Integrated Sustainable Dairy Program

Final Report for ENC10-120

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2010: $59,266.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Gustavo Schuenemann
Veterinary Extension
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Project Information

Abstract:

The eight original modules in the proposal were concluded, with a no cost extension granted for three additional modules to reach more participants. A total of 11 educational modules and ~170 hours of learning were delivered. Overall, the program reached 172 participants from the North Central Region (MI, MN, IN, OH, and WI) and other states (CO, FL, MD, NM, NY, PA, TX, VA, and WV) attended these modules (some attended several modules). All modules were designed specifically for dairy veterinary practitioners and Extension professionals. The program provided a framework to develop cutting edge applied skills in dairy reproduction and nutrition. Educational materials were delivered through in-class lectures followed by case-based learning and group discussions. Attendees found the presented information relevant for their work (>90%) and of great immediate use to them (>95%). Overall, participants indicated that the information presented at the workshops was new to them (range from 50% to 75% of the content) and reported a high degree of confidence (>50%; range from 50 to 100%) that they were able to apply the learned practices. Management of cows at dry-off; management of transition cows (e.g., pre- and postpartum cow nutrition) to prevent diseases (e.g., uterine, hypocalcemia); udder health and mastitis control; best animal welfare practices; development of SOPs and personnel performance; management of calves and health events; and importance of teamwork and communication were listed as learned concepts that participants can apply in their practices. Additionally, the follow up assessment revealed that participants applied the learned practices as a result of the program. Overall, attendees were able to update their knowledge and expressed strong support for the educational program. The overall program evaluation suggested that the workshops were relevant and effective. This program has important implications for dairy veterinarians and Extension educators because they are a vital source of information for dairy producers and their sustainability.

Project Objectives:

Module 1 - Building communication skills (leadership and personal effectiveness). The program consisted of the following topics: insights of participants; communication styles; personality influences; group dynamics/effective teams; rationale and interpersonal skills in team problem solving; communication lab-survival; communication model; re-write messages; elements of effective listening; conflict management; critical thinking, decision making and priority setting; elements of effective management of meetings and facilitation; message mapping; and communication limitations. Educational materials were delivered through in-class lectures followed by case-based learning, group discussions, and participant presentations resulting from an out-of-class assignment. Veterinarians reported that the overall program, presentations, and discussions were useful. Attendees found the presented information relevant for their work and of great immediate use to them. Participants developed quantitative and personal skills that can be used to promote and expand their production medicine services. Importance of teamwork and communication styles, developing and improving messages, elements for effective management of meetings, and conflict management styles were listed as learned concepts that participants can apply in their practices.

Module 2 - Grazing and reproductive management of dairy herds. The program consisted of the following topics: measurement of pasture growth; harvested forages (Quality, available tools to assess it, strategies to store hay or silage under grazing conditions); developing a forage chain for grazing-based dairies; forages to extend the grazing season; management of tall fescue and alfalfa; treatment strategies for uterine diseases in certified organic dairy herds; pregnancy losses in dairy cows; treatment strategies for anovular dairy cows; and assessment of reproductive records. Veterinarians reported that the overall program, presentations, and discussions were useful.

Module 3 - Developing best health management practices for certified organic dairy herds. The program consisted of the following topics: understand holistic principles for health management of livestock; allowed drugs and pain management strategies; risk factors and treatment options for uterine disease in dairy cattle; risk factors and treatment options for scour in calves; and principles of udder health and dry-off strategy.

Module 4 - Strategies for trouble-shooting reproductive performance in dairy herds. The program consisted of the following topics: risk factors associated with poor reproductive performance in dairy herds; assessment of relevant parameters and how to monitor them; approaches to trouble-shoot poor reproductive performance (cow comfort, infectious diseases, synchronization methods); presentation of a case study and group discussion; and data-based decision making process. Educational materials were delivered through in-class lectures followed by case-based learning, and group discussions. Veterinarians reported that the overall program, presentations, and discussions were useful. Attendees found the presented information relevant for their work and of great immediate use to them. Participants developed quantitative and personal skills that can be used to promote and expand their production medicine services. Being able to identify within-herd risk factors affecting reproductive performance and approaches for record analyses were listed as learned concepts that participants can apply in their practices. This program has important implications for dairy veterinarians because they are a vital source of information for dairy producers.

Module 5 – Animal welfare practices for dairy herds. The program consisted of the following topics: the milk buyer and consumer perspective on animal welfare; guidelines for animal welfare practices at herd level; discussion on animal herd health outcomes (e.g., lameness); and assessment of herds records and compliance. Dairy producers, veterinarians, Extension specialist, and Ag-lenders attended this workshop and indicated that the overall program, presentations, and discussions were useful.

Module 6 – Lameness and wellness assessment on modern dairies. The program consisted of the following topics: Diagnosis of upper leg conditions; animal behavior issues; euthanasia (animal welfare issues and review AVMA guidelines); and welfare assessment. Extension specialist and veterinarians that attended this workshop indicated that the overall program, presentations, and discussions were useful with immediate field application. Being able to identify within-herd risk factors affecting animal welfare and approaches for herd assessment were listed as learned concepts that participants can apply in their practices. This program has important implications for dairy veterinarians because they are a vital source of information for dairy producers.

Module 7 – Animal health management and practices in dairy herds under organic management. The program consisted of the following topics: best animal welfare practices; udder health (including dry-off practices) and mastitis control; management of transition cows; calf health and management; uterine diseases (preventive practices and treatments). Educational materials were delivered through in-class lectures and group discussions. Veterinarians, Extension specialists, livestock certifiers, and dairy producers attended this module. Participants reported that the overall program, presentations, and discussions were useful. Also, attendees found the presented information relevant for their work and of great immediate use to them. Identifying within-herd risk factors affecting herd health performance and preventive management practices for transition cow diseases as well as calf health were listed as learned concepts that participants can apply in their practices. This program has important implications for dairy veterinarians because they are a vital source of information for dairy producers.

Module 8 – Genomic selection for improved fertility in dairy cows. The program consisted of the following topics: Nutrition and reproductive management in lactating dairy cows; transition cow diseases (with emphasis on nutrient and calcium balance) and reproductive management in lactating dairy cows; dairy personnel performance; phenotypic and genomic selection practices for dairy herds; application of genomic technology and its implications on reproductive performance of dairy herds. Veterinarians, Extension specialist, and researchers attended this workshop and indicated that the overall program, presentations, and discussions were useful.

Module 9 – Focused on dairy cattle reproduction with an emphasis on transition cow management in confinement systems. The focus was to increase the ability of veterinarians to identify and solve reproductive-related issues on dairy farms. The program consisted of the following topics: Reproductive programs for heifers and lactating dairy cows with emphasis on estrus detection; identify metrics and protocols for monitoring reproductive performance on dairy farms; identify risk factors associated with reproductive performance taking into account management practices and the environment; understand the relationship between transition cow management and reproductive success; identify practices that affect semen quality and delivery with emphasis on management factors; and identify treatment protocols for anovular cows.

Module 10 – Focused on advanced dairy cattle reproduction building on the same learning objectives as module 9. This module went deeper into the subject matter and allowed participants to work on a reproduction-related request from a client’s herd. The used their real data to develop solutions with the group during this module.

Module 11 – Focused on dairy cattle nutrition to increase the ability of veterinarians to identify and solve nutritionally related issues on dairy farms, specifically to reduce the incidence of nutritionally related diseases. The program consisted of the following topics: Evaluation of the quality of feeds and understand the concepts of dietary formulations; understand avenues to reduce variation on dairy farms in nutrient content of diets and grouping systems; conduct audits on dairy farms for improving quality of feed provided to cattle and reducing shrink; understand dry matter intake and limitations; understand current concepts and recommendations in dietary nutrients; able to assess the cost of feeding dairy herds and identify means for increasing profitability of the herds; and evaluate feeding programs for transition cows and dairy replacements.

Introduction:

The veterinary profession and Extension educators have a respected presence in the dairy farm community. In addition to being educators and service providers, veterinary practitioners and Extension professionals are often the primary source of information and education for dairy producers (e.g., food safety-security, animal health-welfare). The integrated sustainable dairy program was a comprehensive program that offered advance educational knowledge and hands-on learning opportunities in an intensive face-to-face workshop environment.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Dr. Klibs Galvao
  • Dr. Jeffrey Workman

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Objective:
Description:

Methods

Educational materials were delivered through in-class lectures followed by case-studies, and group discussions.

Outreach and Publications

None to report.

Outcomes and impacts:

1) Short-term: Participants reported that the overall program, presentations, and group discussions were useful. Also, they found the presented information relevant for their work and of great immediate use to them.

2) Intermediate-term: An active network of practicing veterinarians, Extension professionals and university researchers was developed.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

1) Delivery of three educational modules: ~170 hours of learning for 172 participants (some of them attending several modules) ~320,000 dairy cows in 1,300 herds.

2) Development of proceedings book, case-studies (e.g., risk assessment of transition cow management and herd performance for teaching undergraduate/graduate/professional students, practicing veterinarians, and dairy producers), one tutorial for calving management practices (PowerPoint presentation and evaluation instruments) for dairy herds (Spanish and English versions), and evaluation instruments that have application for other programs.

3) Development of an active network of practicing veterinarians and academic researchers.

Recommendations:

Potential Contributions

Information from this project will be helpful to develop future programs (e.g., best herd health practices for organic livestock, data management and interpretation, use of cloud computing technologies, APPs for hand held devises) to address new needs resulting from the active network created through this project. 

Future Recommendations

None to report.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.