Farmer and Veterinary Practices and Opinions Related to Fertility Testing and Pregnancy Diagnosis of UK Dairy Cows.
ABSTRACT: Dairy cow farming plays an important role in the UK and worldwide economies. Significant challenges are currently being faced regarding sustainability of the dairy industry. Dairy cow subfertility remains an important issue limiting herd productivity, resulting in annual losses of hundreds of millions of pounds in the UK alone. To address this, accurate monitoring of reproductive status and early detection of fertility issues in individual cows is essential. The aim of this study was to gather farmer and veterinarian opinions on current practices and perceived gaps related to diagnosis of fertility issues and pregnancy testing in UK dairy farms. Using online questionnaires, data were collected and analyzed from a total of 40 farmers and 59 veterinarians. The results showed that non-seen bulling checks and ultrasound were the most frequent tools to detect fertility issues, and that most farmers tested post-calving, and often again before or during mating. Most farmers believed that current tests did not meet their expectations, with half of those being willing to pay more than they were currently paying for fertility testing. In regard to pregnancy testing, ultrasound was most commonly used, at 30-50 days post-insemination either in individual or groups of cows. Again, most farmers believed that current tests did not meet their expectations, and a majority would consider paying a higher cost for a test that was better than those currently available. In addition, a majority of farmers would consider using a test that could detect pregnancy within 2 weeks post-insemination, if such test existed, because they believed it would help improve their herds' reproductive performance. Overall, the opinions of farmers and veterinarians indicate that there is significant scope for improving dairy herd fertility monitoring practices in the UK, through development of improved assays that can diagnose pregnancy and infertility earlier, are less disruptive to farm operations and are more cost effective than available tools. They also provide useful information to guide the future development and implementation of better diagnostics for improving reproductive performance of dairy cattle.
Project description:Production diseases are highly prevalent in modern dairy herds, resulting in lost productivity and reduced animal welfare. Two important production diseases are mastitis and metabolic disorders. The availability of robust diagnostic tools that can detect animals at early stages of disease is crucial to prevent the high costs associated with lost productivity and the treatment of clinically and/or chronically diseased animals. Despite a variety of diagnostic methods being available to farmers and veterinarians, the incidence of these diseases in UK dairy herds has not changed over the last decade, underscoring the need for improved approaches for early disease detection. To this end, we administered a questionnaire to farmers and veterinarians to understand current diagnostic practices in the UK dairy cow sector, and to gather opinions on the suitability of currently available diagnostic tests in order to identify specific areas where improvement in diagnostic technologies and/or practices are needed. Data from a total of 34 farmers and 42 veterinarians were analyzed. Results indicated that most farmers surveyed used a combination of methods to diagnose mastitis and metabolic disorders, the most popular of which were visual inspection and milk recording somatic cell count data for mastitis, and body condition score and milk ketone testing for metabolic disorders. These preferences were not always in line with veterinarian recommendations of different diagnostic tools. Moreover, veterinarians indicated they were not satisfied with currently available diagnostic tools or how these were implemented by farmers. Both farmers and veterinarians recognized there was substantial room for improvement of current diagnostic tools, particularly in regard to the need to detect disease early. A majority of respondents preferred new diagnostic tests to be suitable for use with milk rather than blood or urine samples, and to yield results within 24 h. Finally, both groups surveyed identified economic cost as the most important barrier for the future uptake of new diagnostic technologies. The information obtained should guide the future development of diagnostic approaches that meet both the expectations of farmers and veterinarians, and help bring about a reduction in the incidence of production diseases in UK dairy herds.
Project description:Modern genetic improvement in dairy cattle is directed towards improvement of fertility; however, reproduction traits generally exhibit a genetic antagonism with milk yield. Herein, we aimed to clarify the effects of sire predicted transmitting ability (PTA) for daughter pregnancy rate (DPR) on the reproductive performance and milk yield of daughters in Japanese dairy herds. We conducted a retrospective cohort study on four dairy herds in eastern Hokkaido, Japan, using 1,612 records from 1,018 cows with first, second, or third calvings between March 2015 and September 2018. First, we classified sires into three groups based on the tertile value of their DPR estimate: ? -2.2 (low), -2.1 to -0.4 (intermediate), and ? -0.3 (high). Subsequently, we compared the sire PTA estimates, reproductive performance, and milk production among DPR groups for each parity of the daughters. In the first and second parity, the hazard of pregnancy by 200 days postpartum was highest in cows from the high-DPR group (P < 0.05); in the third parity, it was unaffected by DPR group. Although sire PTA for milk production in cows from the low-DPR group was highest, actual milk production was unaffected by DPR group regardless of parity. Our findings demonstrate that using sires with PTA for high fertility can enable farmers to improve reproductive performance without decreasing milk yield in Japanese dairy herds. However, it should be noted that sires with PTA for high fertility are at risk for reducing the genetic merit for milk production.
Project description:The reduction of antimicrobials on dairy farms is a topical issue and confronts both veterinarians and farmers with major challenges. The aim of this study was to investigate dairy farmers' motivation to reduce antimicrobial use on their farms. Factors influencing dairy farmers' decision-making regarding dairy cow health were identified and the role of the veterinarian in these processes was characterized. A customized structured questionnaire was sent to all participants (n = 59) of an ongoing antimicrobial reduction project among dairy farmers in the Canton of Fribourg, Switzerland, by mail. Fifty-eight completed questionnaires were returned and evaluated (response rate 98.3%). The majority of respondents were men (56/58, 96.6%) and farm managers (55/57, 96.5%) managing their farms as their main occupation (56/57, 98.2%). Using a 5-point-Likert-scale (1 = not a reason, 5 = very important reason), respondents ranked "My veterinarian is putting pressure on us to use less antimicrobials" (median=2.5, interquartile range = 1-3) and "Other farmers also reduce antimicrobial use" (2.0, 1-3) as the least important factors affecting their motivation to reduce the use of antimicrobials in dairy cows (P < 0.001). Respondents ranked their veterinarian's opinion (4.0, 4-5) and their own feelings and knowledge (4.0, 3-4) as the two factors having significantly more importance on their decisions regarding dairy cow management (P < 0.001). The farmers indicated they were satisfied with the quality of the consultancy given by their veterinarians (4.0, 4-5) and with the quality of communication with veterinarians (4.0, 3-4). They indicated that they understood recommendations made by the veterinarian (4.0, 3.75-4) and also felt understood by the veterinarian (4.0, 3-4). However, only 25.9% (14/54) indicated they were willing to pay for good quality, farm-adapted consulting by their veterinarian. Based on these findings, veterinarians play an important role in influencing Swiss dairy farmers in decision-making concerning animal health and treatment. However, veterinarians were not viewed by farmers as important motivators for reducing antimicrobial use. Swiss veterinarians are encouraged to be aware of their influence on farmers' decisions and to use that influence to more clearly promote antimicrobial reduction on dairy farms.
Project description:Contagious mastitis is an important disease in dairy cattle, and the causative agent S. aureus can also impair raw milk cheese quality. In a confined region in eastern Switzerland attitude, knowledge and behaviour towards S. aureus und S. aureus control was assessed in 90 dairy farmers with communal alpine pasturing including raw milk cheese production with the aid of a questionnaire.Forty-three out of 90 questionnaires were returned (48% return rate). Farmers perceived reproductive problems as most important in their dairy herds followed by respiratory disease and diarrhoea in young stock. Most frequently stated as important motivating factors to participate in S. aureus control were "avoiding negative news about cheese quality in the press" followed by "I want to be proud of my somatic cell counts again". Most frequently chosen and identified as important constraining factors were "I fear that the authorities dictate and the farmers are not heard" followed by "costs to control S. aureus are too high because of premature culling" and "I am afraid to be forced to cull genetically valuable cows". Farmers with an experience of a S. aureus problem in their dairy herds had a significantly better knowledge about contagiosity and clinical manifestation of different S. aureus genotypes than farmers with no self-reported experience of a S. aureus problem. Veterinarians were indicated as the most important experts, farmers seek advice in case of mastitis and most farmers suggested subsidising bacteriological milk analysis as an incentive to motivate farmers towards S. aureus control.According to the results an improved knowledge transfer on S. aureus to dairy producers and an integrative approach to a S. aureus control program with subsidising milk analysis will be most promising to improve the S. aureus situation in this confinded region of eastern Switzerland. Veterinarians should cover a key role in consulting farmers during the control program.
Project description:This article analyses the progress made in the UK with regard to tackling antibiotic "misuse and overuse" in food-producing animals. Moving beyond statistical realities, the paper examines how the UK's industry-led policy approach is shaping practice. Using a multi-sited ethnography situated in Actor Network Theory and Callon's sociology of markets, the UK dairy supply chain policies and practices were studied. Findings reveal that dairy industry policies only partially address the complex network of people, animals, and the environment in which dairy antibiotics circulate. Antibiotic "misuse and overuse" in agriculture is far from a behavioural matter, with solely farmers and veterinarians to blame. Instead, antibiotic use in food animals is embedded in complex economic networks that constrain radical changes in dairy husbandry management and antibiotic use on farms. More attention toward the needs of the dairy supply chain actors and wider environmental considerations is essential to reduce the dairy sector's dependency on antibiotics and support transition toward responsible farming in the UK.
Project description:Background:Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major global public health issue. In India, access to medicines is poorly regulated and therefore antibiotics in dairy cattle are commonly used by farmers without consulting with veterinarians. This study was conducted to understand practices and knowledge related to antibiotic use and AMR among dairy farmers and veterinary professionals in selected urban and peri-urban areas of India. Methods:A total of 28 focus group discussions with farmers and 53 interviews with veterinary professionals were carried out. Results:Mastitiswas identified as the main animal health challenge. Antibiotic consultation behavior of farmers depended on the availability of veterinarians. Except in Bangalore, farmers were found to often treat animals on their own. They were found unaware of the concept of AMR, but knew the importance of vaccination. Veterinarians included in the study had a good understanding of antibiotics, AMR, and zoonotic diseases. Conclusion:The knowledge level and practices observed in the study related to the use/abuse of antibiotics can potentially increase the risk of development of AMR and its transfer in the community. Our findings can help support AMR - mitigation efforts in the country, including the design of better policies on antibiotic use in dairy.
Project description:Biosecurity measures are a set of management procedures that prevent the risk of introducing and spreading infectious diseases to a farm, although these measures are rarely implemented in dairy farms. There are some studies that have identified that the decision to implement biosecurity measures can be influenced by several psychosocial factors (attitudes and behaviours). Thus, the objective of this study was to examine the psychosocial factors (and their interactions) influencing the implementation of biosecurity measures in dairy farms in Spain, through the views of dairy farmers and veterinarians from Catalonia (northeast Spain) and Galicia (northwest Spain). Face-to-face in-depth interviews were performed with 16 dairy farmers (nine from Catalonia and seven from Galicia) and 16 veterinarians (eight from Catalonia and eight from Galicia). Grounded theory analysis was performed on the transcripts, following the subtopics of: information sources, individual factors of the farmer, social dynamics, official veterinary services and other factors. The study identified the importance of veterinarians as a source of information, including their communication skills, the individual experiences of farmers, traditions of the farms and availability of time and space in the dairy farmer's decisions making. Further, it suggests the need to deepen the knowledge of the farm workers and the obligatory biosecurity measures. This research represents a starting point to develop future strategies to improve the implementation of biosecurity measures in dairy farms.
Project description:Infertility and subfertility are important and pervasive reproductive problems in both domestic animals and humans. The majority of embryonic loss occurs during the first three weeks of pregnancy in cattle and women due, in part, to inadequate endometrial receptivity for support of embryo implantation. To identify heifers of contrasting fertility, serial rounds of artificial insemination (AI) were conducted in 201 synchronized crossbred beef heifers. The heifers were then fertility classified based on number of pregnancies detected on day 35 in four AI opportunities. Heifers, classified as having high fertility, subfertility or infertility, were selected for further study. The fertility-classified heifers were superovulated and flushed, and the recovered embryos were graded and then transferred to synchronized recipients. Quantity of embryos recovered per flush, embryo quality, and subsequent recipient pregnancy rates did not differ by fertility classification. Two in vivo-produced bovine embryos (stage 4 or 5, grade 1 or 2) were then transferred into each heifer on day 7 post-estrus. Pregnancy rates were greater in high fertility than lower fertility heifers when heifers were used as embryo recipients. The reproductive tracts of the classified heifers were obtained on day 14 of the estrous cycle. No obvious morphological differences in reproductive tract structures and histology of the uterus were observed in the heifers. Microarray analysis revealed differences in the endometrial transcriptome based on fertility classification. A genome-wide association study, based on SNP genotyping, detected 7 moderate associations with fertility across 6 different chromosomes. Collectively, these studies support the idea that innate differences in uterine function underlie fertility and early pregnancy loss in ruminants. Cattle with defined early pregnancy success or loss is useful to elucidate the complex biological and genetic mechanisms governing endometrial receptivity and uterine competency for pregnancy.
Project description:Intrauterine insemination (IUI) has latterly become less important in reproductive medicine. The aim of this retrospective analysis was to identify and evaluate the success rates of repeated insemination cycles in women of different ages. All women who underwent intrauterine insemination in the Wiesbaden Fertility Clinic between 1998 and 2010 were included in the analysis. Additional inclusion criteria were: not more than 45 years old, previous FSH stimulation and slight to moderate subfertility of the male partner. A total of 4246 insemination cycles in 1612 patients were included in the analysis. The average number of IUI cycles per patient was 2.24 (1-14). Patient age ranged from 19 to 45 years (mean: 33.9 years). Logistic regression analysis showed a drop in pregnancy rates with increasing age (p?=?0.000). However, for the first three cycles the pregnancy rates for women aged 40 and 41 did not differ from those of women aged between 35 and 39 years. Overall pregnancy rates were stable in women up to the age of 40, even after several insemination cycles (7.5 and 10?%). Insemination is therefore still an effective procedure in selected patients. Stable pregnancy rates were recorded even after more than 3 cycles. After 3 cycles, the success rates for women aged 40 and 41 did not differ from those of women below the age of 40.
Project description:In the face of a steady decline in dairy cow fertility over several decades, using hormones to assist reproduction has become common. In the European Union, hormones are prescription-only medicines, giving veterinary practitioners a central role in their deployment. This study explored the clinical and ethical beliefs of practitioners, and provides data on their current prescribing practices. During 2011, 93 practitioners working in England completed a questionnaire (95% response rate). Of the 714 non-organic farms they attended, only 4 farms (0.6%) never used hormones to assist the insemination of lactating dairy cows. Practitioners agreed (>80%) that hormones improve fertility and farm businesses profitability. They also agreed (>80%) that if farmers are able to tackle management issues contributing to poor oestrus expression, then over a five year period these outcomes would both improve, relative to using hormones instead. If management issues are addressed instead of prescribing hormones, practitioners envisaged a less favourable outcome for veterinary practices profitability (p<0.01), but an improvement in genetic selection for fertility (p<0.01) and overall cow welfare (p<0.01). On farms making no efforts to address underlying management problems, long-term routine use at the start of breeding for timing artificial insemination or inducing oestrus was judged "unacceptable" by 69% and 48% of practitioners, respectively. In contrast, practitioners agreed (? 90%) that both these types of use are acceptable, provided a period of time has been allowed to elapse during which the cow is observed for natural oestrus. Issues discussed include: weighing quality versus length of cow life, fiscal factors, legal obligations, and balancing the interests of all stakeholders, including the increasing societal demand for food. This research fosters debate and critical appraisal, contributes to veterinary ethics, and encourages the pro-active development of professional codes of conduct.