- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
“Dairies suffer many losses during hot summer months,” said Alex Souza, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Tulare County. “Cows lose their appetite, milk production falls, fertility is down and feet problems are common during the heat of the summer.”
Feet problems result from cows' tendency to stand when they are hot, rather than lie down.
“Comfortable dairy cows will lie down 14 hours a day,” Souza said. “But when cows lie down, their temperature rises. If they can't tolerate the heat, they will stand. Too much standing is hard on their feet.”
The foot problems, lower rate of pregnancies and reduced milk production of summer can be alleviated with proper management. At the meeting, Souza will review programs, equipment and strategies that increase cow comfort during hot weather, including:
- The NOAA/NWS Western Region Heat Impact Level Project
- Assessing and improving animal welfare on the farm
- Soakers to cool cows: Can we reduce water use?
- Applied strategies to reduce heat stress in dairy herds
- Heat stress management on California dairies
- Interactions between milk production, heat stress and fertility
RSVP by calling (559) 684-3300 to be guaranteed lunch. The lunch is provided by Zinpro Performance Minerals.
- Author: Pat Bailey, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9843, firstname.lastname@example.org
"Most dairy breeding programs select for milk production but the results of this study indicate that the cow's conformation, particularly in terms of hoof health, also should be considered," said Anita Oberbauer, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Animal Science and lead author of the study. The study is published in the October issue of the Journal of Dairy Science.
By reducing hoof-health problems through selective breeding, dairy producers could increase herd longevity, improve milk yield and reduce economic inputs and environmental impacts related to raising replacement heifers, the study concludes.
Oberbauer noted that lameness and hoof health are also animal welfare issues that can cause dairy producers to cull, or retire, cows early from their milking herds. As of 2011, an average of more than 40 percent of California dairy cows were culled annually, and lameness was one of the top three reasons for culling.
The 29-month study, conducted on three California dairies, correlated milk-production records with weekly observations of hoof health problems for more than 5,000 cows, including those that were visibly lame and those that were "dry," or finishing their milking cycle.
Recorded lameness-related hoof conditions included white line disease, sole ulcer, other claw horn lesions, foot rot and foot warts.
Foot warts were the most prevalent of the ailments, occurring in more than 17 percent of the monitored cows. The research also demonstrated a sizable genetic component to sole ulcer and foot warts, indicating that a breeding program directed at reducing hoof disease will likely lead to measurable improvements.
The study concluded that a breeding program that considers hoof-health traits would be unlikely to jeopardize the cows' milk productivity.
Oberbauer said that further study is now needed to identify the specific genes or DNA regions that are responsible for hoof-health traits.
UC Davis has helped to make California the nation's largest dairy state, contributing to better sanitation procedures, improvements in raw milk handling and quality, and innovations that have reduced the environmental impact of livestock waste. The J-5 vaccine alone, developed in 1988 by veterinary medicine faculty to prevent mastitis in dairy cattle, saves producers $11 million annually. Faculty research carried out at UC Davis also helped eradicate bluetongue virus in parts of the United States and rinderpest in much of Africa. Both diseases affect livestock.
Collaborating researchers on this study included Steven Berry, a Cooperative Extension dairy management specialist, staff researcher Janelle Belanger, alumna Rachel Goldrick and Professor Thomas Famula, all of the UC Davis Department of Animal Science; and Juan Manuel Pinos-Rodriguez of Instituto de Investigacion de Zonas Deserticas, Mexico.
The W.K. Kellogg Endowment and the University of California's Agriculture and Natural Resources division funded the study.
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
“This is an interesting year for forages to say the least,” said Dan Putnam, University of California Cooperative Extension alfalfa specialist and conference chair. “Hay prices are at record high levels in many states, and dairies have found it difficult going as a result. Costs have gone up considerably for hay producers and dairy producers alike.”
The conference is broken into half-day sessions with presentations by a diverse array of speakers, including farmers, Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists, and representatives from commodity groups and industry. The sessions are:
- Hay industry trends
- Irrigation and soils
- Producing quality forages for different markets
- GMOs and Roundup Ready Alfalfa
- Biofuels in the West
“This is a terrific opportunity to learn more about forages, to meet industry members, other farmers and pest control advisers,” Putnam said.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is scheduled to present the keynote address at the Tuesday, Dec. 13, banquet.
Early registration for Western Alfalfa & Forage Conference closes Friday, Nov. 18
Early registration for the Western Alfalfa & Forage Conference has been extended to Nov. 18. The cost for early registration is $165; general registration after Nov. 18 is $195. Walk-up registration is $225. There is a separate registration fee of $55 for the Dec. 13 afternoon biofuels workshop and Vilsack presentation.
Online conference registration, the complete conference agenda, and lodging and exhibit information are available at the conference website, http://ucanr.org/sites/Alfalfa_Forages. The pre-symposium field tour on Dec. 11 is sold out.
For more information, contact Sherry Cooper at (530) 752-1581 or email@example.com.