About Jenifer Cruickshank

Jenifer is the regional OSU dairy extension faculty for the Willamette Valley. She grew up on a small dairy near Dayton and shall forever have a particular fondness for Guernseys. Her first scientific love is genetics and genomics, but she thinks a lot of other stuff is interesting, too. She can be reached by email: jenifer.cruickshank-at-oregonstate.edu.

Farm Commons provides solutions to your farm law and risk management questions. September 18-23, farmers will have one week of FREE access to accurate, concise information on farm employment law: https://farmcommons.org/open-employment-law-week/.

Farm Commons is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization supported through memberships and donations.

Colleagues at Oregon State University and University of Idaho are investigating the effects of wildfire smoke on cattle, forming the Livestock and Wildfire Research Group. As part of that effort, we have built a website that we intend to serve as a clearinghouse of information about livestock and wildfire. The “Hub” is updated regularly and includes information about our research projects, webinar recordings, scholarly papers, Extension publications, “What To Do” advice when wildfire threatens or the air is smoky, announcements of interest, other relevant resources, and links to our social media. Content on the “Hub” is also available in Spanish and Portuguese.

Visit our livestock and wildfire website here: https://livestockwildfirehub.org/

The fire season is right around the corner! Get ready for it with our Wildfires, Smoke, and Livestock Webinar Series. 

ONLINE AND FREE – June 13, 14, and 15; 6:00-7:00 pm PT. 

Register via https://beav.es/ToF

This webinar series aims to provide educational content to livestock producers, focusing on preparedness for wildfires, caring for livestock prior to and during wildfires, and providing the most updated information on research on wildfire smoke exposure and its effects on livestock health and performance. 


06/13/2023 6:00 pm PT

Katie Wollstein – Oregon State University 

GETTING READY: Dr. Wollstein will provide information on wildfire preparedness for livestock producers, focusing on fuels and property management prior to and during wildfire events.   

06/14/2023 6:00 pm PT

Juliana Ranches and Jenifer Cruickshank – Oregon State University

CARING FOR LIVESTOCK: Dr. Ranches and Dr. Cruickshank will share information on preparedness for livestock producers focusing on animal health prior to and during wildfire events.

06/15/2023 6:00 pm PT

Amy Skibiel and Pedram Rezamand – University of Idaho

RESEARCH UPDATE: Dr. Skibiel and Dr. Rezamand will provide a research update on wildfire smoke exposure and its effects on livestock health and performance.    

QUESTIONS? Contact Juliana at juliana.ranches@oregonstate.edu 

This project is supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive. Grant no. 2023-68008-39173 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Photo shows a newborn calf that is lying down, facing the camera. It is mostly black with white feet and underbelly.
  • April 6, 1:00pm, Tillamook (dairy-centric, English)
  • April 7, 1:00pm, Corvallis (dairy-centric, English)
  • April 14, 1:00pm, Corvallis (beef-centric, English)
  • April 17, 1:00pm, Corvallis (dairy-centric, Spanish)

Topics will include maternity pen management, the calving process, dystocia, newborn calf care, and include a hands-on activity.

Free! Snacks will be provided. Space limited.

Pre-registration is required. (There will be a couple of steps to sign in with an email address if you haven’t used OSU’s system before.)

Register through this link:  https://beav.es/SwN

If you have any questions or need to request accommodation related to a disability, please contact Jenifer Cruickshank at 971-600-1222 or jenifer.cruickshank@oregonstate.edu

OSU is hosting a workshop on Voles, Drones, and Dogs to introduce two current vole management projects. Please consider joining us.

When: Thursday, December 1, 2022, 1:00-4:30

Where: Chemeketa Community College Agricultural Hub (Building 60) Room 102, 4000 Lancaster Dr. NE, Salem. (The Ag Hub is on the corner of 45th Ave and Fire Protection Way.)

Register here: Registration is free but space is limited. Pre-registration is required.

Additional information:

Join us to learn about vole ecology and management, how OSU is exploring the use of canine-assisted detection to locate active vole tunnels in pastures and crop fields, and how drones may help assess crop damage in grass seed. The workshop will include time for discussions and, if weather permits, outdoor demonstrations. Presenters and facilitators include (from OSU) Dana Sanchez, Nick Andrews, Christy Tanner, Jenifer Cruickshank, Vanessa Blackstone, Tim Stock, and (from ODA) Matthew Bucy.

A cattle artificial insemination school will be offered at Oregon State University in Corvallis in September. Topics will include sire selection, basic reproductive anatomy and physiology, estrus synchronization, along with training in artificial insemination technique.

When: September 12-14

Where: Oregon State University, Corvallis

Cost: $600

Contact for more information: Kathryn.Younger@oregonstate.edu

A Holstein calf lies in a calf pen with some loose manure in the corner.
A Holstein calf lies in a calf pen with some loose manure in the corner.

Diarrhea, or scours, kills too many calves. For those heifers that fall ill and don’t die, they tend to experience reduced growth, higher age at first calving, and lower first-lactation milk production. Prevention is always our best bet for managing animal health.

We have learned a lot about how the gut microbiome (all the microbes living in the digestive tract) functions and interacts with its host (here, the calf). Several types of bacteria, when prevalent in feces, have been associated with increased weight gain and lower incidence of diarrhea: good gut bugs! We know early colostrum feeding has many positive benefits; one of them is helping to establish the population of good bacteria. (Feeding waste milk containing residual antibiotics seems to be associated with more frequent imbalances in the gut microbiome.)

Is there something else we can feed calves to help establish/maintain/enhance the gut microbiome? Maybe so? Probiotics are live strains of particular microorganisms (specific fungal or bacterial strains). There have been a fair number of studies that have examined the effects of giving calves probiotic supplementation. These are briefly summarized in the table below.

Table 1. Common probiotics and summarized effects on preweaned calves from a review of scientific studies.

type of probioticeffects on growth & performanceeffects on health
yeast (various forms of product)> positive or no effect on growth (may depend on yeast product, health status of animal, whether delivered via milk or starter)> reduced incidence and severity of diarrhea
> reduced mortality rate
bacterial-based products (genera include Lactobacillus,
Bifidobacterium, Bacillus, Enterococcus)
> positive or no effect on growth (may depend on health status of animal)> reduced risk of diarrhea (especially for calves fed whole milk rather than replacer)
> faster recovery from diarrhea when given a multispecies bolus

Probiotic supplementation seems to work best during periods of high stress, such as the first two weeks of life or when there is a “bad bug” known to be present in the calf facility. There may be also be some interaction between a particular probiotic product (which microbial species are present) and the “typical” calf gut environment on a particular farm. If you decide to try feeding probiotics to your calves, keep good records! Track individual calf health and the supplementation regimen so you’ll know whether a specific product—and the way you’re using it—is making a difference.

For a deeper dive into the topic, see this review paper by Cangiano et al. 2020 (Applied Animal Science 36:P630-651):  https://www.appliedanimalscience.org/article/S2590-2865(20)30135-X/fulltext?dgcid=raven_jbs_etoc_email

A cattle artificial insemination school will be offered at Oregon State University in Corvallis in December. Topics will include sire selection, basic reproductive anatomy and physiology, estrus synchronization, along with training in artificial insemination technique.

When: December 7-9, 2021

Where: Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon

Cost: $500

Contact for more information and to register: Kathryn.Younger@oregonstate.edu