Neonatal Calf Diarrhea: Reducing Impacts and Antibiotic Use with Natural Therapies
At the end of the stated three-year period for the SARE proposal, we have met or exceeded the stated objectives for all three specific aims. In the first year of the project, we collected over 700 survey responses from conventional and organic dairy and calf producers in the North Central Region. The results from this study have been critical to understand antimicrobial and non-antimicrobial treatment practices for both conventional and organic producers. These results have been presented at multiple conferences, and two manuscripts detailing the results of the survey are published or under review. The large sample size and representative nature have enabled precise estimates on prevention practices, antimicrobial use, and attitudes on non-antimicrobial alternative therapies for calf diarrhea. Secondly, we have completed a large field trial on the impact of garlic extract and lactoferrin as treatments for calf diarrhea on organic farms. Importantly, the results demonstrate significant reductions in mortality when calves are treated with lactoferrin. This is result is likely to provide organic producers with a practical and efficacious tool for the treatment of diarrheic calves within an organic production system. Lastly, we’ve delivered an extensive extension program, including thirty 1-day workshops/webinars reaching an estimated of 380 participants, including several veterinary practices from the NCR. Lastly, we’ve applied for a no-cost extension, where we plan to continue investigations of lactoferrin as a treatment for calf diarrhea.
The original study aims and performance targets 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.
Objectives/Performance Targets: We aimed to gather survey data from a total of 300 dairy producers or calf raisers. We set out multiple deliverables when we submitted the original proposal, including two peer-reviewed manuscripts addressing 1) producer-reported limitations associated with non-use of prevention practices and 2) producer knowledge, attitudes, and opinions of judicious antimicrobial use. We additionally aimed to present the results at multiple meetings of veterinarians and calf producers, including the American association of Bovine Practitioners and the American Dairy Science Association (ADSA).
Specific Aim 2: To develop evidence-based treatment protocols for calf diarrhea that incorporate non-antimicrobial alternative therapies.
Objectives/Performance Targets: We proposed and randomized clinical trial, and enrollment of a total of 600 calves, assigned to receive either lactoferrin, garlic extract, or control (water). We also proposed a scientific journal publication and multiple scholarly and producer-oriented presentations.
Specific aim 3: We proposed 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
Objectives/Performance Targets: We initially proposed four modules targeted to a subset of 20 Ohio dairy producers that covered topics on three main areas: 1) best calving and newborn management practices; 2) judicious antimicrobial use; and 3) evidence-based treatment protocols including the use of alternative therapies.
Specific Aim 1
Our first Aim 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. 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. The survey response rate was exceptional. 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. Organic and conventional producers were provided with scenario-based descriptions of calf diarrhea that described either mild, moderate, or severe cases. Producers were provided with a comprehensive set of options for the treatment of diarrhea. This approach resulted in a clear picture of treatment decision criteria for both organic and conventional producers. The survey also identified critical influencers of the lack of adoption of key calf management practices, which will be critical towards improving educational programs.The data from this survey has resulted in multiple scientific publications and scholarly presentations (see below). We expect the results to be critical to improve awareness among calf professionals and veterinarians on the critical and unique needs of organic calf raisers, and to design additional research projects to address critical research gaps within organic calf production systems.
Specific Aim 2
Alternatives to antimicrobials are frequently used to treat calf diarrhea on organic operations; yet there is little data to support their effectiveness. In the second year of the project (2015), we conducted a blinded, randomized field trial lactoferrin and garlic extract for the treatment of calf diarrhea. Large field trials of diarrhea therapeutics are uncommon due to the requirement for a large number of clinical cases of diarrhea. We originally aimed to enroll 600 diarrheic calves, and randomize the calves to receive one of 3 treatments: garlic extract, lactoferrin, or a placebo. In the summer of 2015, we collaborated with a large organic dairy farm and enrolled 633 calves with diarrhea. Personnel working on the project clinically assessed calves enrolled in the project each day for 10 consecutive days, and additional treatments, deaths, and culls were recorded through the pre-weaning period. Importantly, calves enrolled in the lactoferrin treatment group had a significantly lower mortality rate. Lactoferrin significantly (p < 0.05) reduced the risk of death and culling in the preweaning period. In total, 7.5% (15/198) of calves in the control group died compared to only 3% (8/201) of calves treated with lactoferrin. Calves that received garlic extract had reduced mortality, but it was not significantly different from the control group.
Specific Aim 3
Our third specific aim, conducted over the past year (2016), was 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 proposed modules were developed and delivered on three main areas (conventional and certified organic herds): 1) best calving and newborn management practices; 2) best management practices to minimize the risk of calf diarrhea; and 3) incorporation of new technologies to improve calf survival. A total of thirty 1-day workshops/webinars (topics: transition cow management, health protocols and personnel training, calving/colostrum management, calf health and treatments, mastitis treatment/control, nutritional related diseases and uterine diseases, reproductive management, best animal handling-welfare practices, and phenotypic-genomic selection practices) were delivered for dairy personnel-producers, Extension professionals, researchers, and practicing veterinarians. The workshops/webinars reached an estimated of 380 dairy producers (managed under conventional and certified organic standards), veterinarians, consultants/certifiers, and Extension professionals.
Attendees found the presented information relevant for their work (>91%) 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 (>60%; range from 60 to 100%) that they were able to apply the learned practices. Management of transition heifers and cows (e.g., pre- and postpartum) to prevent stillbirth and diseases (e.g., uterine, hypocalcemia); best animal welfare and handling practices; development of SOPs (from calving, colostrum to feeding management); Prevention and management of calf health events; replacement heifer program (from birth-weaning to calving) define criteria to initiate breeding in replacement heifers, and importance of teamwork and communication were listed as learned concepts that participants can apply in their farms. 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 producers, veterinarians and Extension educators because they are a vital source of information for dairy producers and their sustainability.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
For all components of the project, the original objectives of the proposal have been met or exceeded.
Specific Aim 1
For Aim 1, we obtained survey data from twice the planned number of study participants, and exceeded the planned number of publications and presentations. We are very excited about the scientific quality and the potential impact of the publications. The data are critical of producer education on judicious antimicrobial use and prevention practices, and are additionally being used to inform a planned follow-up survey, to be conducted this coming Summer (2017). Journal articles and scholarly publications resultant the activities of Specific Aim 1are listed below.
- Habing, GG, Djordjevic, C, Schuenemann, G, Lakritz, J. “Understanding antimicrobial stewardship: Disease severity treatment thresholds and antimicrobial alternatives among organic and conventional calf producers.” Preventive Veterinary Medicine. Vol. 130, (Aug 2016): 77-85. (Published).
- Pempek, JA, Schuenemann, GM, Holder, E., Habing, GG. “Dairy calf management – a comparison of practices and producer attitudes among conventional and organic herds” Journal of Dairy Science. Under Review.
- Habing, GG, Presenter. “Producer Attitudes about Antimicrobial and Non-antimicrobial Therapies for Calf Diarrhea.” Presented at Organic Dairy Veterinarian Interest Group (May 2015)
- Habing, GG, Presenter. “Predictors of Antimicrobial Use Practices among Dairy Calf Producers.” Presented at International Symposium on Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics, Merida, Mexico. (Nov 2015)
- Habing, GG, Presenter. “Antimicrobial Use Practices Among Dairy Calf Producers.” Presented at Ohio Dairy Veterinarians Conference, Columbus, Ohio, United States. (Jan 2016)
- Habing, GG, Presenter. “Antimicrobial Stewardship: Identifying Factors Associated with Selective Antimicrobial Use by Livestock Producers.” Presented at American Veterinary Medical Association, San Antonio, Texas, United States. (Aug 2016)
- Habing, GG, Schueneman G, Djordjevic, C, “Understanding stewardship: Associations with treatment thresholds for antimicrobial use among dairy calf producers’.” Presented at American Association of Bovine Practitioners, Charlotte, North Carolina, United States. (Sep 2016)
- Habing, GG, Schuenman, GG, Djordjevic, C, “Understanding stewardship: Associations with treatment thresholds for antimicrobial use among dairy calf producers’.” Presented at Conference of Research Workers in Animal Disease, Chicago, Illinois, United States. (Dec 2016)
Specific Aim 2
We completed the large calf trial on non-antimicrobial alternatives in the summer of 2015(Objective 2), and exceeded the targeted enrollment for the trial. These data are expected to lead to the promotion availability of an efficacious and novel product for the treatment of calf diarrhea. Additionally, we a scientific manuscript has been published, and the data have been presented to veterinarians and producers in the North Central Region. We expect continued work on this product will lead to adoption by organic and conventional producers. Published manuscripts and scholarly presentations resultant activities within Specific Aim 2 are listed below.
- Habing, G. “Lactoferrin Reduces Preweaning Mortality in Preweaned Calves with Diarrhea.” Journal of Dairy Science. Vol. TBD, (Mar 2017): TBD. (In press).
- Habing, GG, Schuenemann, G, Pineiro, J. Alcaraz, X, Presenter. “Lactoferrin Reduces Mortality in Pre-weaned Calves with Diarrhea.” Presented at Conference of Research Workers in Animal Disease, Peers within Field., Chicago, Illinois, United States. (Dec 2016)
- Harris, K, Schueneman, G, Pineiro, J, Alcatraz, J, Habing, GG., Presenter. “Lactoferrin Reduces Mortality in Pre-weaned Calves with Diarrhea.” Presented at American Association of Bovine Practitioners, Peers within Field., Charlotte, Texas, United States. (Sep 2016)
- Harris, K, Schueneman, G, Pineiro, J, Alcatraz, J, Habing, GG., Presenter. “Lactoferrin Reduces Mortality in Pre-weaned Calves with Diarrhea.” Presented at Ohio Dairy Veterinarians Meeting, Columbus, OH, United States. (Jan 2016)
- Habing, G. Ohio Dairy Health and Management Certificate Program:Module #8 – Organic Dairy Health and Management. The Ohio State University, Veterinary Preventive Medicine. Aug 2016
Specific Aim 3
Information from this project will be helpful to develop future programs (e.g., heifer replacement program, best herd health practices for organic livestock, and data management and interpretation) to address new needs resulting from the active network created through this project.
1) Delivery of 30 one-day workshops/webinars reaching an estimated of 380 participants, including several veterinary practices from the NCR.
2) Development of case-studies (e.g., risk assessment of transition cow management and herd performance for teaching undergraduate/graduate/professional students, practicing veterinarians, and dairy producers), a tutorial for calving management practices (PowerPoint presentation and evaluation instruments) for dairy herds, template standard operating procedures (SOP) to screen lactating dairy cows, and evaluation instruments that have application for other programs.
3) Development of “peer review system” for food animal health and management practices: with the scrutiny of animal welfare practices and antibiotic use in modern food animals systems always under the watchful eye of consumers, legislators, and activists; Veterinary Extension has developed a peer-review system to improve practices in regards to animal health (in certified organic and conventional herds) and management of food animals (e.g., protocols and SOPs). The long-term goal of this initiative is to provide new resources to enhance management of dairy producers and improve transparency of our food system at the herd level; and thus, consumer trust. This double blind “peer review system” would provide a mechanism for dairy producers, veterinarians, and professionals to submit their health protocols electronically for review. The website is under construction and we plan to release it to the public during 2017.
3) Development of an active network of certified organic dairy producer, practicing veterinarians and academic researchers.
Other Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
1) Proceedings notebook to serve as future reference, case-studies and tutorial, and evaluation instruments that have applications for other programs.
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.
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