NEW RESEARCH: Providing opportunity for movement to dairy cows by redefining indoor and outdoor spaces and best management practices

Providing freedom of movement to dairy animals was cited in the top five predominant welfare concerns by respondents (43.75% were general public) to the National Farm Animal Council’s online dairy cattle survey in 2019.i As humans, we see increasing movement and exercise as good for our health. By extension, the same concepts are being applied to domesticated animals and production animals in confinement. A growing body of evidence is showing health and welfare benefits for dairy animals. But many questions remain on HOW dairy cattle can best benefit in the context of existing housing and management practices and WHY the animals behave in certain ways toward exercise or more movement.

New research led by Elsa Vasseur at McGill University and funded by the Dairy Research Cluster 3 (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Dairy Farmers of Canada), will soon change our understanding of cow movement and exercise for dairy cattle housed in tie-stalls. The researcher and her collaborators are rethinking how spaces can be adapted to provide dairy cows the opportunity for more movement and exercise. They are developing, re-designing and testing indoor and outdoor spaces in a tie-stall environment to allow cows more movement while minimizing the costs to make changes and minimizing environmental impacts. Their results will serve to develop best management practices that are efficient, cost-effective and sustainable with beneficial effects for the animals, including improvements to cow comfort and health. 

The research project is timely given that revisions to the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle (2009) and targets for better animal welfare outcomes are being considered by the industry. Up until recently, very little research has been done on the relevant and practical options to provide opportunities for movement or exercise to dairy cattle in tie-stall housing systems. Tie-stall housing makes up about 70% of the dairy cattle housing systems in use in Canada and were built because of advantages like minimizing competition for feed and lying space, and the ability to care and observe the animals individually. But for the general public, they are seen as restricting the animal’s natural or normal behaviours.

Evidence to date on cow movement and exercise suggests that the outcomes for the animals can benefit their health, behaviour and welfare.ii Some studies demonstrated that:

  • Cows are motivated to access the outdoors when provided the opportunity in both winter iii and summer ivconditions when housed in different indoor housing systems (i.e. typical freestall barn, deep bedding composted pack, etc.).
  • Tie-stall farms that provided cows with outdoor access had 20% fewer lame cows and 16% fewer cows with hock injuries at the end of the winter (the period during which cows are most restricted to the indoors) than farms providing no outdoor access.v
  • Tie-stall cows have fewer hoof lesions (10% less) if access to an outdoor yard was provided.vi

The HOW – Adapting existing tie-stall systems

The researchers are examining several options to increase cow movement in tie-stall systems. They are measuring the optimal amount and length of time for movement and exercise, and at different frequencies; observing cows’ behaviour indoors and outdoors; recording the types of activities the cows engage in; and how active they are during exercise periods. They will also evaluate the effects of providing exercise on cows’ locomotion, on different outcome measures of welfare (i.e. lying time, injuries), and the impact on milk production. 

An economic and environmental assessment will identify the effects of providing indoor and outdoor exercise periods on farmers’ workloads as well as the effects on air and groundwater quality.

The WHY – Cow behaviour toward more exercise and movement

Researchers note that there may be some challenges to consider when the opportunity for more movement or exercise is provided to cows. It depends on an individual cow’s motivation to do so.

“Perhaps the biggest barrier to the efficacy of outdoor access as a means to elicit increased locomotor activity in the cow is the fact that it is largely dependent on the individual cow to engage in activities related to movement when provided this addition to her housing environment. Cows that display higher levels of locomotor activity are likely to do so in any environment in which they are placed, and visa-versa for low activity level cows. When providing free access to the outdoors, it is necessary to consider the cow’s preference to go outdoors versus her preference to stay inside.”vii

Elise Shepley, PhD student working on the research project.

Download a copy of the project summary here: Providing opportunity for movement to dairy cows by redefining indoor and outdoor spaces and best management practices

Project Overview

Principal Investigator: Elsa Vasseur (McGill University)

Co-Investigators: Stéphane Godbout (Institut de recherche et de développement en agroenvironnement), Sébastien Fournel (Université Laval), Marianne Villettaz Robichaud (Université de Montréal), Yan Martel Kennes, Pierre Ruel (Centre de recherche en sciences animales de Deschambault) 

Collaborators: Anne-Marie de Passillé, Jeff Rushen (University of British Columbia), Steve Adam (Lactanet), Doris Pellerin (Université Laval) 

Period:  2018-2022

Partners:  Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Dairy Farmers of Canada, in-kind contribution by Centre de recherche en sciences animales de Deschambault (CRSAD)

Budget:  $542,525


i https://www.nfacc.ca/pdfs/EN_FinalDairyReport19Sept2019_docx.pdf

ii https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168159120301143?dgcid=rss_sd_all

iii-iv Shepley et al., 2017b; Shepley et al., 2017a

Palacio et al. (2017)

vi Desrochers and Daigle (2017)

vii Elise Shepley: The way she moooves: Improving on our understanding of exercise in dairy cows. https://www.cowlifemcgill.com/post/the-way-she-moooves-improving-on-our-understanding-of-exercise-in-dairy-cows

Superheroes and the science of antimicrobial use and resistance

A new and innovative illustrated comic book has been designed to explain the research process used to identify bacteria that may be resistant to antimicrobials used to treat sick dairy animals. Written in plain language, a team of “superhero” researchers and their students investigate a case of mastitis infected with bacteria that may be drug resistant. The comic book was published by Op+lait with the involvement of researchers and students of the Mastitis Network. Dairy Farmers of Canada provided financial support for the translation of the comic book from French to English.

Read the EXTRABIORDANY ADVENTURES online here: https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/read/64863420/extrantibiordinary-adventures

NEW RESEARCH: Surveillance of antimicrobial use and resistance to improve stewardship practices and animal health on dairy farms

The increase in antimicrobial resistance in dairy cattle could have adverse effects on animal health and welfare, impacting the profitability of dairy farms. About 48% of antibiotics prescribed to a dairy farm are to treat mastitis infections in cattle.[i] While most mastitis pathogens are low in antimicrobial resistance, choosing and using other antimicrobials to treat dairy cattle health can result in the transfer of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria other than mastitis pathogens.

Researchers are developing a surveillance program to measure antimicrobial use (AMU) and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) on Canadian dairy farms, as well as the effectiveness of antimicrobial stewardship protocols and programs. Led by researchers Javier Sanchez and Luke Heider (University of Prince Edward Island) with collaborators from across Canada, the team is collecting data and information to help support farmers’ efforts in applying effective antimicrobial stewardship practices.

The pan-Canadian team has developed a platform to collect data and monitor AMU and AMR. The Canadian Dairy Network of Antimicrobial Stewardship and Resistance (CaDNetASR) is a first for the dairy sector and designed to conform with the Federal Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance and Use in Canada, and the Food Safety and Biosecurity modules of proAction®. Data is being collected on about 150 dairy farms in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick on a yearly basis.

“The network has been very active since the funding of the project and even under the Covid-19 situation, we are completing the second year of data collection. We’re focused on two major activities in the network. The first is the harmonization of veterinary clinic dispensing records to quantify the use of the antimicrobials in each of the participating farms. This is being conducted with the active participation of veterinary clinics representing the study farms. The second activity is the development of intervention strategies to assess their impact on mastitis, cow health and animal welfare. In addition, we are finalizing the data management system that will allow the generation of reports to send back to producers with their antimicrobial usage and antimicrobial resistance profiles compared to the other study farms.”

Javier Sanchez, co-lead of the project.

To provide antimicrobial use data estimates, treatment records logged as part of the Food Safety and Biosecurity modules of proAction®, and the retrieval of receptacles placed on farms for the deposit of empty drug bottles and containers are being used. To measure antimicrobial resistance on dairy farms, fecal, environmental and bulk tank milk samples are being taken and analyzed. The information will serve as a base for the development and testing of evidence-based and effective tools for farmers and their veterinarians (i.e. standard operating protocols or SOPs). 

“CaDNetASR has also developed a repository of bacterial isolates that, along with the other data being generated, will allow for future analysis and studies on AMU and AMR on Canadian dairy farms.”

Luke Heider, co-lead of the project.

The project outcomes will support farmers in continuing to use antimicrobials responsibly, apply efficient antimicrobial stewardship practices and assure the continued health and welfare of dairy animals and the safety of food for consumers. 

SEVEN facts about antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance in the Canadian dairy sector

1.   Under proAction®, milk is produced according to strict provincial and federal regulations and high standards regarding antibiotic use to treat sick animals. proAction milk quality and food safety standards are among the highest in the world. 

2.   Dairy farmers use antibiotics to treat sick animals if necessary and as directed on the prescribed medication label and directives given by the herd’s veterinarian.

3.   Canadian milk is free of antibiotics. Cows treated with antibiotics for a medical reason are clearly identified, and the milk is discarded. The milk does not re-enter the system until the mandatory withdrawal time has been met to ensure the medication is out of the animal’s system.

4.   All milk is tested for antibiotic residues at the time it is picked up from a farm and again when it reaches the processing plant to guarantee it is antibiotic-free.

5.   Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria change and become resistant to the antibiotics used to treat the infections they cause. (ii)

6.   Antimicrobial resistance development in major pathogenic bacteria found in dairy cows does not yet appear to be a major problem in North America (iii). Most antibiotic treatments are to treat mastitis, and the levels of antimicrobial resistance remain low in mastitis pathogens (iv-vi). But, the pressures to select and use antimicrobials to treat animals more rapidly for better health can result in the emergence and transfer of bacteria that are resistant (iii). 

7.   Disease prevention is key in a strategy to reduce antimicrobial use and resistance!

You can access the project summary by clicking on the link here: Surveillance of antimicrobial use and resistance to improve stewardship practices and animal health on dairy farms


Project Overview

Principal Investigators: Javier Sanchez and Luke Heider (University of Prince Edward Island) 

Co-Investigators: J Trenton McClure, Greg Keefe (University of Prince Edward Island), David Leger (Public Health Agency of Canada), Simon Dufour (Université de Montréal), Herman Barkema (University of Calgary), David Kelton (University of Guelph), Christopher Luby (University of Saskatchewan), and Kapil Tahlan (Memorial University of Newfoundland)

Collaborators: Marie Archambault, David Francoz, André Ravel, Jean-Phillipe Roy (Université de Montréal), Jeroen De Buck (University of Calgary), Scott McEwen, Jan Sargeant, Scott Weese (University of Guelph), Cheryl Waldner (University of Saskatchewan), Richard Reid Smith (Public Health Agency of Canada), 

Project duration: 2018-2022 

Project partners: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Dairy Farmers of Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada

TOTAL BUDGET: $1,582,087


i Adapted from: Bauman CA et al. Canadian National Dairy Study: Herd-level milk quality. J Dairy Sci. 2018 Mar;101(3):2679‍-‍2691.

ii World Health Organization, Antibiotic Resistance – How it Spreads, www.who.int/drugresistance

iii Oliver SP et al. Impact of antibiotic use in adult dairy cows on antimicrobial resistance of veterinary and human pathogens. Foodborne Pathog Dis; 2016; 8(3):337–55. 

iv Call DR et al. Antimicrobial resistance in beef and dairy cattle production. Anim Health Res Rev. 2008; 9(2):159–67. 

v Bengtsson B et al. Antimicrobial susceptibility of udder pathogens from cases of acute clinical mastitis in dairy cows. Vet Microbiol. 2009; 136(1–2):142–9.

vi Cameron M et al. Antimicrobial susceptibility patterns of environmental streptococci recovered from bovine milk samples in the Maritime provinces of Canada. Front Vet Sci. 2016; 3(79).

Resources for dairy farmers: Fact sheets to improve dry-off procedures

  1. FACT SHEET: Recommended protocol for the administration of an internal teat sealant for dairy cows

A collaborative project between the Mastitis Network and Dairy Farmers of Canada, this new fact sheet available in English, French and Spanish contains best practices and visual step-by-step procedures for the administration of an internal teat sealant at dry-off. A growing number of farms are using teat sealants as a preventative measure for better udder health, as part of a broader strategy to reduce antimicrobial use on dairy farms. 

To download a copy of the fact sheet available at no cost, visit: MastitisNetwork.org.

A series of additional fact sheets containing best practices for testing, treatment and prevention of mastitis on dairy farms is available on the Mastitis Network’s website at MastitisNetwork.org.

2. FACT SHEET:  Drying off cull dairy cattle at high production and in emergency situations

This fact sheet published in August 2020 in English, French and Spanish contains dry-off procedures for lactating dairy cows in accordance with Canada’s high standards for animal welfare while adhering to the federal transport regulations (2020). New transport regulations require that lactating animals should not be transported unless they are milked at intervals sufficient to prevent udder engorgement.[i]

A team of experts from the Mastitis Network, led by Dr. Trevor DeVries (University of Guelph), developed the fact sheet’s recommendations on the basis of recent scientific evidence for best practices for animal health and welfare prior to transporting an animal leaving the farm. The best practices address high and low producing dairy cows, as well as the steps to take when the animal’s departure date from the farm is known or unknown, such as in an emergency situation.

To download a copy of the fact sheet at no cost, visit: DairyResearch.ca.


[i] Government of Canada, https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/c.r.c.,_c._296/FullText.html

NEW RESEARCH: Extending cow longevity on dairy farms by improving calf management practices in the first year of life

Dairy cow longevity has a significant impact on the sustainability of dairy production considering that an animal’s profitability in milk production often begins in its 3rd lactation. Good management in the early life of a calf appears to have an effect on the performance and future productivity of the animal[i], but few studies exist on the long term influence of management practices and feeding strategies in this period.

A project under the Dairy Research Cluster 3, led by Greg Keefe and J Trenton McClure (University of Prince Edward Island), in collaboration with Elsa Vasseur (McGill University) and Débora Santschi (Lactanet), is investigating the associations between calf welfare and management, and actual cow productivity and longevity compared to its projected genetic potential. 

“We aim to identify best management practices that can be adopted to help calves reach their full genetic potential,” said Greg Keefe. “This work, along with Elsa Vasseur’s research (NSERC/Novalait/Dairy Farmers of Canada/Lactanet Industrial Research Chair in the Sustainable Life of Dairy Cattle), will support longer term productive lives for Canadian dairy cows,” added Keefe.  

The team will be collecting data from over 1,500 farms in Quebec and the Maritimes on calf management practices including colostrum management practices, pre-weaning nutrition (growth) and calf health events (morbidity and mortality). The researchers will also use data already collected on approximately 3,500 calves in New Brunswick using a comprehensive calf diary to gather information about the animals. They will include factors like health and immunity, nutrition, weight gain and disease incidents documented over time. Data for milk production (305-day production for completed lactation, total lifetime production to end of study), date culled and reasons for cows leaving the herd will be extracted yearly from the Dairy Herd Improvement (DHI) database. Associations between the data collected in early life and adult cow productivity and longevity will be evaluated and calculated.

A subset of these animals that had genetic testing as calves will be connected with management, nutrition and health data to study the impact of early life management on achieving calf genetic potential as measured by the animal’s productivity and longevity. 

“We are working with a great team to identify management practices and health events in calfhood to help farmers get the most out of the genetic potential of their animals,” said J Trenton McClure. “Lactanet is administering the calf management survey to producers. We also are seeking producers that genotype a portion of their calves to help with this research project by completing an additional short survey on veterinary practices and calf health events on their farm,” concluded McClure.


Dairy Farmers Needed for this Research Survey!

Dairy Farmers from Quebec and New Brunswick are invited to participate to this study! 

If you choose to participate, please answer six short questions by clicking on the link below to see if your herd qualifies for the study. If you qualify, the researchers will contact you with a short 15-minute follow up questionnaire relating to health management in your calves. The researchers will also ask for your permission to access your production records through Lactanet on the animals you have genetically tested. The records requested will be as follows: milk production, fertility, survivability, health parameters, and body condition. 

After you complete the 15-minute questionnaire, the researchers will provide you with a $10 gift card of your choice (Tim Horton’s or Canadian Tire) to thank you for your time. If you have any questions before making your decision, do not hesitate to contact in English, Elizah McFarland (edmcfarland@upei.ca) 902-566-0969, Dr. J.T McClure (jmcclure@upei.ca) 902-566-0717 or Dr. Greg Keefe (gkeefe@upei.ca) and in French, Cynthia Mitchell (camitchell@upei.ca) 902-566-6081. 

Thank you for considering the request to participate!

English: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TMFBG32


Project Overview

  • Principal Investigators: Greg Keefe and J Trenton McClure (University of Prince Edward Island)
  • Co-Investigators: Elsa Vasseur (McGill University), Luke Heider (University of Prince Edward Island) and Débora Santschi (Lactanet) 
  • Duration: 2018-2022
  • Total budget: $269,100 

Download a summary of the project here: DairyResearch.ca.


[i]Lohakare et al., 2012. Asian-Austrasas J. Anim. Sci. 25(9): 1338; Dingwell et al., 2006. J. Dairy Sci. 89(10): 3992 

NEW RESEARCH: Identifying best management practices for high quality silage production

Weather volatility and climate change have made cropping and harvest even more challenging for dairy farmers, potentially impacting the quality and costs of livestock feed for silage. With feed costs among the highest expenses on a dairy farm, new research under the Dairy Research Cluster 3 aims to help farmers improve their production practices to make high-quality silage at lower costs with tailored management plans for different regions. This Cluster project addresses a key strategic priority in DFC’s National Dairy Research Strategy targeting forage breeding and management for improved yield, resistance, conservation, quality and digestibility.

Drs. Nancy McLean (Dalhousie University) and Linda Jewell (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) – St. John’s, Newfoundland) are leading the research project with a team of researchers across Canada. It is one of the first pan-Canadian projects collecting data from all aspects of silage production and management with the objective of providing dairy farmers with practical data to help them develop targeted management plans.

“Given the range of climatic conditions in each province over a growing season, we’re evaluating silage management plans specific to the types of silage produced in different regions to determine which ones work best to reduce costs, benefit the environment and improve cow health and longevity,” said Nancy McLean. 

The team is collecting detailed information on silage production through a survey with a representative sample of 400 farms in different regions. An economic component is included in the questionnaire to measure the costs of silage production. They are testing samples used in rations to measure the quality of the silage from over 200 farms. Data from nutrient and manure management plans will also be collected and DNA extracted from the silage samples to identify fungal contaminants in silage. 

“Farmers need high quality silage with beneficial components for their feed rations to maintain dairy cattle health and milk production. Silage quality is affected by many factors like species, percentage of legumes included, soil fertility, stage of harvest, dry matter, type of silo and silo management. As part of the quality assessment, we are also extracting and testing silage samples at feed-out to detect and identify any fungal contaminants and determine whether mycotoxin-associated species are present in spoiled silage. This too is an important part of quality management,” said Linda Jewell.

Project Overview

  • Principal Investigators: Nancy McLean, Dalhousie University and Linda Jewell of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (St-John’s, Newfoundland).
  • Co-Investigators: Kees Plaizier, Kim Ominski, Emma McGeough, Francis Zvomuya (University of Manitoba), Carole Lafrenière (Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue), Shabtai Bittman (AAFC – Agassiz), Emmanuel Yiridoe (Dalhousie University), David Dykstra (New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries), Fred Waddy (MILK 2020) 
  • Duration: 2018-2022 
  • Total budget: $799,419 

Download a summary of the project here: DairyResearch.ca.

New expert consensus on healthy beverages in early childhood

Recommendations on healthy beverage consumption in early childhood (birth to age 5) were recently made available by an expert panel from leading health and nutrition organizations which included: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association. 

In early childhood, beverages comprise a large portion of the diet and make a significant contribution to nutrient intakes.

Milk is an important source of several nutrients that young children need for proper growth and development such as: protein, calcium, vitamins A, D, and B12, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin, and niacin. Whole milk may be introduced, starting at 12 months. 

While fortified plant-based beverages have added nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D, the amounts are inconsistent and vary by type and brand. Evidence suggests nutrients from plant-based beverages are not as bioavailable compared to milk.

From ages 2 to 5, milk and water are considered as the “go to beverages.” 

To view a copy of the report, visit: 
https://healthydrinkshealthykids.org/professionals/

Canadian scientists awarded for research excellence!

This past summer, a number of Canadian researchers were awarded for their contributions in advancing dairy science and the sector. Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) congratulates the following award recipients for their excellent work and recognition!

Chaouki Benchaar
AAFC

Chaouki Benchaar, Research Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) received the Excellence in Nutrition and Meat Sciences Award (Canadian Society of Animal Science). Dr. Benchaar was recognized for his many contributions to the dairy and livestock feed sectors in Canada. He conducts the only methane mitigation research program in Canada for dairy cattle. He is recognized internationally as an authority in the area of using plant-extracts (i.e. essential oils) as rumen modifiers in dairy cow nutrition. Dr. Benchaar led several projects with financial support from DFC, including two Dairy Research Cluster projects (2010-2018) that provided data and evidence on feeding strategies to mitigate methane emissions from dairy cattle. For a summary of his results click here: Mitigation of Enteric Methane Production from Dairy Cows and Impact on Manure Emissions:  Filling Knowledge Gaps

Christiane Girard
AAFC

Christiane Girard, Research Scientist, AAFC, received the Canadian Society of Animal Science Fellowship & the American Feed Industry Association Award (American Dairy Science Association – ADSA). Dr. Girard was recognized for her research on B vitamins and dietary requirements of dairy cows for improved health and reproductive performance. Her studies also aimed to increase the vitamin B12 content of milk and milk products for better human health. Dr. Girard received funding support from DFC for various projects including a Dairy Research Cluster project (2013-2018) that examined the Vitamin B12 content and bioavailability in several dairy products, confirming that dairy products, especially cheddar cheese, are reliable and beneficial sources of B12.

Pierre Lacasse
AAFC

Pierre LacasseResearch Scientist, AAFC, received the Zoetis Physiology Award (ADSA). Dr. Lacasse has made outstanding contributions to the understanding of the biological processes controlling lactation and immune resistance as well as to the development of tools and methods to improve the health, well-being, and longevity of dairy cows. Dr. Lacasse has been an integral part of research projects supported by DFC under the Dairy Research Cluster (2010-present) and the Mastitis Network. For a summary of some of his most recent results from his Dairy Research Cluster project, click here: Dairy Cow Management for the Next Generation.

Benoît Lamarche,
Université Laval

Benoît Lamarche, Professor, Université Laval, received the Khursheed Jeejeebhoy Award for Best Application of Clinical Nutrition Research Findings to Clinical Practice (Canadian Nutrition Society). Dr. Lamarche is one of the most cited researchers in Canada in the field of nutrition and cardiometabolic health. Among others, his lab has produced landmark papers in the area of cardiometabolic risk prediction based on non-traditional, emerging risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome. He has published numerous papers describing the impact of the Mediterranean diet and of several dietary fats on cardiometabolic health from clinical as well as a physiological perspective. Dr. Lamarche was the principal investigator of a Dairy Research Cluster 2 project (2013-2018) titled, Integrated Research Program on Dairy, Dairy Fat and Cardiovascular Health. The results provided strong evidence to support the lack of an adverse association between dairy fat consumption, in the form of cheese and butter, and the risk of heart disease.

Michael Steele
University of Guelph

Michael Steele, Professor, University of Guelph, received the ADSA Foundation Scholar Award in Dairy Production. Dr. Steele was recognized for his innovation in, and commitment to, research and teaching in the field of dairy cow and calf management and nutrition. His life-long passion for enhancing the nutrition and health of dairy cattle has led to the establishment of a highly productive research and training program making a notable impact on the Canadian dairy sector.

Dan Weary
University of British Columbia

Dan Weary, Professor, University of British Columbia, received the 2020 United Federation for Animal Welfare Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Animal Welfare Science & the Zinpro Award for Excellence in Dairy Science (ADSA). Dr. Weary is a co-founder of UBC’s Animal Welfare Program (established in 1997) and co-Chair of the NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Dairy Cattle Welfare (a research chair co-financed by DFC since 1997). His research has led to changes in science-based standards for animal welfare and the provision of evidence for the development of best management practices for feeding, housing, pain control and disease detection for dairy cattle in Canada. For a summary of his research outcomes to date under the NSERC Chair, visit: https://nserc.ca/Chairholders-TitulairesDeChaire/Chairholder-Titulaire_eng.asp?pid=159

New pediatric position paper: Cow’s milk important for children’s optimal growth and development

The North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition latest Position Paper on plant-based beverages emphasizes that plant-based beverages do not provide a similar nutritional profile as cow’s milk and thus may be harmful to children’s nutritional status, growth and development.

The position paper highlights the important role that cow’s milk plays in young children’s diets in providing key nutrients to promote optimal growth and development. 

The protein that cow’s milk provides to young children is especially important. Both protein quantity and quality are important to consider. For example, a 250 mL serving of almond or rice beverage provides only 2% or 8% of the protein found in cow’s milk, respectively.  The lower quality protein in plant-based beverages further reduces their nutritional value compared to cow’s milk. 

Fortification of plant-based beverages with calcium and vitamins also varies as does the bioavailability of the added nutrients. 

Education is needed to clarify that plant-based beverages are not nutritionally equivalent to cow’s milk. 

A copy of the scientific paper published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition can be accessed here: https://journals.lww.com/jpgn/Fulltext/2020/08000/North_American_Society_for_Pediatric.30.aspx

Upcoming virtual conferences to showcase new and emerging dairy research results

November 3-4:  Symposium sur les bovins laitiers (Quebec)

The Symposium sur les bovins laitiers held by the Centre de référence en agriculture et agroalimentaire du Québec (CRAAQ) is online this year. Speakers will be presenting on the topics of energy and the environment (biomethane project case study, recycled manure bedding, dairy production and GHG emissions reductions), new technologies (feeding in automated milking systems), dairy cattle health and genetics (reproduction, genetic diversity and modern strategies), and how farmers can develop farm strategic visions.

For registration information: Symposium sur les bovins laitiers

November 25-26:  Dairy Research and Innovation Day (Ontario)

Dairy at Guelph is hosting a Dairy Research and Innovation Day online. The event will include pre-recorded presentations that will be posted on November 16th and live panel discussions that will be broadcast on November 25 – 26. The conference topics include the global perspective on dairy production, consumer trends and challenges in the pandemic as well as highlights from select dairy research projects in genetics, use of antimicrobials, precision feeding, calf nutrition and value added dairy products. 

For registration information: DairyatGuelph.ca

March 8-12, 2021:  Western Canadian Dairy Seminar (WCDS-Alberta)

The virtual edition of the WCDS will be held over five days online. Participants will have the the opportunity to hear from speakers on a range of emerging research results like calf health, nutrition, reproduction and genetics. Three virtual farms tours will be featured as well as a producer panel discussion on dairy farm operations.

For registration information: WCDS.ca