Postdoctoral Fellow, Animal Science
My research is focused on opportunities to design grazing systems that allow for optimal diversity of native plant and pollinator species, optimal amounts of sequestered soil carbon, as well as high animal well-being and productivity. I investigate environmental impacts of managed sheep grazing in community and utility scale, ground-mounted, photovoltaic installations in the Northeast U.S. My approach is interdisciplinary and includes collaborations with researchers in entomology, plant science, and soil biogeochemistry to be able to capture widespread effects of grazing on ecosystems.
Doctorate Cornell University 2020
B.Eng. Anhalt University for Applied Science, Germany 2012
Small ruminant nutrition and management
Grazing and grazing systems, environmental impact of grazing (plant and pollinator diversity, carbon sequestration)
Co-location of renewable energy (solar) and sheep grazing
During my PhD research at Cornell University (Animal Science ’20) I investigated nutritional strategies (by-product feeding) for year-round sheep milking systems as opportunities for U.S. sheep dairy farmers to increase farm viability through a more consistent supply of marketable milk. Exciting results showed the suitability of U.S.-available, aseasonally polyestrous, meat-type breeds for year-round sheep milk production. Together with this research the Cornell Sheep Dairy was founded: a Grade A inspected, small-scale, student operated dairy, that supplies sheep milk to creameries in the Northeast U.S. for cheese production.
My strong background in small ruminant nutrition and management, especially in grazing systems, provides the basis for expanding my interests into ecosystem impacts of grazing within solar arrays. Enticing preliminary results show that sheep grazing is a viable tool for vegetation management within solar arrays and can – if managed appropriately – provide diverse habitat for pollinators.
Kochendoerfer, N., Shepherd, SJ., Posbergh, C., Huson, H., Barbano, DM, Thonney, ML. 2022. Genetic make-up, milk production, and infrared predicted milk constituents in a commercial dairy sheep flock of variable breed composition. Sheep & Goat Research Journal, In Press.
Kochendoerfer, N., Thonney, ML. 2021. Grazing Sheep on Solar Sites in New York State: Opportunities and Challenges. Scope and scaling-up of the NYS sheep industry to graze ground-mounted photovoltaic arrays for vegetation management. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Cornell University Ithaca, NY.
Kochendoerfer, N., Brown, D.L., Thonney, M.L. 2020. Effect of carbohydrate source on dry matter intake and digestibility, and nutritional status of ewes milked year-round on an accelerated lambing system. ASAS Annual Meeting: Abstract #887100.
Kochendoerfer, N., Barbano, D.M., Thonney, M.L. 2020. Reproductive and lactation management for year-round ewe milk production with non-traditional dairy breeds. ASAS Annual Meeting: Abstract #886991.
Kochendoerfer, N., Barbano, D.M., Thonney, M.L. 2020. Effect of dietary NDF on mid-infrared predicted milk constituents of non-traditional dairy sheep breeds milked on an accelerated lambing system. ADSA Annual Meeting: Abstract #82169.
Kochendoerfer, N. and Thonney M.L. 2019. Effect of forage inclusion in diets on milk yield and milk components of dairy crossbreed ewes managed on an accelerated lambing system. In: C. University (ed.) Proceedings of the Cornell Nutrition Conference No. 81, Syracuse, NY.
Kochendoerfer, N. Hain, A., Thonney, ML. 2019. The agricultural, economic, and environmental potential of co-locating utility scale solar with grazing sheep. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Cornell University Ithaca, NY.
Kochendoerfer, N., Thonney, M.L. 2018. Fermentable fiber for year-round ewe milk production. In: C. University (ed.) Proceedings of the Cornell Nutrition Conference No. 80, Syracuse, NY.
Kochendoerfer, N., Thonney, M.L. 2017. Management and Nutrition for Milking Sheep in Short and Frequent Lactations. In: C. University (ed.) Proceedings of the Cornell Nutrition Conference No. 79, Syracuse, NY.
Kochendoerfer, N., Thonney, M.L. 2016. Fermentable Fiber for Milking Sheep on the Star System. Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Dairy Sheep Association of North America Symposium, Ithaca, NY.
Awards & Honors
Leonard A. Maynard Graduate Award for Outstanding, Nutrition-related Research, 2017
College of Agriculture & Life Sciences Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award, 2017
ANSC 3800: Sheep
ANSC 3850/5850: Dairy Sheep Management
ANSC4960/6400: Lambing Internship
Dr. Kochendoerfer in the News:
113 Morrison Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
nk584 [at] cornell.edu
Niko in the news
- Animal Science
- School of Integrative Plant Science
- Cornell Atkinson
- Cornell Cooperative Extension
- Animal Science