Luiz Ferraretto grew up in the countryside of São Paulo State in southeastern Brazil. His dad, a lawyer, had a small hobby farm where he raised mini cows. The family spent weekends on the farm and that is where Luiz developed an interest in agriculture. Originally, Luiz wanted to go to agronomy school, he said, but he attended a career fair that got him thinking about animal science.
Luiz graduated from São Paulo State University with an animal science degree in 2008. He then moved to Madison, WI to study under Dr. Randy Shaver at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He experienced an 80-degree temperature swing when he first arrived in Wisconsin – it was 100 degrees in Brazil and it was 20 degrees in Madison. Luiz admits that adapting to the shorter daylight hours and the cold was tough.
Luiz earned a Master’s degree in dairy nutrition, specifically on the use of reduced-starch diets and collaborated on trials studying how nutrition impacts reproduction. He stayed on at the University of Wisconsin and earned his Ph.D. in corn silage and high moisture corn, looking at how to improve quality and digestibility of silages, in September 2015. He arrived at Miner soon after.
“I’ve known about Miner for some time,” Luiz said. He hopes to develop new skills and bring diversity to how he sees things during his two year post-doctoral research position here. “I like applied research. I want to do things that farmers can use,” he said adding that Miner is one of the few places that does that and he is looking forward to working with the research team here.
Luiz’s hometown, Jundiai, is an urban area outside of São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city and the 11th most populous city in the world. Jundiai has a population of more than 400,000. Not surprisingly, agriculture is not prevalent in Jundiai, but it plays an important role in Brazil’s economy. Beef, poultry, and swine are the main sectors of animal agriculture, Luiz said. There are roughly 200 million cattle in Brazil, about 10% are dairy cows. Brazil has around 1.3 million dairy farms, with an estimated average herd size of 17 cows.
Luiz says there are many differences between the Brazilian and US dairy industries. Brazilian dairy farmers aren’t generally as well educated as American dairy farmers and access to technology is limited in Brazil, he said. The biggest difference, Luiz said, is that Brazilian universities don’t have extension appointments. “Farmers in the US utilize information from extension,” Luiz said. While here, Luiz is confident that he will learn a lot and get valuable experience. He hopes to ultimately get a job in research and extension at an American university.