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!

 

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 Genetic Evaluation Tool for Hoof Health

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A genetic evaluation tool for Hoof Health is now available for the Holstein breed. The tool promotes increased resistance to eight key foot lesions.

The selection for Hoof Health index was made possible through a research project financed under the Dairy Research Cluster 2 (a partnership between Dairy Farmers of Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Dairy Network (CDN)) that spanned from 2014 to 2017, targeted at improving hoof health in Canadian dairy herds. After only one year since the project’s completion, CDN is able to transfer the research to the field with genetic evaluations for Hoof Health.

Two other key outcomes from the research project were also delivered. The first is the development of a data collection pipeline from hoof trimmers, to Canadian DHI, and then on to CDN, where it is stored in a national database. The second outcome includes the development of an interactive DHI hoof health management report, which will be available to dairy farmers in the coming months.

From Genetic Evaluations for Digital Dermatitis to an Overall Hoof Health Index

Genetic selection for increased resistance to Digital Dermatitis has been possible since December 2017. The new Hoof Health (HH) evaluation will replace Digital Dermatitis as the primary selection tool – a logical transition since Digital Dermatitis is one of the eight lesions that make up the Hoof Health index. The full list of lesions included in Hoof Health are included in Table 1. The frequency of Digital Dermatitis is the highest among the eight lesions, at approximately 17%. Of cows presented to the hoof trimmer, 46% experience at least one hoof lesion in their lifetime.

Table 1: Frequencies, Heritabilities, Correlations and RBV Translation for the Eight Hoof Lesions Included in the Hoof Health index
Lesion Frequency (%) Heritability (%) Correlation with Hoof Health index (%) Expected % increase in Healthy Daughters for each 5 point increase in Hoof Health
Digital Dermatitis 16.9 8 85 4.6
Interdigital Dermatitis   2.6 5 70 0.9
Heel Horn Erosion   2.9 8 76 0.1
Sole Ulcer   8.5 5 74 3.0
Toe Ulcer   1.3 4 3 0.5
White Line Lesion   4.7 4 9 1.4
Sole Hemorrhage   7.4 3 63 0.9
Interdigital Hyperplasia   2.2 7 40 1.1

The heritability of each individual lesion is included in Table 1, ranging from 3% to 8%. The heritability of the overall Hoof Health index is 9%, meaning 9% of the variation for hoof lesions seen in Holsteins can be attributed to genetics. Correlations of the individual lesions with the overall Hoof Health index are also presented in Table 1. Infectious lesions like Digital Dermatitis, Interdigital Dermatitis and Heel Horn Erosion have high correlations with Hoof Health. The correlations between Hoof Health and the non-infectious lesions like Sole Ulcer, Toe Ulcer, White Line Lesion, Sole Hemorrhage and Interdigital Hyperplasia are more variable. Toe Ulcer and White Line Lesion have the lowest correlations with Hoof Health since they each have a small negative genetic correlation with the three infectious hoof lesions.

Overall, the correlation between Hoof Health and both the Lifetime Profit Index and Pro$ is 58%, meaning selection for either national index will result in improvement for Hoof Health.

In the coming months, a separate Relative Breeding Value for each of the eight lesions will appear on the CDN website when selecting the “Health” tab for any Holstein sire.

For a copy of the full article, you can download it here: Genetic Selection for Improved Hoof Health is Now Possible!

Video Blog : Derek Haley on Calf Health

A new video blog (VLOG) is available featuring Dr. Derek Haley of the University of Guelph reporting on his research findings in calf health, welfare and the use of automatic calf feeders. Funded under the Dairy Research Cluster 2 (2013-2018), Dr. Haley and his collaborators investigated the labour requirements, potential welfare benefits for calves and the ability to accelerate performance of pre-weaned calves housed in groups with automated feeders. Watch the VLOG of Derek reporting on his findings on the Dairy Research Cluster YouTube Channel here:

 

Dairy Research Excellence: Canadian dairy scientist awarded prestigious 2018 Hans Sigrist Prize

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Left to right: Norbert Trautmann, President Hans Sigrist Foundation, University of Bern; Marina von Keyserlingk, 2018 Hans Sigrist Prize Winner, University of British Columbia; Rupert Bruckmaier, Head of Veterinary Physiology, University of Bern and Hans Sigrist Prize search committee chair.

University of British Columbia Professor Marina (Nina) von Keyserlingk was recognized by the Hans Sigrist Foundation at the University of Bern, Switzerland, with the 2018 Hans Sigrist Prize for her outstanding academic contributions in the field of Sustainably Produced Food of Animal Origin.

“The search committee was unanimous in recognizing that she is truly outstanding when compared to others working in the same field” stated committee chair Professor Rupert Bruckmaier, Head of Veterinary Physiology at the University of Bern.

The foundation awards the Hans Sigrist Prize  with an equivalent of $130,000 CAD research grant to a mid-career academic researcher to recognize research contributions to date and to encourage further outstanding work.

Dr. von Keyserlingk had held a NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Animal Welfare supported by the dairy sector, including Dairy Farmers of Canada, since 2008. Nina is recognized internationally for cutting-edge research on the care and housing of dairy cows and calves. She has been a pioneer in the use of behaviour (including especially automated measures) for the early detection and prediction of disease in animals. This work has focused on the use of changes in feeding and social behaviour as early indicators of disease, and has provided a basis for the rapid growth in new research focused on automated health assessments on farms.

Her work is also among the first in the field of animal welfare to incorporate qualitative methods when addressing animal welfare issues, such as interviews, focus groups and online crowd sourcing tools to understand perspectives of farmers, veterinarians and the public with regards to animal care and use. This work has motivated scientific research better targeted at perceived constraints and illustrates a new trend towards interdisciplinary research to address societal concerns around animal agriculture.

Mastitis MOOCs

A new series of MOOCs on mastitis (MOOC is a Massive Online Open Course) is available free through the Université de Montréal. The series was designed by the Canadian Bovine Mastitis and Milk Quality Research Network (CBMQRN) and Université de Montréal as part of the NSERC CREATE in Milk Quality Program. The researchers brought together experts from more than 20 countries to produce the series to initiate graduate students to mastitis science and prepare them for their research programs. Dairy practitioners, teachers and other professionals with a solid scientific background can also enrol to advance their knowledge.

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The first MOOC called, The mammary gland and its response to infectionhas been available since November 2017. It contains basic knowledge on mammary gland anatomy and physiology, immune response, the role of genetics, and pathophysiology. Information can be found at: Mastitis MOOC 1.

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The second MOOC, Mastitis Epidemiology and Diagnostic, presents methods of identification of mastitis infections and methods of diagnostics. Enrolment and information can be accessed at: Mastitis MOOC 2 .

A third MOOC entitled, Mastitis control and milk quality, will be available at a later time.