Neonatal Calf Diarrhea: Reducing Impacts and Antibiotic Use with Natural Therapies
We are on track to meet or exceed the objectives stated in the original grant proposal. In the first year of the project, we collected over 700 survey responses from conventional and organic dairy and calf producers in the Midwest. These data are undergoing analysis, but we expect the representative nature and large sample size to enable precise estimates on prevention practices, antimicrobial use, and attitudes on non-antimicrobial alternative therapies for for calf diarrhea. Secondly, we are on track to begin data collection for the 2nd objective, and this summer we will enroll 600 cases of calf diarrhea to test the impact of non-antimicrobial alternative therapies on the progression of calf diarrhea. The complementary information gleaned for the first two objectives will enable the construction of a strong extension component to be completed in the third year of the project (2016).
Thus far, out study has proceeded according to the original plan, with only minor modifications. Our original Study aims were as follows
Specific Aim 1: To use a cross-sectional survey to identify strategies to improve implementation of prevention practices, improve judicious antimicrobial use, and assess the use of non-antimicrobial alternative therapies by calf producers.
- Determine knowledge, skill, or resource limitations associated with the lack of implementation of effective prevention practices.
- Identify the decision criteria for antimicrobial use and factors associated with non-judicious antimicrobial use.
- Characterize the types, usage frequency, and perception of efficacy of non-antimicrobial alternative therapies used by calf producers.
Specific Aim 2: To develop evidence-based treatment protocols for calf diarrhea that incorporate non-antimicrobial alternative therapies.
Hypothesis: The use of commercial electrolytes supplemented with lactoferrin and garlic extract for the treatment of calf diarrhea will result in fewer subsequent antimicrobial treatments and lower case fatality rate in pre-weaned dairy calves with diarrhea.
- Use a blinded randomized field trial to compare the antimicrobial treatment rate and case fatality rate between calves treated with commercial electrolytes alone or commercial electrolytes supplemented with lactoferrin or garlic extract.
- Incorporate the results of the field trial into evidence-based, written treatment protocols that can be disseminated to calf producers and calf health professionals.
Specific aim 3: To develop and assess a comprehensive, research-based extension programming for dairy producers on best management practices, judicious antimicrobial use, and treatment protocols for calf diarrhea
Hypothesis: On-farm delivery of producer education programs will result in increased producer knowledge, improved implementation of prevention practices, improved calf survival, and reduced reliance on antimicrobials.
- For a subset of farms participating in the survey, utilize data from Specific Aim 1 to develop and deliver a series of educational modules on best management practices and effective treatment protocols with judicious antimicrobial use.
- Measure changes in producer knowledge and skills, implementation of prevention practices, calf health, and frequency of antimicrobial use.
Our first objective was to use a cross-sectional survey to identify strategies to improve implementation of prevention practices, improve judicious antimicrobial use, and assess the use of non-antimicrobial alternative therapies by calf producers. A survey was designed with three sections that focused on each of the three components of the objective. The survey was pilot tested on a group of 10 calf producers to gather critical feedback from farmers, determine time requirements, and identify potentially confusing or misleading questions. Next, we selected a representative study population by obtaining lists of grade A dairy producers from the Departments of Agriculture in Ohio and Michigan, the list of certified organic dairy or calf producers from the USDA National Organic Program website, and a list of calf raisers belonging to the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association (DCHA). From a total of 3,967 grade A Dairy producers in Ohio or Michigan, 1,200 were randomly selected using a random number generator. Because of the low number of organic producers (321) and calf raisers (136), all certified organic calf or milk producers were selected for participation. In total, 1,657 producers were selected and mailed a survey. To thank producers for participation and incentivize survey completion, four dollars in cash included with the survey.
The survey response rate was good. The original goal of 300 producers was surpassed by a wide margin, and a total of 632 (45%) of dairy producers returned the survey, including 173 organic and 459 non-organic dairy producers. Additionally, we received survey results from 37 (33%) of heifer raisers that were mailed the survey. The data generated from this survey are still undergoing analysis, however we are confident that representative nature of the survey and the large sample size will ensure that we meet our original objectives. The attached figure describes the antimicrobial use strategy of conventional calf producers, based on the response to a series of scenario-based questions. Interestingly, there is a surprising amount of variation regarding when producers choose to treat calves with antimicrobials. We expect that some of this variation is explained by attitudes on the public health impact of agricultural antimicrobial use and the interactions of producers with veterinarians, including written protocols.
Our second objective is to test the efficacy of two non-antimicrobial therapies for the treatment of calf diarrhea. This field trial will be conducted this summer (year 2 of the study) as originally planned. We aim to enroll a total of 600 diarrheic calves, and randomize the calves to receive one of 3 treatments: allicin, lactoferrin, or a placebo. We will determine if these two therapies influence duration of diarrhea or mortality associated with calf diarrhea when used in a commercial setting. We are collaborating with a large dairy farm that raises its own replacements, and expect to accumulate required number of cases by the end of the Summer.
Our third objective, planned for the third year of the project, is to develop and assess a comprehensive, research-based extension programming for dairy producers on best management practices, judicious antimicrobial use, and treatment protocols for calf diarrhea. The content of this objective will be based in part on the anticipated results of our first two objectives. Regardless of the outcomes, we expect the extension program to directly address the needs of organic and conventional calf raisers in the North Central Region.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
So far, the original objectives of the proposal have been met or exceeded. For objective 1, we obtained survey data from twice the planned number of study participants, and we are confident in the representative nature of the data. We expect a minimum of two scientific publications based on the results of the survey, and the results will be presented at the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) in the Fall of 2015. We are preparing for a large calf trial on non-antimicrobial alternatives for this Summer (Objective 2), and these data are expected to lead to scientific and lay publications on the efficacy of these non-antimicrobial therapies that will be directly useful to organic and conventional producers in the North Central Region.
The Ohio State University
601 Vernon Tharp St
Columbus, OH 43210
Office Phone: 6142926661
The Ohio State University
1920 Coffey Rd
Columbus, OH 43210
Office Phone: 6142929453