Archive for the ‘NorthEast DairyBusiness’ Category

Be prepared for a bio-emergency

    If foot-and-mouth disease were to show up in the United States today, would you be prepared?
     Prepare to Survive a Bio-disaster, a three-part workshop on dealing with bio-disasters, will be presented by
University of Vermont Extension. The program is for dairy producers and other cattle owners, milk and cattle haulers, feed dealers and service providers.
The first set of workshops,
Into the Valleys of Death and Emergency Biosecurity,  is scheduled for  Nov. 12, 13 and 14. It will heighten awareness of dangers of being unprepared, and how diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease can spread. Presenters will be veterinarian Steve Van Wie, a veterinarian who spent seven months in the United Kingdom during the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in 2001, and Julie Smith, UVM dairy Extension specialist.
The workshop will be held at the following locations, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.:

• Nov. 12 – Middlebury American Legion

• Nov. 13 – Fairfield Town Hall

• Nov. 14 – Irasburg Town Hall

Coffee and light lunch will be provided.
Please RSVP by Nov. 7  to 802- 656-2070 or email

Other workshops, to be held at locations decided later, are:
Week of Jan. 12, 2009: Risk management and assessment
Week of Feb. 2, 2009: Community-based emergency management.
     The meeting is sponsored by University of Vermont Extension with support
from the Northeast Center for Risk Management Education and USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service.


Dairy veterinarians highlight need for improved methods of detecting mastitis

Ability to detect mastitis at subclinical level and in early lactation would benefit producers

 Current methods for detecting and diagnosing mastitis in dairy cows are not serving the needs of dairy producers well, according to a survey of leading dairy veterinarians conducted at the recent annual meeting of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners in Charlotte, NC.  The veterinarians surveyed are responsible for nearly 2 million cows in the United States. 

Survey respondents rated current detection methods only an average of 5.2 on a 10-point scale for their ability to meet producers’ needs.  In addition, veterinarians overwhelming supported the importance of detecting mastitis at the subclinical level and in early lactation period for freshened cows.  Mastitis, an infection in milk-producing glands in dairy cows, results in a $2 billion loss in the $25 billion U.S. milk production industry each year. 

“The survey results highlight the need for earlier, quicker and more accurate detection of mastitis,” said Rudy Rodriguez, president and chief technology officer, Advanced Animal Diagnostics (AAD).  “Technology developed by AAD will allow simple and accurate analysis of differential inflammatory cell counts in addition to the traditional somatic cell count to diagnose mastitis.”

Introduced in the 1960s, somatic cell count method measures the total number of leukocytes (white blood cells) in a milk sample.  Proprietary AAD technology allows the detection of three different types of leukocytes — lymphocytes, neutrophils and macrophages — which provides the ability to detect mastitis at a subclinical level, much earlier than by measuring somatic cell counts. 

Of survey respondents, 94% said that differential counts are more effective than traditional measures of detecting mastitis.  In addition, veterinarians rated the importance of detecting mastitis at a subclinical level at an 8.7 on a 10-point scale. 

“The bottom line is delivering an easy-to-use technology that will help dairy producers increase profits by detecting and treating mastitis at an earlier, subclinical level,” said Rodriguez.  “Producers will be able to treat infected cows earlier, reducing loss of milk production and risk of infection to other cows in the herd.”

Veterinarians overwhelmingly stated that it is important to detect mastitis at freshening, rating it at 8.9 on a 10-point scale.  Incidence of mastitis is highest shortly after calving, with 35% of all infections starting in early lactation.  Current methods do not allow practical testing of all cows following calving, however measurement of differential inflammatory cell counts with new technology from AAD allows detection of mastitis in colostrum at the quarter level.

 Source: Advanced Animal Diagnostics (AAD) was founded in 2001 to commercialize exclusively licensed proprietary technology for the diagnosis of farm-animal diseases, beginning with those that affect milk and milk products. Visit

Prepare dairy calves for cool-weather stress

Cooler weather could put a chill on dairy producers’ bottom lines if they aren’t prepared for the threat of pneumonia and bovine respiratory disease (BRD). Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison state that early BRD illness can affect a producer’s bottom line due to production losses later in the cow’s life — that is, if a calf isn’t lost to a chronic illness at a young age.

“Cool-weather months in late fall, winter and early spring are a peak threat for BRD and pneumonia,” said Dr. Bruce Nosky, manager, Veterinary Services, Merial. “The disease is costly initially due to treatment, veterinary and labor costs, but it also takes its toll over time by negatively influencing a calf’s potential to be a productive and profitable member of the herd.”

A 2002 study showed that body weight of BRD-affected heifers was estimated to be reduced by 22 pounds at 3 months old, and up to 63 pounds from heifers 14 months old. It also found that first lactation was reduced and first calving age was delayed by half a month. This can mean delayed and reduced production for the producer.

“When calves get sick, not only will their production suffer due to initial losses, but just as importantly, they may never catch up in weight and production to other calves that do not have the disease,” Nosky said. “The producer is then paying for treatment as well as the lost productivity down the road in areas that have a direct relationship with the cow’s profitability.”

Prevention of BRD includes breaking the disease cycle through proper management practices and increasing herd immunity with a vaccination program, Nosky said. The two bacteria often associated with BRD are Mannheimia haemolytica and Pasteurella multocida. These bacteria inhabit the upper respiratory tract of normal, healthy calves causing no problems, but when calves are put under stress, such as fluctuating colder temperatures, Mannheimia haemolytica and Pasteurella multocida can migrate to the lungs and pneumonia can occur. Nosky said the stress from factors like weaning, cold weather, crowding or transport can be the final additive factor that completes the disease complex — resulting in BRD.

“With cold weather on its way, protecting against Pasteurella with a vaccination program and proper management practices can help dramatically cut down on sickness in young calves and help prevent possible productivity losses after the season,” Dr. Nosky said.

To help avoid BRD and other diseases this winter, Nosky recommends the following when caring for young calves:

  1. Utilize an immunization program to vaccinate against bacterial pneumonia caused by Mannheimia haemolytica and Pasteurella multocida, and to help keep herds healthy and productive.
  2. Vaccinate prior to stress, such as weaning or transporting.
  3. Provide proper housing and ventilation to help prevent diseases from spreading. Individual calf hutches or box pens that prevent nose-to-nose contact should be used to avoid outbreaks.
  4. Supply proper nutrition and hydration to keep calves healthy and disease-free.
  5. Feed an adequate amount of colostrum to newborn calves within 12 hours of birth.

“Healthy calves grow up to be productive cows,” Nosky said. “By using proper management practices and a vaccination program that includes a Pasteurella vaccine that helps aid in the prevention against both Mannheimia haemolytica and Pasteurella multocida, producers can help improve the health and efficiency of their calves — helping to ensure they will be more productive cows.”

Merial provides a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health, well-being and performance of a wide range of animals. Merial employs approximately 5,000 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its 2007 sales were nearly $2.5 billion. Merial Limited is a joint venture between Merck & Co., Inc. and sanofi-aventis. For more information, please see

Mastitis control: Think positive

The dairy industry’s most costly health issue is well known to every producer: mastitis. This topic was discussed at length at the recent 47th annual meeting of the National Mastitis Council, where one point resonated loud and clear: The vast majority of subclinical intramammary infections are caused by gram-positive bacteria. 

Armed with this knowledge, dairy producers can save significant money and milk by altering their treatment protocols to combat the problem more selectively and more effectively.

In a three-year U.S./Canadian study conducted by the University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin and Ontario’s University of Guelph, researchers evaluated 4,044 quarters from 1,028 fresh cows in 11 distinct herds. Of the intramammary infections (IMI) detected, a striking 91% were shown to be caused by gram-positive pathogens.  Furthermore, of the relatively small number of infections caused by gram-negative bacteria, most self-cure without treatment. 

The most important conclusion producers can take from these findings is the value of aggressively treating gram-positive infections with proven antibiotics, while leaving gram-negative infections to self-cure under observation.

The facts support “positive thinking.”

  • Gram-positive pathogens accounted for 91% of subclinical IMI in a recent study. 
  • Gram-negative pathogens accounted for less than 9% of subclinical IMI. 
  • Persistent subclinical infections are usually established by gram-positive pathogens. 
  • Two to three weeks after calving, many subclinical, gram-positive IMI are still present in the udder. Such persistence may require antibiotic treatment.
  • One persistent gram-positive pathogen, Coagulase-negative Staphylococcus spp., was found to be prevalent in 51% of infected animals.
  • E. coli, the study’s most common gram-negative pathogen, turned up in just 5% of such cases. 1



For gram-negative pathogens, no treatment may be the best treatment.

  • Infections caused by gram-negative bacteria tend to be mild to moderate in nature, and frequently require no treatment at all. 
  • Within 24 hours, most gram-negative infections have been shown to spontaneously resolve themselves –- without treatment. This finding comes from a Michigan State University study of 3,200 cows.
  • Another study found 90% of subclinical, environmental streptococcal and coliform IMI were eliminated without antibiotics by two to three weeks after calving. (Staph. spp. and Staph. aureus, on the other hand, persisted at least two to three weeks in more than 60% of cases.) 


Producers save milk and money through selective, gram-positive protocols

  • Administering antibiotic treatment on a broad scale for all cows with IMI can lead to longer-than-necessary periods of unsalable milk.
  • Selectively treating only those cows with gram-positive infections can significantly reduce antibiotic costs, reduce the number of treatments and reduce milk discard. 
  • Antibiotics have been shown to be highly effective in treating gram-positive infections.

Staph. aureus – positively a major concern

  • Staph. aureus is a contagious, gram-positive bacterium that continues to be a problem for many dairies. 
  • A 2007 survey revealed Staph. aureus makes up 43% of contagious mastitis organisms. 1
  • One leading researcher described Staph. aureus as “a highly successful mastitis pathogen in that it has evolved to produce infections of long duration with limited clinical signs.”
  • This bacterium was found in 30% to 40% of bulk tank milk samples in one university study.

Help find genetic defect in calves

    Holstein Association and the National Association of Animal Breeders say they urgently need help in identifying calves that appear to be affected by brachyspina syndrome, a genetic defect.  They are asking dairy producers, AI companies and veterinarians to contact the Holstein Association or Dr. David Steffen at the Veterinary Diagnostics Center, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL),  before destroying the calf.
      Brachyspina syndrome was first described in 2006 by Danish researchers at the University of Copenhagen. It’s a genetic defect in cattle that causes abortion in .16% of pregnant cattle. In rare cases, gestation length is normal, but the calf is stillborn.  Those calves have physical defects like a shortened spinal cord, long legs and abnormal organs.
    Brachyspina syndrome is reported to share similarities with CVM (complex vertebral malformation) but does not share the gene mutation associated with CVM.  Calves affected with brachyspina syndrome differ from CVM as follows:

     • Their body weight is smaller 23 pounds (10.3 kg) compared to 55 pounds (25 kg) for CVM0-affected calves.
 • Vertebral lesions/malformations are more widespread and severe resulting in an overall reduction in spine length.
•  Renal dysplasia is present in brachyspina syndrome but not in CVM cases.
• There may be a slightly longer gestation period with brachyspina syndrome.
• Different common ancestor.
Researchers are working to identify the gene/mutation associated with the defect. To contact Steffen, call 402-472-1434. For genetic  research purposes, the entire calf, along with a blood sample from the dam of the affected calf, should be sent to the UNL Veterinary Diagnostic Center.

For more information contact:

 Holstein Association USA, Inc.

P.O. Box 808,  1 Holstein Place
 Brattleboro, VT 05302-0808
800-952-5200 ext.4225                                


National Association of Animal Breeders
P. O. Box 1033
Columbia, MO 65205




$15 milk?

By Susan Harlow, editor, Northeast DairyBusiness

Predicting dairy prices is like “Lewis and Clark trying to figure out the west of the Mississippi by looking at a map of Pennsylvania,” said Bob Wellington, senior economist for dairy cooperative Agri-Mark Inc., Methuen, Mass.  But despite the difficulty of projecting in a volatile market, Wellington said producers are likely to see $15 per cwt. milk next spring and winter, with a 2009 average no higher than $17. 
“There’s no great recovery, given what we know now,” he told the Northeast Dairy Leadership Team, at its meeting Oct. 7 in Binghamton, N.Y.
    Blame it on supply and demand that are out of whack. Strong 2007 milk prices “smothered” demand for dairy products, Wellington said. There’s also the strengthening U.S. dollar, China’s melamine scandal, and more milk produced by Australia and New Zealand, which are emerging from a drought.
     Wellington said he advises producers to know their production costs in order to help them get through 2009. Dropping feed costs are another factor to consider. Any Milk Income Loss Contract payments will be calculated with the new feed adjuster;  lower feed costs won’t help boost the payment.
   “A year ago we were as close to a competitive advantage over the West as we’ve ever been,” Wellington said. High fuel costs and homegrown forages gave the Northeast that edge, but the advantage is shifting back to the West now, Wellington said. 


Prebuy feed now

By Susan Harlow, editor, Northeast DairyBusiness

Fall is an opportune time for dairy producers to consider prepurchasing feed.  John Berry, agricultural marketing educator for Penn State Extension, Lehigh County, said August through December are good months in which to buy grain.
   “Now we’re just waiting for harvest, so the price is not going to change much and there’s the highest probability of success for good prices.” 
  And you’ll probably have much less success in March through May, when grain sellers historically sell their product.
   Berry said prebuying feed is a way to insure some profitability, not make a killing in the market. Purchasing feed as cheaply is possible isn’t the goal, so have reasonable expectations. “You’re not going to hit a home run every time,” he said. 
    “In today’s volatile market, there are more opportunities than they’re used to be, but they come and go more quickly than they used to.”
   Nevertheless, one producer familiar to Berry discovered that he can make more profit by prepurchasing grain than by preselling his milk.

          Berry recommends:
1. Know your cost of production.  Part of that calculation will be the  purchased feed cost – it will tell you what you can afford to pay for feed. “Then ask: Is the market offering me an opportunity for profit? Maybe it’s time to lock in some profit. Can I make money on $4 corn? On $6 corn?” Berry said.

 2. If you’re in an area where grain is available directly from producers, be aware of variations in quality. Verify test weights, moisture levels, timeliness of delivery and the credit-worthiness of the seller.
    “We become very comfortable buying through a grain elevator, but an individual producer may not be as experienced,” Berry said. “You don’t want to be left holding the bag.”

 3. Another approach is to use the futures market to lock in a feed price, then buy grain locally when you need it. “The gains from one can offset losses from the other,” Berry said.
   Establish the price you’d like to pay – again, by knowing cost of production. Then talk to a broker or your grain company. If you’re a loyal customer, the company may purchase grain at your requested price if it becomes available.
    Price information is easy to find through the Internet,  DTN or charting services.  But you don’t need to drive yourself crazy tracking prices minute by minute, Berry said. Just be informed.

 4. Find out what substitute ingredients are available, locally or at a discount. Can your nutritionist make these work in your ration?

     “Just keep in mind – don’t make any mistakes,” Berry said. “Don’t get emotional about prices and let your bin get empty because you’re still waiting for a lower price, then have to buy to feed your cows.
   “Realize you won’t get the best price – the lowest one – always but avoid the highest priced grain.”
  If you can control your feed costs, you’re in as good a position as anyone else to make money, Berry said. But your first goal should be to feed your cows correctly and only then to minimize feed costs.









Forage insurance available


The deadline to sign up for a Risk Management Agency (RMA) pilot program of insurance for pasture and forages is Nov. 30.
   The program began last year in parts of the country including Pennsylvania. This year it includes the Southern Tier region and Cortland County of New York.
   For more information, contact Fay Benson, 607-753-5213, or For a description of the program visit

Eastern DairyBusiness to Launch in January

A new dairy title will debut in January with the launch of Eastern DairyBusiness magazine by DairyBusiness Communications.  According to Publisher Joel Hastings, coverage will be provided for the eastern half of the U.S.  The company’s Midwest and Northeast DairyBusiness magazines will be combined and coverage for the Southeast will be included.
“We’re combining the economic engine of the Northeast region with the strength and growth potential of the Midwest while adding in the evolving Southeastern states, to include 14 of the nation’s top 23 dairy states,” according to Hastings.  This region produces 50% of the nation’s milk and is home to 80% of U.S. milk producers.
The region also boasts some of the top university dairy science departments and researchers, the most progressive and forward-thinking dairy producer organizations and a strong base of dairy-related companies, providing a deep well of editorial resources and an even larger pool of marketing opportunities.
Eastern DairyBusiness will retain the highly acclaimed Pro-Dairy section, a special editorial package produced by Cornell University and featured in Northeast DairyBusiness for eight years. Monthly themes focus on critical dairy management components. Special issues will highlight two of the nation’s largest agricultural shows –- Empire Farm Days and World Dairy Expo -– as well as the comprehensive annual Dairy Statistics issue.
The magazine also will feature new opportunities for reader connections with advertisers both in print and on companion web sites.
The initial circulation will be 22,000 controlled and BPA audited, including dairy producers with 100+ herds and larger, veterinarians and nutritionists.  All producers and industry participants will be able to purchase subscriptions priced at $20 per year.
Combined with the company’s sister publication, Western DairyBusiness, the two magazines will provide complete coverage of the nation’s dairy industry.  National advertisers will be able to place a single order and receive a single invoice.  Ad content can be differentiated between the two regions at the advertiser’s option.
DairyBusiness Communications, based in Syracuse, NY, produces multi-media for the dairy industry including three monthly magazines (Western DairyBusiness, Eastern DairyBusiness and Holstein World), DairyProfit Weekly newsletter, three direct response buyers’ guides, DairyLine Radio, six active web sites and DairyProfit Seminars.   A division of Multi Ag Media, LLC, it is affiliated with Farm Market iD and Phoenix Data Processing.

Use necropsies to provide answers to clostridial disease

When a cow or calf dies unexpectedly, you may debate whether to call a veterinarian. A necropsy is the right thing to do, but will it be worth the expense?

The answer is almost always yes, said Dr. Glenn Songer, microbiologist at the University of Arizona.

“My belief is that diagnostic investigation should be a priority, even if you think you know exactly what is going on,” reported Songer to attendees at a Clostridium perfringens Type A symposium during the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas, Nev. “Diagnosis is the only way to know the true cause of death. You need this information to prevent future losses, especially with emerging diseases like C. perfringens Type A infection.”

C. perfringens Type A produces alpha toxin and is implicated in deadly gastrointestinal diseases, such as abomasal ulcers and hemorrhage in calves.  Some speculate that it is involved in the pathogenesis of hemorrhagic bowel syndrome (HBS) in cows.

There is much confusion surrounding C. perfringens Type A, as C. perfringens Type A and Type C cases in calves will look almost identical in histopathology. Diagnostic follow-up work needs to be done in every case.

The first step in obtaining an accurate diagnosis is to call a veterinarian as soon as possible after a death. Samples must be from an animal that died very recently. “The best specimen for necropsy is a typically affected, untreated calf,” said Songer.

An accurate diagnosis also involves good communication. Your veterinarian will submit a field necropsy report along with tissue samples to the diagnostic laboratory. He or she will want a complete history of the case. The diagnostic lab requests information such as the breed, type of operation, age of animal, clinical signs, treatments, if other cases have been observed and if any other diseases are occurring in the herd.

Songer urged producers to be diligent. “Don’t stop with one calf,” said Songer. “Focus on the herd. I know it’s costly, but the answer lies with diagnostics. Losing animals is much more expensive than necropsies and diagnostics. The more animals we look at, the more we learn and the sooner we can control this disease.”

If diagnostic results suggest C. perfringens Type A, Songer recommends developing a management strategy with your veterinarian. For example, HBS cases may be addressed by correcting nutritional and environmental factors that are promoting clostridial overgrowth.

Currently, only one cattle vaccine has demonstrated reasonable expectations of efficacy against alpha toxin. Clostridium Perfringens Type A Toxoid is available under conditional license from Novartis Animal Health US, Inc. The product can be given to pregnant or non-pregnant animals, and has been demonstrated to be safe in calves as young as one month of age.

“Work with your veterinarian to develop a preventive management program,” urged Songer. “You probably won’t eliminate every death, but there are steps you can take to minimize losses. Your veterinarian can help you determine if options like vaccination will work in your operation.”

Novartis Animal Health researches, develops and commercializes leading animal treatments that meet the needs of pet owners, farmers and veterinarians. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Animal Health conducts business in 40 countries and employs about 2,700 people worldwide. For more information, visit