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.

Project Summary Dairy Cluster 2 - Water footprint assessment and optimization for Canadian dairy farms_blog

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!

 

LCA of Milk Production Update

The Canadian Milk Production Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) Update conducted by Groupe AGECO and released in January 2019 assesses several environmental issues in milk production, including carbon footprint, water consumption, and land use. Its findings indicate that the Canadian dairy sector has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world!

The LCA update characterizes the environmental performance of Canadian milk production in 2016 and compares it with data from 2011. In 2012, the first Lifecycle Assessment of Milk Production was conducted and published under the Dairy Research Cluster (2010-2013) and integrated into a comprehensive online tool called Dairy Farms + under the Dairy Research Cluster 2 (2013-2018). Dairy Farms + is available to every Canadian dairy farmer for environmental self-assessment and benchmarking at DairyFarmsPlus.ca.

Informed by science, the LCA update results demonstrate that Canadian dairy farmers adopt practices that benefit the environment. Practices like more crop rotations, improved manure management, reduced tillage and precision agriculture techniques, as well as increased milk production per cow, show continuous improvements in these environmental profiles.

KEY FINDINGS OF THE STUDY

  • Milk produced in Canada has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world. A litre produced in Canada emits 0.94 kg CO2 eq, which is about 1/3 the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, compared to the global average. 
  • Carbon footprint, water consumption, and land use associated with milk production have decreased by 7%, 6%, and 11%, respectively, in the past five years.
  • As a result of improvements in animal nutrition, genetics, and housing, milk production per cow increased by 13% since 2011.
  • In 2016, Canadian milk production was responsible for generating only 1.3% of Canada’s total GHG emissions.

 

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More and More Evidence of Dairy’s Role in Prevention of Chronic Diseases

shutterstock_255113662The scientific evidence supporting the role of milk products in the prevention of chronic diseases continues to accumulate.

A list of the science-based articles available on DairyNutrition.ca includes information on Milk Products and Cardiovascular Diseases, Hypertension, Type 2 Diabetes, and more.Additionally, recent studies on dairy product consumption and Cardiovascular health and the prevention of Type 2 Diabetes report that:

  • Higher dairy intake is associated with a lower risk of mortality and cardiovascular disease. A study published in The Lancet in September 2018 led by Canadian researchers  involved 136,384 participants from 18 countries aged 35-70 years who were followed for a median of 9.1 years. Researchers found that consumption of >2 servings/d of whole-fat dairy (milk, yogurt and cheese) was associated with a 25% reduced risk of mortality and a 32% reduced risk of major cardiovascular disease (compared to intake of < 0.5 servings/d).

  • Consumption of dairy fat may confer protective effects against type 2 diabetes. A 2018 meta-analysis provides the strongest evidence to date for the association of certain fatty acids with reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. The study examined the association of type 2 diabetes with certain fatty acids (as measured in the blood and fat tissue), which are considered objective measures that reflect dairy fat intake.  The different fatty acids were associated with reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes from 19-45%.

For additional information on other topics, visit DairyNutrition.ca.

New science on the dairy water footprint

image003Dr. Andrew VanderZaag, a scientist from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and his collaborators from the University of Guelph, OMAFRA, the Livestock Research Innovation Corporation, and Wilfrid Laurier University, measured water use on farms in Ontario to calculate a water footprint for dairy production and identify practical and economical options to reduce water use for sustainability. The project was part of farmers’ investments targeting sustainable dairy farming in the Dairy Research Cluster 2 (2013-2018).

A water footprint for dairy is a new way of measuring the amount of water used per litre of milk produced. It’s used to benchmark performance in sustainability and help farmers measure the impacts of their actions to improve water conservation and preservation.

Conserving water not only helps improve farm sustainability, it benefits a dairy farm operation by:

  • Saving electricity through less pumping water and heating water for cleaning;
  • Reducing costs for treating water – depending on water quality, this can be a big factor; and,
  • Lowering fuel costs – reducing water in manure storage means less to transport from the storage to the field for application.

Water use

VanderZaag’s team measured water use in different dairy farms (tie-stall, freestall and robotic milking) in Ontario. They found that for milking system cleaning, the average daily water use was:

  • ~75 litres/day/cow [i]for an automatic milk system
  • ~30 litres/day/cow for a tie-stall parlour
  • ~21 litres/day/cow for a free-stall parlour

They also observed that:

  • Robotic milking systems use more water per cow than parlours and tie‐stall milking systems;
  • Drinking water consumption is highly correlated with the maximum air temperature – therefore minimizing heat stress to animals can reduce the water footprint of milk by reducing water demand and increasing milk production;
  • Water leaks around the farm can lead to significant water losses;
  • Water loss can be minimized at drinking fountains by preventing overflow due to faulty float control and poorly levelled tanks;
  • Reusing water can help reduce water consumption, for example, plate‐cooler water can be fully recuperated;
  • In a case study of two farms (one free-stall and one tie-stall), the water footprint was calculated as a range of 4 to 7 litres of water per litre of milk produced.

Water and nutrient losses

VanderZaag and his collaborators measured water and nutrient losses for several years at experimental sites near Ottawa using sophisticated instruments to measure water loss into the air, through tile drains, milkhouse effluent and treatment, and the timing of manure application. They used models based on the measurements to evaluate farm management scenarios for their effect on the water footprint and options to reduce it.

The researchers found that:

  • On a whole‐farm basis, over 99% of all water loss from dairy farming is from crops and pastures, with the remaining loss from cattle intake;
  • Spring application of manure reduces nitrogen leaching compared to fall application;
  • Split applications between planting and side‐dress can further increase nitrogen-efficiency if the application rate is matched to crop requirements;
  • Spring applications (before planting, or split before and after emergence) were beneficial at all nitrogen application rates;
  • Increasing alfalfa in rotation led to less polluted water and nitrate leaching, and less nitrogen-leached per unit of nitrogen‐yield, but overall yield slightly declined.

How to conserve and preserve water – NEW Fact sheets available!

Two new fact sheets produced by Dairy Farmers of Canada in consultation with Dr. VanderZaag are now available for information on efficient water use under the proAction program and help farmers in their efforts for continued sustainability improvements. You can download the fact sheets here: DairyResearch.ca.

 

“If all dairy operations in Canada reduced in-barn water consumption by 1%, about 500 million litres of water would be saved annually,” said Dr. VanderZaag.

Takeaways

  1. Plate-cooler water can be recovered and reused (watch the video of dairy farmer Robin Flewwelling explain his set up for plate-cooler water collection and reuse);image002

  2. Cleaning protocols can be optimized especially with robotic systems to conserve water;

  3. Keeping cows cool in the summer can save water – reducing heat stress is beneficial for the animals and reduces water consumption;

  4. Water loss at drinking fountains can be minimized by preventing overflow due to faulty float control and poorly levelled tanks.

[i]* Standard automatic milking system are not normally set with water conservation as a primary objective (e.g. number of wash cycles, teat prep, flushing, floor and hoof wash).

 

Gut Health: A Journey Inside

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The following are highlights from the 2018 Symposium on Nutrition and Health brought to you by the Registered Dietitians at Dairy Farmers of Canada

Renowned experts at the 2018 Symposium shed light on several hot topics related to gut health, including:

  • how the gut microbiota affects overall health
  • when and how to apply the FODMAP* diet
  • how yogurt can benefit cardiometabolic health
  • strategies to manage lactose intolerance

*FODMAP stands for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. FODMAPs are found naturally in a wide range of foods – fructans including fructooligosaccharides (FOS) (artichoke, garlic, onions, wheat, rye), galactooligosaccharides (GOS) (pulses), lactose (in milk), fructose in excess of glucose (pears, apples and honey), and sugar polyols (stone fruits, some vegetables and artificial sweeteners). Source: www.dairynutrition.ca

Dr. Karen Madsen presented on the gut microbiome and its role in health. Humans have coevolved with a vast array of microorganisms that profoundly influence all facets of our health and wellbeing. Dysbiosis, an altered balance of gut microbiota, is implicated in a wide range of health conditions, including: inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, autoimmune diseases, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and obesity. We now know that diet clearly impacts the makeup of our gut microbiome and dietary changes can substantially alter microbial composition and metabolism.

Please read full summary or watch the webcast of this presentation here.

Dr. Jane Muir, one of the developers of the FODMAP diet, highlighted how RDs can apply this diet in practice, ensuring patients follow a 3-step approach and do not restrict important food groups. For example, the initial low FODMAP phase of the diet should only last 2-6 weeks, and this should be followed by a re-introduction phase to identify individual sensitivities and find a good balance between symptom control and expansion of the diet. It is important to re-introduce foods to improve variety, nutritional adequacy, and social inclusion and because some FODMAPs are prebiotics.1

Please read full summary or watch the webcast of this presentation here.

Dr. André Marrette outlined the evidence related to yogurt and cardiometabolic health. Strong consistent evidence from multiple meta-analyses shows an inverse association between yogurt consumption and type 2 diabetes risk.Studies also suggest that yogurt consumption is likely to contribute to the maintenance of a healthy weight.Bioactive peptides released during fermentation may explain some of the beneficial effects of yogurt consumption on cardiometabolic health via their role on the gut microbiota.

Please read full summary or watch the webcast of this presentation here.

Dr. Susan Barr presented data on the prevalence of Lactose Intolerance in Canada and strategies for its management. Lactose intolerance, whether real or perceived, is a potential health concern for many Canadians. Approximately 16-21 % of adults in Canada perceive themselves to be lactose intolerant.4,5 This can lead to the avoidance of milk products, which can in turn make it harder to meet requirements for calcium and other key nutrients (even with consumption of alternative beverages and supplements). Health authorities advise those who are lactose intolerant to not exclude milk products from their diet. Health professionals can work closely with clients to ensure dairy products are not needlessly avoided using a number of practical strategies to manage lactose intolerance.

Please read full summary or watch the webcast of this presentation here.

You can read the full summaries of the presentations or watch the webcast.

REFERENCES

  1. Tuck C and Barrett J. Re-challenging FODMAPs: the low FODMAP diet phase 2. Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2017;32:11-15.
  2. Drouin-Charier JP et al. Systematic review of the association between dairy product consumption and risk of cardiovascular-related clinical outcomes. Adv Nutr2016;7:1026-1040.
  3. Fernandez MA et al.Yogurt and cardiometabolic diseases: a critical review of potential mechanisms. Adv Nutr2017;8:812-829.
  4. Barr SI. Perceived lactose intolerance in adult Canadians: a national survey. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 2013;38:830-835.
  5. Dairy Farmers of Canada Nutrition Tracking. 2018.

 

Dairy Farmers’ TOP 10 Dairy Cattle Disease and Management Concerns Addressed

Author: Meagan King, University of Guelph

As part of the National Dairy Study’s Needs Assessment (Phase 1), close to 700 dairy farmers completed a survey asking them to identify their top management and disease priorities. The five-year research project was led by Dr. David Kelton at the University of Guelph and his collaborators under the Dairy Research Cluster 2.

The survey resulted in the following priorities identified by Canadian dairy farmers:

Top Management Issues

  1. Animal welfare
  2. Reproductive health
  3. Costs of disease
  4. Cow deaths/longevity
  5. Udder health

Top Disease Issues

  1. Lameness
  2. mastitis
  3. Calf diarrhea
  4. Abortions
  5. Respiratory disease

The Dairy Research Cluster team has compiled resources linked to the top issues in the following interactive poster. Scroll over each priority to discover a pop up window containing sources of information on each issue and how to address it.

National Dairy Study – Resources on milking management, mastitis prevention and lameness

Three VLOGs (video blogs) featuring students responsible for projects and results about milking management, mastitis prevention, lameness, and hock lesions in the National Dairy Study (Dairy Research Cluster 2) are now available on the Dairy Research Cluster’s You Tube channel here:

Assessing Lameness in Dairy Cattle with Stephanie Croyle

Training Assessors:  A key step for the National Dairy Study with Stephanie Croyle

Understanding the Adoption of Best Milking Practices for Udder Health with Emilie Belage

Winning video entries – My research in 180 seconds

During the Dairy Research Symposium in February 2018, two students won prizes for their video entries in the student video competition, My research in 180 seconds. Catalina Medrano-Galarza from the University of Guelph won first place and Meagan King, also of the University of Guelph, placed second. Congratulations to both students for their great work!

Management practices and calf health using group housing and automated milk feeders

Lameness and health disorders in robotic milking systems

2018 Dairy Research Symposium: Transferring Results For Action

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On February 9th, 2018 over 100 dairy producers, stakeholders, processers, sector partners, and researchers from across Canada took part in Dairy Farmer of Canada’s (DFC) Dairy Research Symposium at the Château Laurier in Ottawa. The theme of the event was Transferring Results for Action, and showcased some of the results of scientific research from the three priority areas targeted in the Dairy Research Cluster 2:  human nutrition and health, genetics and genomics, and sustainable milk production.

All presentations and resources can be found online at: DairyResearch.ca.

Key Takeaways from the session on Milk Products: The Total Package:

  • Dairy and prevention of Type 2 Diabetes: In the PROMISE study, the majority of dairy-specific fatty acids that we are studying show a beneficial impact on insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion in high risk individuals (Dr. Anthony Hanley, University of Toronto).
  • Dairy foods may account for many positive outcomes associated with its consumption, including improved glucose metabolism and appetite suppression. The consumption of dairy between meals as preferred snacks and at meals with carbohydrate should be encouraged as a means of addressing the public health costs of obesity and diabetes (Dr. Harvey Anderson, University of Toronto).
  • A First Canadian trial provides evidence that milk and milk products are important factors in achievement of bone health during adolescence, especially in females (Dr. Hope Weiler, McGill University).
  • Growing evidence suggests the beneficial impact of milk products on Metabolic syndrome (Metabolic syndrome is a clustering of at least three of the five following medical conditions: abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high serum triglycerides and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels. Metabolic syndrome is associated with the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes), and cardiometabolic disorders. Dairy intake of Canadians has been lower than recommendations in most age groups since 2004 (based on national survey data) and promotion strategies should be specific, targeting age groups with lower intake and emphasizing role of dairy in health (Dr. Hassan Vatanparast, University of Saskatchewan).
  • Data from epidemiological and clinical studies indicates that consumption of dairy products, in various forms, is either beneficial or neutral with respect to the association with cardiovascular-related clinical outcomes and has no apparent harmful effects on cardiometabolic risk factors (Jean-Phillippe Drouin-Chartier, Université Laval).

Key takeaways from the session Genetics and Genomics – Tools for Dairy Business Improvement:

  • Genomic selection is paying big dividends for the Canadian dairy farmer – more efficient selection for all traits and selection for new traits will affect cost of production at the farm level (health, fertility, cow longevity).
  • In future, improvements will be made using genetics to impact product quality, among others.

Interactive Workshops: 

Three interactive workshops with Canadian experts provided results and resources to improve farm practices with mastitis prevention strategies, better cow comfort and calf care and addressing challenges in transitioning to automatic milking systems (AMS).  Stay tuned to the dairyresearchblog.ca for upcoming posts concerning the outcomes of the workshops and more resources!

Key takeaways from the session on New Science for Dairy Sustainability: 

AAFC scientists presented on water conservation practices on dairy farms, improved genetics and management practices to increase the energy in forages and upcoming changes to protein content in the National Research Council’s (NRC) recommended dairy ration.

  • In-barn water use is 4-7 L per L of milk produced.
  • Conservation practices include recycling all plate-cooler water, improving cleaning protocols and ensuring cow comfort in summer (reduce heat stress); reducing nutrient losses (leaching, runoff, washwater) and energy use also reduces the water footprint.
  • Small changes matter to the dairy sector as a whole – if all farms reduced their in-barn use of water by 1%, 500,000,000 litres of water could be conserved!
  • Increasing the production and utilization of alfalfa-based mixtures is a sustainable strategy to improve on-farm profitability and to reduce the environmental footprint of the Canadian dairy industry.
  • Improved estimations of supply and requirements of proteins and amino acids = better ration formulation that will lead to: increased net farm income and decreased dairy environmental footprint.

More articles on the results generated by the Dairy Research Cluster 2 will be published in the coming months on the DairyResearchBlog.ca to keep transferring knowledge from results for action!