Results from a five-year NSERC Industrial Research Chair on infectious diseases of dairy cattle led by Dr. Herman Barkema, University of Calgary, will help farmers improve the management of dairy animal health to prevent, manage and treat dairy cattle for Johne’s Disease (JD) and mastitis for a more profitable and sustainable dairy sector. The Chair is supported in partnership with dairy sector organizations and Dairy Farmers of Canada.
Mastitis and JD are costly diseases to the dairy sector, impacting animal health and farm profitability. The economic impact of mastitis in Canadian herds is calculated at $665 million[i] per year in Canada and for JD, another $90 million is estimated.
Some key findings
- Experiments indicated that each Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis (MAP)-infected calf infected an average of about 3 non-infected pen mates in a group-housed setting. Also, calves had fecal shedding of MAP in the first months of life, exposing them and others potentially to early infection. Calf-to-calf transmission of Johne’s Disease (JD) needs to be a key area of focus and should be part of future control programs for early identification and evaluation of MAP.
- Better communications and exchange between a farmer and their veterinarian improved the likelihood of adoption of management practices and control programs by farmers, not only for JD, but for other diseases that can be found in dairy farms.
- A better understanding of non-aureus staphylococci (NAS) species, the most common group of bacteria isolated from the bovine udder, and other bacteria species in milk production, may ultimately lead to the discovery of bacteriocins with the potential for control of S. aureus mastitis.
- Identified and tested a method to better record and quantify antimicrobial use – a method that can be applied in future surveillance programs.
Research Chair provides opportunity to hire a new scientist in the dairy area
Dr. Eduardo Cobo was recruited for the position of assistant professor at the University of Calgary as a result of this Chair. He is a veterinary immunologist and studies alternatives to antimicrobials. Dr. Cobo will be investigating the role of immunology in bovine mastitis, MAP infection, and digital dermatitis.
Dr. Herman Barkema is a Professor in Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and the NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Infectious Diseases of Dairy Cattle, with a joint appointment in the Dept. of Community Health Sciences of the Cumming School of Medicine. He is also a Guest Professor at Ghent Univ. (Belgium) and Foreign Expert at the China Agricultural Univ. in Beijing. Dr. Barkema’s research program focuses on the prevention and control of diseases in cattle herds, including antimicrobial resistance. He has published > 300 scientific manuscripts and has lectured all over the world.
[i]Mahjoob Aghamohammadi, Denis Haine, David F. Kelton, Herman W. Barkema, Henk Hogeveen, Gregory P. Keefe and Simon Dufour. “Herd-Level Mastitis-Associated Costs on Canadian Dairy Farms”. Frontiers in Veterinary Science (May 2018)14;5:100.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29868620.