In NC, alfalfa and prairie grass pastures were successfully grown organically and mixtures were more valuable than alfalfa alone with productivity life up to 4 years. Cows managed organically (except for supplemental feed) were similar to conventional cows in production, health and reproduction. Commercial organic and conventional dairies have similar prevalence of mastitis-causing organisms. Herbal products were shown to have potential as alternatives to antibiotics for maintaining milk quality on organic dairies. Evaluation of various fly repellents in AR provided only transient effects in reducing horn fly populations suggesting a need for differing formulations or approaches to manage those pests.
1. Monitor 8 to 10 organic dairy herds total in Arkansas and North Carolina to document types, efficacy, and implications on profitability of changes in practices for organic forage production, feeding, animal health, and management.
2: Conduct a multi-disciplinary systems-based research trial with allocations of pasture areas and cattle to be managed organically in comparison to comparable conventionally managed land and cattle at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) in North Carolina. Various aspects of pasture management and animal management including production, reproduction, and herd health will be monitored within the two systems across the term of the project.
3. Applied research to evaluate organic treatments for mastitis (NC) and alternative methods of parasite control (AR) will be conducted on cooperating organic dairy farms. Demonstrations to potentially improve organic pasture and forage production will be conducted on cooperating farms in both states.
4. Provide dairy advisors and organic dairy producers with management information, recommendations, and develop a resource network to support the emerging organic dairy industry in the South.
The southern U.S. dairy industry has lost many dairy farms over the past several years leading to more severe regional deficits of milk. Interest in organic management and marketing for dairy production in the southern United States has increased recently because of the stabile, higher on-farm price of organic milk ($24.50-$28.00/cwt) compared to the erratic and often low average price of conventional milk ($12-15/cwt). Demand for organic milk has steadily increased and supplies presently do not meet demand. Organic dairy farming offers a potential opportunity for some dairy farmers to be economically competitive, and to diversify the southern dairy industry.
The southern states are well adapted for organic dairy farms because of the availability of organic fertilizer from poultry litter for forage production and long grazing seasons of 8 to 12 months. Economic use of legumes to provide nitrogen for the pastures may aid in balancing nutrients for forages; yet innovative systems approaches are needed for pasture use and weed control. Further, the establishment of legumes in pasture could provide high-quality protein grown on-farm. In one study, dairy cows were provided either alfalfa pasture, alfalfa greenchop, or alfalfa hay in their rations. Over 9 weeks, the cows eating alfalfa pasture had higher milk production than cows eating alfalfa hay despite a lower crude protein percentage in the pasture (18%) than in the hay (23%) (Stiles et al., 1971). Having the cows do the harvesting saves on mechanical costs; cows can walk up to a milk without any loss in milk production (Gamroth, 2010). Including grass in alfalfa pasture can reduce the risk of bloat (Jackobs, 1963) and increase total forage yields, persistence, and productivity (McCloud, 1953; Sanderson et al., 2005). Bromegrass mixtures with alfalfa have potential for use in pasture systems, because of the similar heading date and thus less competition with alfalfa as compared to tall fescue, orchardgrass, and other grasses that may shade the alfalfa crowns in early growth.
Many dairy farms in the South are “natural” presently with no or limited use of antibiotics and hormones. The USDA National Organic Program does not allow organic dairy producers to use antibiotics or hormones in their cattle (Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, 2013). Antibiotics are important in dairy cattle for treating sick animals, but they are also an important tool for managing and preventing udder infections (mastitis). In Wisconsin, dairy producers have used whey-based products, vitamins, Aloe vera, homeopathy, and aspirin to treat clinical mastitis (Pol and Ruegg, 2007a). Dry cow therapy is another method for mitigating mastitis and is used at the beginning of the dry period. This dry period is a 45-60 day period between lactations when the cow is not milked to give time for her udder to recuperate and prepare for the next lactation, which starts when she gives birth at the end of the dry period. Dry cow therapy is used to treat any infections that are in the mammary gland at dry off, and to prevent infections from occurring during the dry period. Several veterinarians have published books on recommended treatments for organic dairy cattle. Recommended dry cow therapies range from gradual cessation of milking to use of herbal remedies. Though the antibacterial activity of some plant-derived molecules has been shown against certain mastitis pathogens in vitro (Baskaran et al., 2009), no studies have been reported to date that examine either the antibacterial activity of a whole plant extract or the activity of herbal products when used as dry cow therapy. Alternatives to antibiotics must be developed and evaluated for organic dairy farmers because organic dairy farmers face the same mastitis challenges as conventional farmers (Pol and Ruegg, 2007b; Roesch et al., 2007), but have less proven tools in their toolbox to mitigate mastitis.
Southern states currently have to import organic dairy products from outside the region. Although the northeast has had programs for organic dairy producers, the southern region is unique in that greater problems are expected with udder health, internal and external parasites, and breeding problems because of greater heat stress and longer periods for bacteria and parasites to grow. Research on biological and business constraints to organic dairy production is lacking for the southern states. One external parasite, the horn fly, is especially challenging for organic dairies. Economically, the horn fly, Haematobia irritans irritans (L.), is the most important arthropod pest of pastured cattle in the United States (Byford et al. 1992). Losses in the United States have been estimated at about $800 million annually. These losses are greatest to lactating cows and growing calves. High horn fly populations can cause significant blood loss and annoyance, as well as mastitis. Annoyance results in energy losses associated with combating the flies, changes and/or reductions in routine grazing patterns and bunching of animals. Significant reduction in calf weaning weights is well documented. This loss is related to a decline in milk production as a result of horn fly feeding or annoyance. Organic dairies have very limited options when it comes to parasitic fly control because of pesticide restrictions. Some experimental fly repellents (such as C8910, geraniol, and No-Fly) are available to organic dairy producers but need to be evaluated for efficacy. C8910 is an experimental product that contains a food-grade fatty acid which may repel horn flies. Geraniol is a component of several different essential oils and is the active ingredient in No-Fly.
The purpose of this project is to provide research and educational support for organic or transitioning dairy farms in the South. The price of organic milk paid to producers remains stable throughout the year, and the stability of organic pricing also is important in that it allows for greater financial planning compared to conventional milk which has wide fluctuations in prices. Because of the price stability with organic milk, it is expected that many, perhaps most, new dairy producers will enter the organic market. Overall, organic dairy farming has potential to have an economic impact of greater than $1 billion per year in the southern states.
Challenges facing producers during transition from conventional to organic dairying include maintaining cash flow during transition, costs and availability of organic feed, alternative control of parasitic and premise flies, management of forage pests and fertility, control of “weeds”, learning how to treat cows without antibiotics, and getting cows pregnant without use of hormonal treatments.
Specifically, evaluation of herds that have successfully transitioned from conventional dairy production to organic dairying will help define current needs as well as identify factors that allowed those producers to be successful. Controlled studies will also be conducted to determine efficacy of alternative approaches to control external parasites, treat or prevent mastitis, enhance reproductive efficiency, and to evaluate pasture composition and management practices applicable to current and prospective organic dairy farms in the South.
Baskaran, S. A., G. W. Kazmer, L. Hinckley, S. M. Andrew, and K. Venkitanarayanan. 2009. Antibacterial effect of plant-derived antimicrobials on major bacterial mastitis pathogens in vitro. J. Dairy Sci. 92:1423-1429. doi:10.3168/jds.2008-1384.
Byford, R.L., B. Cosby and M.E. Craig. 1992. A review of ectoparasites and their effect on cattle production. Journal of Animal Science 70: 597-602.
Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. 2013. Title 7: Agriculture Part 205—National Organic Program. Accessed May 4, 2013. http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&SID=f942f8fe8cf4407c29e50053befcc89a&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title07/7cfr205_main_02.tpl.
Gamroth, M . 2010. Energy Requirements of Grazing Activity. North Carolina State Cooperative Extension.
Jackobs, J.A. 1963. A measurement of the contributions of ten species to pasture mixtures. Agron. J. 55:127-131.
McCloud, D.E., and G.O. Mott. 1953. Influence of association upon the forage yield of legume-grass mixtures. Agron. J. 45:61-65.
Pol, M., and P. L. Ruegg. 2007a. Treatment practices and quantification of antimicrobial drug usage in conventional and organic dairy farms in Wisconsin. J. Dairy Sci. 90:249-261.
Pol, M., and P. L. Ruegg. 2007b. Relationship between antimicrobial drug usage and antimicrobial susceptibility of gram-positive mastitis pathogens. J. Dairy Sci. 90:262-273.
Roesch, M., M. G. Doherr, W. Schären, M. Schällibaum, and J. W. Blum. 2007. Subclinical mastitis in dairy cows in Swiss organic and conventional production systems. J. Dairy Res. 74:86.
Sanderson, M.A., K.J. Soder, L.D. Muller, K.D. Klement, R.H. Skinner, and S.C. Goslee. 2005. Forage mixture productivity and botanical composition in pastures grazed by dairy cattle. Agron. J. 97:1465-1471.
Stiles, D.A., E.E. Bartley, G.L. Kilgore, F.W. Boren, and H.B. Perry. 1971. Comparative value of alfalfa pasture, alfalfa greenchop, or alfalfa hay for lactating dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 54:65-70.
Center for Environmental Farming Systems Pasture-Based Dairy Unit (CEFS), Goldsboro, NC: CEFS is a seasonal-calving (autumn-calving), pasture-based dairy that manages half of its cattle to an organic health standard and the other half conventionally. All cows in both management groups receive conventional concentrate feed as well as pasture in amounts sufficient to meet the U.S. organic pasture requirement. However, cows in the organic group graze in pastures that can be certified organic and receive organic treatments and disease prevention strategies. The herd had approximately 130 milking cows each year. The herd is composed of Holsteins, Jerseys, and crosses between those breeds.
Commercial organic and conventional dairies in North Carolina: In 2010, all 6 certified organic dairies, 6 conventional dairies of similar size and geographic location, and the CEFS herd were surveyed to determine herd health practices related to milk quality as well as to compare milk quality. The farms had between 18 and 157 milking cows.
Arkansas lost all of their organic dairy producers when the processors and cooperatives dropped them, and so data from organic dairy farms in Arkansas were not available as planned for this research project. However projects were conducted related to fly repellents on commercial farms and at two research sites in Arkansas.
Research from North Carolina State University:
Study A: Research on alfalfa-grass mixtures under organic and conventional management
Project Design: Two varieties of alfalfa and two varieties of prairie grass were tested at CEFS in replicated grazing plots (Field 1: 0.8 ha or 2 acres each; Field 2: 0.5 ha or 1.25 acres each) and in smaller 12m x 18m (40’ x 59’) hay plots in a split-block design over 2 years. These plots had a sandy loam soil type, and had historically been planted with sorghum-Sudangrass hybrid for summer grazing and annual ryegrass in winter (Field 1) or was in hybrid Bermudagrass sod for several years (Field 2).
Fields were prepared for planting following application of lime and fertilizer according to soil test recommendations and following organic regulations for the organic plots, except that certified organic seed was not used. Conventional plots without prairie grass had the herbicide Eptam® (EPTC, s-ethyl dipropylthiocarbamat) incorporated at 4.1 L/ha (7 oz/acre) before planting alfalfa. Field 1 was planted in October 2009, Field 2 was planted in October of 2010 after a smother crop of sorghum-Sudangrass (planted May 2010) was disked in, and the hay plots were planted in October 2009 following two diskings in August to disrupt establishment of cool-season grasses and another disk in early September after lime application.
The two varieties of alfalfa used in this study were Arriba alfalfa with a fungicide seed coat (America’s Alfalfa®) planted at 22.5 kg/ha (20.1 lb/acre) and Haygrazer (Cimarron USA®) inoculated with Rhizobium meliloti (Nitragrin AB®) planted at 29.0 kg/ha (25.9 lb/acre). The two varieties of prairie grass that were used in the hay plots were Matua prairie grass (Barenbrug®) and Lakota prairie grass, planted either in fall (broadcast at 16.8 kg/ha (15 lb/acre)) or spring (broadcast at 16.8 kg/ha (15 lb/acre)). Conventional plots of alfalfa without prairie grass were sprayed on December 9, 2009 with sethoxydim (Poast Plus®) at 1.75 L/ha (3 oz/acre) for ryegrass control.
In the hay small-plot trial, both varieties of alfalfa were evaluated with both varieties of prairie grass in a replicated split-block design with embedded subplots of prairie grass. In the grazing trial, only Matua prairie grass was evaluated with both varieties of alfalfa to simplify the design of the trial. In the grazing trial, the design was a replicated split-block design (management x alfalfa variety), with Matua drilled into organic and conventional plots in February of 2010 (16.8 kg/ha (15 lb/acre) in Field 1), late August of 2010 (22.5 kg/ha (20.1 lb/acre) in Field 1) and February of 2011 (22.5 kg/ha (20.1 lb/acre) in Field 2). Establishment of prairie grass was more successful during the fall planting.
Harvesting, either for the hay trial or grazing for the grazing trial, occurred in the organic plots when the alfalfa weevil presence reached the economic threshold of 3 alfalfa weevil larvae per stem. If this threshold was reached in the conventional plots, those plots were sprayed with Lorsban-4E® (chlorpyrifos). Alfalfa scouting occurred from February through April each year. Harvest occurred in both organic and conventional plots when alfalfa maturity reached 1/10th bloom (late bud to early bloom). Hay plots were harvested to a 10cm (4”) stubble height and grazing plots were harvested to a stubble height of 10-15cm (4-6”). Each harvest was examined for forage composition including volunteer grasses and weeds.
Hay trial harvest dates: For organic plots, 2010 harvests occurred in early April, mid-June, late July, and late August. For conventional plots in 2010, harvest occurred in mid-May, mid-June, late July, and late August. Organic plots in 2011 were harvested in late April and mid-May; conventional plots in that same year were harvested only in mid-May. Grazing trial harvest dates: In year 2010, organic pastures were grazed in early April, early June, late July, and mid-August 2010. Conventional pastures were grazed in late April, early June, late July, and mid-August 2010. In year 2011, the organic and conventional grazing plots were grazed a single time in early May 2011.
Statistical analyses were performed using SAS 9.1 (SAS Institute, Cary, NC). For the hay trial, the MIXED procedure was used with management (organic or conventional) and prairie grass treatment (alfalfa interseeded with prairie grass versus alfalfa not interseeded with prairie grass) as fixed effects, replication as a random effect, and using repeated measures to estimate cumulative production. Degrees of freedom for contrasts were corrected using the Kenward and Rogers method. Statistical analyses for the grazing trial were performed in the same way as for the grazing trial, except the prairie grass treatment was not included in the model.
Study B: Comparisons of milk quality on North Carolina organic and conventional dairies
The goal of this project was to compare milk quality, measured by somatic cell count (SCC) and milk microbiology, between organic and conventional dairies in North Carolina during the warm months of the year (May-October). This study was performed in 2010 on all 6 certified organic dairies, 6 conventional dairies of similar size and geographic location, and the CEFS herd. Milk samples were collected during a single milking for each dairy, and samples were collected from all functional quarters of every cow contributing milk to the bulk tank. One set of milk samples was taken from each quarter for microbiological analysis and another set was pooled from all quarters for SCC analysis. Somatic cell count is a commonly used metric for milk quality, as it is a good proxy for mastitis infection and directly affects the shelf life of dairy products. Milk microbiology is a direct measure of the prevalence of mastitis in the herd, and provides information on the type of mastitis (contagious or environmental) present.
Farmers were also surveyed about their milking protocols, dry cow treatment, and treatment of mastitis.
Statistical analysis was performed using SAS (SAS Institute, Cary, NC), with consideration of management type as a fixed effect and farm within management type as a random effect. Logistic regression was used to determine differences between management groups for the cow-level prevalence of different mastitis-causing organisms.
Study C: Evaluating herbal alternatives to antibiotics for use as dry cow therapy
The objective of this study was to evaluate two commercially available (through a veterinarian) herbal products for use as dry cow therapy. Most dry cow therapy products are antibiotics for intramammary infusion, and one product (Orbeseal®) is an internal teat sealant with no antibiotic activity on its own. Because organic dairies in the United States are prohibited from using antibiotics, this study investigates two potential alternatives to antibiotics for dry cow therapy.
The first trial evaluated Phyto-Mast® and Cinnatube™ as dry cow therapy, with 5 different treatments: Phyto-Mast alone (n = 255), Cinnatube alone (n = 230), Phyto-Mast and Cinnatube (n = 214), no treatment (n = 241), and conventional antibiotic + internal teat sealant treatment (Quartermaster® and Orbeseal®; n = 104). This trial was evaluated at CEFS as well as on two commercial organic farms and two commercial conventional farms in North Carolina. The conventional treatment was only used in the CEFS herd on the conventional cattle, as the commercial dairy producers were not interested in testing it on their farms. Cows were sampled between August of 2010 and March of 2012. Another aspect of this trial was examining the effect of the treatments on milk production; this portion was studied in the CEFS herd only, as full lactation records were available for that herd from monthly testing.
The second trial evaluated Phyto-Mast alone (n = 72), Orbeseal alone (n = 71), Phyto-Mast and Orbeseal (n = 68), and no treatment (n = 68). This trial was conducted at CEFS from August 2012 – March 2013.
For both trials, milk samples were taken directly before dry off and about a week after freshening from every udder quarter of every cow in the study – 1 set of samples for microbiological analysis, and 1 set for SCC analysis from each quarter. Milk production (Trial 1), milk microbiology, and SCC were compared. Generalized linear mixed models were used to perform statistical analysis, modeled in SAS version 9.2 (SAS Institute, Cary, NC). Farm and cow were included in the models as random effects and all other measured variables were considered for inclusion in the models. Somatic cell counts were converted to somatic cell scores (also called “linear scores”) using the formula ln(SCC/100,000) + 3 for the analysis. All results are presented as least squares means ± standard errors.
Study D: An in vitro assessment of the antibacterial effects of plant-derived oils
In this study, the antibacterial activity of the plant oil ingredients of Phyto-Mast was assessed against three mastitis-causing pathogens in vitro. The plant oils include essential oil of thyme (Thymus vulgaris) and canola oil-extracted Angelica dahuricae, Angelica sinensis, Gaultheria procumbens, and Glycyrrhiza uralensis. The mastitis pathogens were Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus uberis, and Staphylococcus chromogenes, isolated from mastitis cases in North Carolina. The Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute standard for determination of antibacterial activity in broth was used, but ultrapasteurized homogenized whole milk was used instead of broth to more closely approximate the environment of the udder.
Essential oil of thyme was tested by itself at 1%, 2%, and 3% concentrations (vol/vol) because it has known antibacterial activity. The other plant-derived oils were tested alone and in every possible combination for a total of 15 different treatments, each tested at 0.5%, 1%, 2%, and 4% concentrations to simulate concentrations achievable in the cow’s udder provided that her milk production was about 20 lbs/day at the time of dry off. The combination treatments had equal volumes of each plant oil to a total volume of 5 mL – for example, a treatment with three different oils would have 1.67 mL of each oil combined to make up that treatment prior to testing on the bacteria.
Controls included milk only to ensure that pasteurization was successful, milk + bacteria as the reference control, and milk + bacteria + penicillin-streptomycin at 1% and 5% concentrations to ensure that the bacteria used were sensitive to antibiotics. All treatments and controls were run three times, randomized by date, bacteria, and technician to reduce variability. Canola oil (1% and 70% concentration vol/vol) and Phyto-Mast (1, 2, 3, 4% concentration vol/vol) were also tested to determine if canola oil has any antibacterial effects on its own and to see if Phyto-Mast has antibacterial activity in vitro.
Bacteria were grown on agar plates at the beginning of the experiment, then grown just prior to the beginning of each replication in Mueller-Hinton broth. Vials were prepared for the study by adding a calculated volume of milk and the treatment to be tested to a total volume of 1 mL. Vials were vortexed to mix the contents, a constant volume of bacteria were added, and the vials were vortexed again to mix the bacteria, treatments, and milk before placing in the incubator. Vials were incubated 24 hours. Vials were vortexed again to evenly distribute bacteria, then serial ten-fold dilutions were used to determine bacterial counts. The dilutions were plated on agar plates and incubated for 24 hours, then the colony forming units were counted and recorded. Results are reported as the growth of the bacteria in the treatment sample relative to the milk + bacteria control.
Study E: A comparison of production, reproduction and animal health between two groups of dairy cattle managed organically or conventionally in a pasture-based system
This study examines data on 503 cow records from 4 calving seasons at CEFS. The herd had approximately 130 cows each season, with pure Holsteins, pure Jerseys, and Holstein x Jersey crossbred cows. The crossbreeding system involves inseminating purebred cows using semen from the same breed one year and from the other breed the next year. This same breeding plan is used on the F1 females (HJ and JH), so that cows will have calves that are 75% Holstein (HX) or 75% Jersey (JX) the next year. Cows that were >50% one breed were inseminated with semen from the other breed so that 75% of a single breed was the highest percentage of any one breed in a crossbred cow. Production data (milk. protein, fat), as well as dairy manager-reported reproduction and herd health events were examined to compare the organic and conventional groups as well as the different breed groups. All data were taken from PCDART, the herd management software used at the farm. Most health events were recorded as presence or absence of the event during each lactation, but calving difficulty was recorded as the score from 1 to 5, with 1 representing a calving that required no assistance, 2 required some assistance, 3 required moderate assistance, 4 required considerable force, and 5 was extreme difficulty in calving. Calving, insemination, and herd check dates were used to determine fertility measures including pregnant to first insemination, total pregnancy rate during the breeding season (January-March, or 90 days post-calving), the interval between calving and first insemination, the gestation length, and the calving interval.
Statistical analysis was performed using the GLIMMIX procedure in SAS (SAS Institute, Cary, NC) to compare production, reproduction, and health events between organic and conventional management and among breed groups. Calving season was included in all models as a random effect. Results are presented as least squares means ± standard errors unless otherwise noted.
Research from the University of Arkansas:
From 2010 to 2013, fly repellents that could potentially be used on organic dairy farms to repel horn flies were evaluated.
2010: A horn fly repellent evaluation was begun in May of 2010 in Washington County, Arkansas, on three farms: two conventional dairy farms (treatments; Farm A&B) and one pasture-based beef farm (Control). Monitoring of horn fly populations started in May (Farm A = 41 avg. horn flies/cow; Farm B = 23; Control = 24). Horn fly populations were evaluated by visually estimating the number of horn flies on ten randomly selected animals on each farm. High resolution pictures were also taken of those same cows and number of horn flies per cow determined by manually counting the flies in each picture. The threshold was reached on June 1st at one of the dairies (Farm A = 105 avg. horn flies/cow), so the repellent dust was applied the following week using one dust bag (dispensed .07oz of dust per animal per day) placed in the alleyway of the milk barn exit in order to insure that the cattle would be treated each time they exited the milk barn (twice daily). The fly numbers were not declining after one month, so a second dust bag was hung adjacent to the first to double the application rate (Figure 1). After 10 days using two dust bags, the rain guard on the bottom of each dust bag was removed to further increase the application rate. The threshold for Farm B was not reached until July 13th (137 avg. horn flies/cow), so the dust bags were hung at Farm B on July 20th.
Figure 1. Dust bags hanging in exit alley at a dairy barn.
Monitoring of horn fly populations continued at each farm, even after it became apparent that the repellent, C8910, was not effectively reducing horn fly numbers when compared to the control farm (Aug 3rd at Farm A = 1181, Aug 10th at Farm B = 195). The horn fly population at Farm B was much smaller than that at Farm A; however, the farm owner asked us to remove the bags. The repellent dust at Farm A was replaced with an insecticidal dust which contained zeta-cypermethrin and piperonyl butoxide (Python®); the repellent dust at Farm B was removed and insecticidal ear tags (beta-cyfluthrin – Cylence Ear tags) used for the remainder of the study.
Because the repellent dust, C8910, was not effective, it was proposed by the manufacturer that a formulation with lower volatility compound or a product containing a different percent of active ingredient might be more effective; therefore we initiated a preliminary evaluation. The control farm for this trial was selected for evaluating these alternative formulations because insecticides had not been used on that farm and the horn fly population was still very high. Three groups were randomly selected to receive one of three treatments, 15% active low volatile compound (15% lv), standard compound 1% active, standard compound 5% active. Dust was applied to each cow individually using a head gate to restrain the animal and a hand-operated dust blower to apply the treatments (~1oz per animal). Horn fly numbers were visually estimated and then pictures taken as above to be manually counted in the lab for each cow at three days after treatment and one week after treatment.
2011: An experiment to evaluate geraniol was conducted in Savoy, AR at the University of Arkansas Savoy Research Station in 2011. The product tested was a 1% water-based geraniol solution (after mixing 1:5 Concentrate:Water) manufactured by FASST Products, LLC., Brooklyn, NY. In spring of 2011, heifers were used as the study animals. The herd was divided into three groups: untreated control (n=18), one group treated once per week (n=19), another group treated twice per week (n=19). In the fall, the study was repeated using ~600lb steers which were separated into two replicates. The experimental design was the same as the spring trial except the fall trial had a second concurrent replicate. The fall trial consisted of 8 steers per group. Replicates were physically separated, but maintained on the same farm. Treatments were applied using the 3-D Quik Hand™ Cattle Sprayer (3-D Cattle Equipment, LLC. Pine Ridge, AR). All treatment groups received the same application rate (approximately 130mL/animal) of a 1% geraniol solution during each treatment day, however, one treatment group in each replication was treated once per week (each Tuesday for the duration of the study); the other was treated twice per week (each Tuesday and Friday for the duration of the study). Weekly visual estimates (10 heifers sampled per group in spring; each steer sampled per group in fall) were made by estimating the number of horn flies on one side. These estimates were used to calculate the average number of horn flies per animal per group.
The number of horn flies per steer was decreasing initially after being treated with a water-based geraniol mixture, but would begin increasing within one day. Therefore, it was important to determine the residual repellency duration. The residual evaluation for the water-based geraniol was conducted on days that both treatment groups would receive the geraniol spray for the weekly fly study. The initial trial indicated that the geraniol was no longer active at four hours post-treatment, therefore, subsequent trials focused on the zero to four hours after treatment timeframe. Visual fly population estimates were determined prior to treatment and then at one, two, and four hours post-treatment. Data was collected on three separate days and all treated animals received the same application rate on each day; application rates on each day that residual activity was monitored were 142.2 mL/animal, 137.8 mL/animal, and 123.1 mL/animal. Animals were divided into two replications each consisting of a control and two treatment groups; each group was made up of 8 steers.
In 2012, a product containing 0.8% geraniol (No-Fly) was evaluated. Because geraniol in the 2011 evaluation had a short residual time, we began exploring options for increasing the amount of the time geraniol would remain active. One option which was encountered is the addition of vanillin (Khan et al. 1975). Vanillin was shown to at least double the duration of residual activity in mosquito repellents and in the case of DEET, increased residual activity much greater with higher concentrations of vanillin. Vanillin alone was minimally repellent or non-repellent.
A commercially available product sold under the trade name, No-Fly, and manufactured by Crystal Creek, Inc. contains geraniol and is marketed as an organic alternative to conventional fly control. No-Fly contains a similar percentage of geraniol (0.08%) as used in the 2011 study, but also contains vanillin as well as other essential oils and plant extracts. No-Fly repellent is available as either a water-based or oil-based solution. The oil-based solution contains vanillin, while the water-based solution does not. For this study, we used the oil-based solution containing vanillin.
Evaluations of residual activity were conducted at a University of Arkansas Research Station in Fayetteville, AR to evaluate the residual activity of No-Fly. The methods used for the residual activity experiment in 2011 were followed in 2012. Each experiment evaluated a different concentration of No-Fly repellent and was repeated on three separate days. The first concentration tested was the recommended 1:1 ratio of mineral oil to No-Fly and was conducted in May 2012. Heifers were divided into two groups: untreated control (n=11) and a treatment group (n=10). Treatments were applied using the 3-D Quik Hand™ Cattle Sprayer (3-D Cattle Equipment, LLC. Pine Ridge, AR). Visual fly population estimates were determined prior to treatment and then at one, two, and four hours post-treatment. Data was collected on three separate days and all treated animals received the same application rate (approximately 130mL/animal) on each day and the data analyzed using analysis of variance with means separated using least significant difference where applicable.
After seeing no increased activity over geraniol alone or the addition of vanillin using the 1:1 solution, an evaluation was conducted using full strength, undiluted No-Fly repellent. The same groups, application methods, and data analysis were used in the full strength evaluation. One week elapsed between studies without any treatments to allow remaining residual activity, if any, to cease.
2013: In 2010, a dust formulation of C8910 was evaluated (first study reported in this document), which was not effective in reducing fly populations. In 2013, an oil formulation became available for evaluation.
Experiments were conducted at the University of Arkansas Research and Extension Center in Fayetteville, AR to evaluate the residual activity of the oil formulation of C8910. Heifers were divided into two groups: untreated control (n=9) and a treatment group (n=9). Treatments were applied using self-treatment mop oiler (Pest Doom Oiler, 45” x 7”, 4 gallon capacity) associated with the animals’ water source; each animal had to pass under the mop oiler each time they went to and from water. Being a self-treatment device, the application rates varied based upon use. The average application was 24.8mL per animal per day.
The number of horn flies per animal was visually estimated weekly and analyzed using analysis of variance with means separated by least significant difference where applicable.
Study A: Research on alfalfa-grass mixtures under organic and conventional management
Small Plot Hay Trial:
Cumulative production of Haygrazer alfalfa tended to be higher than Arriba alfalfa production in Field 1 (963.6 ± 48.2 lb/acre vs. 811 ± 48.2 lb/acre), whereas there were no differences between varieties in Field 2. There were no production differences between the two varieties of prairie grass. Total alfalfa production in Field 1 planted 2009 was higher in conventional than organic (3939 ± 196.3 lb/acre conventional versus 3162.8 ± 196.3 lb/acre organic). Total forage production (alfalfa, prairie grass, ryegrass, and crabgrass) was not different between management groups (5081 ± 185.6 lb/acre conventional versus 4712.5 ± 185.6 lb/acre organic). There was also no difference in total weed production in the two systems. Weed production was lower in plots that had both alfalfa and prairie grass than in plots with alfalfa alone.
In both systems, total alfalfa production tended to be higher in plots without prairie grass interseeded than in plots interseeded with prairie grass. Alfalfa-only plots also had greater total forage production, but also had a tendency for higher weed production.
In study year 2010-2011, there was no difference in total alfalfa production (1291 ± 84.8 lb/acre conventional versus 2253.6 ± 169.5 lb/acre organic), total forage production (1511.4 ± 106.2 lb/acre conventional versus 2767.5 ± 212.3 lb/acre organic), weed production, or above-ground biomass production between organic and conventional systems. In the organic system, there was no difference in total alfalfa production between the prairie grass and alfalfa or only alfalfa plots.
Because Eptam was in the conventional plots, there was more winter weed pressure in organic plots for several months after planting as well as volunteer forage grasses. This was particularly true for henbit during the first winter in Field 1. Henbit has been documented as a potential ovipositioning site for alfalfa weevil and may have contributed to higher weevil counts in organic plots earlier than in conventional plots as observed in March, 2010 (see below). Primary weed species observed in organic plots were henbit in winter and early spring, chickweed in spring, and spiny amaranth (pigweed) in late spring and summer. Forage grasses including the planted prairie grasses and volunteer ryegrass in winter and spring, and volunteer crabgrass in summer. In Field 2, there was not much residual Bermudagrass after using the summer smother crop procedure. Presence of weeds was very low for the first winter and early spring for conventional plots but by mid summer, the amount of spiny amaranth was similar in both systems. Winter weeds during the second year were also similar across management systems in Field 1. Interestingly, the different history of Field 2 resulted in very little henbit in either conventional or organically managed plots.
Alfalfa weevil counts did reach 3 larvae per stem in some of the conventional grazing plots in Field 1 on April 6th, 2010 and on March 29, 2011 but because of the 14-day withdrawal time for the insecticide, we chose not to spray. In 2012, plots in both fields were scouted a few times and as weevil larval counts began to rise, it was decided to graze both conventional and organically managed alfalfa plots relatively early when alfalfa plants averaged between 15 and 20 inches in height (Figure 2, March 28, 2012). Re-growth about 3 weeks after an early grazing is shown in Figure 3 (April 19, 2012). Cows used for the grazing system included Jerseys, Holsteins, and Jersey-Holstein crosses and were separated into organically or conventionally managed groups.
We did observe in late April, 2011 that many pupating alfalfa weevil larvae had been parasitized with Bathyplectes anurus, (Figure 4) a parasitic wasp first imported to Utah from Italy in 1911 for biological control of the alfalfa weevil. Because we managed some of the alfalfa using organic principles and managed the conventional alfalfa using scouting data rather than spraying at the first sign of feeding damage, we likely facilitated greater survival of parasitic wasps as well as other beneficial insects.
Yields of alfalfa and total forage yields were examined for both conventional and organically managed areas. In the spring of 2010 and again during the summer, we experienced periods of mild to moderate drought and the alfalfa varieties we used were nearly dormant for a while. Therefore, overall yields in Field 1 were lower than expected in the first year. Yields of alfalfa by itself were similar for both organic (2.53 vs. 2.48 ± 0.2 tons DM/acre) and conventional across 4 grazing periods in 2010. However, there was a tendency for yields of all forage species (alfalfa + forages grasses including ryegrass, prairie grass, and crabgrass) tended to be greater for organically managed areas vs. the conventional syste
Educational & Outreach Activities
Peer-Reviewed Scientific Publications:
Mullen, K. A. E., A. R. Lee, R. L. Lyman, S. P. Washburn, and K. L. Anderson. In review. An in vitro assessment of the antibacterial effects of plant essential oils. Journal of Dairy Science.
Mullen, K. A. E., R. L. Lyman, S. P. Washburn, and K. L. Anderson. In review. Efficacy of an herbal intramammary product, teat sealant, and the combination of the two when used as dry cow therapy. Journal of Dairy Science.
Washburn, S. P., and K. A. E. Mullen. In review. Invited Review: Genetic considerations for various pasture-based dairy systems. Journal of Dairy Science.
Mullen, K. A. E., K. L. Anderson, and S. P. Washburn. Accepted 25 February 2014. Effect of two herbal intramammary products on milk quantity and quality compared with conventional and no dry cow therapy. Journal of Dairy Science.
Mullen, K. A. E., L. G. Sparks, R. L. Lyman, S. P. Washburn, and K. L. Anderson. 2013. Comparisons of milk quality on North Carolina organic and conventional dairies. J. Dairy Sci. 96:6753-6762. http://www.journalofdairyscience.org/article/S0022-0302%2813%2900544-4/abstract
Abstracts, Proceedings, and Presentations:
Mullen, K.A. E., A. R. Lee, R. L. Lyman, S. P. Washburn, and K. L. Anderson. 2013. An in vitro assessment of the antibacterial effects of plant essential oils. J. Dairy Sci. Vol. 96, E-Suppl. 1, p. 134 (Abstr.). http://www.jtmtg.org/2013/abstracts/133.pdf
Mullen, K. A. E., A. R. Lee, R. L. Lyman, S. P. Washburn, and K. L. Anderson. 2013. An in vitro Assessment of the Antibacterial Effects of Various Plant Essential Oils. Proceedings of the National Mastitis Council Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, January 27-29, 2013. pp 183-184.
Mullen, K. A. E. 2012. Evaluation of two herbal remedies as alternatives to antibiotics. In: Proceedings of the 2012 Annual Conference of the AHVMA, Birmingham, AL, September 9-11. pp 239-241.
Washburn, Steven P. 2012. Blending the Old and the New- A Comeback for Pasture-Based Dairy Systems: Basics for Pasture-Based Dairying. In: Proceedings of the 2012 Annual Conference of the AHVMA, Birmingham, AL, September 9-11. pp 313-317.
Washburn, Steven P. , Ed. 2012. Proceedings of 9th Mid-Atlantic Dairy Grazing Conference and Organic Dairy Field Day, July 25-27, 2012, Chestertown, MD. 74 pp. http://www.cefs.ncsu.edu/whatwedo/researchunits/2012madgcproceedings.pdf
Balz, Eileen, Steve Washburn, and Sue Ellen Johnson. 2012. Observations on alfalfa & alfalfa-grass mixtures for dairy grazing systems in North Carolina using organic or conventional management. In: Proceedings of 9th Mid-Atlantic Dairy Grazing Conference and Organic Dairy Field Day, July 25-27, 2012. Chestertown, MD. pp 72-74. http://www.cefs.ncsu.edu/whatwedo/researchunits/2012madgcproceedings.pdf
Washburn, Steven P. 2012. Breed and animal selection for pasture-based dairy farms. In: Proceedings of 9th Mid-Atlantic Dairy Grazing Conference and Organic Dairy Field Day, July 25-27, 2012. Chestertown, MD. pp 54-58. http://www.cefs.ncsu.edu/whatwedo/researchunits/2012madgcproceedings.pdf
Mullen, K. A. E., K. L. Anderson, and S. P. Washburn. 2012. Effectiveness of an Herbal Remedy Compared to Control or Traditional Therapy in Dry Off Treatments. p 58 in: Proceedings: CEFS Field Day, May 3, 2012, Goldsboro, NC http://www.cefs.ncsu.edu/fieldday2012/fielddayproceedings2012.pdf
Mullen, K. A. E, L. C. Gentry, R. L. Lyman, S. P. Washburn, and K. L. Anderson. 2012.
Comparisons of Milk Quality in North Carolina Organic and Conventional Dairy Herds. p 59-60 in: Proceedings: CEFS Field Day, May 3, 2012, Goldsboro, NC http://www.cefs.ncsu.edu/fieldday2012/fielddayproceedings2012.pdf
Mullen, K. A. E., R. L. Lyman, S. P. Washburn, and K. L. Anderson. 2012. Efficacy of Two Herbal Remedies as Alternatives to Antibiotic Dry Cow Therapy: Preliminary Microbiology Results. p 79 in: Proceedings: CEFS Field Day, May 3, 2012, Goldsboro, NC. http://www.cefs.ncsu.edu/fieldday2012/fielddayproceedings2012.pdf
Mullen, K., L. Gentry, R. Lyman, S. Washburn, and K. Anderson. 2012. Comparisons of Udder Health and Milk Quality in North Carolina Organic and Conventional Pasture-Based Dairy Herds. p 80 in: Proceedings: CEFS Field Day, May 3, 2012, Goldsboro, NC. http://www.cefs.ncsu.edu/fieldday2012/fielddayproceedings2012.pdf
Balz, E., S. Washburn, and S.E. Johnson. 2012. The Establishment of Alfalfa-Grass Mixtures under Organic and Conventional Management. p 84-85 in: Proceedings: CEFS Field Day, May 3, 2012, Goldsboro, NC. http://www.cefs.ncsu.edu/fieldday2012/fielddayproceedings2012.pdf
Mullen, Keena A. E., Roberta L. Lyman, Steven P. Washburn, and Kevin L. Anderson. 2012. Efficacy of two herbal remedies as alternatives to antibiotics in dry cow therapy: preliminary microbiology results. 7th Annual NCSU Graduate Student Research Symposium: March 20, p 9 (Abstr., 2nd Place Poster in Agricultural Sciences). http://www.ncsu.edu/grad/research/docs/Abstracts2012.pdf
Mullen, K. A. E., R. L. Lyman, S. P. Washburn, and K. L. Anderson. 2012. Efficacy of two herbal remedies as alternatives to antibiotic dry cow therapy: Preliminary microbiology results. J. Dairy Sci. Vol. 95, Suppl. 2, p 243 (Abstr.). http://www.jtmtg.org/2012/abstracts/442.pdf
Mullen, K. A. E., L. C. Gentry, R. L. Lyman, S. P. Washburn, and K. L. Anderson. 2012. Comparisons of Milk Quality in North Carolina Organic and Conventional Dairy Herds. Proceedings of the National Mastitis Council Annual Meeting, St. Pete Beach, FL, Jan. 22-24, pp.161-162.
Washburn, Steven P. 2012. Breed and animal selection considerations for pasture-based dairies. In: Proceedings and Abstracts of the American Forage and Grassland Council, Louisville, KY, Jan 9-10, 2012 (6 pages).
Washburn, Steven P. 2011. Observations on pasture-based dairying in the US. (pp 3-14) In: Southeast Research Station Field Day Summaries. Dec 8, 2011. LSU AgCenter, Franklinton, LA. http://www.lsuagcenter.com/nr/rdonlyres/f84efb1a-d03a-4c99-b6bb-5595be652455/83679/field_day_summary_2011.pdf
Mullen, K, L. Gentry, R. Lyman, S. Washburn, and K. Anderson. 2011. Comparisons of udder health and milk quality in North Carolina organic and conventional pasture-based dairy herds. J. Dairy Sci. 94: E-Suppl 1. p 67. http://www.jtmtg.org/2011/abstracts/0064.PDF
Balz, Eileen, Sue Ellen Johnson, and Steven Washburn. 2011. Binary mixtures of alfalfa and prairiegrass under conventional and organic management. In: Proceedings and Abstracts of the American Forage and Grassland Council, French Lick, IN, June 12-15, 2011 (5 pages).
Washburn, Steve. 2011. Research highlights from the Center for Environmental Farming Systems’ pasture-based dairy project. pp 253-257 in: Proceedings of the Pasture-based Dairy Summit, Aiken, SC May 18-19, 2011. http://www.caes.uga.edu/commodities/fieldcrops/forages/events/PBDSummit/notebook%20v3.pdf
Mullen, Keena A. E., Leslie C. Gentry, Roberta L. Lyman, Steven P. Washburn, and Kevin L. Anderson. 2011. Comparisons of udder health and milk quality in North Carolina organic and conventional pasture-based dairy herds. NCSU CALS NCARS Graduate Student Research Symposium: March 21, 2011 http://harvest.cals.ncsu.edu/ncars/index.cfm?pageID=5146
Washburn, Steven P. 2010. Concepts in pasture-based dairy farming. (12pp) in: Proceedings for 8th Mid-Atlantic Dairy Grazing Conference and Organic Dairy Field Day, Wytheville, VA. October 11-13, 2010.
Mullen, K. A. E., K. L. Anderson, and S. P. Washburn. 2010. Effectiveness of an herbal remedy compared to control or traditional therapy in dry off treatments. J. Dairy Sci. 93: E-Suppl 1. p 81
Balz, Eileen, Sue Ellen Johnson, and Steven Washburn. 2010. Binary mixtures of alfalfa and prairiegrass under conventional and organic management. In: Proceedings and Abstracts of the American Forage and Grassland Council, Springfield, MO, June 21-23, 2010 (3 pages).
Washburn, S. P. 2010. Reproduction and genetic programs for seasonal pasture based dairy production systems. J. Dairy Sci. 93: E-Suppl 1. p 242-243 http://adsa.asas.org/meetings/2010/abstracts/0242.pdf
From University of Arkansas:
Loftin, K.M. 2013. New Insect Pest Found in Bermudagrass. Proceedings of 2013 Arkansas
Forage and Grassland Council Fall Forage Conference. Pp. 16-18. Oct. 31, 2013. Conway, AR.
Loftin, K.M. and R.C. Corder. 2012. Geraniol as a Horn Fly Repellent. Abstracts of
the 2012 Livestock Insect Workers Conference, Kalispell, MT, June 23-27, 2012.
Corder, R.C. and K.M. Loftin. 2012. Geraniol as a Horn Fly Repellent. 2012 Southeastern
Branch Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting, Little Rock, AR, April 5-7, 2012. (poster)
Corder, R.F. and K.M. Loftin. Evaluation of the essential oil, geraniol, as a horn
fly repellent on cattle. Arkansas Entomological Society Annual Meeting. October 14, 2011, Little Rock, AR. (presentation)
Presentations for Producers:
“Bermudagrass Stem Maggots and Fall Armyworms” SEREC Forage and Beef Cattle Field
Day, Oct. 8, 2013, Monticello, AR
“Managing Horn Flies, Armyworms and Grasshoppers on your Farm”, Faulkner Co. Cattleman’s Tune-up, June 24, 2013, Conway, AR
“Controlling Armyworms and Horn Flies” Arkansas State Cattleman’s Association Meeting, March 25, 2013, Arkadelphia, AR
“Managing Armyworms and Grasshoppers in Forage and Hay” Producers meeting, March 6, 2013, Paris, AR
“Controlling Horn Flies”, “Fire Ant Management” and “Forage Pests”, Four States Ag Expo, Feb. 7, 2013, Texarkana, AR
“Managing Armyworms in Pastures”, Sept. 14, 2012, Murfreesboro, AR
“Dealing with Insect Pests in the Pasture”, River Valley Drought Management Conference, July 10, 2012, Russellville, AR
“Fly and Tick Control on Beef Cattle” May 22, 2012, Walnut Ridge, AR
“Fly and Tick Control on Beef Cattle” and “Armyworm Management in Pastures” presented to the Crawford Co. Cattlemen’s Meeting, Jan. 16, 2012, Alma, AR
“Controlling Arthropod Pests of Cattle” and “Fall Armyworm Control”, Beef IQ Course, Southwest Research and Extension Center, May 16, 2011, Hope.
“Horn Flies, Face Flies and Pinkeye” to the Carroll County Cattlemen at the July monthly meeting on July 26, 2010. Followed up on July 27 by sending walkthrough horn fly traps plans to several interested producers – July 27, 2010.
“Managing Imported Fire Ants”, “Controlling Pests in Pastures” and “External Parasites of Cattle”, Feb. 10, 2011. Four-States Ag Expo, Texarkana.
“Arthropod Pests of Cattle” and “Controlling Armyworms in Pastures” at the
Hempstead County Cattlemen’s Association monthly meeting in Hope on April 26, 2010.
Newsletter and Popular Press Articles:
Balz, Eileen, Steve Washburn, and Sue Ellen Johnson. 2012. Observations on alfalfa and alfalfa-grass mixtures for dairy grazing systems in North Carolina using organic or conventional management. Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance: NOPDA News: Volume 12, Issue 4: July, 2012. pp 16-17 & 33. http://www.nodpa.com/july2012_final_low_res.pdf
Mullen, Keena. Highlights from the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Grazing Conference and Organic Field Day. 2012. In Progressive Dairyman magazine. http://www.progressivedairy.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=9327:highlights-from-mid-atlantic-dairy-grazing-conference-and-organic-field-day&catid=38:progressive-events&Itemid=64
Mullen, Keena, Claire McPhee, Leslie Gentry, Roberta Lyman, Steve Washburn, and Kevin Anderson. 2011. Alternative udder health management research in progress at North Carolina State University. Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance: NODPA News: Volume 11, Issue 2: March, 2011. pp 28-29. http://www.nodpa.com/march2011_final_lowres.pdf
From University of Arkansas:
Loftin, Kelly M. 2013. Livestock and Forage Pests of Fall Winter and Early Spring. In Pest Management News 2013 Number 5 (Sept. 30, 2013)
Loftin, Kelly M. 2013. Cattle Grubs. In Pest Management News 2013 Number 4 (Aug. 30, 2013)
Loftin, Kelly M. 2013. Bermudagrass Stem Maggot in Arkansas and Fall Armyworm Update. In
Pest Management News 2013 Number 3 (July 31, 2013)
Loftin, Kelly M. and R. Corder. 2013. Stable Flies, Important Pests of Cattle and Horses. In Pest Management News 2013 Number 2 (June 30, 2013)
Loftin, Kelly M. 2013. Forage Pests and Imported Fire Ants from Baled Hay. In Dairy E-News,
Loftin, Kelly M. 2012. Bermudagrass Stem Maggot. In Dairy E-News, Sept. 2012
Loftin, Kelly M. 2012. Small Grasshoppers Abundant in Some Pastures. In Pest Management News 2012 Number 1 (May 31, 2012)
Loftin, Kelly M. 2012. Fall Armyworms Arrive. In Pest Management News 2012 Number 3 (July 31, 2012)
Loftin, Kelly M. 2011. Endosulfan Phase-out Will Eliminate an Insecticide Class Used in Ear Tags. Article in Pest Management News 2011 Number 1 (May 31, 2011).
Loftin, Kelly M. 2011. Black Flies, Buffalo Gnats or Turkey Gnats. Article in Pest Management News 2011 Number 1 (May 31, 2011).
Loftin, Kelly M. 2011 Grasshoppers, Blister Beetles and Fall Armyworms in Pastures. Article in Pest Management News 2011 Number 3 (July 25, 2011).
Loftin, Kelly M. 2011. Pest Update: Fall Armyworms in Pastures. Article in Pest Management News 2011 Number 4 (August 31, 2011).
Loftin, Kelly M. 2011. New Insecticides for Animal IPM. Article in Pest Management News Number 5 (September 30, 2011).
Loftin, Kelly M. 2011. Lice on Livestock. Article in Pest Management News 2011 Number 6 (October 31, 2011).
Loftin, Kelly M. 2010.Face Flies Appearing on Cattle in North Arkansas. Article in May 31, 2010 edition of Pest Management News.
Loftin, Kelly M. 2010. Horse and Deer Fly Season is Here. Article in June 30, 2010 edition of Pest Management News.
Loftin, Kelly M. 2010.New Insecticide Ear Tags. Article in July 31, 2010 edition of Pest Management News.
Loftin, Kelly M. 2010. Fall Armyworms Becoming widespread. Article in July 31, 2010 edition of Pest Management News.
Mullen, Keena Ann Elizabeth. 2013. Efficacy of Herbal Oils in Various Preparations for Treating Mastitis in Dairy Cattle. Ph.D. Dissertation. http://repository.lib.ncsu.edu/ir/bitstream/1840.16/9145/1/etd.pdf
Balz, Eileen Marie. 2011. The establishment of alfalfa-grass mixtures under organic and conventional management. M.S. Thesis. http://repository.lib.ncsu.edu/ir/bitstream/1840.16/7432/1/etd.pdf
Mid-Atlantic Dairy Grazing Conference, 2010: During this conference, farmers and other attendees visited two pasture-based farms, saw four different on-farm demonstrations (soil biology, cattle health/reproductive management, pasture management, and rainfall runoff simulation), and attended lectures on topics ranging from adapting New Zealand pasture-based dairying knowledge in Georgia to the economics of dairy farming.
Mid-Atlantic Dairy Grazing Conference, 2012: This conference included two visits to pasture-based dairies, one virtual tour of a pasture-based dairy, on-farm demonstrations (the interaction of soils, pastures and cows; managing parasitic flies; forage species, nutrient management and cost-share programs), and lectures from holistic grazing management to genetic considerations for pasture-based dairies.
There were many other aspects of outreach including numerous pasture walks, invited presentations and various proceedings and newsletter articles as documented in various parts of this report.
From the University of Arkansas:
Factsheets and MPs:
Loftin, K.M. and R.F. Corder. 2013. Pesticide Applicator training for Animal Agriculture.
Loftin, K.M and R.F. Corder. 2012. Controlling Horn Flies on Cattle. FSA 7031.
Loftin, K.M., G. Lorenz and R.F. Corder. 2012. Managing Armyworms in Pastures
and Hayfields. FSA 7083.
Loftin, K.M. and R.F. Corder 2014. Fly Control for Organic Dairies. FSA7072 (revised Jan. 2014).
Loftin, K.M. 2003-2014. Animal and Forage Insect Control Sections of the Insecticide
Recommendations for Arkansas (MP 144) Glenn Studebaker (editor). This MP is updated yearly and includes information on action thresholds for major cattle and forage pests and includes relevant non-chemical control options (cultural and biological) and chemical control options (including OMRI listed materials, if available).
Livestock, Urban and Forage IPM – May 2012
Forage In-Service training at the Batesville Experiment Station, Batesville, AR – Jan. 23, 2013
Forage in-service training at Southwest Research and Extension Center, Hope, AR, Aug. 7, 2013
“Bermudagrass Stem Maggot Identification” and “Management and Armyworm recognition and control”
Winter forage In-service at the Washington Co. Fairgrounds, Fayetteville, AR, Nov. 5, 2013,
“Update on the bermudagrass stem maggot, fall armyworm products and imported fire ants in Hay”
Arthropod Pests of Livestock – On-line course for new faculty – Animal Science Core training
Fly Control for Dairies – On-line course open to agents and producers
We have effectively documented the ability to manage dairy pastures including mixtures of alfalfa and prairie grass using organic principles. By using grazing management rather than insecticides for controlling alfalfa weevil larvae, we were able to facilitate greater survival of parasitic wasps and likely other beneficial insects. We had concerns about ability to manage cow health, (particularly mastitis) as well as reproduction without the use of conventional tools such as antibiotics or reproductive hormones. However, the performance of cows managed as close to organic as we could (except for supplemental feed) resulted in very similar production, health, and reproduction compared to pasture-based cows managed more conventionally. We also documented that udder health of organic dairy cows in NC was similar to that of cows in conventionally managed herds. Such information will be very important for dairy producers contemplating transition to organic production.
In the future, several publications resulting from the project should lead to greater visibility and impact for both organic and conventionally managed dairy herds. Those publications should lead to more invitations to speak at various conferences and field days thereby reaching more producers. With additional study and documentation to extend and refine concepts from this project, it is expected that very effective alternatives to antibiotics in maintaining udder health will result.
Though the fly repellants did not have lasting effects, the temporary reduction in flies may be a useful component in combined strategies to reduce fly impact on cows. In related work in NC that was not a direct part of the current project, development of a vacuum system to remove flies from cows as they enter or leave the milking parlor has been a successful strategy. Colleagues Wes Watson and Steve Denning in Entomology have initiated that work leading to a commercially available device which we expect to be widely used on pasture-based dairy farms whether organic or conventional.
Though economic analysis was planned as part of the original grant, our economist (Geoff Benson) retired during the project and therefore we did not conduct any detailed economic analyses. However, with similar responses in production, health, and reproduction for organically managed cows compared to conventionally managed pasture-based cows, any economic differences would be associated with respective differences in costs of feed supplements and the value of milk sold between the two systems of management.
Dairy producers have indicated interest in the research efforts and many have documented some new practices. One organic producer in WV has adopted a group feeding regimen for feeding calves on pasture and has implemented both spring and fall calving seasons in order to manage animals in groups and still produce milk year around. One dairy grazier in NC is in the process of transitioning to organic production and will be certified in 2014. Several organic producers and a few conventional producers in NC have begun to use some of the alternative herbal treatments for maintaining udder health that have been studied during this project. Dairy graziers in MO and GA have credited their dairy crossbreeding strategies to the work we have done in NC. A new dairy grazier started in WV on a rented farm after learning more about managing seasonally calved pasture-based dairying at the 2010 Mid-Atlantic Dairy Grazing Conference in VA. That grazier is contemplating transitioning to organic production.
Dairy producers have been reached through several venues. Those include participation in a total of 12 on-farm dairy pasture walks conducted in GA, MD, NC, VA, and WV over the period of the grant. That included two pasture walks/field days at the research site in Goldsboro, NC. Also Mid-Atlantic Dairy Grazing Conferences in VA in 2010 and MD in 2012 and the Sustainable Agriculture Conference in NC in 2013 reached additional producers with information about the project. Presentations at Forage and Grassland conferences in MO and IN included producers as did the Pasture-based Dairy Summit held in GA/SC and invited presentations in LA and MD. Collectively, the various events reached an estimated total of about 200 dairy producers from many different states involved.
Areas needing additional study
Further surveys of organic producers in both the South and the entire United States would be beneficial to determine what products and treatments are currently being used for disease, so that those treatments might be scientifically evaluated to determine if they’re working and how they can possibly be improved. There is great potential for alternatives to antibiotics to reduce overall antibiotic usage if shown to be effective. Further research on plant-derived oils needs to be completed to determine if the addition of other plant oils to thyme essential oil impacts its antibacterial activity, and more research on other plant-derived oils could help determine natural treatments for cattle diseases that would be available to organic dairy producers.
The collaborating economist on the study retired shortly after the study began and there is still need to document the economics of organic dairy production systems in the South. Arkansas lost all of their organic dairy farms as the project was beginning because of losing access to a processing plant and the affiliated organic market. Of the original 6 organic dairy farms in NC, five remain active whereas the sixth producer sold his cows in 2013 and moved to VA but a new young producer has leased that farm and is continuing to produce organic milk. Only one dairy in NC has started transitioning to organic since the project began in 2009 and though other dairy farmers have expressed interest, the lack of well-documented economic successes in the region may limit their enthusiasm for such a change. Because of low numbers of organic dairy farms in various states in the South, an economic evaluation should involve a multi-state approach.