- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
Peterson served the dairy industry in Southern California during a time of dramatic change. When he started in 1980, there were more than 400 dairy operations. Financial pressures and housing demands cut the number down to less than 100 today.
“A lot of them relocated and many have gone out of business,” Peterson said. “The places where they were located in Southern California are now homes.”
Peterson was at the helm when a new disease of cattle made its first U.S. appearance at a dairy in San Bernardino County. Peterson called in a UC Davis veterinarian who diagnosed hairy foot wart, an extremely contagious condition caused by bacteria that can lead to lameness and early culling. Today, dairy herds in the area can still have as many as 30 percent of the cattle with symptoms.
Peterson also worked closely with UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialists at UC Riverside to help dairy operators manage stable flies, one of the most serious pests of confined livestock in the U.S.
“Stable flies are both an economic and a neighbor problem,” Peterson said. “Dairies want to minimize flies to be good neighbors, maintain cow comfort and prevent disease.”
Peterson was an author of the UC ANR publication Predicting and Controlling Stable Flies on California Dairies. The publication details the impact of stable flies on cow milk production, provides descriptions and images of monitoring methods, and outlines ways to reduce the fly population.
“It's an ongoing problem, but we've been able to help dairies deal with stable flies in an economical and environmentally sound fashion,” Peterson said.
In retirement Peterson said he plans to stay in the San Bernardino area and take frequent trips to visit family in other parts of the country.