Knowledge Transfer Activity for Farmers: How to produce and use sweet forages – Free Webinar April 29th

Knowledge Transfer Activity for Farmers: How to produce and use sweet forages – Free Webinar April 29th

On April 29th the Dairy Research Cluster and its partners from AAFC and the Beef Research Council will hold a one-hour FRENCH webinar on How to Produce and Use of Sweet Forages with three Canadian leading experts in the field: Drs. Robert Berthiaume (Valacta), Gilles Bélanger (AAFC Quebec) and Gaëtan Tremblay (AAFC Sherbrooke). The webinar will be held from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm EST and there is no cost to participating.

You can register online now.

If you missed the March webinar that was held in English, you can still watch online.

What is the webinar about?

Sugars, also known as non-structural carbohydrates (NSC), are an important source of readily available energy in forages. Increasing forage NSC has been shown to improve feed intake, milk yield, and nitrogen use efficiency in dairy cows and other ruminants. Scientists from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Université Laval carried out various studies looking at increasing NSC in forages, including taking advantage of diurnal variations in NSC. Join this webinar to learn how to produce and use high NSC forages.

For information, contact:

Cluster Calf Study – Farmers input needed!

Cluster Calf Study – Farmers input needed!

The survey on “management and feeding of dairy calves” will be open for 2 more weeks. We encourage dairy farmers to take the opportunity to share your experiences. Your participation is greatly appreciated! Take the online survey here.

The Dairy Research Cluster calf study entitled, Innovative feeding and best management practices for the very young dairy calf to improve calf performance, welfare, and future productivity aims to develop recommendations for the feeding of neonatal calves, the management of group-housing for milk-fed calves, and methods for weaning calves off milk that optimize calf growth and welfare, and reduce labour costs. The objectives are to:

  1. Determine whether calf performance in the postnatal period can be used to predict overall pre-weaning calf performance;
  2. Develop feeding and management practices for the first days of a calf’s life to promote milk intake and growth;
  3. Determine optimum methods of introducing calves into groups and preparing them for group-housing with automated feeders;
  4. Examine feeding patterns on automated feeders to identify best practices for setting the feeder to ensure optimal milk intake and growth; 
  5. Examine advantages of adjusting weaning age to each calf’s individual intakes of solid feed in maintaining weight gains and reducing hunger and cross-sucking;
  6. Examine producers’ experience with automated feeders for un-weaned calves, and identify management practices most associated with success; and
  7. Develop a practical low-cost method of outdoor group housing system using calf hutches that allows for a more flexible feeding management.

These will allow producers to profit from the advantages of increased milk feeding and group-housing of un-weaned dairy calves.

Cluster Calf Study featured on La Semaine Verte

On March 14th the Radio-Canada TV show, La Semaine Verte, featured the work of Drs. Elsa Vasseur and Renée Bergeron on calf management. The program showed the positive work and investments farmers are making in research to find the best animal care approaches to calf management. View the program online here (French only).

In case you missed it…

In case you missed it…

You can watch the English recording of the webinar co-sponsored by the Beef Research Council, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Dairy Research Cluster called, How to Produce and Use Sweet Forages’ online at :

A french webinar will be held on April 29th.

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Impact of Genetic and Genomic Evaluation Improvements

Impact of Genetic and Genomic Evaluation Improvements

A fundamental principle and mandate of CDN is to provide the most accurate genetic evaluations possible for all dairy breeds in Canada. The arrival of genomics over five years ago has increased the challenges associated with this key objective. CDN geneticists have worked hard in recent years to identify improvements to methods used to calculate traditional genetic evaluations as well as genomic evaluations. Through the process of research and presentation of results to industry partners, various genetic and genomic evaluation improvements will be implemented in April 2015 in addition to the usual annual genetic base update. These improvements have shown to provide more accurate evaluations going forward but will result in a significant one-time adjustment that especially impacts elite genomic young bulls and genotyped heifers. Breeders and industry organizations must adjust their criteria and selection decisions according to the narrowed scale of genomic evaluations at the extreme levels.

Read the full extension article here:

Farmers Have Their Say – Q & A

Farmers Have Their Say – Q & A

Many research questions were submitted in the Have Your Say campaign. When possible, the Cluster team forwards some of the questions to Canadian scientific experts working in the area. An example of a question and answer exchange on mastitis follows:

Question from an Ontario dairy farmer about a dairy farm issue

Why are the drugs we’re using to treat diseases like mastitis not as effective?

Answer from Dr. Simon Dufour,

Professor, Department of Pathology and Microbiology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Montreal and Scientific Director of the Canadian Bovine Mastitis and Milk Quality Research Network

“This is a very short question, but it requires a very long answer! There are 2 main problems with antibiotic treatment of intra-mammary infections:

First is the mastitis pathogens. These are, in general, extremely specialized in invading and persisting in the mammary gland. To achieve this, they have developed all sorts of mechanisms that help them persist and evade the immune system and antibiotic treatments. Some can penetrate and hide inside the immune cells that are responsible for detecting and killing them. Could you think of any better strategy? The cow’s immune system cannot ‘’seek and destroy’’ them anymore and they are also protected from antibiotics (which do not readily penetrate immune cells). Others can switch to a latent form (like an opossum pretending that he his dead), so that the immune system will not be concerned about them anymore (it’s only dead bacteria after all) and they won’t be affected by antibiotics, which often aim at interrupting vital bacterial functions (in this latent form, bacteria are more or less frozen in time, like Walt Disney or Han Solo, and they don’t have to maintain vital functions). When conditions are favorable (i.e. when the antibiotic is gone) bacteria can migrate back out of the cells or come back from their latent form and cause problems again. Finally, others are resistant to specific antibiotics (sometimes too many antibiotics actually; i.e. multi-resistance). So bacteria have many tricks and they usually use them concurrently to achieve survival in the mammary gland. To defeat them, both a strong immune system and an appropriate antibiotic treatment are required and sometimes it is still not enough.

The second problem is the difficulty for most antibiotics to achieve high concentration in the mammary gland and/or to “reach” all the bugs hiding in the different infected areas. The inside of a mammary gland is more or less like a grape. When administering a tube of antibiotics intra-mammary, especially in a high producing cow, it can be difficult to achieve a good concentration in all parts of the mammary gland. If infection persists in a focal zone, it can later spread back to the whole gland. To make the mater worse, many of the antibiotics that we could possibly administer in the vein or muscle (to circumvent this problem), don’t migrate well into the mammary gland (i.e. concentrations will be high and sufficient in the blood, but relatively lower in the milk).

This is the mastitis puzzle… And this is why, for this disease, prevention is so important.”