Canadian Dairy Researchers Awarded!

Dairy Farmers of Canada congratulates Drs. David Kelton, Stephen LeBlanc, Todd Duffield, Trevor DeVries (University of Guelph), Herman Barkema, and Karin Orsel (University of Calgary), for their achievements in dairy research excellence!

During the American Dairy Science Association (ADSA) annual meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio, in June, five Canadian dairy researchers were included in the Journal of Dairy Science’s (JDS) Club 100. The JDS Club 100 is an award given to researchers who authored over 100 publications in the Journal of Dairy Science. The Journal of Dairy Science is a high impact peer-reviewed journal for dairy research publications and read across the globe in the dairy science community.

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Left to right: JDS editor-in-chief Dr. Matt Lucy, Dr. David Kelton – University of Guelph, Dr. Stephen LeBlanc – University of Guelph, Dr. Todd Duffield – University of Guelph, Dr. Trevor DeVries – University of Guelph, Dr. Herman Barkema – University of Calgary and Dr. Bill Weiss, Ohio State University, ADSA Annual Meeting. Photo credit: JDS

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Dr. Karin Orsel received the Merck Veterinary Award on July 16, 2019, during the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s (CVMA) Annual Convention in Toronto, Ontario. Sponsored by Merck Animal Health, the award is presented to a CVMA member whose work in food animal production practice, clinical research, or basic sciences is judged to have contributed significantly to the advancement of food animal medicine and surgery, including herd health management.

Inside Dairy Research Highlights 2018: Ten success stories showcasing dairy innovation

Dairy Farmers of Canada’s 2018 Research Highlights are available online for download on dairyresearch.ca. The report covers research governance, DFC investments and partners, and contains ten research success stories in DFC’s priority research areas.

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Research Highlights 2018 

The success stories provide concrete examples of how investments in research are contributing to innovation and excellence. A list of the story headlines follows:

  1. Dairy farms increased efficiency and productivity and have lowered GHG emissions from milk production
  2. Identifying two new traits to select dairy cattle for high feed efficiency and low methane gas emissions
  3. Research supports progress in animal care under proAction®
  4. Canadian team advances world-class research on best practices and standards for dairy cattle welfare
  5. New pathways to prevent, manage and treat infectious diseases of dairy cattle
  6. Mastitis network transfers knowledge and tools for milk quality and production excellence
  7. Impact of milk products on weight and body composition among children and teens
  8. Cheese helps to stabilize blood sugar levels
  9. Benefits of milk as a source of high-quality protein in the management of lung cancer patients
  10. Beneficial effects of consuming skim milk after exercise compared to a sports drink

Breakdown of 2018 research investments

Every dollar invested in dairy research by DFC is leveraged to add about three more dollars in investments from our partners.

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Impact of milk products on weight and body composition among children and teens

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A research project recently completed under the Dairy Research Cluster 2 found that children and adolescents who consume milk products are more likely to have a lean body type. Dr. Hope Weiler of the University of McGill and her team performed a meta-analysis (a statistical analysis of multiple existing studies) of 17 randomized control trials (RCTs) that included children and teens aged 6-18 years old. This is the first meta-analysis summarizing results from RCTs for the effects of milk and milk product consumption on weight and body composition in children and adolescents.

Their analysis showed that milk and milk-product consumption resulted in an increase in lean mass and a lower gain in percent body fat, concluding that children and adolescents who consume milk and milk products are more likely to achieve a lean body type.

The results provide very high-level evidence to support dairy’s beneficial impact on weight and body composition.

A copy of the published results can be accessed here: https://academic.oup.com/advances/article-abstract/10/2/250/5370011?utm_campaign=511018_20190515__NutriNews_Weight_Children&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Nutri_News-All_Users

Key findings from the Industrial Research Chair in Infectious Diseases of Dairy Cattle

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.

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  • 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.

 

UnknownDr. 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. BarkemaHenk 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. 

 

 

 

 

Is “Phenotype King” in the era of genomics?

{The following is an extract from the Canadian Dairy Network’s extension article entitled, “Value of Type Classification in the Era of Genomics” published April 30, 2019. To access the full article, click here:  https://www.cdn.ca/document.php?id=524.}

CowsEating_2017.jpgIt has been said by many researchers around the world that “Phenotype is King!” in this era of genomics. What does this really mean? In Canada, there has been a recent surge of discussion on this topic, especially as it relates to the value of type classification data.  The Canadian Dairy Network took a closer look at the key questions being asked by breeders to help clarify the value of genotypes versus phenotypes (i.e.: performance data) in today’s environment of dairy cattle selection.

…If a bull dam’s classification data has such a minor impact on the accuracy of their son’s genomic evaluation, why is type classification important at all?  Why do researchers claim that “Phenotype is King!”? 

This question can be answered in two ways.

First, in a general way, the accuracy of any genomic evaluation system is dependent upon the continued collection of good quality data (i.e.: phenotypes) on an ongoing basis.  Even once a genomic evaluation system is built and established, such phenotypic data is required year after year to keep the genomic predictions relevant.

 Secondly, the reason to collect phenotypes is more specific to each breeder at their herd level.  Every heifer calf born on a farm starts with a Parent Average as the first estimate of its genetic potential.  This estimate of an animal’s genetic merit serves as a predictor of those that are expected to have the highest level of performance in the milking herd.  After birth, there are two ways to improve the accuracy of this first estimate.  By genomic testing a heifer calf, the Parent Average (PA) can be replaced by its Genomic Parent Average (GPA).  Later in life, however, measuring each animal’s own performance also contributes to their estimate of genetic merit, whether they have been genotyped or not.  As an example, classifying all first lactation animals in your herd results in changes to their Conformation index as they go from being a Parent Average (PA) to an Estimated Breeding Value (EBV).  The figure below shows the distribution of changes that occur for Conformation when a heifer PA becomes an EBV after being classified in the first lactation.  Half of all heifers change by at least 1 point up or down once they are classified with some changing as much as ±8 points for their Conformation genetic evaluation. Classifying cows in your own herd will re-rank your cows and cow families, which can have a significant impact on your heifer replacement and culling decisions.

Distribution of the Change in Conformation Index by Adding an Animal’s Own Classification (Without Genomics)

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As expected, if heifer calves are genotyped and the PA is replaced by a GPA, then adding their classification phenotype in the first lactation has less impact than the distribution shown in the Figure.  That said, there are still 20% of heifers that experience a change in their Conformation index that is 2 points or more.

Genomics has changed so many things associated with dairy cattle selection schemes. Genetics offered by A.I. companies through their genomic young sires has reached incredible heights resulting in (a) a focus on reduced generation intervals, (b) doubling of the semen market share occupied by young bulls, and (c) more than doubling the annual rate of genetic progress.  These significant changes have also led to less complete information being available on young sire pedigrees compared to a decade ago, especially the performance data on bull dams. While this trend is undesirable from the perspective of pedigree completeness for the resulting daughters, the impact on the accuracy of selection decision is minor.  On the other hand, herd owners must realize the benefits and value of a continued collection of performance data, such as production and classification, for their milking herd.  Such data serves to validate and/or improve the genetic evaluation predictions used to make important selection and mating decisions.

Updates in genetic tools for farmers: Pro$ and Lifetime Profit Index

April 2019 will see the release of an enhanced Pro$ formula, which will allow for selection for optimal daughter profitability in today’s market conditions. In addition, Lifetime Profit Index (LPI) updates will include the addition of trait weightings to better reflect market demands, as well as new traits to reflect breed association goals. In general, national indexes are updated every few years as market conditions or breed goals evolve.

Pro$ was introduced in August 2015 as a selection tool to maximize genetic response for daughter lifetime profitability and has been quickly embraced by farmers and dairy organizations. The Canadian Dairy Network updated Pro$ and the LPI given significant changes in milk pricing and expenses over the past few years, the accumulation of more data, as well as the opportunity to add new traits and expenses unavailable in 2015.

Pro $ updates will better reflect milk component pricing changes, which favour fat production more since Pro$ was introduced in 2015. Overhead costs and feed costs have also seen significant change. Other improvements to Pro$ include the modification of expenses to reflect cow differences in terms of reproduction and maintenance costs, and the addition of four more years of cow profit data.

All economic values used in cow profitability calculations from 2014 and 2019 are seen in Figure 1 and can be useful when assessing where the major updates to Pro$ originate.

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The Holstein LPI has been updated to shift the fat to protein ratio to reflect current component pricing and market demand, and by adding two new traits to the durability component of the formula: rump and hoof health.

For a copy of the full article, including LPI / Pro$ comparisons, click here: https://www.cdn.ca/document.php?id=516

Celebrate Earth Day by taking stock of your farm’s sustainability performance

For this year’s celebration of Earth Day on April 22nd, try the online tool called Dairy Farms + to track your farm’s sustainability and efficiency.

The tool, which is available to all Canadian dairy farmers that have a farm ID issued by your provincial dairy organization, can:

  • Help you calculate your farm’s environmental footprint;
  • Compare it to other dairy farms in your province;
  • Identify your farm’s strengths; and,
  • Flag the areas where you can act to meet your sustainability goals and improve farm efficiency.

Watch the following webinar on how to use the DairyFarms + tool and prepare your plan of action to keep contributing to a sustainable dairy future.

 

Protein and body weight

{The following is an excerpt of an article available on Dairy Farmers of Canada’s website. To read the full article, visit dairynutrition.ca.}

By: G. Harvey Anderson, PhD, Professor, Nutritional Sciences and Physiology; Director, Program in Food Safety, Nutrition and Regulatory Affairs, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.

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The role of protein in regulating energy and maintaining healthy body weight is still unclear. But evidence is mounting that the source of protein is very important in this equation.

Research Highlights

  • A growing body of evidence supports a role for dairy products in the regulation of body weight.
  • Calcium supplements do not appear to confer the same benefit as dairy calcium, suggesting that other components in milk may be a factor.
  • Proteins in milk, including casein and whey, improve satiety, regulate food intake and promote the maintenance of lean muscle mass.
  • Peptides and other bioactive components in milk products appear to have additional benefits including modulation of blood pressure, inflammation and blood glucose levels.

More than 20 reasons to visit DairyResearch.ca now

Twenty-four new research summaries are available on DairyResearch.ca! A majority of the Dairy Research Cluster 2 projects concluded in 2018 (24 out of 27) and summaries were published for each project, including the objectives, outcomes, links to knowledge translation and transfer documents and the benefits of the research to the Canadian dairy sector.

You can access and download each summary report here: Dairy Research Cluster 2 Project Summaries and Results. We invite you to share the results from Canadian dairy farmers’ investments in driving innovation through Canadian dairy research with your sector colleagues.

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Dairy Research Success Stories on YouTube

A video describing some of the success stories from the Dairy Research Cluster 2 (2013-2018) is now available on the Dairy Research Cluster Channel on YouTube. The 4-minute segment is a compilation of the research highlights and results extracted from projects supported by investment partners Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Dairy Farmers of Canada, the Canadian Dairy Network and the Canadian Dairy Commission. Feel free to share this video in your social media networks to show how Canadian dairy farmers are driving innovation in dairy!