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Chew on This

Antaya visits with the heifer calves.

“See that?” asks Nicole Antaya ‘13, pointing to a laptop displaying a schematic diagram that looks like an extreme sinus rhythm. The computer, set up on a table in the middle of a cow barn at the Organic Dairy Research Farm, is actually showing the results of a chewing device that had been harnessed around a dairy cow’s jaw just moments before. Antaya trails her finger along with the fluctuating pattern and says, “Breaking down … breaking down … breaking down … when it’s small enough, she swallows it and regurgitates a new one to continue chewing.”

Antaya is in her second year of a master’s degree program, studying Dairy Nutrition with Dr. Andre Brito. Today, she’s assisting him in a New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station-funded research project that aims to determine the effects of kelp on the health and overall production of lactating dairy cows. Chock full of minerals and vitamins, a processed form of this sea vegetable is currently a popular supplement in organic dairy feed.

Antaya is a native of Rhode Island who helps out on her boyfriend’s family farm, raising beef cattle, goats, and chickens. When searching for graduate programs, she sought out the University of New Hampshire’s (UNH) because, she says, “A lot of state schools are cutting their agriculture programs and it’s hard to find a good one like UNH’s.”

During her master’s program at UNH, Antaya has had the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant for several classes, including Anatomy and Physiology, Studio Soils, and Forages. Her passion for education is a complement to her interest in Dairy Nutrition, and she plans to incorporate teaching into her future career in agriculture. 

- Victoria Forester Courtland