While we all learn to deal with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, the following resources might be of use. Please note that circumstances are changing breathtakingly fast; this information is current as of the date above.

Cornell University ProDairy did a webinar on March 20 (2020) about COVID-19 and Your Dairy. The webinar recording goes an hour and 15 minutes; they have also provided a pdf with the slides if you’d prefer to just scan through those. While the New York-specific information may not be so relevant, see the sections with federal policies, advisory information, and suggestions for on-dairy adjustments to operations.

This University of Maine Extension bulletin offers some useful guidance as well, including a prioritized farm chore checklist.

Oregon Department of Agriculture COVID-19 Resources provide details on changes to ODA’s operations (dairy inspections to continue as usual; CAFO inspections to proceed as long as social/physical distancing can be maintained) and other useful information.

Oregon Dairy Farmers Association COVID-19 Resources include links to description of changes to federal leave requirements, dairy-specific resources, and templates of “travel-to-work letters” (should they at some point be needed). Note: there is currently no requirement to provide documentation for employees in essential industries, per the Oregon State Police.

A coronavirus (in cross-section) for comparison. This one caused MERS.
image: CDC/ Cynthia Goldsmith; Azaibi Tamin, Ph.D. (2013)
A coronavirus (in cross-section, via electron microscopy) for comparison. This one causes MERS.
image: CDC/ Cynthia Goldsmith; Azaibi Tamin, Ph.D. (2013)
Solar eclipse (1981) showing sun's corona. A view that inspired the name of the virus that has upended everything at the current moment. image: Ray Thomas, http://brisray.com/
Solar eclipse showing sun’s corona. A view that inspired the name of the type of virus that has upended everything at the current moment.
image: Ray Thomas, http://brisray.com/ (1981)
Photo shows  milker washing cow udder in parlor.

It’s impossible to keep much sterile on a dairy, but could clean udder cloths be transmitting mastitis-causing bacteria in the milking parlor? A recent study of 67 U.S. dairies in ten states investigated whether there is an association between the bacteria levels in (clean) cloth towels and the health of the udders those towels were used on. The authors measured bacteria on clean towels and in milk samples. They also looked at towel use and laundering practices.

What did they discover?

  • ~20% of udder quarters were infected
    • 10% non-aureus Staphylococcus species
    • 4% Staphylococcus aureus
    • 5% Streptococcus or Strep-like organisms
    • 4% other gram-positive bacteria
    • 2% gram-negative bacteria (includes coliforms)
  • No towels were free of bacteria. The mean overall bacterial count was 3.77 log10 cfu/cm2 (cfu=colony forming units).
  • Bacillus species were the most commonly found (95% of cloths). Approximately half the towels contained Staph and/or Strep species.
  • Only Staphylococcus species and Streptococcus species counts on towels were associated with mammary infection rate.
  • No towels laundered off-site by a service had high coliform counts. Also, undried towels had higher coliform counts.

Now, the study authors note that they have not demonstrated that new infections are necessarily being introduced from bacteria on clean towels, just that they found a positive association between Staph and Strep infections and the presence of those organisms on clean towels. However, given their findings, they suggest getting clean towels tested and then working to get those bacteria levels to essentially undetectable for Staph, Strep, and coliform species. Changes in laundering or storage practices could help. (When was the last time the clean towel bin was washed?)

The bottom line: Dry udder cloth towels after washing. Get clean towels tested periodically to see if they may be carrying mastitis-causing bacteria.

The paper:

Rowe et al. Cross-sectional study of the relationship between cloth udder towel management, towel bacteria counts, and intramammary infection in late-lactation dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, December 2019, 102:11401-11413. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2019-17075

This is a three-day course that will cover basic reproductive anatomy and physiology, sire selection, estrus synchronization, as well as training in artificial insemination on live cattle.

  • When: December 16 and 17 9:00am-5:00pm and December 18 9:00am-12 noon
  • Where: Oregon State University, Corvallis
  • How much: $500
  • Food provided: light breakfast, snacks, drinks, and lunch on Monday and Tuesday
  • Questions or to register: Kathryn.Younger@oregonstate.edu
An image of grass hay from an opened bale accompanies the text.

Learn about principles of hay and silage, sensory evaluation of hay, technology tips, and more. Take a pasture tour. See how your best hay stacks up (pun intended) against hay from around the state. Join the Oregon Forage & Grassland Council and the Oregon Hay & Forage Association for the Fall Forage Festival and Hay King Contest at the Yamhill Valley Heritage Center in McMinnville.

Friday, November 15: Speakers and Discussion

Saturday, November 16: Hay King Contest

Registration of $30 per person will be collected at the door (cash, checks & credit cards accepted). OFGC and OHFA members will pay only $15 per person. Lunch will be provided both days. For the full schedule and additional details, visit the following links:

OFGC Events: https://www.oregonforage.org/events/2019-fall-forage-festival/
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/573817356696947/
OHFA Hay King rules: http://oregonhaygrowers.com/?page_id=70

Summer is in full force. Cows need lots of water. Calves do too.

A study by Wickramasinghe and colleagues published earlier this year examined differences in offering calves free-choice water starting at day 0 vs. day 17 (the average age from the 2014 USDA National Animal Health Monitoring System study). The study’s Holstein calves were bottle fed ad lib volumes of milk at 6 quarts per day (over 3 feedings) until 14 days of age, then 10 quarts per day (over 3 feedings) from 14 to 42 days, then 3.4 quarts per day (1 feeding) until weaning at 49 days.

What did they discover?

preweaned dairy calf in hutch with head over black plastic bucket
  • Once they had water available, the starting-at-day-17 calves drank more water through the rest of the preweaning period.
  • Calves with water from day 0 drank more milk than the group starting water at day 17.
  • Starter intake did not differ significantly between the two groups.
  • Calves with water available from day 0 were, on average, taller and longer at weaning and heavier at 5 months than those who didn’t have water until day 17.
  • The two groups had essentially the same incidence pattern of scours.

These results are in accord with an earlier study published in 1984 by Kertz et al. With a more limited milk allowance and much younger weaning age (28 days!), calves with free access to water ate more calf starter and gained more weight with no difference in incidence of scours compared to calves with no water available.

The bottom line: Make sure your calves have water! Even for the youngest ones, water will help them grow.

The papers:

Wickramasinghe et al. Drinking water intake of newborn dairy calves and its effects on feed intake, growth performance, health status, and nutrient digestibility. Journal of Dairy Science, 2019, 102:377-387.

Kertz et al. Ad Libitum Water Intake by Neonatal Calves and Its Relationship to Calf Starter Intake, Weight Gain, Feces Score, and Season. Journal of Dairy Science, 1984, 67:2964-2969.

Along with Oregon Forage and Grassland Council, the Animal & Rangeland Sciences Department of Oregon State University is holding Range Field Day. Topics will include pasture management, targeted grazing, soil health, and novel production systems. Take a tour of OSU Dairy Center pastures and learn about ongoing forage trials.

When:  Thursday, June 27, 2019; 8:00-4:30; lunch provided

Where: Oldfield Animal Teaching Facility, Oregon State University  (3521 SW Campus Way, Corvallis)

Cost:  none

For the full schedule and additional details, see the Range Field Day Flyer 2019.

 

Learn cattle reproductive anatomy and physiology, heat detection, estrus synchronization, semen handling, gestational nutrition, and sire selection in the classroom and practice artificial insemination with reproductive tracts and live animals.

When: March 27-29, 2019

Where: Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center, Burns

Cost: $375

Class size is limited; register ASAP to secure a spot. For full details and registration information, click on the flyer link below.

2019 EOARC AI School

Learn cattle reproductive anatomy and physiology, heat detection, semen handling, artificial insemination technique, and sire selection in the classroom and on live animals.

When: February 26-March 1, 2019

Where: Owyhee County Extension Office, Marsing, Idaho

Cost: $325 for entire school or $125 for “tune-up” session

Languages: English, Spanish

For full details and registration information, click on the flyer link below.

AI School 2019.02 Owyhee County Idaho