DFC-financed research at the 2020 Western Canadian Dairy Seminar

ES1fQqTUcAE-B9yDairy Farmers of Canada’s research booth was at the Western Canadian Dairy Seminar (WCDS) the week of March 9-13 in Red Deer, Alberta. There were close to 900 dairy farmers, stakeholders, researchers, students and exhibitors at the conference. At DFC’s booth, handouts were provided on the latest research projects, and fact sheets on Animal care, Water conservation and Footbaths for the Prevention and Control of Digital Dermatitis were shared with many farmers.

While sessions were planned for the whole week, conference activities scheduled for March 13th were cancelled when Alberta Health officials issued an advisory to avoid all large public gatherings due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the province. WCDS organizers announced the closure of proceedings at the end of the day on Thursday, allowing all attendees to return safely home.

We wish to thank the WCDS organizing committee for a very informative and productive week of meetings!

Results from research financed by DFC and dairy partners 

Several student posters and abstracts at the WCDS provided results from studies at different stages of progress from four major research initiatives supported by DFC and other dairy partners. Listed below are extracts from posters that have preliminary results for completed studies or a description of the expected outcomes for new studies. To view a study poster or abstract, click on the words “Poster” or “Abstract” after each outcome.

Preliminary study results: Optimizing health and production of cows milked in robotic systemslogo_grappe_3__sans_txt_EN-FR

Principal Investigator: Trevor DeVries, University of Guelph

  • Maintaining good hoof health, mobility, and body condition are key factors to optimize productivity and milk quality in robotic milking herds. {Poster}{Abstract}
  • There are potential benefits of using automated milking and feeding systems for farmers’ mental health: dairy farmers may be less stressed, anxious and depressed. The study also found that milk yield and cow health are associated with positive or negative farmer mental health. {Poster} {Abstract}
  • A description of the current trends and benchmarks in management and housing practices across robotic milking farms. {Poster} {Abstract}
  • Greater milk production and quality are being achieved in Canadian robotic milking herds by increasing feed push-up frequency, reducing stocking density, and using sand to bed their free stalls. {Poster} {Abstract}

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Preliminary study results: Surveillance of antimicrobial use and resistance to improve stewardship practices and animal health on dairy farmslogo_grappe_3__sans_txt_EN-FR

Principal Investigators: Javier Sanchez and Luke Heider, University of Prince Edward Island; Co-investigator at the University of Calgary:  Herman Barkema

  • Researchers surveyed farms from different Canadian Regions and found variations among selective dry cow therapy and selective clinical mastitis treatments. This shows an existing opportunity to reduce antimicrobial use associated with dry cow therapy and clinical mastitis treatments on all Canadian dairy farms. {Poster} {Abstract}

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Preliminary study results and expected outcomes from new studies: NSERC Industrial Research Chair on Infectious Diseases of Dairy Cattle (2019-2024)

Chairholder: Herman Barkema, University of Calgary

Preliminary study results

  • Communications training provided to veterinarians delivered through an online virtual Veterinary Dialogue Trainer and other means enhanced communication skills raised standards of veterinary herd health advice and improved farmer satisfaction and herd health. {Poster}
  • Predictive models for detecting mastitis using neural networks can be effective for detection/prediction of mastitis. Including measurements other than just milk traits increases model performance and incorporating more farms may make models more robust. {Poster} {Abstract}
  • A systematic review of existing studies was performed to identify key genetic markers and genes associated with mastitis-related traits and somatic cell scores in dairy cattle to provide a better understanding of the genetic architecture of mastitis in dairy cattle. {Poster} {Abstract}
  • Inflammatory skin damage was high in Digital Dermatitis (DD) lesions when compared to healthy skin; there was no change in macrophage population in DD lesions found over the course of time; a treatment with Oxytetracycline did not have any change in the macrophage population in DD lesions. {Poster}

 New studies in progress

  • Communication between veterinarians and dairy farmers: Effect of communication training on communication skills and mental wellbeing in veterinarians, farmer satisfaction and herd health outcomes. {Abstract}
  • Cattle Health Surveillance System (CHeSS): Monitoring major infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance in the dairy farms of the Western provinces. {Poster} {Abstract}
  • Effective and economic Johne’s disease control using new early disease detection assays. {Poster} {Abstract}
  • Motives and barriers to providing outdoor access for dairy cows. {Poster} {Abstract}

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Study results:  NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Dairy Cattle Welfare (2014-2019)

Chairholders: David Fraser, Dan Weary and Nina Von Keyserlingk, University of British Columbia

  • A variety of scientific methods are now available to make strong inferences about affective states in cattle. Alone and in combination these can be used to identify management changes that improve welfare. {Poster}
  • Calves remembered caustic paste disbudding as more aversive than hot-iron; we recommend hot-iron disbudding with the use of sedative, local anaesthesia and analgesia, or avoiding the procedure by using polled genetics. {Poster}
  • There is a higher incidence of lameness during the dry period; cows that spend less time feeding prepartum have a higher risk of becoming sick; cows that stand more after calving are likely to develop sole lesions. {Poster}

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For more information on DFC’s research activities and investments, visit DairyResearch.ca. To view the proceedings from the 2020 WCDS visit: https://wcds.ualberta.ca/proceedings/.

 

 

 

Information and Resources from Dairy Farmers of Canada on COVID-19

Questions regarding milk supply

Over the last few weeks, you may have witnessed fluctuations in milk product inventory at your local grocery stores and viewed news stories about the challenges farmers are experiencing. Across Canada, dairy farmers are working with our partners throughout the supply chain to do everything they can to ensure an uninterrupted supply of milk despite the unprecedented circumstances caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The pandemic resulted in unforeseen fluctuations in demand for dairy products which resulted in shortages in some retail locations. These are not the result of a lack of production capacity at the farm, but rather reflect some real-time challenges in the supply chain in getting milk products to market. The entire supply chain has had to adapt to the circumstances by implementing new measures to prevent the human-to-human transmission of COVID-19. The near complete shutdown of the restaurant industry has also had significant impacts on the demand for some key dairy products.

These rapid and unforeseen shifts have resulted in a need to dispose of some of the milk at the farm in certain areas as a portion of the raw milk could not find a home to be processed. However, this was done in accordance with environmental rules and regulations. The last thing a dairy farmer wants to see is milk being discarded, but as you know, for safety reasons, raw milk needs to be processed before it can be consumed. Dairy farmers are working collaboratively with processors to adjust to the circumstances and find solutions.

Across Canada, dairy farmers actively support food banks throughout the year, and the industry is ramping up its support of food banks and other initiatives.

These are exceptional circumstances created by the pandemic and dairy farmers are working hard to mitigate the impact. Along with everyone else, we look forward to the end of this difficult situation.

Dairy farmers salute the hard-working men and women throughout the country who are working in unprecedented circumstances and thank the many public health officials, organizations, front-line healthcare workers, emergency personnel and all those who, tirelessly, provide care and work to contain the spread of this virus.

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The Dairy Research team members are continuing our activities safely from our home offices and respecting the public health requirements and guidelines with respect to COVID-19.

If you have any questions concerning dairy research, please contact info@dairyresearch.ca.