|Winter Dairy Program on Fresh Cow Health: What Attendees Said
The 2010 MSU Winter Dairy Program had a great turnout across the state with over 450 producers and industry representatives attending the nine locations.
This year attendees could use new technology to respond to questions immediately with a hand-held clicker. After each question, the participants’ answers were tallied and displayed so that everyone could see the distribution of responses. Here are the results from all nine sites.
Among dairy farm owners, managers and employees:
Of agricultural professionals in attendance,
Attendees also were asked about their use of the Internet. The responses reflect not just those of dairy farm owners, managers and employees but also those of industry representatives in the audience.
• 63% access the Internet several times a week or daily to obtain information for their business.
Dairy farm producers use the expertise of others to help them manage their complex businesses.
• 80% said that they used a farm management team that involved professionals from outside the farm.
Participants were asked to rank their response to animal welfare based on the program. The order of responses, with 1 being the highest rank, was:
1. Those who said that they would work to keep well-informed on this topic.
The potential for third party evaluation of farms drew a mixed result, likely because it was unstated who that third party might be, what specifically would be evaluated and how that information would be used or available for others to see.
• 26% said that they understood that cow comfort was important but didn’t see a need to prove it to anyone else.
MSU Extension is one resource for information on animal well-being standards and practices. In addition, National Milk Producers Federation has established a National Dairy FARM (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) program to verify on-farm practices. Many dairy cooperatives including those serving Michigan farmers are supportive of this program.
Locomotion scoring, culling and death losses in fresh cows, and bulk tank somatic cell count were presented as ways to measure animal well-being on the farm. MSU Extension Educators described how to do locomotion scoring and then use those scores to evaluate the foot health of the herd. Yet it is a tool that, while not new, has been under-utilized on farms.
• 34% were previously not familiar with locomotion scoring.
Nutrition, Feeding, Grouping and Metabolic Health
• 57% have more than one dry cow ration
Whenever there is more than one group for lactating cows, then the question is on what basis are cows moved to a different group. Currently,
MSU nutritionists discussed using rumen fill scores as an indicator of when the fresh cow’s rumen is geared up and the cow she is ready to move to another ration. They also recommended body condition score (BCS) as the indicator to move cows from the high group.
• Two-thirds of producers said that the information presented at these meetings would influence the way that they group cows.
• 29% reported that they already use SCR to choose high fertility bulls.
Programmed breeding protocols including the G6G protocol also were presented.
• 20% of producers already use the G6G program
• Two-thirds of producers use the California Mastitis Test (CMT) either routinely, on high somatic cell count (HSCC) cows, or fresh cows.
Teat-end scoring was presented as a means to evaluate physical factors that contribute to the incidence of contagious mastitis.
• 72% said that they plan to use teat-end scoring in their herd.
The MSU Extension Dairy Team thanks the many sponsors and supporters of the 2010 Winter Dairy Program, “Animal Health: Tools to Navigate the Fresh Cow Storm”. Twenty companies sponsored the meetings. In addition, 11 veterinary practices, one feed cooperative, and Michigan Milk Producers Association provided vouchers to reduce the cost for their clients or members to attend.
The author wishes to acknowledge the work of Dr. Kathy Lee, Extension Dairy Educator – Northwest Michigan in summarizing the data from the 2010 MSU Winter Dairy Meetings.
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