World Dairy Diary

Real Science Initiative Grant Winners

Balchem Corporation has announced the recipient of its Real Science Initiative research grant.

The successful proposal was submitted by Dr. Heather White (Department of Dairy Science) and Dr. Dale Schoeller (Department of Nutritional Sciences) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Their research project will investigate methyl metabolism in the bovine liver and will seek to discover pioneering knowledge of the effects of methyl compounds on hepatic glucose and lipid metabolism.

“The Real Science Initiative received many innovative proposals from respected animal nutrition researchers around the world,” noted Dr. Michael de Veth, Commercial Development Manager with Balchem Animal Nutrition & Health. “We were impressed by the quality of submissions and are excited about the future of the program. We look forward to continuing Balchem’s support of innovative and impactful animal nutrition research.”

Balchem’s focus on research is well known in the animal agriculture industry, with a long history of directing and supporting both university and on-farm research initiatives. Founded on the principal of “Real Science,” Balchem is concentrating on the areas of animal nutrition and health to improve overall animal performance and well-being.

Source: Balchem Animal Nutrition & Health

New Clover Has Multiple Disease Resistance

Blackhawk-seed-HR-1024x633Texas A&M AgriLife Research recently released Blackhawk, a new arrowleaf clover promising high forage production with improved disease resistance.

Dr. Gerald Smith, Texas A&M AgriLife Research forage breeder, said he developed Blackhawk from lines with natural resistance to the fungal soil pathogen Pythium ultimum and for tolerance to bean yellow mosaic virus.

Developed at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Overton, Blackhawk traces its lineage back to dark-seeded lines from 1984 field selections of arrowleaf cultivars Yuchi, Amclo and Meechee, Smith said.

Soil pathogens such as Pythium ultimum kill or damage germinating seed and emerging arrowleaf clover seedlings, Smith said. Both Apache and Yuchi arrowleaf clover are susceptible to this seedling disease, and in laboratory trials, inoculation with the disease resulted in 100 and 73 percent dead or severely diseased seedlings, respectively.

Clover can be an important part of forage production – and by association, beef production – in the southern U.S., Smith said. Arrowleaf clover has long shown good production potential. If planted or overseeded into warm-season pastures in the fall, it promises grazing for cattle in early spring when warm-season grasses are dormant.

More Dairy – More Muscle Mass

A recent study found that older women who consumed more dairy had more muscle mass and greater physical performance than women who consumed less dairy.

This study was led by Kun Zhu, PhD, in the Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes in Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital in Nedlands, Western Australia. The research team examined whether dairy intake was associated with body composition and physical performance. A total of 1,456 women, between the ages of 70 and 85, were involved in this study.

The researchers found that women who had 1.5 or more servings of dairy per day had significantly greater whole body lean mass and skeletal muscle mass than women who had less than 1.5 servings per day. The also found that hand grip strength was greater in women who had 2.2 servings of dairy a day compared to women who had less than this amount.

Based on their findings, the study authors concluded that dairy may be connected to more lean mass and better physical performance in older women.

This study appears online in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This study was funded by research grants from Healthway (the Western Australia Health Promotion Foundation), the Australasian Menopause Society, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and the Dairy Health and Nutrition Consortium. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Source: Daily Rx

Studying Affects of Weather and Climate on Cattle

USDA-LogoThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded $19.5 million to support research, education and Extension activities associated with climate solutions in agriculture aimed at the impacts of climate variability and change on dairy and beef cattle. USDA remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. The announcement is one part of the Department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.

The University of Wisconsin (UW) in Madison, Wisconsin, received $9.9 million over five years to study the environmental impact of various dairy production systems and develop best management practices for producers to implement at the farm level. The University of Wisconsin is partnering in the project with the University of Arkansas, Cornell University, the University of Michigan, North Carolina A&T University, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Washington, along with four USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) laboratories, the U.S. Department of Energy and the industry-sponsored Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. Oklahoma State University (OSU) in Stillwater, Oklahoma, received $9.6 million over five years to better understand vulnerability and resilience of Southern Great Plains beef in an environment of increased climate variability, dynamic land-use and fluctuating markets.

New Resources Available for Dairy Producers

UsDairy_LogoThe Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy announced new science-based resources available for dairy producers, processors, industry partners and stakeholders. The resources help the industry act on the unprecedented scientific research commissioned as part of the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Commitment — a collective effort of the dairy value chain to measure and improve the sustainability of U.S. dairy from farm to table.

As part of this commitment, the dairy industry initiated a series of scientific life cycle assessments of fluid milk, cheese and whey. With this body of work, the U.S. dairy industry is striving to create the most transparent and documented dairy LCA database available. Due in part to its rigorous science-based approach, it was chosen to be the pilot industry participating in the National Agricultural Library of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide an open-access, prototype LCA database and tools.

The three new resources available include:

Drink Milk, Win Nobel?

MilkA new study published in Practical Neurology suggests that countries whose people consume the most milk and dairy products, per capita, also win the most Nobel Prizes, per capita. Drinking milk makes you smart!

Take Sweden, the country most associated with the Nobel prizes. For every 10 million Swedes, there are 31.855 Nobel prizes. The Swedes also consume about 772 lb. (350 kg) of milk each, on average, over the course of a year, reported the Los Angeles Times.

The study’s authors, Sarah Linthwaite and Geraint N. Fuller of the Gloucester Royal Hospital in the United Kingdom, set out to find a link between milk and Nobel Prizes after reading a report last year that associated consumption of chocolate with Nobel wins.

The authors posit that milk consumption might be a reflection of a strong educational system. They also noted that milk is rich in vitamin D, which research has shown may boost brain power.

Source: Time Newsfeed

Cheese Keeps the Kids Full

cheddarcheeseA new study published Pediatrics found that children who snacked on cheese and vegetables had a lower intake of calories.

Researchers asked a group of 201 children in the third through sixth grade to eat one of four snack types: potato chips, cheese, vegetables or a combination of cheese and vegetables. They were then instructed to eat as much as they wanted until they were full while watching a 45-minute cartoon. Meanwhile, scientists tracked their caloric intake.

On average, children who had cheese and vegetables ate 72 percent fewer calories than those in the potato chip group, even though cheese is generally considered to have a high fat content. The cheese and vegetable group also needed fewer calories to feel full. Even the group that ate just cheese consumed fewer calories than those who ate potato chips.

Source: CBS News; Michelle Castillo

The Hidden Killer Mycotoxin

global500-79-editedWhat do we do when two-thirds of all grains are contaminated with mycotoxins? This question was answered at Alltech’s recent Global 500. Dairy and beef producers from across the world came together to hear from experts and share advice with each other.

Andrew Linscott, ruminant specialist for Alltech United Kingdom, talked with dairy producers about the hidden killer hitting dairies across the globe. Andrew works with both beef and dairy farmers helping them achieve better performance and animal health, as well as look at ways to improve margins on their farms.

Mycotoxins may be the elephant in the room, but it can’t stay there. We know about the problem, but what are we going to do about it?

Alltech has recently launched it’s 37+ Program. The technique can identify 38 different mycotoxins specifically. This allows for a broader approach compared to other methods that can only get a glimpse of the contamination. For more information on the program contact your local Alltech office.

Listen to Andrew’s complete presentation here: Andrew Linscott - Global 500

You can find photos from this year’s Global 500 here: 2012 Global 500 Photo Album

Cheese was Ancient Superfood

Ancient cheese-making started at least 7,000 years ago according to a new paper published in the journal, Nature. Turning milk into cheese was a way for our ancestors to guarantee they had a source of nutrition if their crops failed.

Melanie Salque is the paper’s lead author and a chemist at Bristol University in England. She says some of the first clues of Neolithic cheese-making were a bunch of strange clay vessels unearthed by archaeologists in the 1970s in Northern Europe. “They were very peculiar because they had very small holes in them,” says Salque.

Peter Bogucki, a Princeton archaeologist who dug up these pots, says they baffled him and his colleagues. Some thought the sieves might have been used to hold hot coals, or strain honey, or prepare beer. But Bogucki wondered if maybe they had something to do with cheese.

For decades there was no way to prove his pots were ancient cheese strainers. Now new techniques have finally allowed researchers to analyze residue that had seeped into the clay. And they found that its chemical signature matched cow’s milk.

The simple ancient cheese was an important step in the development of modern civilization. For people who were just beginning to leave hunting behind and beginning to rely on crops that often failed, dairy products had the potential to get them the nutrition they needed. And they were a food source that didn’t require killing highly prized livestock.

“Milk is a superfood — it’s probably the ultimate superfood,” says Mark Thomas, a evolutionary geneticist at University College London who has studied the DNA of these early cheese makers. But he says Neolithic Europeans had a problem — like most modern humans, they were lactose intolerant.

“Very few or none of the people at that time would have been able to digest the sugar in milk,” says Thomas.

But the process of making cheese removes a lot of this sugar — the lactose. It would have been dissolved in the whey and drained off by those ancient cheese strainers so the farmers could get their daily dose of dairy without the intestinal problems. Richard Evershed, a chemist at the University of Bristol in the U.K. and another author on the study, has found milk residues in pottery shards from southwestern Libya, which suggests prehistoric people were also producing yogurt in the same period.

“Milk gave us something — some extra edge in terms of survival,” says Thomas.

And that edge meant we had more time and energy to improve farming methods, invent new tools, develop cooking techniques, and eventually perfect the cheese blintz.

Source: NPR’s The Salt

Opposition to Government Limits on Milk Production

A new nationwide survey released found that 81 percent of Americans agree that individual farmers should have the freedom to decide how much milk they produce and not have a limit set by government policy.

The survey, which was conducted online last month among 2,094 adults by Harris Interactive on behalf of the International Dairy Foods Association, also found that 74 percent of Americans believe milk prices should be based on what consumers are willing to pay. Only nine percent think milk prices should be set by government policy.

The majority of Americans recognize the need for the government to help dairy farmers in some way. The survey found 52 percent of Americans support providing financial assistance through government-subsidized insurance — frequently referred to as margin or risk management insurance — to protect farmers against catastrophic losses. Only eight percent say farmers should be helped by government policies that would keep prices higher by limiting how much milk farmers produce. Forty percent of Americans don’t support either option.

Current proposals in the Farm Bill would require farmers to limit the milk they produce in exchange for access to margin insurance. The Goodlatte-Scott Amendment, a proposal that would provide insurance coverage while not restricting farmers’ ability to decide how much milk they would produce, is expected to be considered when the House of Representatives takes up the Farm Bill.

An infographic with full survey results can be found here.

Dairy Protects Against Cancer

According to Science Daily, milk consumption has been linked to improved health, with decreased risks of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and colon cancer. A group of scientists in Sweden found that lactoferricin4-14 (Lfcin4-14), a milk protein with known health effects, significantly reduces the growth rate of colon cancer cells over time by prolonging the period of the cell cycle before chromosomes are replicated. In a new study, investigators report that treatment with Lfcin4-14 reduced DNA damage in colon cancer cells exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light.

Their results are published in the October issue of the Journal of Dairy Science ®.

Source: Farm and Ranch Guide

Generational Differences Among Dairy Producers

New research shows how the management style of younger dairy producers and corn growers compares and contrasts with that of their older counterparts. The survey, commissioned by McCormick Company, considered management practices, ownership structures, decision-making processes, business and transition planning, and the role of information — including digital media — in running respondents’ operations.

What the study found was that younger managers embrace the same values and reasons for farming, but they often consider new ways to get information and manage their operations.

McCormick’s goal is to share proprietary insights from this research with select companies seeking innovation as they connect with key customers.

An independent research firm interviewed more than 600 corn farmers and dairy producers, half of which were younger than 45 years of age. The vast majority of their farms were owned by two or more family generations; but one in four of the younger dairy producers were first-generation owners.

The survey also showed that industry trends and issues transcend age differences. For corn growers of all ages, interest in the environment and sustainability is what affects their management most. Dairy producers are influenced most by interest in animal welfare and the environment.

Youth Milk Drinkers Benefit in Old Age

New research shows that children who drink milk regularly will be physically fitter in their elderly years.

The research, published in the Journal Age and Aging, found elderly people who consumed the highest amounts of milk and dairy foods in childhood were able to walk faster and were much less likely to suffer problems with balance.

Researchers at Bristol University studied 400 men and women aged from their mid-60s to late 80s. They had all taken part in a study which began back in the 1930s to analyze the affect of diet and lifestyle on long-term health.

As part of the study, the volunteers, who were then all young children, were tracked for their intake of milk and dairy goods.

To test if this had any impact on health in old age, the volunteers were tested for their walking speeds and their balance.

The results showed milk-lovers had five percent faster walking times than those who drank little or no milk. They were also 25 percent less likely to have potentially dangerous balance problems.

In a report on their findings the researchers said: ‘This is the first study to show positive associations of childhood milk intake with physical performance in old age.’

The findings support earlier research highlighting the health benefits of drinking milk as a youngster.

Source: Daily Mail

Economic Impact of Animal Agriculture on Soybean Farmers

Challenges facing U.S. poultry, livestock and fish farmers threaten the future profitability of the country’s soybean farmers, according to a new report that also analyzes the economic impact of animal agriculture.

The report, prepared for the United Soybean Board (USB) and soy checkoff, concludes that the future success of the U.S. soy industry is closely tied to the long-term competitiveness of its No. 1 customer, animal agriculture. Rising feed prices and costs related to environmental and animal welfare regulations are just two factors that could significantly impact the practices involved with raising poultry, livestock and fish, the report says.

The study, which can be viewed in its entirety by clicking HERE, looks at the production of broilers, eggs, turkeys, hogs, beef cattle, dairy and aquaculture between 2001 and 2011. It details the use of U.S. soy meal in each sector and the value that sector represents to U.S. soybean farmers.

The study also outlines the economic benefits poultry, livestock, and aquaculture provide at the state and national levels.

For U.S. soybean farmers, U.S. animal ag remains their most important customer. Overall, poultry, livestock and fish farmers in 2011 used almost 30 million tons of soy meal, or the meal from 1.27 billion bushels of U.S. soybeans.

Helping Organic Dairies Become More Profitable

Organic dairy farmers and University of Minnesota experts will collaborate on a new study aimed at improving dairies’ profitability through improved pasture production, best management practices for animal comfort and more milk production.

The project, headquartered at the university’s West Central Research and Outreach Center at Morris, brings farmers together with experts in animal science, entomology, agronomy and economics. A $1.9 million grant from the USDA is helping fund the four-year project.

The West Central Research and Outreach center has its own certified organic dairy, one of only two at land-grant research universities in the United States that have made the transition from traditional to organic dairy production. Farmers from across Minnesota were involved in designing the project and will be involved in on-farm research and demonstrations.

FARM Animal Care Program Findings

A report issued about the National Dairy FARM Animal Care Program found that overall, its subscribers are doing a thorough job of adhering to its multi-faceted approach to comprehensive dairy animal well-being.

In June 2012, data collected from the more than 5,000 second-party evaluations made of the dairy operations enrolled in FARM program was reviewed and analyzed to determine the effectiveness of on-farm implementation. A summary of those results is available here.

Here are several examples of where adherence is greatest, as well as where improvements are needed:
• 99.2% of farm operators engage in dairy animal observations to identify any potential health issues;
• 99% of farm operators train personnel to handle and restrain calves with a minimum of stress to the animal;
• 95.5% of farm operators train personnel in proper methods to move non-ambulatory animals;

• 72.7% of farm operators have emergency plans to address animal care needs stemming from unique circumstances such as a natural disaster;
• 68% of farm operators apply antiseptic to the navels of calves after birth as a preventative health measure.

Hypoallergenic Milk Research

New Zealand researchers say they’ve found a way to genetically engineer cows to produce hypoallergenic milk, good news for the 1.3 million children who have milk allergies.

A solution to this problem may just reside in a single, tailless cow in New Zealand. This special calf, conceived through genetic modification and cloning, produces milk that contains no detectable levels of beta-lactoglobulin (BLG), the protein that is believed to trigger allergic reactions.

What’s more, the hypoallergenic milk from this calf appears to be even more nutritious than regular cow’s milk, as it contains double the amount of the healthy milk proteins known as caseins.

This experiment, detailed in a paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, marks the first time that scientists have successfully altered the protein composition of milk before it leaves the cow, says Mike Van Amburgh, Ph.D., an associate professor of animal science at Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York.

If bred in sufficient numbers, this type of genetically modified cow could one day provide milk for allergic infants and adults, according to the researchers in New Zealand who bred the calf. The team was led by Anower Jabed, Ph.D., a pharmacologist at the University of Auckland and a fellow at AgResearch, a government-funded institute for agriculture and food research.

Although this calf may hold the key to circumventing milk allergies, much more work remains to be done before hypoallergenic milk from genetically modified cows appears on supermarket shelves.


Managing Soil Copper Buildup

Many of Idaho’s dairy cows wade through copper sulfate baths like this to help prevent foot infections. Photo by Ernest Hovingh, Penn State University.

Getting a head start on stopping soil copper buildup will now be a bit easier, thanks to studies by USDA scientists. This research could help Pacific Northwest farmers develop long-term irrigation management strategies to protect crops from potentially dangerous soil copper levels.

Scientists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) conducted a laboratory investigation to assess how copper levels in wastewater used for irrigation affected crop performance and soil microbial activities.

Copper sulfate baths are used to prevent foot infections in dairy cattle, and the discarded foot bath is often recycled to irrigate corn and alfalfa crops. The scientists surveyed alfalfa growth and development in soils containing different levels of total copper. Copper sulfate at soil levels of up to 250 parts per million (ppm) had no effect on alfalfa growth, but alfalfa growth stopped when soil copper sulfate levels exceeded 500 ppm.

The team also discovered that beneficial soil bacterial activity declined when test soils accumulated available soil copper levels above 50 ppm. Further analysis indicated that soil levels above 63 ppm of plant-available copper resulted in alfalfa copper concentrations that could potentially harm grazing livestock

Read more about this research here.

Q3 Global Dairy Industry Report

Rabobank has published a new report looking at the global dairy industry in Q3 2012, particularly examining supply, demand and pricing developments in key markets around the world.

In the report, authored by the bank’s Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory (FAR) group, Rabobank says that the global dairy market appears headed for a period of renewed supply scarcity in the next year. The impetus for that tightening market comes largely from the supply side, where low milk prices, extreme feed costs, and unfavorable weather are expected to slow production growth in export regions to a trickle.

Rabobank forecasts a reduction in the exportable surplus available from the “Big Seven” export regions (the EU, U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay) in the closing months of 2012 and first half of 2013 – the first such reductions in more than four years.

On the demand side, Rabobank says that some anticipated improvement in the economic position of consumers should provide an impetus to improved demand for dairy. However, the story will be far more compelling in developing regions than the West, where employment and income growth are expected to remain at modest levels.

Click here for the full report.

Cheese Waste Product Powers Utah State Dragster

A team of engineering students from Utah State University has set a new land speed record using a car that burns a new form of sustainable biofuel made from a waste product of the cheese manufacturing process.

“How many people get to drive a car they helped build with fuel they created from a living microorganism?” asks USU undergrad biochemist Michael R. Morgan, who drove the dragster across Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats Speedway to its landmark finish earlier this month.

The Aggie A-Salt Streamliner, as it’s officially known, runs on yeast biodiesel derived from the industrial waste of cheese production. The sleek, Aggie-blue hot rod was among some 200 high-tech racers competing at the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association’s 2012 World of Speed event Sept. 8-11.

At its top speed, the Aggie vehicle clocked in at 65.344 miles per hour. At first glance, that speed may fail to impress NASCAR fans or even most interstate motorists. But make no mistake; it’s a head-turning achievement for a biofueled vehicle with a one-liter, two-cylinder engine. The USU team raced the dragster in separate runs, using petroleum diesel and the yeast biofuel, respectively. Powered with the latter, the speedster was able to match its previous petroleum-fueled run.

“Developing a biofuel on a large enough scale to run in the dragster was a tough undertaking,” says USU biochemist Alex McCurdy, a third-year doctoral student in Seefeldt’s lab, who is supported by a National Science Foundation research assistantship and is the recent recipient of a departmental environmental chemistry award. “It’s one thing to produce a small amount in the lab and discuss how it will work in theory. It’s another to actually put it in a dragster, while everyone watches it take off.”

Read more from USU.

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