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Student Wins National FFA Award for Emerging Technologies

By Kendra Knutson
UWRF University Communications

DEC. 4, 2006—Instead of cracking those eggs into the frying pan and drizzling honey on that muffin, you can use the foodstuffs to cure your dairy herd's mastitis.

A University of Wisconsin-River Falls freshman received a national proficiency award at the National FFA Convention held in Indianapolis in October. Kaleb Santy, an agricultural education major from Pulaski, Wis., was named the national winner in the area of Emerging Agriculture Technologies.  

This award was presented to Santy for his innovative project which dealt with lowering the somatic cell count (SCC) in lactating dairy cows through the use of natural, homeopathic substances instead of antibiotics. A lower SCC in dairy cattle, results in less mastitis and higher quality milk. And using natural substances instead of antibiotics means that antibiotic resistance is less likely to develop in animals or humans.

Over the course of two years Santy developed a mixture of egg whites and honey that worked similar to antibiotics in lowering the SCC. By combining these organic ingredients and injecting 20cc at each milking into the cow's mammary system for a minimum of four milkings, the substance mimicked the effects of antibiotics with the advantage that there would be no antibiotic residue and therefore the milk would not have to be discarded.   

The experiment was relatively cost efficient as well. Since eggs and honey are fairly inexpensive, the process only cost about $50 to make approximately a gallon and a half, enough to treat about 35 cows. But because the substance does not store over the long term, it has to be mixed and used fresh.

He conducted his research on the farm of his employer, Tom Marosczek, of Angelica, Wis., and achieved very positive results. The herd started with a SCC of 630,000 before using his new substance. After he performed his experiment, the count plummeted to 80,000.

While Santy does not live on a farm, he has working experience on dairies. His interest in science and willingness to help out an employer made it an easy decision for him to develop the idea for this project.

Santy says he was surprised and excited about winning at the national level. "The national level in my area (Emerging Agricultural Technologies) is one of the hardest areas of competition since there is a wide variety of subjects, not just dairy," said San

Santy says his goals for the future are simple. He would like to see his discovery assist dairy farmers in producing a higher quality product. But he needs to work on finding a way to preserve the substance and give it a longer shelf life. Since the eggs are used fresh, the only option now is to mix the substance on the farm and then discard any extra. He intends to become an agriculture instructor and advise an FFA program to "teach agriculture and all areas it encompasses."  

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