dairy cattle breeding programs and learn about the effective use of genomics for selection in commercial herds. Focusing on the future, we will reflect on the opportunities to incorporate new traits into genetic selection programs and the potential of new genomic tools to increase the rate of genetic progress in dairy herds. 

    Instructor: Dr. Fernanda Rezende

  • Reproductive Management (RM)

    Lactation depends upon successful reproduction. The profitability of a dairy operation depends upon the level of cow and heifer fertility. This course is designed to give the student the knowledge to develop on-farm programs to optimize reproductive function on the dairy farm. After completion of the course, the student should 1) understand the biology of reproduction in cattle, 2) learn management approaches and techniques for detection of estrus, artificial insemination, and hormonal control of the estrous cycle to program the timing of estrus and ovulation 3) understand management strategies for achieving pregnancies in first service lactating cows, resynchronized cows and heifers, 4) gain an appreciation for the epidemiology and management of anovular cows and how to reduce pregnancy loss, 5) learn how to measure reproductive performance, 6) understand the application of new reproductive technologies for dairy cattle reproduction, 7) learn management approaches to reduce the impact of heat stress on reproduction, 8) appreciate the role of genetics and genetic selection for determining reproductive performance, 9) learn how to minimize reproductive diseases through proper vaccination programs, 10) acquire knowledge of nutritional strategies to improve reproduction, and 11) understand how connection between reproduction and the economics of dairy production.

    Instructors: Dr. Peter Hansen, Dr. José E.P. Santos

  • Ruminant Nutrition (RN)

    Course description coming soon!

    Instructor: Dr. José E.P. Santos

One-Unit Electives

  • Business and Economics (BE)

    The success of the dairy farm depends on sound financial decision-making. This course is designed to give the student the knowledge and skills to analyze the financial health of the dairy farm and to evaluate improvement and investment opportunities. After completion of the course, the student should be able to 1) interpret financial statements and financial performance, 2) do financial forecasting, 3) know how to evaluate investment opportunities, 4) apply marginal decision making, 5) recognize risk and evaluate risky decisions, 6) use spreadsheets to evaluate decision alternatives, 7) apply optimization methods in financial analyses such as (non)linear programming and dynamic programming, 8) propose a framework for solving new dairy decision-making problems. The principles in this course are illustrated with many case studies of practical decision-making problems in dairy production. Examples include: Culling cows, improving reproduction, use of sexed and beef semen, the value of genetic improvement, optimal stocking density, how many rations to feed, how much weigh-back feed is optimal, how much to pay for heifers, the cost of animal disease and their control, taking out loans to renovate a barn, etc.  Students will work on a small decision-making project of their own.  

    Instructor: Dr. Albert DeVries

  • Calf and Heifer Management (C&HM)

    Course description coming soon!

    Instructor: Dr. Fiona Maunsell

  • Facilities (FD)

    The Facilities course is designed to enable students to learn the basics of calf, heifer, and lactating cow facilities, cow comfort and welfare, barn design, environmental management, parlor/milking systems, and waste management. The information provided will allow students to increase their knowledge and skills on facilities design, cow comfort, and environmental management. The course is ideal for individuals who have been working with dairy cows and are looking to increase their knowledge of facilities design and management or those that have had some training but want a refresher and some updated information on different aspects of dairy farm facilities.

    Instructor: Dr. Izabella Toledo

  • Forages in Tropical and Subtropical Environments (FTE)

    Forages are an important component of dairy production systems. This course will address key concepts in forage management and utilization including forage production, forage quality, and the relationship between forage systems and the environment in tropical and subtropical climates. Four experienced faculty will cover these topics in four units. Module 1 will address plant growth and development and their interaction with the growing environment. Module 2 will describe production systems, grazing management, and ecosystem services. Module 3 will cover forage conservation practices, including hay, haylage, and silage. Finally, Module 4 will address forage nutritive value and methods of analysis as well as the role of forage quality in dairy systems. Upon completion of this course, the student will be familiar with key concepts of forage production and utilization in dairy systems as well as the crucial role forages play in dairy operations. 

    Instructors: Dr. Jose Dubeux, Dr. Diwakar Vyas, Dr. Lynn Sollenberger

  • Lactation Physiology (LP)

    Lactation, or milk secretion, is the ultimate endpoint of dairy production. Therefore, an understanding of mammary gland biology is critical to effective dairy management. In this course, we will explore the development, growth, and function of the mammary gland with particular emphasis on the dairy cow. Management and other influences on mammary function, both before and during lactation, will be discussed and interventions to improve the efficiency of milk production will be considered.

    Instructor: Dr. Geoffrey Dahl

  • Milk Quality (MQ)

    The Milk Quality course is designed to enable students to learn the basics of milking procedures and routines, mastitis identification, prevention control and treatment, dry cow treatments, and milk quality management. The information provided will allow students to increase their knowledge and skills on how to improve the milk quality of a dairy herd. By the end of the course, students should be able to understand the steps necessary to have a good milk quality management program on a dairy farm. The course is ideal for individuals who have been working with dairy cows and are looking to increase their knowledge of milk quality management or those that have had some training but want a refresher and some updated information on milk quality management. 

    Instructor: Dr. Izabella Toledo

  • Thermal Biology (TB)

    Cattle are classified as homeotherms because they seek to regulate their body temperature at a constant and high level. Conditions such as high air temperature and humidity and extensive solar radiation cause heat stress that makes it difficult for the cow to maintain its body temperature. A cow exposed to heat stress is at risk for alterations in physiology that can compromise its productivity and health. The purpose of the course is to teach students the scientific basis for management approaches to increase cow comfort during heat stress and reduce the impact of heat stress on the health and function of dairy cattle. This understanding will be gained by 1) learning how heat stress affects economically-important traits in dairy cattle, 2) developing a comprehension of heat and temperature and how heat is produced by the animal and exchanged with the environment, 3) and gaining knowledge about various strategies to minimize the impact of heat stress on the dairy animal.

    Instructor: Dr. Peter Hansen

  • Vitamins, Minerals and Additives (VM&A)

    Vitamins and minerals contribute a significant cost to the total ration costs of dairy cows; however, there is a lack understanding relative to proper level and source that cows need to support optimal health and production. This course seeks to develop an understanding of the necessity for proper decision making when selecting levels and sources of vitamins and minerals in dairy premixes. This course will provide knowledge on essentials of vitamin and mineral functions, current recommendations and practices for amounts and sources of vitamins and minerals, and potential consequences of undersupply or oversupply of vitamins and minerals to help the student make informed decisions on the inclusion of vitamins and minerals in dairy rations. The course also will include interviews with industry experts regarding aspects of selecting and including vitamin and mineral supplements. 

    Instructors: Dr. Corwin Nelson, Dr. John Arthington

  • Welfare and Behavior (W&B)

    With increasing societal concern for animal care, the sustainability of animal agriculture depends on refining livestock systems to address animal welfare concerns. This course explores the latest science and considerations surrounding the assessment and improvement of dairy cattle welfare. Course content will include an overview of the scientific literature describing key factors challenging the welfare of dairy cattle, including aspects of housing, feeding, and pain management, with a focus on the role of animal behavior in understanding animal welfare. Course discussion will also encompass societal perspectives on dairy cattle welfare, as well as practical solutions to improve animal welfare using science-based approaches. Upon completion of this course, students will be able to: 1) Describe key welfare challenges for dairy cattle in terms of their impact on animal performance, behavioral expression, and subjective experience; and 2) Identify solutions and management recommendations to improve dairy cattle welfare through the application of basic understanding of dairy cattle behavior.  

    Instructor: Dr. Emily Miller-Cushon

Our mission is to deliver a world-class educational experience focused on emerging technologies and practices that will enhance the ability of the dairy industry to provide consumers with high-quality milk in an economical, environmentally sustainable, and humane way around the world.