Many evacuated livestock have fortunately returned home.

If you’re caring for livestock that were exposed to days of wildfire smoke, keep them quiet. That is, limit exertion, even for several weeks after the air quality has improved. Be extra sure to keep fresh water always available. For more information, see https://extension.oregonstate.edu/animals-livestock/beef/animal-exposure-wildfire-smoke.
See also https://www.oregon.gov/oda/shared/Documents/Publications/AnimalHealth/CaringforLivestockAfterWildfire.pdf

If you lost hay or pasture in the wildfires or are feeding displaced animals that don’t belong to you, OSU Ag Extension is coordinating a statewide hay donation and distribution program to those in need over the next 3 months.  Three regional locations are being set up for receiving hay donations and distribution, in Aurora, Roseburg, and Central Point.  If you need hay due to wildfire loss or to housing extra, unexpected mouths to feed, please fill out this form: https://oregonstate.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_b8BCqXt7sgbM113

Some livestock have not returned home.

For livestock that may have gone missing, Oregon Department of Agriculture has established an animal tracking website with a database of “found” animals and a way to submit information on animals with unknown owners that you may be tending. https://data.oda.state.or.us/fmi/webd/AH_AnimalTrack?homeurl=https://data.oda.state.or.us/ah.html

For those with livestock that perished in the wildfires, there is the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) from USDA Farm Service Agency. General information about the program can be found here: https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/disaster-assistance-program/livestock-indemnity/index
An Oregon wildfire-specific fact sheet on the LIP is here:

We hope everyone stays safe through this wildfire emergency.

Here are several websites providing information (with maps) on specific wildfires and air quality.

Here’s an article on Wildfires, Smoke and Livestock http://cecentralsierra.ucanr.edu/files/220420.pdf The short summary is: minimize animals’ exertion when the air quality is poor and for 4-6 weeks after. There’s additional information about caring for fire-injured livestock.

Australian dairy farmers know about wildfire preparation: https://www.dairyaustralia.com.au/farm/land-water-carbon/extreme-weather/preparing-for-bushfire

Options for evacuating livestock:

Benton County: Fairgrounds (110 SW 53rd Street, Corvallis) — Evacuated Livestock and RV campers are being accepted. Call 541-243-2491. See https://www.bceventcentercorvallis.net/events/2020/benton-county-evacuation-information

Clackamas County: Fairgrounds is no longer an option. See alternatives here https://www.clackamas.us/wildfires/animals (some noted here). See also https://www.facebook.com/crisisresponse/773709353364775/?alias=773709353364775&source=search

Clatsop County: Fairgrounds (92937 Walluski Loop, Astoria) has space. Call 503-717-3824 to check; https://www.facebook.com/clatsopcountyfair/.

Columbia County: Fairgrounds (58892 Saulser Rd, St Helens) has space. Call 541-357-2899 to check.

Crook County: Fairgrounds (1280 S. Main Street, Prineville) has space. Call 541-419-6706 to check.

Douglas County: Fairgrounds (2110 SW Frear Street, Roseburg) has space for smaller livestock; call 541- 440-4394 to check availability. For large livestock (cattle, horses), contact Douglas County Parks Department at 541-440-6040. https://www.flashalert.net/news.html?id=5204

Hood River County: Fairgrounds (3020 Wyeast Road, Hood River) has space. Call 541-354-2865 or 541-490-2985 to check. https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Fairground/Hood-River-County-Fairgrounds-168670806623958/

Jackson & Josephine Counties: Southern Oregon Emergency Aid (for animal evacuations), call 541-226-1124.

Marion County: Oregon State Fairgrounds (enter at 2400 Silverton Road NE, Salem) has space. St. Paul Rodeo Grounds is almost at capacity; contact Cindy Schonholtz at 719-440-7255 for availability; https://www.facebook.com/StPaulRodeo. West Hills Stables (West Salem); call 503-851-2214 to confirm availability. 

Lane County: Events Center (796 W. 13th, Eugene) has space for livestock. Contact at 541-285-8227 before arriving to confirm space availability; https://www.facebook.com/LaneEventsCenter. See also https://www.lanecounty.org/cms/one.aspx?pageId=17035134 under Pet and Large Animal Resources tab.

Linn County: Fairgrounds (3700 Knox Butte Road E, Albany) is full. See other options at https://www.facebook.com/groups/linncountylivestock

Lincoln County: Livestock County Commons (633 NE 3rd Street, Newport). Call 541-265-4961. https://www.co.lincoln.or.us/emergencymanagement/page/seasonal-hazards-wildfire

Polk County: Fairgrounds (520 S Pacific Hwy West, Rickreall) has room. Call ahead at 503-623-3048 to let them know what kind of animal and how many; https://www.facebook.com/Polk-County-Oregon-Fair-199482210083788.

Tillamook County: Fairgrounds (4603 3rd Street, Tillamook) has space. Contact Hayden at 503-812-6189; https://www.tillamookfair.com/p/about/fire-evacuee-information.

Washington County: Westside Commons (801 NE 34th Avenue, Hillsboro), formerly known as the Fair Complex, has space; call 503-314-3433 to check; https://www.co.washington.or.us/News/fire-evacuations.cfm.

Yamhill County: Fairgrounds (2070 NE Lafayette Avenue, McMinnville) still has room. Check https://www.facebook.com/YamhillCountyFairRodeo/

For assistance with livestock transportation/housing or to offer assistance, see https://pnwfireanimalrescue.org/

Oregon Department of Agriculture has set up an animal reunification website: https://data.oda.state.or.us/fmi/webd/AH_AnimalTrack?homeurl=https%3A%2F%2Fdata.oda.state.or.us%2Fah.html&fbclid=IwAR1-CFxfYUlW5UP0KbRKbdQg0Em-mnfBTBP3iVBsFWuQ4oz8bf-uhewew1I.

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

Earlier this month, a beef-type cow in Florida was identified as having bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also called mad cow disease. For those old enough to remember, BSE was the cause of death (by disease and culling) of many thousands of cattle—most heavily in the United Kingdom—in the late 1980s through early 2000s.  Worse yet, it caused the deaths of a couple hundred people who had consumed beef from infected cattle (in humans, this is called variant Creutzfeld-Jakob disease).

The “bad” prion protein (PrPSc) converts normal PrP proteins.

The caused-many-deaths BSE is referred to as classical BSE, where the route of infection was due to ingestion by cattle of the infectious agent: a nasty little misfolded protein called a prion, specifically a prion designated PrPSc. Infection with PrPSc came from affected animals that were recycled into meat and bone meal and fed to other cattle. When the molecules of PrPSc get into the body, they go around refolding the native, normal PrPC proteins into the abnormal PrPSc proteins (see figure). As the disease progresses (over years), normal brain tissue becomes decidedly abnormal, and the animal’s behavior follows suit. Key symptoms of BSE include nervousness or aggression, abnormal posture, and lack of coordination. Cattle exhibiting such behaviors are not allowed in the food chain and are automatically tested for BSE.

Due to bans on the recycling of higher-risk tissues into feed, identified cases of classical BSE have fallen to essentially zero worldwide. What surveillance programs have picked up are a very few cases of what is called atypical BSE. The prions detected in these cases are slightly different at the molecular level from that in classical BSE. Atypical BSE arises from a spontaneous mutation in the gene that encodes the native PrP protein with the result that they start to misfold into a PrPSc-like shape. Like the atypical BSE-affected cow recently identified in Florida, these cases are not caused by infection from the outside.

Discovery of this “mad” cow (and the five others over the last 28 years) demonstrates that the surveillance procedures conducted by USDA are effective. At this point, USDA is testing about 25,000 cattle a year, and those are largely sampled from older or ill animals. USDA estimates the prevalence of BSE in the US at 1 in 1 million cattle.

Bottom line: we will occasionally see cases of atypical BSE pop up due to nature (mutations happen!) and our well-functioning surveillance system, but risk to the health of people and other cattle is exceedingly low.

Additional information:

on this recent case (August 2018; USDA)

USDA’s general information on BSE

CDC’s information on BSE

Are too many heifers on your farm showing up with mastitis early in that first lactation? You may want to examine your prevention strategies. A review paper that examined the effectiveness of various precalving treatments in heifers was published earlier this summer. Here are the key take-a-ways:

developing udder on a Jersey heifer
She’ll be in the parlor soon.
photo: Spirited Rose Homestead Dairy Farm

  • When the infection is caused by contagious bacteria (e.g., Streptococcus agalactiae, Staphylococcus aureus), antibiotics, teat sealants, and vaccines can improve udder health outcomes.
  • Particularly if you are considering using antimicrobial treatments, culture quarter milk so you know who the enemy is. We want to minimize the development of antibiotic resistance.
  • When environmental pathogens (e.g., Escherichia coli, non-agalactiae streptococci) are the problem, teat sealants and combination therapies are effective at reducing mastitis risk.
  • When coagulase-negative staphs (CNS) are infecting heifer udders, antibiotics, teat-sealants, and combination therapies offer the most help.
  • When employing any of these treatment options, be sure they are delivered by a well-trained person.
  • On farms with effective fly control and that minimize stress for late-gestation heifers, there may be little benefit from preventative medical treatment.

The paper: Naqvi, Nobrega, Ronksley, & Barkema. June 2018. Effectiveness of precalving treatment on postcalving udder health in nulliparous dairy heifers: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Dairy Science 101:4707-4728.

Another good resource is the National Mastitis Council’s Heifer Mastitis Prevention and Control Plan.

Researchers from Oregon State University investigated the blood serum profiles of Holstein cows before and after calving and compared those that developed clinical mastitis with those that did not. To do so, they used ultra-performance liquid chromatography high resolution mass spectrometry plus statistics to identify differences in concentration of metabolites, lipids, minerals, and inflammatory markers in blood serum. It’s OK if you read that last sentence and went, “Huh?”  The short version is that they ran blood serum samples from dry cows through some fancy laboratory equipment to see if there were any indicators associated with developing clinical mastitis after calving. And yes, there are!

For example, alpha-tocopherol (a form of vitamin E) levels were significantly higher in the blood of cows that did not develop clinical mastitis compared to those that did (Figure 1). Another difference was in the overall profile of metabolites (molecules that participate in or are produced during metabolism); they were quite different for cows that remained healthy and those with post-calving mastitis (Figure 2).

Figure 1. Control animals (no mastitis; open bars) had significantly more alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) in their blood than cows that developed mastitis (shaded bars). From Figure 4 from Zandkarimi et al. 2018.

The figure shows self-organizing map of metabolomic data.
Figure 2. See the starkly different profiles in serum metabolite concentration between cows that developed mastitis post-calving (CMP) and those that did not (Control)? The metabolites are grouped by metabolite family, e.g., carnitines. The more red colors indicate higher concentrations, while blue indicates lower. From Figure 5 from Zandkarimi et al. 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While no dairies have liquid chromatography mass spec technology in their on-farm lab, these results may lead the way to identifying one or two highly reliable blood markers that could be easily measured on the dairy. And forewarned is forearmed, right? Knowing which cows were likely to develop mastitis could allow proactive treatment to prevent the more expensive and damaging clinical mastitis.

The paper: F. Zandkarimi, J. Vanegas, X. Fern, C.S. Maier, G. Bobe. Metabotypes with elevated protein and lipid catabolism and inflammation precede clinical mastitis in prepartal transition dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, June 2018, 101:5531–5548

Young Calf Health Workshops

Best Management Practices for Young Calves  (December 1, 2017, 1-4 pm)

Interventions for Sick Calves  (December 8, 2017, 1-4 pm)

Classroom and hands-on instruction at OSU in Corvallis.

For more detailed information, click to open the flier:

young calf health workshop flier 2017.12

To register, go to http://bit.ly/MarionDairyWorkshops

Cow traversing footbaths (somewhere it doesn’t rain much). Photo from Shield Agriculture.

In a Canadian study published in the July 2017 issue of Journal of Dairy Science, researchers compared a quaternary ammonium compound-based (QAC) footbath to a more conventional copper sulfate (CuSO4) footbath. Five farms used a standard 5% footbath concentration of CuSO4. Another five farms used a 1% footbath concentration of QAC (per the manufacturer’s recommendation). An additional five farms that did not alter their standard hoofcare routine were also included. These dairies averaged 143 cows and a prevalence of active digital dermatitis (DD) lesions (hairy warts) of 15%. The protocols for the CuSO4 and QAC interventions had cows walking through freshly prepared footbaths once a day after milking Monday–Friday for 12 consecutive weeks.

In the CuSO4 group, the prevalence of chronic DD lesions decreased over the 12 weeks of the study. For the QAC group, chronic DD lesion prevalence decreased at the same rate for weeks 0–6, but then leveled off between 6 and 12 weeks. The QAC treatment also did not decrease the proportion of cows with active DD lesions. The researchers concluded that QAC was inferior to CuSO4 for footbath control of hairy warts. This is unfortunate, as a viable alternative to CuSO4 would be useful to reduce the amount of copper that ends up in pastures and crop fields (via manure handling and application systems).

three line graphs showing normal and abnormal activity levels over a 24-hour day for cows affected by lameness or mastitis or in heat
Average activity levels of healthy, not-in-heat cows (solid lines) and “affected” cows (dashed lines) over the course of a day. Lower activity levels correspond to more resting and higher activity levels to more eating and moving around. Data from 350 cows over 5 months show that circadian patterns differ between “normal” and “affected” cows. Figure is from Veissier et al. 2017 Journal of Dairy Science 100:3969–3974.

Sunrise, sunset. When to eat, when to sleep. Like people and plants (and microbes!), cows have a circadian pattern. Circadian rhythms are the physiological and behavioral changes that follow a predictable pattern over the course of a day.

In a recent study, the exact locations of 350 cows in a free-stall barn on a Danish dairy were tracked each second for 5 months using a real-time positioning system (GEA’s CowView). Cows were classified as resting (in a stall), feeding (at the feed bunk), or in alley (in the milking robot or otherwise not in a stall or eating). Each of these activities was weighted: resting was negative (-0.15), feeding was very positive (+0.34), and in alley was less positive (+0.12). Then these weights were applied to the number of hours each cow spent doing each activity, which resulted in an average activity level across the herd over the day (see solid lines in the figure for “normal” cows).

That cows have circadian rhythms, shaped by light-dark cycles and management activities (like stall cleaning), is no surprise. What is interesting, is that the researchers found that circadian patterns changed when a cow was feeling poorly (lameness or mastitis) or coming into heat (see dashed lines in the figure). Lame cows showed less overall activity level variation over the course of the day. Cows with mastitis showed higher activity during the day but lower activity into the evening.

What’s more interesting is that the shift in circadian pattern occurred 1 to 2 days before the farmer detected the abnormality. These results should be verified in other settings with additional diagnostic tools. However, monitoring circadian patterns of activity may serve as an early warning system for cows that may require additional attention.

Headstone marking the grave of You’ll Do Lobelia, a purebred Jersey cow, 1932-1941
They sure don’t all get this kind of memorial. photo: slgckgc via Flickr

We hate it when it happens, but sometimes cows (and heifers and calves) die on the farm. Along with the economic loss is the hit to morale. Mortality losses average 6-8% in U.S. dairy herds, which is higher than 40 years ago. Systematic collection and analysis of death information may help prevent other deaths in the future and improve overall welfare of the herd.

The Integrated Livestock Management program at Colorado State University’s vet school has a Certificate of Death form for dairy cattle. The purpose is to record detailed information about each animal’s death in order to improve overall health management. The form includes spots for the expected items like id, birth date, calving date, and death date, but also things like body condition score, days in milk, and calving ease score. The section for cause of death doesn’t have just one line, it has space to write in the conditions that led to the cow’s final demise. Did she have a metabolic imbalance? An infection? An injury from a piece of equipment? Identifying the timeline of contributing events allows for an assessment of health risks on the dairy. Causes that appear frequently in death certificates should serve as a call to action. The authors of the form advise using a coding system that allows for a more detailed cause of death to be included in the cow’s individual record.

The folks at Colorado State University have also written a Dairy Cattle Necropsy Manual that includes illustrated, step-by-step directions for conducting an on-farm necropsy. The manual has lots of photos of both normal organs and commonly found abnormalities. There is also guidance for taking tissue samples. When doing a “home” necropsy, take plenty of pictures for the subsequent conversation with your veterinarian.

Completing certificates of death for cows, heifers, and calves provides the necessary information for analyzing health management practices so that improvements can be made and mortality rate decreased. Information may be the only thing of value that comes from an animal’s untimely death. Let’s use it.