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

2019 Dairy Research Highlights

CovershotHighlights2019Dairy Farmers of Canada’s (DFC) 2019 Dairy Research Highlights is now online at DairyResearch.ca. The Highlights are an annual report on DFC’s investments in dairy production and human nutrition and health research and include a list of all research projects in progress, as well as key results from completed and ongoing projects.

Key takeaways – DFC investments in research

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  • DFC invested $1.3 million in dairy production and human nutrition and health research. It leveraged this amount to add another $6.6 million in investments from multiple funding partners. Total investments in research in 2019 at the national level were $7.9 million.
  • 31 research projects are underway in 34 institutions including research centres and universities across Canada.
  • About 2,000 dairy farmers from coast to coast are investing their time as part of several research projects to help drive innovation in the Canadian dairy sector.
  • Close to half of the research investments (49%) target priorities focused on the role of dairy products in human nutrition and health.
  • 26% of investments in research target priorities in animal health and welfare; 21% are directed to farm efficiency and sustainability solutions and another 4% on milk quality.
  • More than 200 communications and knowledge translation and transfer products in both languages were developed and disseminated to targeted user audiences.

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Tracking and reporting on research success

The Highlights also feature 11 success stories from a selection of research projects in dairy production and human nutrition and health. Listed below is a short summary of the stories you can access in the report online, by area of priority identified in the National Dairy Research Strategy. Find out how dairy research is advancing the Canadian dairy sector for the future!

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Dairy Farm Efficiency and Sustainability

  • Genomics of Feed Efficiency: Genetically selecting cows for their feed efficiency and low methane emissions will soon be possible in Canada.
  • New Evidence – Cows in Canada emit less methane: Dairy cows in Canada emit less methane than previously reported in national and international greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) reports.
  • New genetic and management tools improve hoof health: A Dairy Research Cluster 2 research project on improving hoof health in Canadian dairy herds resulted in the development of two new tools for farmers to improve their cows’ hoof health.

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Animal Health and Welfare

  • Bedding and stall changes can have a big impact on cow comfort and farm performance: Farmers demonstrate how they modified their tie-stall systems for better performance.

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Milk Composition, Quality and Safety

  • Reducing antibiotic use – National surveillance system for antimicrobial stewardship and resistance: Researchers developed a surveillance program and research platform called the Canadian Dairy Network of Antimicrobial Stewardship and Resistance (CaDNetASR) that allows for the collection of data and measures antimicrobial use (AMU) and its relation to animal health and antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
  • Selective dry cow therapy – A strategy for udder health and milk quality: Researchers from the Mastitis Network found that quarter-based selective dry cow therapy is a farm management strategy with the potential to reduce antibiotic use at dry-off by an average of 60%.

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Milk Products and their Components in Human Nutrition and Health

  • Diets containing dairy products can reduce the risk of Metabolic Syndrome, Cardiovascular Disease and Type 2 Diabetes: New knowledge with Canadian data reported that diets containing dairy products can reduce the risk of Metabolic Syndrome, Cardiovascular Disease and Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Vitamin B12 is better absorbed from milk and dairy products: Researchers found that vitamin B12 is much better absorbed when consumed in cow’s milk than when taken in vitamin supplements and that cheddar cheese is one of the best natural sources of vitamin B12, after cow’s milk.
  • Dairy product consumption is associated with a lower risk of mortality, cardiovascular events and Type 2 diabetes: A team of researchers found that dairy consumption, especially of whole fat dairy, was associated with a lower risk of mortality and major cardiovascular disease (CVD) events in a diverse multinational population.
  • New evidence – Dairy products are an important part of adolescent girls’ diet for bone health: Research found that 3–4 servings of dairy products per day improved bone health in overweight/obese adolescent girls.

Visit DairyResearch.ca to download your copy of the 2019 Dairy Research Highlights.

 

Dairy product consumption is associated with lower risk of mortality, cardiovascular events and Type 2 diabetes

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In 2019, a team of researchers found dairy consumption, especially of whole fat dairy, was associated with a lower risk of mortality and major cardiovascular disease events in a diverse multinational population. The study called PURE is a landmark 21-country multinational cohort study of individuals aged 35-70 years old. It tracked dietary intakes including consumption of milk, yogurt, and cheese of 138,484 individuals over time as well as mortality and total major cardiovascular events (i.e. major CVD, stroke, myocardial infarction). The researchers assessed any associations between total dairy and specific dairy product consumption with mortality and CVD events.

New data from the PURE study and published in a scientific journal in May 2020 assessing dairy intake (total, whole fat and low fat) with a prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) and the incidence of hypertension and type 2 diabetes also found:

  • Higher intake (at least two servings/day compared with zero intake) of total dairy was associated with a lower prevalence of MetS;
  • Higher intake of whole fat dairy consumed alone or consumed jointly with low fat dairy was associated with a lower MetS prevalence. Low fat dairy consumed alone was not associated with MetS;
  • Higher intake of total dairy was associated with a lower incidence of hypertension.
  • With regards to diabetes, higher intake of both whole fat and low fat dairy was associated with a reduced risk.

The PURE study is mainly funded by the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) as well as several government agencies and pharmaceutical companies. This specific study, Dairy consumption and cardiovascular disease in diverse populations (2018-2019), led by Andrew Mente, McMaster University, was also co-funded by Dairy Farmers of Canada (via the Nutrition Research Funding Program) and the National Dairy Council (US).

Pedometers on dairy cattle can point to better fertility

Research using automated activity monitors reveals a correlation between the intensity of estrous expression and pregnancies per insemination

Authors: Augusto M.L. Madureira, Tracy A. Burnett, Janet W. Bauer, Ronaldo L.A. Cerri (University of British Columbia)

Estrous detection in dairy cattle is one of the biggest issues in the dairy industry, with estimated losses at $300 million in the US dairy industry when estrous detection fails¹. These losses are due to prolonged calving intervals and days open, reduced milk production, and increased veterinary costs, among other reasons.

A research team led by Dr. Ronaldo Cerri of the University of British Columbia has been studying how data collected from automated activity monitors (AAM) can be best used to detect estrus behaviour for the best opportunity for pregnancy. Results from a national research project led by Dr. Cerri under the Dairy Research Cluster 2 called, Sustainable solutions to improve estrous detection and reproductive efficiency in dairy cows, showed that prioritizing detection of estrus in a reproductive program can be as effective as some timed artificial insemination programs.

Role of automated activity monitors in detecting estrus

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Augusto Madureira, PhD., placing one of the automated activity monitors on a heifer at the UBC Dairy Education and Research Centre in Agassiz, BC.

While standing to be mounted has been the gold standard for heat detection, the frequency of standing events has been declining over time. Increased physical activity is considered a secondary feature of estrous expression in dairy cattle and nowadays automated activity monitors (AAM) have been used to reliably identify cows in estrus. Accelerometers and pedometers are the most common AAM used in the dairy industry. In general, most AAM follow the same concepts in order to create estrus or health alerts. For example, when using accelerometers, the monitor will use an algorithm to calculate an index of physical activity by combing the data measured by the 3D accelerometer. A rolling average in physical activity is calculated to use as the baseline for each animal, which in turn becomes a reference value to calculate the relative increase or decrease in activity at a given period of the day. In the case of alerts for estrus, the relative increase in physical activity has to reach a threshold that is set for each AAM system.

Increase in activity at estrus and pregnancy per artificial insemination (AI)

The use of automatic activity monitors in one study showed a strong correlation between the relative increase in activity at estrus and pregnancy per artificial insemination. Animals that had a greater intensity of activity at estrus had around 12 percentage points (based on the model of analysis) greater pregnancy per AI, or over 30% improvement in fertility, than animals that had lower activity levels. The study included animals that spontaneously went into estrus. But even when using a timed AI protocol that induced ovulation and consequently induced estrus, there was a similar level of physical activity at estrus (Figure 1). They also found a correlation with pregnancy losses from 31 to 60 days post-AI (Figure 2) and estrous expression. Cows that had a lower increase in physical activity were more likely to have reduced pregnancy per AI and increased pregnancy losses.

Figure 1. Distribution of pregnancy per AI (%) of all insemination events according to a relative increase in activity at timed AI detected by an automated activity monitor

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Figure 2. Distribution of pregnancy losses (%) according to a relative increase in physical activity at timed AI detected by an automated activity monitor

Figure2_Cerri

This study was the first to report an association of intensity activity at estrus with fertility and pregnancy losses. Animals that had greater estrous expression had higher pregnancy per artificial insemination and reduced pregnancy losses. The results provide further evidence that measurements of estrous expression (i.e. on spontaneous estrus, timed AI), such as physical activity, might be a reliable predictor of fertility and could be used as a tool to assist dairy farmers with decision-making for reproduction strategies at the farm level.

The researchers also concluded that future research is needed to better understand and interpret the data from the AAM to optimize breeding decisions.

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¹https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7814743

 

New fact sheet for farmers: Drying off cull dairy cattle at high production and in emergency situations

Farmers can download a new fact sheet called: Drying off cull dairy cattle at high production and in emergency situations. The document was prepared by scientific experts at the Mastitis Network led by Dr. Trevor DeVries (University of Guelph) in collaboration with technical advisors, veterinarians and members of the proAction® Animal Care Technical Committee.

The fact sheet provides guidance to all dairy farmers on proper dry-off procedures for dairy cattle generally and in emergency situations. Proper dry-off procedures for lactating dairy cows are important to maintain the Canadian dairy industry’s high standards for animal welfare. Emergency dry-off procedures may be necessary for situations like a farm accident or a rapid and unforeseen interruption in demand for milk requiring a quick reduction in milk production (i.e. early supply chain disruptions that resulted from COVID-19). In all circumstances, applying the procedures enables farmers to ensure they maintain animal health and welfare and comply with the new revised federal regulations (2020) for dairy cattle transport.

Laminated copies that can be posted in barns will be available soon from the proAction Animal Care representatives in each province.

COVID-19: DFC announces research-related visits on commercial dairy farms may resume if Guidelines respected

DFC informed scientists that research-related visits on commercial farms can resume if the researchers and their teams respect the Guidelines for Conducting On-farm Research Activities and receive full authorization by the commercial farm involved in the project. It is also a requirement that researchers must request and have approval from the farm owners to access the property, and must schedule any visits. The farm’s biosecurity measures must be respected at all times.

The organization has asked that researchers consider postponing on-farm research activities that require more than one person or interaction with farm owners/workers whenever possible until provincial Public Health Authorities relax physical distancing recommendations.

Also, before research activities resume on farms, scientists must refer and adhere to the recommendations/guidelines of their local Public Health Authorities and their research institutions, regarding self-isolating and physical distancing.

There should be NO interprovincial travel where self-isolation is required.

DFC thanks all researchers and farmers involved in research projects for their support and cooperation in respecting the guidelines for the protection and safety of all.

Annual Pro$ Update

A prominent change with the April 2020 official genetic evaluation release is the annual update of the Pro$ formula. Following the revision of Pro$ in 2019, the first since its introduction in 2015, it was decided to implement annual updates to the Pro$ formula incorporating the latest economic values every year in April, coinciding with the genetic base update. An annual update to Pro$ allows the index to remain up-to-date and relevant to the latest milk prices and production costs. The most apparent outcome of the Pro$ changes this year is the increase in the range of Pro$ values, notably a large increase in the Pro$ evaluations for the top bulls and females. This is an expected result given the changes that have been observed in the economics of dairy production used in the Pro$ formulation.

Changing Economic Values

The Pro$ index was developed such that the Pro$ difference between sires was directly related to the extra lifetime profit to six years that their daughters would generate for Canadian producers. The scale used is in Canadian dollars. This allows for comparison between sires to easily understand the expected differences in their daughters’ profit but also makes the index susceptible to fluctuations with annual updates due to variability in the economic values contributing to the overall profitability of Canadian dairy cows.

Each year a Lactanet economist updates the economic values used for DHI cow profitability reporting. These same numbers are used to calculate the average profit to six years of age for Canadian daughters of Holstein, Jersey and Ayrshire sires to determine the Pro$ formula for each breed. Table 1 shows the economic values used in cow profitability calculations for 2020 and the previous 2019 formulation of Pro$. Of note, rearing costs increased for all three breeds. The increase is a result mostly of the decline in the value of culled cows, which is deducted from rearing expenses such that the profit calculations consider only the net replacement costs. The rise in rearing costs, however, affects the profitability of all cows very similarly. A more consequential difference is in the net profit per kg of protein produced (the earned revenue minus the marginal feed cost for protein), which increased by around 20%.

PROupdateeng1The combined result of updates to the economic values and incorporating an additional birth year of cows who have now had the opportunity to reach six years of age, was an observed increase in the average cow profitability values and an overall increase in the variability and range of daughter profit levels. Compared to 2019 calculations, the average cow profitability to six years for the 2020 calculations was approximately $522, $311 and $230 higher for Holstein, Jersey and Ayrshire breeds, respectively. More importantly, the variation observed in cow lifetime profitability increased, especially for Holstein and Jersey. While the majority of cows experienced increased lifetime profits with the changes to the production costs and milk prices, the more profitable females become even relatively more profitable than the average cow. This finding translates directly to the changes observed in Pro$ index values with the recent update and release.

Top Bulls Go Up for Pro$

The April 2020 release of official genetic evaluations by Lactanet showed a large increase in Pro$ proofs amongst the top animals. An examination of the less visible group of animals making up the bottom end of the Pro$ index rankings shows that this group had their Pro$ proofs decline, dropping even further below the breed average. Genetic evaluations for the newly updated Pro$ formula are greater than 99% correlated with results from the previous formula and its relationship with individual traits of interest and reranking of bulls due to formula changes are minimal for all breeds. However, the scale of the updated Pro$ values has widened significantly. For the Holstein breed, the average change for the Top 100 Pro$ sires in December is an increase of $371 this round, with the highest increase being $670. For the Jersey breed, the average change for the Top 50 Pro$ sires in December is an increase of $290 this round, with the highest increase exceeding $700. The Ayrshire breed, which did not exhibit the same large changes in actual daughter lifetime profitability as Holstein and Jersey, had an average change near zero for the Top 50 Pro$ sires in December. The interpretation and scale of expression for the Pro$ index is maintained such that Pro$ is directly related to the expected average daughter profit to six years of age in Canadian dollars.

The range in the magnitude of Pro$ values has increased for the Holstein, Jersey and Ayrshire breeds. With the Pro$ formula update, just like when other changes may occur between releases, it is vital to consider that adjustments may be required on how to interpret resulting Pro$ values. While the comparison of Pro$ values between any two sires remains the same, a previously established minimum Pro$ value for sire selection may not bring the same level of selection intensity as before. Table 2a shows the Pro$ values categorizing various percentile ranks for proven bulls in each of the three breeds for April 2020, which can be compared to the same values for December 2019 evaluations in Table 2b. Differences between the two tables combine the impact of the updated Pro$ formula, a genetic base update and the addition of highly ranked, newly proven sires. The Pro$ value needed for a sire to be within the percentile rankings greater than 50% has increased for all breeds especially in the top rankings, while the decline in Pro$ values for the bottom bulls demonstrates that the entire Pro$ range has expanded in both the positive and negative directions.

PROupdateeng2Summary

The Pro$ formula was updated in April 2020 to ensure the index remains current with the latest changes to milk pricing and costs of production in Canada. The most visible change with the Pro$ update is that Pro$ values for top animals in the Holstein and Jersey breeds increased notably. The range of observed Pro$ values has broadened with top animals increasing the most and the lowest ranking bulls decreasing to be further below breed average. The current economic values used to derive the Pro$ formula produced higher and more variable cow lifetime profitability values when applied to actual data compared to the previous economic values. Sire Pro$ values directly represent the average difference in profit that their daughters are expected to earn up to the age of six years. Thus, the disproportionate increase in Pro$ values for top sires is explained by the greater average profits expected to be earned by their daughters.

To download a copy of the article, visit CDN.CA.

Authors:  Allison Fleming, Geneticist and Brian Van Doormaal, Chief Services Officer, Lactanet

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/.