Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Canada
Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Canada

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Dufour S.,University of Montréal | Durocher J.,Valacta | Dubuc J.,University of Montréal | Dendukuri N.,Royal Victoria Hospital | And 2 more authors.
Preventive Veterinary Medicine | Year: 2017

Using a milk sample for pregnancy diagnosis in dairy cattle is extremely convenient due to the low technical inputs required for collection of biological materials. Determining accuracy of a novel pregnancy diagnostic test that relies on a milk sample is, however, difficult since no gold standard test is available for comparison. The objective of the current study was to estimate diagnostic accuracy of the milk PAG-based ELISA and of transrectal ultrasonographic (TUS) exam for determining pregnancy status of individual dairy cows using a methodology suited for test validation in the absence of gold standard. Secondary objectives were to evaluate whether test accuracy varies with cow's characteristics and to identify the optimal ELISA optical density threshold for PAG test interpretation. Cows (n = 519) from 18 commercial dairies tested with both TUS and PAG between 28 and 45 days following breeding were included in the study. Other covariates (number of days since breeding, parity, and daily milk production) hypothesized to affect TUS or PAG test accuracy were measured. A Bayesian hierarchical latent class model (LCM) methodology assuming conditional independence between tests was used to obtain estimates of tests’ sensitivities (Se) and specificities (Sp), to evaluate impact of covariates on these, and to compute misclassification costs across a range of ELISA thresholds. Very little disagreement was observed between tests with only 23 cows yielding discordant results. Using the LCM model with non-informative priors for tests accuracy parameters, median (95% credibility intervals [CI]) TUS Se and Sp estimates of 0.96 (0.91, 1.00) and 0.99 (0.97, 1.0) were obtained. For the PAG test, median (95% CI) Se of 0.99 (0.98, 1.00) and Sp of 0.95 (0.89, 1.0) were observed. The impact of adjusting for conditional dependence between tests was negligible. Test accuracy of the PAG test varied slightly by parity number. When assuming false negative to false positive costs ratio ≥ 3:1, the optimal ELISA optical density threshold allowing minimization of misclassification costs was 0.25. In conclusion, both TUS and PAG showed excellent accuracy for pregnancy diagnosis in dairy cows. When using the PAG test, a threshold of 0.25 could be used for test interpretation. © 2017 Elsevier B.V.

Santschi D.E.,Valacta | Lefebvre D.M.,Valacta
Canadian Journal of Animal Science | Year: 2014

Increased production of dairy cows over the past years has triggered interest in reviewing optimal duration and management for the dry period. Results from recent studies suggest reduced early lactation negative energy balance, reduced ketosis, improved reproduction and no negative effects on production for multiparous cows. With regard to primiparous cows, production following lactation is reduced, but compensated for by the additional end of lactation milk. Reduced dry period length does not impair udder health, but is associated with increased risk of antibiotic residues in early lactation in the case of an early calving. Although the literature is scarce, calf health and immunity transfer are not affected by a short dry period. The objectives of the present review are to summarize results from recent trials and propose avenues for further research on short dry period management. Precise management conditions as well as specific cow characteristics for which short dry period results are optimized still need to be defined.

Santschi D.E.,Agriculture and Agri Food Canada | Santschi D.E.,Laval University | Lefebvre D.M.,Valacta | Cue R.I.,McGill University | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Dairy Science | Year: 2011

The Canadian dairy industry operates under a supply management system with production quotas (expressed in kilograms of butterfat per day) owned by dairy producers. Any management strategy influencing production responses must, therefore, be evaluated to estimate its effects on quota needed to sell the milk produced. In the present study, half of the cows from 13 commercial herds (850 cows, average of 70 cows per herd) were assigned to be managed for a short dry period (SDP; 35 d dry) and the other half was managed for a conventional dry period (CDP; 60 d dry) to evaluate the economic impact of a steady state involving either CDP or SDP. Economic variables included in the partial budget were: variations in revenues from milk and components as well as animals sold; costs related to feeding, reproduction, replacement, housing, and treatments. All variables were first estimated on a cow basis for each herd individually, and average results were used to calculate the partial budget for an average herd. Yearly milk and component yields per cow increased, which implies that fewer cows are required to produce the same amount of quota. Accordingly, 2 scenarios were investigated: in the first one, available quota was kept constant, and herd size was adjusted to avoid over-quota production. Consequently, the partial budget was calculated considering that 5 fewer cows were present in the herd. In this situation, switching to an SDP management increased net annual income for the farm by $2,677 (Can$), which represents $41.38 per cow. In the second scenario, the number of cows was kept constant, but additional quota (5.5 kg/d, $25,000/kg) was bought to allow selling all of the milk produced. In this case, net farm income was increased by $17,132 annually with SDP, which represents $245.18 per cow. This budget includes interest on the purchase of quota. A comparison of partial budgets for individual herds involved in the study revealed considerable variation among herds. Switching from a CDP to a SDP management would be beneficial for average dairy herds in eastern Canada. © 2011 American Dairy Science Association.

Santschi D.E.,Agriculture and Agri Food Canada | Santschi D.E.,Laval University | Lefebvre D.M.,Valacta | Cue R.I.,McGill University | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Dairy Science | Year: 2011

A total of 850 Holstein cows from 13 commercial dairy herds were involved in the present study to compare the effects of 2 different dry period (DP) management strategies on health and reproductive parameters. Cows were assigned to either a short (SDP; 35-d) or a conventional (CDP; 60-d) DP management within each herd, based on previous 305-d milk yield, parity (414 primiparous and 436 multiparous), and estimated calving interval. Cows assigned to CDP were fed a dry cow ration from dry-off until 21 d prepartum, and were then switched to a precalving ration. Cows assigned to SDP were fed the precalving ration throughout their DP. Rations were specific to each herd. A significant treatment × parity interaction was found for culling rate. Dry period management did not affect culling rate for second-lactation cows but a significantly higher culling rate occurred in multiparous CDP cows compared with SDP (42.6 vs. 31.6% ± 3.7 for CDP and SDP, respectively). Management used in the DP did not affect incidence of severe ketosis, displaced abomasum, milk fever, and mastitis, although incidence of these metabolic disorders were lower in second-lactation than third- or greater-lactation cows. The incidence of mild ketosis (evaluated by milk ketone concentration) was lower following SDP, probably as a result of better energy balance. On the other hand, the incidence of retained placenta was higher in multiparous cows assigned to SDP, but the reason for this increase remains unclear. Nevertheless, this did not lead to increased incidence of metritis. Moreover, DP management did not influence reproductive measures, including days in milk at first breeding, number of breedings per conception, as well as conception rates at first and second services. Regarding days open, overall, all 13 herds were not significantly affected by treatment, but 1 herd clearly showed opposite results to the 12 others. Our results indicate that a short DP management strategy could facilitate transition from one lactation to the next by decreasing the incidence of mild ketosis, with no major negative effects on other health parameters and reproduction. The variation in results observed among herds suggests that other management practices influence the response observed following a short or conventional DP, emphasizing the need for other field studies. © 2011 American Dairy Science Association.

Duplessis M.,Laval University | Duplessis M.,Agriculture and Agri Food Canada | Girard C.L.,Agriculture and Agri Food Canada | Santschi D.E.,Valacta | And 2 more authors.
Livestock Science | Year: 2014

The purpose of this study was to measure the effects of a supplementation in folic acid and vitamin B-12 given before calving and in early lactation on milk production and components within the first 60 days in milk (DIM) as well as the 305-d yield, and on indicators of energy balance for dairy cows in commercial dairy herds. A total of 805 dairy cows (271 primiparous and 534 multiparous) in 15 commercial dairy herds were involved. From February to December 2010, every 2. mo and within each herd, cows were assigned, according to parity, predicted 305-d milk production, and calving interval to receive weekly intramuscular injections (5 mL) of either (1) saline 0.9% NaCl (Control) or (2) 320. mg of folic acid+10. mg of vitamin B-12 (Vitamins). Treatments began 21. d (SD 8) before the expected calving date and lasted until 60 (SD 4) DIM. For the first 60. DIM, average milk yield was 35.0. kg/d and was not affected by treatment. On average, milk fat concentration was decreased in early lactation for cows in the vitamin group as compared with control, from 42.1 to 40.3 g/kg whereas milk protein concentration was increased by the supplement, from 30.9 to 31.5 g/kg. Milk lactose and milk urea nitrogen concentrations were unaffected by treatment. No treatment effect was found on 305-d milk and protein yields. The vitamin supplement reduced 305-d milk fat yield in primiparous cows as compared with controls whereas no treatment effect was observed for multiparous cows. As indicators of energy balance, the fat:protein ratio was decreased by 0.06 and body condition score losses after calving tended to be smaller for cows in the vitamin group as compared with control. The decrease of the fat:protein ratio by the vitamin supplement was greater in primiparous cows than in multiparous cows. Cows receiving the vitamin supplement lost less body weight (estimated by heart girth circumference) during the first 60 DIM than control cows. Estimated body weight losses of 22.8 and 30.3 kg were recorded for vitamin and control cows, respectively. The observed reduction in estimated body weight loss coupled with a reduction of the fat:protein ratio without effect on milk yield suggest that supplementary folic acid and vitamin B-12 could have an effect on energy partitioning in early lactation. © 2014.

Denis-Robichaud J.,University of Montréal | Dubuc J.,University of Montréal | Lefebvre D.,Valacta | DesCOteaux L.,University of Montréal
Journal of Dairy Science | Year: 2014

The objectives of this study were (1) to determine the correlations between blood β-hydroxybutyrate (BHBA) and milk components [BHBA, acetone, fat, protein, and fat:protein (F:P) ratio], and (2) to establish optimal thresholds for milk components to predict hyperketonemia in dairy cows. Data on 163 cows from 37 herds were used in this cross-sectional study. Herds were visited once during the study period, and cows between 2 and 90 d in milk were blood sampled within 4. h of milk sampling for the Dairy Herd Improvement test. Blood BHBA concentrations were measured using a cow-side electronic meter, Precision Xtra, which was considered the gold standard test in this study. Milk BHBA and acetone concentrations were measured in Dairy Herd Improvement milk samples by flow-injection analysis; whereas, milk fat and protein were tested using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. Hyperketonemia was defined by a blood BHBA concentration ≥1.4. mmol/L. The prevalence of hyperketonemia (based on blood BHBA values) in this study population was 21.0%. Pearson correlation coefficients between blood BHBA and milk BHBA, acetone, fat, protein, and F:P ratio were 0.89, 0.73, 0.21, 0.04, and 0.17, respectively. Receiver operating characteristic curves were generated and thresholds for each individual milk component were determined based on the maximal sum of sensitivity and specificity. Optimal threshold values for hyperketonemia were milk BHBA ≥0.20. mmol/L, acetone ≥0.08. mmol/L, fat ≥4.2%, and F:P ratio ≥1.3. Based on these thresholds, milk BHBA and acetone had greater sensitivity (84 and 87%, respectively) and greater specificity (96 and 95%, respectively) than the other milk components (fat, protein, and F:P). Series and parallel testing slightly improved the accuracy of milk BHBA and acetone values to predict hyperketonemia. A multivariable model that accounted for milk BHBA and milk acetone values simultaneously had the highest accuracy of all tested models for predicting hyperketonemia. These results support that milk BHBA and milk acetone values from flow-injection analysis are accurate diagnostic tools for hyperketonemia in dairy cows and could potentially be used for herd-level hyperketonemia surveillance programs. © 2014 American Dairy Science Association.

Santschi D.E.,Laval University | Santschi D.E.,Agriculture and Agri Food Canada | Lefebvre D.M.,Valacta | Cue R.I.,McGill University | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Dairy Science | Year: 2011

A total of 850 cows distributed among 13 commercial Holstein herds were involved in this study to compare the effects of 2 different dry period (DP) management strategies on milk and component yields as well as body condition score (BCS) over complete lactations. Within each herd and every 2 mo, cows were assigned to a short (35 d dry; SDP) or conventional (60 d dry; CDP) DP management based on previous lactation 305-d milk yield, predicted calving interval, and parity: primiparous (n. =414) and multiparous (n. =436). Cows assigned to CDP were fed a far-off dry cow ration from dry-off until 21 d prepartum, and were then switched to a precalving ration. Cows assigned to SDP were fed the precalving ration throughout their DP. Rations were different across herds, but the late-lactation, precalving, and early lactation rations were identical for both treatment groups within each herd. Additional milk was obtained at the end of lactation from cows assigned to SDP due to the extended lactation. Average daily milk yield in the following lactation was not different between treatments for third- or greater-lactation cows, but was significantly decreased in second-lactation SDP cows. However, when expressed as energy-corrected milk, this difference was not significant. Although lower for primiparous than multiparous cows, body weight and BCS were not affected by DP management strategy. Milk production and BCS responses to treatments varied among herds. Results from the present study suggest that a short DP management strategy could be more appropriate for today's dairy cows, although not suitable for all cows or all herds. © 2011 American Dairy Science Association.

PubMed | University of Guelph and Valacta
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Journal of dairy science | Year: 2015

Bioactive forages contain compounds, such as tannins, that are active against pathogens. They have been successfully used in ruminants to control parasite infections. Because cattle may find bioactive forages unpalatable, it is of interest to know if an afternoon harvest time, which has been shown to increase the percentage of nonstructural carbohydrates (NSC), hence palatability, may mitigate this. The objectives of this study were to quantify voluntary intake and preference of dairy cows for 2 bioactive forages, harvested in the morning and evening, in addition to determining their time spent grazing on each forage species. The forage species evaluated were fresh chicory harvested at 0700 h (FCAM) and 1800 h (FCPM), fresh birdsfoot trefoil harvested at 0700 h (FBAM) and 1800 h (FBPM), birdsfoot trefoil baleage harvested the previous summer at 0700 h (BBAM) and at 1800 h (BBPM), and third-cut alfalfa baleage harvested the previous summer and used as control (CON). Single forages were offered ad libitum in 30-min tests to 14 dairy cows to determine intake in a 7 7 Latin square (experiment 1). Every possible pair of forages (21 pairs) was then presented for a 30-min test to 8 different dairy cows, and feed intake was measured (experiment 2). Finally, time spent grazing on chicory and birdsfoot trefoil was measured on 12 dairy cows (experiment 3). The tests consisted of 2 d of restriction on 1 of the 2 fields for 1h, and 2 d of free-choice sessions (1h) between the 2 fields adjacent to each other. Grazing time and location of the animals on the field was assessed through 2-min scan sampling. In experiment 1, the highest voluntary intakes were for CON, BBPM, and BBAM. In experiment 2, BBPM was preferentially consumed over all other forages followed by CON and BBAM. Multidimensional scaling showed that preference for BBPM, CON, and BBAM in dimension 1 was positively associated with dry matter and nitrogen content, and negatively associated with hemicellulose and soluble N/total N. No relationships between dimension coordinates and any of the measured chemical composition variables could be found for the other 2 dimensions. In experiment 3, cows spent 71% of their time grazing in the birdsfoot trefoil field and 23% in the chicory field during the free-choice sessions. In conclusion, cows in the present experiments showed an overall preference toward baled forages compared with fresh forages, most notably toward birdsfoot trefoil baleage. Cow preference did not appear to be linked to harvest time (a.m. vs. p.m.).

PubMed | University of Calgary, University of Guelph and Valacta
Type: | Journal: Journal of dairy science | Year: 2017

A national genetic evaluation program for hoof health could be achieved by using hoof lesion data collected directly by hoof trimmers. However, not all cows in the herds during the trimming period are always presented to the hoof trimmer. This preselection process may not be completely random, leading to erroneous estimations of the prevalence of hoof lesions in the herd and inaccuracies in the genetic evaluation. The main objective of this study was to estimate genetic parameters for individual hoof lesions in Canadian Holsteins by using an alternative cohort to consider all cows in the herd during the period of the hoof trimming sessions, including those that were not examined by the trimmer over the entire lactation. A second objective was to compare the estimated heritabilities and breeding values for resistance to hoof lesions obtained with threshold and linear models. Data were recorded by 23 hoof trimmers serving 521 herds located in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario. A total of 73,559 hoof-trimming records from 53,654 cows were collected between 2009 and 2012. Hoof lesions included in the analysis were digital dermatitis, interdigital dermatitis, interdigital hyperplasia, sole hemorrhage, sole ulcer, toe ulcer, and white line disease. All variables were analyzed as binary traits, as the presence or the absence of the lesions, using a threshold and a linear animal model. Two different cohorts were created: Cohort 1, which included only cows presented to hoof trimmers, and Cohort 2, which included all cows present in the herd at the time of hoof trimmer visit. Using a threshold model, heritabilities on the observed scale ranged from 0.01 to 0.08 for Cohort 1 and from 0.01 to 0.06 for Cohort 2. Heritabilities estimated with the linear model ranged from 0.01 to 0.07 for Cohort 1 and from 0.01 to 0.05 for Cohort 2. Despite a low heritability, the distribution of the sire breeding values showed large and exploitable variation among sires. Higher breeding values for hoof lesion resistance corresponded to sires with a higher prevalence of healthy daughters. The rank correlations between estimated breeding values ranged from 0.96 to 0.99 when predicted using either one of the 2 cohorts and from 0.94 to 0.99 when predicted using either a threshold or a linear model.

PubMed | Valacta, University of New Hampshire, Laval University and Agriculture and Agri Food Canada
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Journal of dairy science | Year: 2014

The present study aimed to determine whether the improvement in postpartum energy balance frequently reported in cows under short dry period management could be due to an improvement in ruminal function related to the reduction in the number of diet changes before calving. Six multiparous and 6 primiparous Holstein cows equipped with ruminal cannula were assigned to 6 blocks of 2 cows each according to parity, projected milk production at 305 d, and expected calving date. Within each block, cows were randomly assigned to either a conventional (CDP; 63.2 2.0 d) or a short dry period (SDP; 35.2 2.0 d) management in a randomized complete block design. The CDP cows were fed a far-off diet until 28 d before calving, followed by a prepartum diet, whereas SDP cows received only the prepartum diet. After calving, both groups were fed the same lactation diet. Milk yield and dry matter intake (DMI) were recorded daily and milk composition, weekly. Blood samples were taken twice a week during the first 4 wk postcalving and weekly otherwise. Omasal and ruminal samples were collected approximately 3 wk prior and 3 wk after calving. From 28 d before calving until calving, when the 2 groups of cows were fed the same prepartum diet, there was no effect of the dry period length management on DMI, plasma concentrations of -hydroxybutyrate, nonesterified fatty acids, and glucose and nutrient digestibility in the rumen. However, CDP cows tended to have lower ruminal pH and higher ruminal concentrations of total volatile fatty acids than SDP cows. From calving to 60 d in milk, daily DMI was higher for SDP than for CDP cows (22.3 0.44 vs. 20.7 0.30 kg), but milk production and milk concentrations and yields of fat, protein, and total solids were not affected by the dry period length management. After calving, body weight loss was reduced and body condition score tended to increase more rapidly for SDP than for CDP cows. Nutrient digestibility in the rumen, expressed in kilograms per day, was greater or tended to be greater for SDP cows, but differences were no longer significant when expressed per unit of nutrient ingested. The decrease in plasma nonesterified fatty acids and -hydroxybutyrate in SDP cows without effect on milk yield suggests an improved energy balance likely due to greater DMI. Results from the present study seem to indicate that reducing the number of diet changes before calving could facilitate ruminal adaptation to the lactation diet and improve energy balance postpartum.

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