Bayer has brought together dairy practitioners, innovators and scientists from around the world for the first ever Bayer Dairy Cattle Summit in Rome, Italy.
The event, held April 4-6, focused on delivering the latest scientific research across six key issues affecting the dairy cattle industry now and in the future.
Udder health and milk quality formed a central part of the summit program, in addition to the latest thinking on animal well-being, metabolic diseases, fertility and calf health. The event also cast an eye towards the future of dairy health, providing an assessment of the industry’s economic situation in coming years.
Dr. Almut Hoffmann, head of farm animal products at Bayer Animal Health, said, “It is predicted that by 2025, the industry will need to produce 208 million metric tons more milk to meet the growing global demand. The scientific advancements that must be made to meet this demand are significant if the industry is to sustainably increase the number of dairy cows in the world and their yield while also ensuring the health and well-being of these animals, which is of the utmost importance."
More than 300 participants, including specialist veterinarians, researchers and key industry thought leaders, attended the three-day event to discuss new ways to maintain and improve the lives of milk-producing animals and the people involved in their management and care.
The following scientists and academics were among those who spoke at the congress, each focusing on a specifically chosen key topic:
- Professor Ynte Schukken, GD Animal Health, University of Utrecht and Wageningen University, Netherlands, revealed the discovery of the udder microbiome, which provides new insights into udder health and immunity of the mammary gland and paves the way for alternative therapeutic approaches.
- Professor Xavier Manteca, University of Barcelona in Spain, Farm Animal Welfare Education Center, said changing insights in well-being have allowed researchers to better interpret the emotional state of dairy cattle. Manteca championed the role veterinarians play in helping farmers consider social behavior, human/animal interactions, pain mitigation and cow comfort in their approach to well-being.
- Professor Stephen LeBlanc, University of Guelph in Ontario, highlighted the strong relationship between subclinical ketosis and the incidence of uterine disease, impaired reproductive performance and reduced milk production and emphasized the importance of routine monitoring of subclinical ketosis in the first two weeks of lactation.
- Professor Martin Kaske, Swiss Bovine Health Service in Switzerland, presented the latest insights in epigenetics, which explain the mechanism of metabolic programming and how this redefines management objectives for dairy health, especially considering how the first eight weeks of a dairy calf's life determines its performance later in life.
- Dr. Torsten Hemme, International Farm Comparison Network in Kiel, Germany, discussed how dairy production will adapt to keep up with a growing population and dietary changes and the economic changes needed for the industry to prosper.
- Dr. Scott McDougall, Cognosco Animal Health & Production Research in New Zealand, explained how farmers could be the biggest barrier to improved fertility performance in their herds. His lecture applied social science models to explain how veterinarians can help improve farmers' acceptance and implementation of their recommendations.
- Professor Daniel Berckmans, Catholic University Leuven in Belgium, outlined new technologies in dairy management, including automated body condition scoring, feed intake monitoring and lameness scoring.