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Edmonton, Canada

Chapinal N.,University of Guelph | Chapinal N.,University of British Columbia | Koeck A.,University of Guelph | Sewalem A.,Agriculture and Agri Food Canada | And 6 more authors.
Journal of Dairy Science | Year: 2013

The objectives were (1) to estimate the genetic parameters and breeding values of hoof lesions, (2) to estimate the phenotypic effect of each feet and legs conformation traits on hoof lesions, and (3) to estimate genetic correlations between hoof lesions with feet and legs conformation traits. The presence or absence of specific hoof lesions was recorded for each hoof. Lesions were classified into infectious (digital and interdigital dermatitis, foot rot, and heel erosion), horn (sole and toe ulcer, sole hemorrhage, and white line disease), and other lesions (interdigital hyperplasia, fissures, thin soles, and corkscrew claw). A total of 34,905 hoof health records from 27,179 cows and 365 herds, collected by 18 different hoof-trimmers in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia, were analyzed using linear animal models. In addition, 5 feet and leg conformation traits (foot angle, heel depth, bone quality, rear leg side view, and rear leg rear view) and locomotion from primiparous cows were considered (n = 11,419 and 6,966 cows, for conformation traits and locomotion, respectively). At least one lesion was found in nearly 40% of the hoof trimming records. The heritability estimates for hoof lesions ranged from 0.01 for front horn lesions to 0.09 for rear infectious lesions. Despite the low heritability estimates, we observed large variability in sire estimated breeding value (EBV) for resistance to hoof lesions. Positive genetic correlations were found between the occurrence of front and rear infectious lesions (0.77) and between front and rear horn lesions (0.61), but not between infectious and horn lesions (0.08). For most of the conformation traits, low scores were phenotypically associated with higher incidence of horn lesions, whereas we found no evidence of a phenotypic effect of feet and leg traits on infectious lesions. The heritability of the conformation traits ranged from 0.04 for rear leg rear view to 0.22 for bone quality, whereas that for locomotion was 0.03. The genetic correlations between hoof lesions and conformation traits were low to moderate, yet most of the estimates were associated with high standard errors. In conclusion, although hoof lesions are lowly heritable traits, sufficient genetic variation exists (as evidenced by large variability in sire EBV) for genetic improvement through direct selection in the long term. Standardization of hoof health data collection is encouraged. © 2013 American Dairy Science Association. Source

Ritter C.,University of Calgary | Kwong G.P.S.,University of Calgary | Wolf R.,University of Calgary | Pickel C.,University of Calgary | And 8 more authors.
Journal of Dairy Science | Year: 2015

The Alberta Johne's Disease Initiative (AJDI) is a voluntary, management-based prevention and control program for Johne's disease (JD), a wasting disease in ruminants that causes substantial economic losses to the cattle industry. Despite extensive communication about the program's benefits and low cost to participating producers, approximately 35% of Alberta dairy farmers have not enrolled in the AJDI. Therefore, the objective was to identify differences between AJDI nonparticipants and participants that may influence enrollment. Standardized questionnaires were conducted in person on 163 farms not participating and 61 farms participating in the AJDI. Data collected included demographic characteristics, internal factors (e.g., attitudes and beliefs of the farmer toward JD and the AJDI), external factors (e.g., farmers' JD knowledge and on-farm goals and constraints), as well as farmers' use and influence of various information sources. Nonparticipants and participants differed in at least some aspects of all studied categories. Based on logistic regression, participating farms had larger herds, higher self-assessed knowledge of JD, better understanding of AJDI details before participation, and used their veterinarian more often to get information about new management practices and technologies when compared with nonparticipants. In contrast, nonparticipants indicated that time was a major on-farm constraint and that participation in the AJDI would take too much time. They also indicated that they preferred to wait and see how the program worked on other farms before they participated. © 2015 American Dairy Science Association. Source

Wolf R.,University of Calgary | Barkema H.W.,University of Calgary | De Buck J.,University of Calgary | Slomp M.,Alberta Milk | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Dairy Science | Year: 2014

Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) causes chronic progressive enteritis in ruminants. The pathogen is present in most countries with modern dairy production, causing substantial economic losses for the industry. The objectives of this study were to estimate dairy herd prevalence of MAP in the Western Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, and to determine whether herd size and housing system (tie-stall versus freestall or loose housing) affected the risk of a herd testing positive for MAP. Six environmental samples were collected on 360 Alberta farms (60% of registered producers) and on 166 Saskatchewan dairy farms (99%). In total, 47% of the sampled farms in Alberta and 53% of the sampled farms in Saskatchewan had at least one environmental sample that was MAP culture positive and were, therefore, defined as infected. Sensitivity of environmental sampling was estimated using 3 subsequent annual tests performed on 82 farms. Because laboratory protocols were continuously improved throughout the project, the sensitivity increased over time. Therefore, a mean of the sensitivity estimates weighted on sampling year was constructed; this resulted in sensitivities of 68 and 69% for Alberta and Saskatchewan, respectively. Implementing those estimates in an approximate Bayesian computation model resulted in a true herd prevalence of 68% (95% probability interval: 60-80%) for Alberta and 76% (95% probability interval: 70-85%) for Saskatchewan. Herds with >200 cows had 3.54 times higher odds of being environmental sample positive and had more positive samples than herds with <50 cows (neither province nor housing system affected those results). In conclusion, the majority of Alberta and Saskatchewan dairy farms were infected with MAP and larger herds were more often MAP positive than smaller herds. © 2014 American Dairy Science Association. Source

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