Research tools designed for non-research audience

JAM 2013 brought forth a discussion of research and tools developed for use by a non-research audience.

The Wednesday morning Extension Education session of JAM 2013 provided an opportunity for discussion of research and tools that have been developed for use by a non-research audience. 

Jordan Thomas from the University of Missouri, Columbia, discussed the reproductive performance aspect of the replacement heifer program that has been developed through extension efforts in Missouri.  For those who are unfamiliar with the program, the Show-Me Select Replacement Heifer Program involves over 700 farms which have enrolled approximately 105,000 heifers. 

One of the requirements for a heifer to be enrolled in the program is for the animal to undergo a pre-breeding evaluation, including a reproductive tract examination.  During examination, a heifer receives a number score of 1-5 where scores 1 - 3 are considered non-cycling animals and 4 - 5 are considered cycling animals.  Statistical analysis on the data collect from animals evaluated for the program looked at pregnancy rate associated with either cycling or non-cycling animals.

It was observed that heifers originally receiving a higher tract score had a higher pregnancy rate.  Additional analysis looked at the effect of different timed artificial insemination (TAI) protocols on pregnancy rate in heifers receiving a pre-breeding cycling or non-cycling score found that the 14 day CIDR-PG protocol resulted in the highest pregnancy rates, and significantly improved pregnancy rate in non-cycling heifers.

Thomas said it was conclude that using a pre-breeding reproductive tract scoring system can help to identify animals which may be unprofitable to run through a TAI protocol.  However, if heifers classified as non-cylcing are subject to TAI, a 14 day CIDR-PG protocol may be the best option. 

Brad Scharf introduced a new smart phone app developed at the University of Missouri, Columbia.  Called ThermalAid, it can be used to calculate current temperature humidity index at a specific location (either the current location or using a zipcode) and also provide current temperature and forecast information.  Based off of the temperature humidity index information calculated and farm specific animal information that is input into the app, the app then calculates the level of heat stress that either a group or individual cows are experiencing.  The background color of the app changes according to the predicted stress level (green to red).  Additionally, tips are given on how to handle the specific heat stress situation. 

The app may be useful in raising awareness about heat stress conditions in both the beef and dairy industry.  The creators hope to eventually expand the app to include additional livestock, companion animal, and even human situations. 

Di Liang, from the University of Kentucky, recently developed a model to determine how costly diseases are to the dairy industry.  Diseases that were evaluated included clinical occurrences of mastitis, lameness, metritis, ketosis, milk fever, left displaced abomasum and retained placenta.  Calculations included costs associated with labor, veterinary and treatment use, milk loss, discarded milk, delayed conception, culling, and death. 

The costs calculated for each disease were as follows with the first number corresponding to first lactation animals and the second number corresponding to second and later lactation animals:

Mastitis- $307 and $340

Lameness- $206 and $241

Metritis- $223 and $258

Ketosis- $91 and $102

Milk Fever- n/a and $196

Left Displaced Abomasum- $421 and $565

Retained Placenta- $170 and $235 

Karmella Dolecheck is an M.S. student focused on Dairy Systems Management at the University of Kentucky

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