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Bludau M.J.,Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL | Maeschli A.,Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL | Leiber F.,Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL | Steiner A.,University of Bern | And 2 more authors.
Veterinary Journal | Year: 2014

Poor udder health represents a serious problem in dairy production and has been investigated intensively, but heifers generally have not been the main focus of mastitis control. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence, risk factors and consequences of heifer mastitis in Switzerland. The study included 166,518 heifers of different breeds (Swiss Red Pied, Swiss Brown Cattle and Holstein). Monthly somatic cell counts (SCCs) provided by the main dairy breeding organisations in Switzerland were monitored for 3 years; the prevalence of subclinical mastitis (SCM) was determined on the basis of SCCs-≥100,000-cells/mL at the first test date. The probability of having SCM at the first test date during lactation was modelled using logistic regression. Analysed factors included data for the genetic background, morphological traits, geographical region, season of parturition and milk composition. The overall prevalence of SCM in heifers during the period from 2006 to 2010 was 20.6%. Higher frequencies of SCM were present in heifers of the Holstein breed (odds ratio, OR, 1.62), heifers with high fat:protein ratios (OR 1.97) and heifers with low milk urea concentrations combined with high milk protein concentrations (OR 3.97). Traits associated with a low risk of SCM were high set udders, high overall breeding values and low milk breeding values. Heifers with SCM on the first test day had a higher risk of either developing chronic mastitis or leaving the herd prematurely. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Schader C.,Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL | Muller A.,Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL | Muller A.,ETH Zurich | El-Hage Scialabba N.,Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO | And 11 more authors.
Journal of the Royal Society Interface | Year: 2015

Increasing efficiency in livestock production and reducing the share of animal products in human consumption are two strategies to curb the adverse environmental impacts of the livestock sector. Here,we explore the roomfor sustainable livestock production by modelling the impacts and constraints of a third strategy in which livestock feed components that compete with direct human food crop production are reduced. Thus, in the outmost scenario, animals are fed only from grassland and by-products from food production. We show that this strategy could provide sufficient food (equal amounts of human-digestible energy and a similar protein/calorie ratio as in the reference scenario for 2050) and reduce environmental impacts comparedwith the reference scenario (in the most extreme case of zero human-edible concentrate feed: greenhouse gas emissions 218%; arable land occupation 226%, N-surplus 246%; P-surplus 240%; non-renewable energy use 236%, pesticide use intensity 222%, freshwater use 221%, soil erosion potential 212%). These results occur despite the fact that environmental efficiency of livestock production is reduced compared with the reference scenario, which is the consequence of the grassland-based feed for ruminants and the less optimal feeding rations based on by-products for non-ruminants. This apparent contradiction results from considerable reductions of animal products in human diets (protein intake per capita from livestock products reduced by 71%). We show that such a strategy focusing on feed components which do not compete with direct human food consumption offers a viable complement to strategies focusing on increased efficiency in production or reduced shares of animal products in consumption. © 2015 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.

Stalder U.,University of Zurich | Stephan R.,University of Zurich | Corti S.,University of Zurich | Bludau M.,Forschungsinstitut For Biologischen Landbau | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Dairy Science | Year: 2014

In heifers, intramammary infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus affect milk production and udder health in the first and subsequent lactations, and can lead to premature culling. Not much is known about Staph. aureus isolated from heifers and it is also unclear whether or not these strains are readily transmitted between heifers and lactating herd mates. In this study, we compared phenotypic characteristics, spa types, and DNA microarray virulence and resistance gene profiles of Staph. aureus isolates obtained from colostrum samples of dairy heifers with isolates obtained from lactating cows. Our objective was to (1) characterize Staph. aureus strains associated with mastitis in heifers and (2) determine relatedness of Staph. aureus strains from heifers and lactating cows to provide data on transmission. We analyzed colostrum samples of 501 heifers and milk samples of 68 lactating cows within the same herd, isolating 48 and 9 Staph. aureus isolates, respectively. Staphylococcus aureus strains from heifers, lactating herd mates, and an unrelated collection of 78 strains from bovine mastitis milk of mature cows were compared. With 1 exception each, characterization of all strains from heifers and lactating cows in the same herd yielded highly similar phenotypic and genotypic results. The strains were Staphaurex latex agglutination test negative (Oxoid AG, Basel, Switzerland) and belonged to agr type II, CC705, and spa types tbl 2645 and t12926. They were susceptible to all antimicrobial agents tested. In contrast, the strains from mature cows in other herds were spread across different clonal complexes, spa types, and SplitsTree clusters (http://www.splitstree.org/), thus displaying a far higher degree of heterogeneity. We conclude that strains isolated from colostrum of heifers and mastitis milk of lactating cows in the same herd feature highly similar phenotypic and genomic characteristics, suggesting persistence of the organism during the first and potentially subsequent lactations or transmission between heifers and mature herd mates. © 2014 American Dairy Science Association.

Bludau M.J.,Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL | Maeschli A.,Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL | Leiber F.,Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL | Klocke P.,Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL | And 4 more authors.
Preventive Veterinary Medicine | Year: 2016

Healthy replacement heifers are one of the foundations of a healthy dairy herd. Farm management and rearing systems in Switzerland provide a wide variety of factors that could potentially be associated with intramammary infections (IMI) in early lactating dairy heifers. In this study, IMI with minor mastitis pathogens such as coagulase-negative staphylococci (CNS), contagious pathogens, and environmental major pathogens were identified. Fifty-four dairy farms were enrolled in the study. A questionnaire was used to collect herd level data on housing, management and welfare of young stock during farm visits and interviews with the farmers. Cow-level data such as breed, age at first calving, udder condition and swelling, and calving ease were also recorded. Data was also collected about young stock that spent a period of at least 3 months on an external rearing farm or on a seasonal alpine farm. At the quarter level, teat conditions such as teat lesions, teat dysfunction, presence of a papilloma and teat length were recorded. Within 24 h after parturition, samples of colostral milk from 1564 quarters (391 heifers) were collected aseptically for bacterial culture. Positive bacteriological culture results were found in 49% of quarter samples. Potential risk factors for IMI were identified at the quarter, animal and herd level using multivariable and multilevel logistic regression analysis. At the herd level tie-stalls, and at cow-level the breed category "Brown cattle" were risk factors for IMI caused by contagious major pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus). At the quarter-level, teat swelling and teat lesions were highly associated with IMI caused by environmental major pathogens. At the herd level heifer rearing at external farms was associated with less IMI caused by major environmental pathogens. Keeping pregnant heifers in a separate group was negatively associated with IMI caused by CNS. The odds of IMI with coagulase-negative staphylococci increased if weaning age was less than 4 months and if concentrates were fed to calves younger than 2 weeks. This study identified herd, cow- and quarter-level risk factors that may be important for IMI prevention in the future. © 2016 The Author(s).

Majewsky V.,University of Bern | Majewsky V.,Free University of Berlin | Majewsky V.,Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL | Scherr C.,University of Bern | And 10 more authors.
Homeopathy | Year: 2014

Background: Reproducibility of basic research investigations in homeopathy is challenging. This study investigated if formerly observed effects of homeopathically potentised gibberellic acid (GA3) on growth of duckweed (Lemna gibba L.) were reproducible. Methods: Duckweed was grown in potencies (14x-30x) of GA3and one time succussed and unsuccussed water controls. Outcome parameter area-related growth rate was determined by a computerised image analysis system. Three series including five independent blinded and randomised potency experiments (PE) each were carried out. System stability was controlled by three series of five systematic negative control (SNC) experiments. Gibbosity (a specific growth state of L. gibba) was investigated as possibly essential factor for reactivity of L. gibba towards potentised GA3 in one series of potency and SNC experiments, respectively. Results: Only in the third series with gibbous L. gibba L. we observed a significant effect (p=0.009, F-test) of the homeopathic treatment. However, growth rate increased in contrast to the former study, and most biologically active potency levels differed. Variability in PE was lower than in SNC experiments. The stability of the experimental system was verified by the SNC experiments. Conclusions: Gibbosity seems to be a necessary condition for reactivity of L. gibba to potentised GA3. Further still unknown conditions seem to govern effect direction and the pattern of active and inactive potency levels. When designing new reproducibility studies, the physiological state of the test organism must be considered. Variability might be an interesting parameter to investigate effects of homeopathic remedies in basic research. © 2014 The Faculty of Homeopathy.

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