Use of computer simulation to teach a systems approach to metabolism

Heidi A Rossow, J. A. Maas, C. C. Calvert, R. L. Baldwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Use of a systems approach, as embodied in the computer simulation model of metabolism of a dairy cow, Molly (Baldwin, 2005), is ideal for teaching nutrition. This approach allows the overall complexity of the comprehensive system to be broken down into smaller manageable subunits that are easier to visualize. Quantitative interactions among nutrients supplied and metabolic production processes can be observed over extended time periods. Using Molly, undergraduate animal science students are able to observe detailed effects of changing dietary inputs, altering genetic milk production potential, and exogenously manipulating metabolism on metabolism of the whole cow. This paper demonstrates how Molly is used in the classroom to teach a systems approach to nutrition using example simulations. Three simulation examples demonstrate exercises examining effects of recombinant bovine somatotropin administration, dietary protein, and amino acid supplementation and nitrogen efficiency on milk production and cow metabolism. These and similar examples have been used to teach nutrition, metabolism, and lactation to undergraduate students for the past 20 yr.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-499
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008


  • Classroom
  • Computer simulation model
  • Dairy cow
  • Metabolism
  • Nutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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