The first Dairy Cattle Improvement Industry Forum under the new Lactanet organization was held in Victoria, B.C. last September 17-18, 2019. Hosted by WestGen, which is celebrating its 75thAnniversary, more than 65 dairy farmers, advisors and other dairy stakeholders took part in the forum. The Dairy Research Cluster had its banners on location and distributed the latest information on Dairy Research Cluster 2 results and new Dairy Research Cluster 3 projects.
Attendees heard from Lactanet Chair Barbara Paquet and CEO Neil Petreny on the vision and actions for the new organization. Several experts spoke on the development of existing and novel traits for dairy cattle improvement, genetic trends in western Canada, the history of artificial insemination in the West and a panel of dairy farmers provided their perspectives on new genetic traits needed for the future.
The 2019 Dairy Cattle Improvement Industry Distinction Award was also presented to recipient Bonnie Cooper. As editor of the Holstein Journal, Ms. Cooper was recognized for her excellence in communicating to producers the events, people, animals and developments that have helped shape the Canadian dairy industry over the span of her 45-year career. She was thanked for her work to help make the Canadian Holstein Brand the envy of the world and for communicating breed improvement developments on behalf of Holstein Canada, the Canadian Dairy Network and key industry partners.
Fifteen new research projects targeting dairy farm efficiency and sustainability, cow health and welfare, milk quality, and dairy and cardiometabolic health were announced under the Dairy Research Cluster 3 in July 2019. Joint industry and government commitments to the Dairy Research Cluster 3 total $16.5 million, including the contribution from major partners Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Dairy Farmers of Canada, Lactanet Canada and Novalait. Moreover, 1,300 individual dairy farms and 10 dairy processors will be investing their time in the proposed research activities by collaborating with the research teams.
A summary of each research project is now available online at dairyresearch.ca for download. The summaries contain the list of researchers working on the project, the amount invested in the project, the objectives, a brief overview, as well as the expected outcomes.
Copies of the summaries will be distributed at upcoming conferences where the Dairy Research Cluster kiosk is installed.
Researchers at the Population Health Research Institute (Hamilton, Ontario), led by Dr. Andrew Mente, are part of a landmark 21-country multinational cohort study (the PURE study) of individuals aged 35-70 years old. They tracked dietary intakes and consumption of milk, yogurt, and cheese of 138,484 individuals over time. They also tracked mortality and total major cardiovascular events (i.e. major CVD, stroke, myocardial infarction) to assess any associations between total dairy and specific dairy product consumption with mortality and CVD events. In a scientific paper published in November 2018 in the prestigious journal, The Lancet, the team of researchers found dairy consumption, especially of regular fat dairy, was associated with a lower risk of mortality and major cardiovascular disease events in a diverse multinational population.
Additional research by Dr. Mente associated with the PURE study, and funded in part by Dairy Farmers of Canada, aims to:
Assess the association of dairy product intake, dairy fat content, types of dairy foods, and dietary saturated fatty acids, with blood lipid levels; and,
Investigate the association of dairy product intake, dairy fat content, types of dairy foods, and dietary saturated fatty acids, with obesity (central and overall), diabetes, blood pressure, and hypertension.
Improving the comfort and longevity of dairy cows can improve dairy farm sustainability and profitability. This is the premise of the Industrial Research Chair in the Sustainable Life of Dairy Cattle, launched in 2016 and led by Dr. Elsa Vasseur of McGill University. Preliminary results of multiple studies presented in May 2019 by the scientist and her team show promise for new and innovative approaches to cow comfort and longevity.
Preliminary results to date:
Existing tie-stalls at the Macdonald Campus barn were adjusted to deepen bedding using a bedding guard, increase the volume of straw used in bedding to 3’’ and increase the stall length, which resulted in increased lying times, less hock injuries, thus improving overall cow comfort. The study team cautions, however, that individual barn conditions like ventilation and humidity must be considered and management adjusted for a successful deep-bedded stall system.
Increasing the tie-stall tie length from 1 metre to 1.4 metres allowed for more opportunity for cow movement within a stall. The study team noted that the change in tie length should be done gradually by choosing which cows benefit most from it and assess how the animal gets used to the change in tie length.
Cows are using a variety of resting postures in wider stalls resulting in better cow rest, confirming that current recommendations for stall width must be met at a minimum.
Housing dairy cows in loose pens during the eight-week dry period was beneficial for rest and locomotor recovery. These benefits can be attributed to a combination of factors: fewer obstacles in the environment (by eliminating the stall itself), a larger rest area, and a more comfortable lying area. This study established references to broaden the implementation of dry-off pens.
Measuring the impact of early cases of mastitis and lameness on the productive life of a cow show that a healthy beginning ensures a higher profit lactation. Identifying at risk stages of production and at-risk cows enables farmers to select the best candidates for a next lactation.
Key data is being collected on cost/profit variables farmers can use in their decision-making to develop an interactive herd management tool that will help improve the profitability and longevity of the herd.
Watch the video testimonial from the Roy family of Coaticook, Quebec, as they explain how they used some of the research recommendations to make changes on their farm to improve their cows’ comfort.
Dr. Elsa Vasseur obtained her Ph.D. in Animal Science from Université Laval in 2009, looking at on-farm assessment tools for the welfare of young dairy animals. Following an NSERC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship where she worked with some of Canada’s leading researchers in dairy cattle welfare at the University of British Columbia and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, she took up a research position at the University of Guelph’s Organic Dairy Research Centre on the Alfred Campus, before joining McGill University in January 2016.
Dairy farmers looking for resources and tools associated with the prevention, management, and treatment of mastitis can access a number of information documents and videos available online through the Mastitis Network’s new website at www.mastitisnetwork.org.
A summary of results from the mastitis research program under the Dairy Research Cluster 2 (2013-2018) is available on dairyresearch.ca. The two-page summary includes a list of key outcomes and links to mastitis research projects conducted over the last five years. By clicking on the links in the document, you can learn more about the results of the project, knowledge translation and transfer tools developed to date, and the publications to inform and help dairy farmers manage the health of their animals.
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.
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.
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.
The success stories provide concrete examples of how investments in research are contributing to innovation and excellence. A list of the story headlines follows:
Dairy farms increased efficiency and productivity and have lowered GHG emissions from milk production
Identifying two new traits to select dairy cattle for high feed efficiency and low methane gas emissions
Research supports progress in animal care under proAction®
Canadian team advances world-class research on best practices and standards for dairy cattle welfare
New pathways to prevent, manage and treat infectious diseases of dairy cattle
Mastitis network transfers knowledge and tools for milk quality and production excellence
Impact of milk products on weight and body composition among children and teens
Cheese helps to stabilize blood sugar levels
Benefits of milk as a source of high-quality protein in the management of lung cancer patients
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.
On July 16, 2019, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, announced an $11.4 million investment in a third Dairy Research Cluster to be led by Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC). Joint industry and government commitments to the Dairy Research Cluster 3 total $16.5 million, including the contribution from major partners Lactanet Canada, Novalait, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
Investments will be made in 15 research projects targeted to address DFC’s strategic research priorities identified in the National Dairy Research Strategy and will cover dairy farm efficiency and sustainability, cow health and welfare, milk quality, and the health benefits of dairy products consumption.
The Dairy Research Cluster 3 (DRC3) builds on the success of the Dairy Research Cluster 1 and 2 (2010-2018) to stimulate productivity, sustainability, and profitability on farms, and to improve knowledge of the health benefits of milk and dairy products consumption.
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.
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.
Some key findings
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.
Dr. 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.