Milk Producer Late Fall 2022

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THE USE OF ANTIMICROBIALS Plus, breeding then and now: using technologies to improve the herd Pg 18 RESEARCH ISSUE THE TOP OF THEIR GAME Dairy at Guelph team helps Ontario producers reap the research rewards
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CONTENTS
Late Fall 2022 | Vol. 98 No. 7 DEPARTMENTS 4 The Explainer 6 Board Editorial 38 Canadian Dairy 44 Ad Index 46 Back40 11 Researchers from the University of Guelph manage some of Canada’s largest dairy research programs including at The Ontario Dairy Research Centre at the Elora Research Station. ON THE COVER RESEARCH 7 Your Dollars at Work: Leadership Through Research Investment 15 DFO Funding Spotlight 18 Dairy Genetics – Then and Now 21 Producer Viewpoints 26 The Ideal Canadian Milking Cow of the Future 30 Profile Allison Fleming 33 Setting the Course for the Future of Ontario’s Livestock Innovation System 37 Research Funding 40 Beyond the Holstein 37

A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF A CANADIAN DAIRY COW

Data drives quality animal care

Dairy Producers

Dairy farmers and their families spend hours caring for their cows every day. They work with animal care teams to ensure the cows are healthy and productive, diligently collecting data on everything from volume of milk produced to hours of sleep to body temperature and amount of exercise. This data drives important decision-making, business planning and is used to meet quality standards.

Veterinarian

Veterinarians treat sick or injured animals and provide routine services, like checkups and evaluations, herd health assessments, and pregnancy ultrasounds. Detailed records are kept over a cow’s life to ensure her health and well-being and that of her herd.

DFO Field Service

Representatives

These specially trained experts in milk quality, animal welfare, production equipment, sanitation, herd health and animal performance visit dairy farms regularly to conduct inspections, audits and evaluations. Information collected is used to ensure each cow is healthy and properly cared for, and that the farm follows Canada’s Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle.

DFO’s 14 field service representatives conducted 3,331 Grade A inspections in 2021. These inspections are key to maintaining high milk quality.

3,400+ licensed dairy producers in Ontario contribute $7 billion to the provincial economy.
Cows are seen by veterinary experts at least three times a year – more often than many humans see their family doctor.
RESEARCH: THE EXPLAINER • LATE FALL 2022 WWW.MILKPRODUCER.CA 4

Reproductive Specialist

Most dairy cows are bred using artificial insemination. This process can be conducted by the farmer or an expert technician. A cow’s reproductive cycle is closely monitored to identify the optimal time for breeding and each cow is carefully matched with a bull donor to deliver the ideal progeny for the herd. This information is carefully recorded for breeding and health records.

Cow reproduction closely resembles that of a human: they both have monthly cycles with gestation between 40 and 42 weeks.

Nutrition Experts

Nutrition experts play a critical role in cow health, the environment and the quality of milk produced. That’s why nutrition experts formulate each individual cow’s diet and regularly test feed for quality and nutritional value. Detailed body condition and well-being, nutrition and feed intake records are collected for each cow to ensure optimal health.

Nutrition experts visit the farm every month to check and adjust the cow’s feed and collect data on her well-being.

Animal Care Assessor

Holstein Canada experts evaluate randomly selected cows from each Ontario herd for conformation and locomotion excellence.

proAction Validator

Cattle

assessments are an important proAction requirement, tracking cow comfort and production excellence. All Ontario herds participate in assessments each year, with nearly 94,000 cows being evaluated.

An independent validator visits a dairy farm once every two years to assess on farm practices, as well as each cow’s body condition and general health. This information is reported to Dairy Farmers of Canada for production and animal care compliance.

99.9 per cent of Ontario producers are registered under proAction, the national quality assurance program.

Here’s a look at the people who support her comfort, well-being and productivity over a given year. When you add it up, it’s an impressive roster of experts that continuously collect and analyse data about the cow at every stage. Customized health records, nutrition plans and genetics mapping are all used to help producers make important decisions for her benefit, and in the name of producing high-quality Canadian milk.
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EVOLVING DAIRY COWS AND DAIRY RESEARCH

Thirty-five years ago, my wife and I started milking cows together. We chose Jerseys because of their high butterfat and other solids and since then we’ve become familiar with their many more desirable traits. They are extremely efficient converting feed into butterfat and have a docile temperament. Their reproduction is also efficient and they calve easily.

Because of rising land prices, the increasing structural surplus in the Canadian dairy industry and the need to lower our carbon footprint, Jersey attributes like feed efficiency are even more desirable now than when we first started. No matter what breed of cattle you are passionate about, they possess traits individually and as a whole that contribute to the industry’s continued growth. And, with the abundance of research into genetics and reproduction, the evolution will continue as will the quest for the most desirable milking cow of the future.

We must also embrace and make use of the data already collected on genetics and farming practices. What practices reap the greatest economic benefit?

We all know that cow comfort is essential for animal welfare, but what are the practices that translate best on farm? Does misting cows on a hot day increase butterfat? At what temperature? How many times per day?

Does sand bedding increase feed efficiency, and is it more than water beds, pasture mats, or pasture?

When we select sires, we must select for feed efficiency tendencies and butterfat content. Is cross-

breeding the answer? Is there a benefit to having an F1 herd and what are the costs and best management practices?

My wife and I never gave much thought to these questions when we began farming but as the dairy industry evolves, these are some questions researchers and farmers should explore further, together.

This relationship, where producers invest in research and research gives back to producers, is a win-win.

It is with this cooperation and innovation that Ontario farmers produce world-class milk.

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George Van Kampen
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LEADERSHIP THROUGH RESEARCH INVESTMENT

ONTARIO PRODUCERS FUND $2.2 MILLION in research every year, one of the highest contributions of any agricultural commodity group in Ontario.

Five cents from every hectolitre of milk sold are reinvested into research. Another 2.2 cents are shared with Dairy Farmers of Canada to fund additional research at a national level.

The return on investment is substantial: for every dollar invested by DFO, another $9.55 is invested by more than 40 partners.

Every proposed piece of research is scrutinized, requiring the support and commitment of DFO’s Research and Development Committee and Board of Directors.

“We support research that will result in greater efficiencies and lead to a healthy and profitable industry,” says Don Gordon, board member for City of Kawartha Lakes, Durham Region, Peterborough, and York, and chair of the Research and Development Committee.

“This benefits us all: our animals, our farmers and our consumers.”

This scrutiny, as well as close collaboration with universities, governments and industry, has resulted in a winning track record of research investment and partnership.

Much of DFO’s research investment flows into University of Guelph (U of G) where a network of more than 60 faculty members have dedicated resources and activities to dairy. This global leadership has earned the university the title of Canada’s Dairy University.

DFO FUNDS RESEARCH IN 4 AREAS

Farm Efficiency and Sustainability: Genetic improvement, reproduction, cattle nutrition, forage, sustainability, big data, farm economics, cost of production, workplace security, and mental health.

1 2 3 4

PROJECT HIGHLIGHT Wrap and Silage Covering Made from Biomaterials: Investigating the production of biodegradable bale wrap and silage covering to reduce the use of plastic.

Animal Health and Welfare: Mitigating pain and disease, lameness, cow transition, barn design, calves, and general dairy cattle health and welfare.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHT Bulk Tank Milk Disease Surveillance Program: A two-year project to conduct infectious disease surveillance through bulk tank sample testing.

Milk Composition, Quality and Food Safety: Microbiology, quality, antimicrobials, and milk composition.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHT Antimicrobial Stewardship Solutions: Exploration of strategies to reduce the use of antibiotics without compromising animal health and welfare.

SEE STORY ON PAGE 15

Human Nutrition and Health: Supporting dairy as part of a healthy diet and disease prevention.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHT Weight Management for Overweight and Obese Adolescent Females: Research has proven that higher dairy consumption significantly decreased fat mass and increased lean muscle mass.

7 WWW.MILKPRODUCER.CA LATE FALL 2022 RESEARCH: YOUR DOLLARS AT WORK

In addition, the university’s Ontario Dairy Research Centre at the Elora Research Station is leading dairy innovation. The state-of-the-art 175,000 square-foot facility is a partnership between DFO, the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario, OMAFRA, and U of G.

DFO also invests directly in people including Dr. Gisèle LaPointe, the University of Guelph’s Industrial Research Chair in Dairy Microbiology (and longest-running research chair). With funding from DFO, NSERC, and other partners, Dr. LaPointe has $6.2 million in funding over the next five years to improve human and animal health, ensuring environmental sustainability and further strengthening Canada’s dairy industry.

Recently, DFO renewed funding for Dr. David Kelton, DFO Research Chair in Dairy Cattle Health and Dr. Stephen LeBlanc, Director, Dairy at Guelph - The Centre for Dairy Research & Innovation, both at Ontario Veterinary College. Along with various partners including Lactanet, Veal Farmers of Ontario, DFC and NSERC, Drs. Kelton and LeBlanc will leverage an impressive $5.5 million over the next five years. These two chairs head up some of the largest research programs at U of G.

DFO’s prestigious doctoral scholarship in dairy research is a way to invest in and support young people entering the dairy industry. For 37 years, DFO has contributed funds annually to support this. Currently, each doctoral scholarship winner receives $105,000 over three years.

The diversity of our research scope is great but no matter what the focus, DFO is up to the challenge and will continue to invest in exciting projects and priorities that pay long-term dividends for dairy farmers.

“We have been using Udder ComfortTM at least 15 years. We really appreciate this natural product for our heifers prefreshening and our fresh cows. We start when they’re upclose, and we see it really soften up the udder, so the cow is more comfortable, which in turn helps with her milk letdown,” say Neil and Margaret Comfort, milking 65 registered Holsteins at their 4th generation Brookturn Holsteins, St. Ann’s, Ontario.

“The blue coloring is a bonus to remind us to give that cow extra attention. We notice a quality advantage, giving Udder Comfort credit for helping our farm earn several quality awards. It pays to be proactive,” they explain. “Udder Comfort is our go-to for quality, comfort, peace of mind.”

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BROOKTURN HOLSTEINS, The Comfort Family of St. Ann’s, Niagara County, Ontario: Neil and Margaret and son David (Shauna) and daughters Laura (Ryan) and Amanda (Brandon) Milking 65 Registered Holsteins, 12,000 kg M, 120,000 SCC, BCA 237 to 240, 11 EX, 36 VG
“Our go-to for quality, comfort, peace of mind.”
Neil and Margaret Comfort These researchers head up some of Canada’s largest dairy research programs with help from DFO investment. From top to bottom: Christine Baes, Canada Research Chair in Livestock Genomics; David Kelton, DFO Research Chair in Dairy Cattle Health; Stephen LeBlanc, Director, Dairy at Guelph – The Centre for Dairy Research & Innovation; Gisele LaPointe, DFO Industrial Research Chair in Dairy Microbiology.

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GENETIC RESEARCH IS IMPROVING FERTILITY AND HEALTH

University of Guelph leads 35 international partners in major dairy research project

FERTILITY CAN BE IMPROVED THROUGH GENETICS.

This surprises some producers because traditional fertility traits have low heritability. Now, several research activities are proving it’s possible.

One, the Resilient Dairy Genome Project (RDGP), “is enabling us to incorporate the knowledge of reproductive physiologists and veterinarians together with genetic knowledge to come up with real solutions for Canadian dairy producers,” says Dr. Christine Baes, Canada Research Chair in Livestock Genomics and project lead. “Previously, we were not very good at finding ways to measure fertility that are directly tied to the biology of the animal,” says Baes.

The RDGP uses new genomic evaluations to identify cows that are more feed-efficient, more resilient to heat stress, and more fertile. These traits contribute to sustainability through cow health and a lower climate impact per litre of milk produced.

Begun in 2019, the $12-million project involves several research objectives supported by more than 35 international partner organizations. This large-scale applied research project is led by the University of Guelph’s Baes, as well as Drs. Ronaldo Cerri (University of British Columbia), Marc-André Sirard (Université Laval), and Paul Stothard (University of Alberta). Prior to the development of the RDGP, Dr. Filippo Miglior led the Efficient Dairy Genome Project, which began in 2015.

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RESEARCH: COVER STORY
Dr. Christine Baes, Canada Research Chair in Livestock Genomics, leads a $12-million international dairy research project at University of Guelph.

LEADING RESEARCH

The Centre for the Genetic Improvement of Livestock (CGIL) has a history of developing new methods for genetic evaluation and passing them on to the Canadian and global dairy industry for implementation.

University of Guelph Professor Emeritus Larry Schaeffer developed Multiple Across Country Evaluation (MACE) to compare genetic evaluations across countries. Schaeffer is a world-renowned geneticist.

Moving forward, Dr. Christine Baes and the RDGP team are interested in studying calf health. Like cow health and fertility, the genetic component of calf health is challenging to investigate because of the influence of farm management factors. Although many producers measure colostrum quality, calf weights, and other important performance indicators, this information isn’t always available or flowing into genetic evaluations.

Why it matters

With a greater number of farms capturing and sharing this information, dairy farmers will be able to include genetic selection for calf health in their breeding program.

Traditionally, data from farm records were used for genetic selection as they are easy to measure and inexpensive. However, this can blur farmers’ decisions and management with the biology of the cow. For example, time to first breeding is affected by choices about voluntary waiting periods and use of synchronization programs. Technologies can cut through some of that variability: activity data from a sensor can be used to monitor when cows are in heat.

One project under the RDGP umbrella, led by Dr. Ronaldo Cerri, focuses on the development of improved fertility traits. PhD student Audrey Martin of the Centre for Genetic Improvement of Livestock (CGIL) at Guelph explored the size and position score of the reproductive tract as a genetic trait. This can be assessed with a quick examination before breeding. This simple score was more heritable than other traits, such as days open or calving interval. In the future, data on reproductive tract scoring could be collected during routine veterinary examinations or at breeding.

?“This is another example of how Dairy at Guelph is active in the world of dairy research,” says Baes. “There’s a reason we call it Canada’s Dairy University – there’s so much excellent research coming out of the University of Guelph – it’s literally what we do.”

Genetic selection for health, fertility, and lower methane emissions will be part of the dairy industry’s sustainability toolkit.

?Dairy at Guelph and the RDGP are also involved in the Dairy Farmers of Canada project, “Net-Zero by 2050,” aimed at reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for the Canadian dairy sector by the year 2050. Why it matters

Additional research in the RDGP includes the improvement of genetic selection for health traits and reduction of methane emissions, exploration of genomic and environmental relationships, investigation of multigenerational effects and epigenetics, and optimization of traits to maximize sustainability and social acceptance. Why it matters Baes says the university is fortunate to have close relationships with industry partners who are geographically close and like-minded, which makes the projects possible. Genetics researchers at CGIL work with Lactanet and Semex, for example.

All projects end with translation of the findings into practical tools for the Canadian dairy industry. In other words, the results will enable dairy farmers to make greater use of genetic selection to improve health and efficiency than is currently possible.

“Dairy at Guelph allows these different people, who are all fantastic in their own right, to collaborate, which increases the impact of the research that we do.”

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A Powerhouse of Dairy Research

Dairy at Guelph is a network of more than 60 faculty and 150 graduate students and staff at the University of Guelph. It is the largest concentration of dairy research capacity in Canada, and one of the largest producers of dairy research in the world. Why it matters

Dairy at Guelph is a global leader in research to achieve sustainable, efficient dairy production, and innovative dairy foods for human health.

With major support from Dairy Farmers of Ontario, as well as from Dairy Farmers of Canada, Lactanet, and Veal Farmers of Ontario, Dairy at Guelph researchers will start new projects on reproduction this fall and over the next two years, including:

• Economic assessment of the optimal calving interval and voluntary waiting period under Canadian conditions, considering returns per litre of milk, per kilogram of quota, and based on carbon footprints.

• Determining the herd-level factors to optimize success of activity monitors for reproductive management.

• Selective reproductive management of individual cows based on health in the transition period: which cows can be left alone for heat detection and which will need intervention to support timely pregnancy?

• Identifying “trifecta” cows: healthy, fertile and highproducing. Success is not just the absence of problems; this project will develop a new to way to look at and select for cows that succeed on all three fronts.

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RESEARCH AIMS TO PREVENT ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE

LAST YEAR, University of Guelph researchers, leaders in the field of antimicrobial stewardship, received more than $3 million from Ontario Research Fund (ORF) for their projects.

One, Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) Research Chair in Dairy Cattle Health and Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) researcher Dr. David Kelton, received $959,000 for his research into antimicrobial stewardship solutions in the Ontario dairy sector. DFO contributed nearly $540,000.

Kelton is working with OVC population medicine professors, Dr. David Renaud and Dr. Stephen LeBlanc.

“For Ontario’s $2.4 billion dairy sector, solutions start on the farm with sound science-based approaches to antimicrobial stewardship,” says Kelton. “This research will improve responsible use of antimicrobials in the dairy industry, through educational outreach aimed at more effective targeted antibiotic use and by validating alternatives to antimicrobials.”

Antimicrobial medicines have played a vital role in human and animal health since penicillin, the first true antibiotic, was discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928. In dairy farming, they are used to treat, control, or prevent disease but Kelton, a professor in the OVC’s Department of Population Medicine, says pressure is mounting globally

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RESEARCH: DFO FUNDING SPOTLIGHT
University of Guelph’s Dr. David Kelton is researching antimicrobial stewardship solutions in the dairy sector.

to address antimicrobial resistance and sustainable solutions will require a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach.

The overuse of antimicrobials, including antibiotics, contributes to the development of resistance in the organisms they are designed to kill.

Science-based approaches that promote the prudent use of antimicrobials is becoming an integral part of food systems around the globe.

“This support from the provincial government will go directly to the innovative researchers at the University of Guelph and the work they are doing to benefit Ontario’s agri sector,” says Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris. “Funding research like this will help give our economy a competitive edge and create a more prosperous and healthy future for all Ontarians.”

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“This research will improve responsible use of antimicrobials in the dairy industry.”
— Dr. David Kelton, DFO Research Chair in Dairy Cattle Health
The 5Rs of Antimicrobial Stewardship 1 || RESPONSIBILITY Acknowledge that antimicrobial use must be done responsibly and judiciously. 2 || REDUCTION Whenever possible, look for ways to reduce reliance on antimicrobials. 3 || REFINEMENT Ensure use of the right drug, at the right dose, at the right time, treating the right bug, for the correct length of time. 4 || REPLACEMENT Consider non-antimicrobial products to promote good health and prevent disease. 5 || REVIEW The farm management team (owners, herdspeople, nutritionists, veterinarians, other advisors) should review farm records regularly, looking critically at every instance of antimicrobial use and for strategies to make further improvements and reductions in use.
Source: Farmed Animal Antimicrobial Stewardship Initiative

DFC IN ACTION ADVOCATING FOR FARMERS ON PARLIAMENT HILL

Both the House and Senate resume sitting the week of September 19 in a political climate marked by a new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC), renewed pressure on the NDP-Liberal supply and confidence agreement, and mounting frustrations from Canadians about the state of the economy and COVID-19 restrictions. Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) extends its congratulations to Mr. Poilievre on his successful bid to become leader of the CPC and by extension, leader of the official opposition.

DFC had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Poilievre near the end of the CPC leadership race, and he indicated his support for dairy priorities such as compensation for the impacts of recent trade agreements. We look forward to meeting with him again in the coming weeks to ensure his party fully understands the importance of a robust dairy sector.

CUSMA compensation: Earlier this year, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland committed to announcing compensation for the effects of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) in the upcoming Fall Economic Statement. DFC will continue to apply pressure to ensure the government delivers on this long-standing commitment to full and fair compensation to dairy farmers.

Fertilizer Emissions Reduction Strategy: DFC recommended that the proposed objective of an absolute emissions reduction target be changed to an emissions intensity reduction target, and stressed that any reduction in fertilizer emissions should not be mandatory. Having a variety of tools for the diversity of farms across Canada (including access to commercial fertilizers) remains key to innovative and healthy agriculture ecosystems and is crucial to ensure food security.

Grocery Code of Conduct: Grocery retailing in Canada is highly concentrated – a handful of big players have a disproportionate level of influence over the dairy supply chain and are able to dictate the rules of the game in their relationship with processors. DFC continues to support proposals for a mandatory grocery code of conduct, which will bring more fairness to the supply chain.

TRQ challenges: Both the US and New Zealand are in the process of disputing the manner in which Canada allocates tariff rate quotas (TRQs) under CUSMA and CPTPP. The Canadian government maintains its TRQ allocation remains consistent with the terms of each agreement, and we will continue to work closely with the government on these files.

Dairy alternatives masquerading as real dairy: DFC has been confronting the issue of dairy alternatives representing themselves as real dairy, which both confuses consumers and violates government regulations. DFC’s Market Integrity Specialists are identifying and documenting incidents of noncompliance with applicable Canadian legislation and regulation related to dairy product labelling, packaging, advertising and promotions, and submitting those complaints to the CFIA.

Health Canada’s proposed Front-of-Package nutritional labelling: DFC’s advocacy on this issue over the past four years contributed to drastically reducing the impacts of Health Canada’s proposed labeling requirements from from 89% of dairy SKUs down to 36%. There remain some outstanding questions surrounding the impact of these regulations on some cheeses. DFC is in the process of seeking further clarity from Health Canada on the final impact of FoP labelling on these products.

Here’s a brief look at how we’re advocating for you this fall

HISTORY PROVIDES INSIGHTS INTO THE FUTURE OF CATTLE BREEDING

SOCIAL SCIENTISTS HAVE CONDUCTED SURVEYS to capture snapshots in time of public attitudes toward gene editing and other new technologies applied to farm animals, but little is known about how these views change over time. Historians have recently become more interested in this topic, partly because studying past technologies can help us anticipate potential trajectories for new technologies like gene editing.

A collaborative study between the University of British Columbia’s Animal Welfare Program and history department recently investigated societal factors that explain how and why past biotechnologies were adopted (or not) in animal agriculture. These researchers reviewed 136 works of animal history (peer-reviewed books and articles) to extract lessons that could inform the responsible implementation and use of gene editing in farm animals. The studies were organized into three eras based on changing breeding practices: Agro-Pastoral (earliest times to 1750 C.E.); Imperial State (1750 to 1945); and Welfare State (1945 to present).

The findings show how value systems guiding trait selection in farm animals were broad during the Agro-Pastoral Era, (reflecting the myriad uses from ceremonies to labour, transportation to food), narrowed during the Imperial State Era (with breeds more specialized around a single function like maximizing meat, milk, or fleece), and broadened again during the Welfare State Era (based on a range of values around animal welfare and sustainability). This review also identified a growing disconnect during the most recent period between nation-states that greatly valued agricultural intensification for food security and their citizenry who valued other concerns. In other words, governments wanted animals for mass production while ordinary people did not.

The history of Holsteins illustrates this disconnect between states and citizens starting with the adoption of artificial insemination (AI). During the 1950s, the Netherlands sought to increase milk production by “Holstein-izing” its herds with imported semen from North American bulls. However, some Dutch breeders resisted AI for nationalistic and cultural reasons: taking pride in preserving the dual-purpose Friesian breed over the leaner dairy-type Holstein. They also preferred to select breeding animals based on outward appearance rather than judging heredity potential through statistical approaches. As one Dutch breeder told a university scientist: “That’s all very well, but a computer can’t look at my cows.”

Dutch opinion began to shift due to economic necessity. In 1968, the agricultural commissioner of the European Economic Community lifted price supports on farm commodities, including dairy products. To maintain the same level of income, Dutch farmers needed to produce more milk and the use of North American Holstein bulls helped them maximize productivity

and remain economically viable. Further, scientific comparisons during the early 1970s, conducted by Maria Stolzman in Poland for the United Nations, showed that Holsteins from Canada, United States, New Zealand, and Israel all had higher yields than Dutch Friesians. By the mid-1970s, the “Holsteinization” of Dutch herds prevailed with frozen sperm insemination rates in the Netherlands increasing from 3.5 per cent in 1968 to 72.2 per cent by 1975.

The findings of the review suggest that gene editing applied to farm animals is more likely accepted when technological aims align with societal concerns. This conclusion may partly explain why contemporary surveys have demonstrated that regular citizens are most open to gene editing when they believe its applications will benefit some form of social good, such as animal welfare, sustainability, or food justice.

References are available from the authors on request. Contact Heidi Tworek (heidi. tworek@ubc.ca), Marina (Nina) von Keyserlingk (nina@mail.ubc.ca), or Dan Weary (danweary@mail.ubc.ca).

• LATE FALL 2022 WWW.MILKPRODUCER.CA 18 RESEARCH: DAIRY GENETICS
then >>
Milk recording (left) around 1950 in the Netherlands. Photo Credit: Veeteelt (CRV Holding BV). Maria Holzman (right), an agricultural scientist who worked the National Research Institute of Animal Production in Krakow from 1951 to 1975, conducted trials on using Holstein genetics to upgrade Polish dairy herds for the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization. Holzman’s work is seen as partly responsible for the Holsteinization of Dutch herds. Photo Credit: https://tvn24.pl.

THE FUTURE OF DAIRY GENETICS IS NOW

GENOMICS IS A GAME-CHANGER in dairy genetics and breeding.

From the introduction of sexed semen in the mid-2000s to genomic testing in 2009, new heat detection methods and breeding dairy to beef, the industry has seen some serious enhancements and shifts in animal quality, production and management practices.

“The sky is the limit when it comes to genetic gain right now,” says Alex McIntosh, McIntonsh Embryo Transfer. “I’ve been working in the industry for more than 40 years and it’s never been more promising.”

Today, genomic testing is more affordable and readily available. The adoption of genotyping heifers continues to increase every year, building the database of Canadian dairy genetics and helping producers make the best selection for the future of their herds.

Sexed semen is the second technology that has transformed the industry by changing the gender rates on Canadian dairy farms. Since it was first introduced more than 20 years ago, the technology behind sexed semen has improved and is now broadly adopted in Canadian herds, producing more heifers and providing herds with another genetic boost. Combining genomic testing applications with sexed semen is enabling producers to take their genetics to the next level by easily identifying their top and bottom performers, making more accurate decisions when it comes to determining which heifers should contribute to the herd’s genetics.

Another opportunity, thanks to the increased accuracy both genomics and sexed semen now offer, is the transition to breeding beef. The average Ontario dairy farm is estimated to incorporate 10 to 20 per cent beef cattle in their herds today. According to Mark Carson, Semex Genetics Solutions Manager, breeding lower value genetics into beef is offering new opportunities and improved sustainability. “By streaming the two systems together – dairy and beef – producers are able to

breed more productive animals, improve genetic gain, like more milk production, and eventually create a more commercialized beef product,” explains Carson.

Embryo transfer is another technology that has become more targeted and contributed to advancing herd genetics with the incorporation of genomics. McIntosh says that combining the two has enabled producers to flush – or, extract embryos – from younger cows to leverage desired genetics earlier. Years ago, his standard practice was to flush mature cows, but today, roughly 70 per cent of his flushes are on heifers, and most of those have been identified for their genetics using genomic testing. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is also gaining popularity, and while still a pricier option, McIntosh says using this method, he’s able to flush embryos from younger animals, and often at two weeks, compared

to the previous standard 40 days.

Always keeping a close eye on global breeding and genetics methods and trends, Carson notes that since IVF adoption is gaining speed in the U.S., he predicts Canadian producers will follow. “As embryo technology matures, I think we’ll see more commercial dairies using more refined breeding strategies that integrate genomics and methods like IVF,” predicts Carson.

No matter the latest technology or breeding method applied, the basics of matching the right bull with the right female will always be the goal of any genetic program. The advantage is, producers can now leverage new methods available for selection criteria, genetic gain, production and new market opportunities. “No matter what you choose, a focused genetic strategy can yield results for any herd,” says Carson.

No matter the latest technology or breeding method applied, the basics of matching the right bull with the right female will always be the goal of any genetic program.

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ON-FARM BREEDING INSIGHTS

PRODUCERS

Breeding programs are very individual and many factors go into choosing the right one for the farm’s needs.

Many Ontario dairy farmers are eager to implement one or many tools into their herd management and genetic programs, carefully monitoring results and tweaking the approach as needed. Here’s a look at how four farms have implemented new genetic technologies to manage their breeding programs, why they chose to adopt the methods and the difference the approach is making in their herds, production and management.

PHILIP ARMSTRONG

ARMSTRONG MANOR FARM, CALEDON, ON

ARMSTRONG MANOR IS ALWAYS ON THE LOOKOUT for innovative ways to expand the family dairy farm so when new genetics and breeding technologies were first introduced to Canada, the family seized the opportunity to put them into practice.

“We started genomic testing and using sexed semen as soon as they became available,” explains Philip Armstrong, of Armstrong Manor Farm in Caledon, ON. “Through the years, we’ve tried just about every breeding program out there and have learned that the best results stem from keeping things simple.”

Milking 345 Holstein cows in a parlour,

Armstrong works alongside his family –Peter, Richard and Lucas. Together, they are focused on expanding their production efficiently.

According to the Armstrongs, an excess of heifers was the farm’s greatest growth limitation, so it made sense to implement genomic testing and sexed semen to breed for their goal of only 12 heifers per month. Now, using the genomics results for selection, 70 per cent of the milking herd is bred to beef, with only the top 25 per cent bred to Holstein bulls. Heifers are bred using sexed semen because, as Armstrong notes, their heifers are automatically superior to

their cows thanks to the speed of genetic gain.

The Armstrongs breed on activity monitors, at 55 days after calving. The majority of cows are bred on natural heats, another management practice rooted in simplicity. The family says this method works for them, requiring less labour, and fewer hormones and injections. Weekly health checks with a veterinarian identify cows that require individual breeding programs and weekly pregnancy checks help maintain the herd reproduction schedule.

Combining a practical, streamlined herd management approach with the latest genetic breeding methods, the farm has been able to realize growth goals. “Today, we’ve boosted production, we’re classifying better type animals, improved health, and elevated our genetics,” says Armstrong.

Jordan Bowles, CPA, CGA 226.775.3033

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FRANKFORD, ON

HOFTYZER FARMS IN FRANKFORD, ON, uses new breeding and genetic selection methods to improve herd management.

“We’re looking for efficiency over rapid genetic advancement and want to add new methods to improve our overall management,” says Jon Bakker, a third-generation dairy farmer.

There have been a lot of changes on the Bakker dairy farm centered on this. Bakker first tried sexed semen with varying results about 10 years ago, and for the past five years says he’s been “all in”. The last five years have also seen a transition to genetic testing, relying on genomics for breeding decisions and breeding bottom end genetics to beef. The family also expanded its operation in 2015, building a new freestall barn and installing three robots to milk 120 Holsteins.

“Today, we’re able to make faster, more confident breeding decisions, control our heifer inventory and increase our rate of genetic gain,” says Bakker, noting that while new genetic and technology advancements are making a huge difference on the farm, every decision has to make economic sense as well.

Using sexed semen, Bakker aims to calve a steady five to six heifers per month. If it’s a slow month, he keeps every heifer, and if he has more than he needs, he weans some out of the herd using genotype data to guide the decision. This new herd management approach is helping Bakker maintain his heifer inventory at a proportion that matches his facility, keep his heifer groups at the ideal size to prevent overcrowding, and increase efficiencies with bedding and feed.

Hoftyzer Farms uses a mating program to assist with bull selection, breeding all heifers with sexed semen and the bottom 40 per cent of the cows to beef. Bakker’s bull criteria include medium plus framed, high milk, high end fat and protein, and good conformation. Feet and legs have become more important with the freestall setup, too. The Bakkers also DNA test heifers and use the detailed information to match bulls. Much of the herd health management is conducted by the family, including artificial insemination and regular pregnancy checks.

“When it comes to improving herd management, the genomics program confirms that what we’re doing is correct, and using sexed semen and breeding beef means we’re able to make decisions about producing offspring for our herd before calves are even born,” says Bakker.

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STEFAN MUELLER HAS A SAYING THAT “all roads lead to repo.” He’s a firm believer that all things affect reproduction – from feed and animal stress, to transition, growth and development. That’s why he’s tailored his herd management approach, genetics and breeding programs to deliver more resilient and highly productive cows. “The most exciting part of my job is picking sires that could impact the future of my herd,” says Mueller, owner of Stellete Farms Ltd. in Milverton, ON, where he milks 70 Holsteins. “Our breeding goals are to increase milk, components and health, but also to continue to achieve high reproductive success by improving fertility.”

Since he started farming full time in 2001, Mueller has implemented new heat detection and breeding methods, concentrating on fertility and the bottom line. When he first started breeding cows, Mueller says he was breeding for production and conformation. At the time, he felt that breeding for a balanced cow with good type would lead to a healthy cow. Over the years his outlook changed, realizing some cows are more susceptible to disease than others. “New animals coming into the herd have to be able to live longer than the previous generation, so health traits have become more important to me than conformation,” he says.

“The future of genetics will continue to add new traits that will improve productivity,” says Mueller who started dabbling with genomics in 2010 and has been consistently testing all heifers within a few days of birth since 2018. “I feel we need to be aware that things change and we need to adapt.”

He generally calves 55 to 60 heifers each year, keeping up to 36 and selling the rest before weaning. Meuller believes that having more heifer calves, and the ability to remove the calves with less desirable genotypes is more advantageous than selling beef cross calves. “I feel that it is an investment for long-term gain versus short-term income,” he says. Conventional semen is used on his milk cows, and sexed semen is used on heifers for two or three services on natural heats or with the use of prostaglandin.

“Reproduction, breeding and genetics is always a work in progress, and I’m trying to get it right,” says Mueller. “Dairy breeding is a slow process, and while there is no right or wrong way to do it, you need to have a plan. Consult your vet and trusted advisors to help make better choices but be prepared to adapt.”

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ADAM ZEHR WALNUTLAWN FARMS, TAVISTOCK, ON

WHEN ADAM ZEHR TOOK OVER THE FAMILY FARM, he was proud to uphold his father’s genetic legacy of breeding for type and conformation. A two-time Master Breeder award herd, Walnutlawn Farms has always focused on genetic gain and over the years, adopted embryo transfer for the herd, while developing a market for embryo and offspring sales.

When his curiosity about genomic testing resulted in identifying an elite cow that might have otherwise been overlooked, Zehr was hooked.

“Everything changed when genomics came along,” says Zehr, who milks 75 Holsteins in a newly built freestall barn with two robots in Tavistock, ON. “We’re still working toward the same breeding and genetics sales goals, but the quality, efficiencies and sales value of our genetics has multiplied.”

Since he implemented genomic testing in

his herd, Zehr estimates he’s collecting the same number of embryos he always did, but he’s now able to work with donors at a younger age and leverage a faster rate of genetic gain. Today, he’s breeding with sexed semen and using genomic results to identify donor animals. Up to 95 per cent of the embryos are implanted into his own herd. “We used to sell a lot on reinvesting the genetics for ourselves,” explains Zehr.

Thanks to Zehr’s new focused breeding strategy, he’s selling more live offspring and seeing higher returns as a result of new, proven genetic superiority. The majority of his breeding animals are sold to fellow milk producers, with some high-end females recently sold for breeding programs.

Zehr has implemented genomic testing across 80 per cent of his herd, concentrating on offspring from brand name cow families. He’s also adopted sexed semen in 20 per cent of his herd.

Zehr also partners to apply genomic testing to some of his embryos, exploring a new strategy to confidently select and prioritize them.

“We’ve come a long way in recent years, but I still believe in the value of deep, proven pedigrees. The advantage is that now we can add genomics to help us realize what we want to achieve.”

Embryo transfer (ET) allows a producer to quickly multiply the genetics of the top females in the herd. When artificially inseminated with semen from bulls with high genetic merit, these top females produce calves with superior genetics.

Amanda Stone, Assistant Professor, Animal and Dairy Sciences, Mississippi State University

• LATE FALL 2022 WWW.MILKPRODUCER.CA 24 RESEARCH: PRODUCER VIEWPOINT
“We’re still working toward the same breeding and genetics sales goals, but the quality, efficiencies and sales value of our genetics has multiplied.”
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THE IDEAL CANADIAN MILKING COW OF THE FUTURE

Calm temperament

Medium-sized

Low methaneemitting

Good feet

High-producing Strong legs

PICTURE THIS: A “trouble-free” cow that is unobtrusive on the farm.

She gets pregnant easily, calves unassisted and thrives in her environment. She has a good mammary system with a functional conformation that is wellsuited for a longer productive life. She milks fast and easily, produces highquality milk and is resistant to disease and various health issues. She can also be described as a sustainable cow who is efficient and resilient.

She might be the ideal cow.

Over time, the Canadian dairy industry’s version of the “ideal” milking cow has changed as global initiatives and new traits have come into the spotlight. What’s ideal today may not be in the future but we can nevertheless envision characteristics the ideal cow will need to possess.

Sustainability is a hot topic in Canada’s dairy industry but what does this mean for the “Cow of the Future”?

This cow is resistant to disease throughout her lifetime and recovers quickly from any disease or illness she may get. She adapts to a changing climate and is not susceptible to heat stress all while maintaining her productivity, health and fertility.

Dairy cattle are already on their way to being more efficient animals that balance the milk they produce with the feed they consume, while emitting

The cow of the future will be much like the cow we have today – an animal that needs great care in order for them to reach their genetic potential.

The ideal cow of the future is one you’ve never seen. The cow would would calve easily, milk and breed back. It would be a medium-sized cow with good functionality who doesn’t kick but wants to move.

— Phillip Armstrong, Armstrong Manor Farm, Caledon, ON

• LATE FALL 2022 WWW.MILKPRODUCER.CA 26 RESEARCH: TRAIT SELECTION
Stefan Mueller, Stellete Farms Ltd. Milverton, ON

less methane than their ancestors. Milk production will always be the main driver of the dairy industry, but the “Cow of the Future” will be efficient in not only her production but also her environmental footprint and body size while using minimal resources.

As research and technology continues to evolve, more electronic data will be available than ever before. In recent times, the dairy industry has embraced robotic milking, rumination collars, 3-D cameras, drones, and most recently, sniffers to measure methane emissions. The ideal cow will use the state-of-the-art technology and milking systems leading to increased productivity in a consistently well-managed herd.

An increased volume of data will coincide with this technology leading to advances in artificial intelligence, data mining, herd management tools, and genomic selection.

Genomic selection may be used to select for a cow that has the ideal rumen bacteria for increased digestibility and reduced methane emissions, improving the environmental sustainability of the dairy industry. Enhanced reproductive technologies will continue to play an important role in maximizing the use of the most superior genetics to produce the next generation of animals.

The ideal cow of the future is one with strong immune function for health benefits, great musculoskeletal system for reduced lameness and increased longevity, as well as feed efficiency to allow for solid production and components.

— Dr. Kelly Barratt, Veterinarian, Listowel, ON, and 2021 Bovine Practitioner of the Year award winner

Some of the classic definitions still hold: good production and a functional type so that she can stay in the herd as long as you want her to. That requires good fertility and good health, but now I think we’re also moving in the direction where these cows need to be efficient and sustainable for our environment as well.

— Dr. Allison Fleming, Geneticist, Lactanet Canada

The future cow would be high-producing and trouble-free. They would breed easily and have high milk production and performance, calm temperament, good feet, legs, and udders. And be a medium-framed animal.

— Jon Bakker, Hoftyzer Farms Ltd., Frankford, ON

She’d be a really high type with a good working udder that moves well. A mediumstatured animal that is trouble-free with a high milk component.

— Adam Zehr, Walnutlawn Farms, Tavistock, ON

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This cow may not be as far-fetched as we think. Industry leaders and researchers around the globe continue to unravel new technologies and traits that ultimately improve the productivity, fertility, longevity, and health of our milking dairy cows.

Dr. Hannah Sweett, PhD., is Knowledge Transfer Advisor – Genetics Portfolio, Lactanet Canada.

The ideal Canadian dairy cow will be productive, robust, and resilient. She will be like a high-performance athlete of food production. She will efficiently convert mostly non-human edible feeds into high-quality milk. She will be resilient to environmental challenges, healthy and fertile.

— Dr. Stephen LeBlanc, Professor, Population Medicine, Director, Dairy at Guelph – The Centre for Dairy Research & Innovation, University of Guelph

The dairy cow of the future will continue to be a high producing cow with type characteristics that will support longevity and resilience. She will have increased feed efficiency and disease resistance coupled with lower methane emission, and she will have increased lactation persistence to support a longer lactation.

— Dr. David Kelton, DFO Research Chair in Dairy Cattle Health, Professor of Epidemiology, Graduate Coordinator, Department of Population Medicine, University of Guelph

The animal should be able to adapt rapidly to changing conditions without compromising its productivity, health, mobility, or fertility, while becoming more resource efficient and reducing its environmental burden.

Christine Baes, Canada Research Chair in Livestock Genomics

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ALLISON FLEMING FROM BERRY FARM TO GENETICS LAB

ALLISON FLEMING IS HOOKED ON GENETICS.

It happened in an undergraduate classroom at the University of Guelph and there’s been no turning back.

“It’s a field where you can apply genetic principles and methodology to many different areas in dairy production or animal production,” says Fleming of genetics’ breadth and depth. “You can go from talking about fertility to production to milk composition to type and confirmation. It’s a really diverse field and combines a lot of my interests.”

Now, as a geneticist at Lactanet Canada, Fleming works to further the profitability of dairy production in Canada by improving production efficiencies and sustainability. One of her projects involves genetic evaluation for bovine body weight and maintenance, work that dovetails with Lactanet’s work on feed efficiency.

Fleming’s work routine varies. Depending on the day, she will meet with other scientists to discuss ongoing projects and answer questions

Most of her day is spent on a computer. From her workstation, she dives into data to assess genetic trends or look at how Lactanet can improve what it’s doing or tweak how it provides genetic information

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James Walker Walkerbrae Farms Guelph, ON

“We do a lot of work to make sure what we’re doing is headed in the right direction,” she says, “that we’re making improvements and that these are going to be what we want in the future.”

Fleming, who grew up on a berry farm outside Woodstock, ON, says she’s found the dairy industry open and welcoming since graduating from Guelph with a PhD.

“People can become involved in the industry without really having a background,” she says.

This openness complements Fleming’s desire to invest herself in what she does, a desire nurtured by what she says is the best advice she ever received from a mentor: “Find opportunities to get involved in the industry. Meet people in all parts of the industry and learn.”

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SETTING THE COURSE FOR THE FUTURE OF ONTARIO’S LIVESTOCK INNOVATION SYSTEM

New report recommends changes for continuous improvement

INNOVATION IS AN ESSENTIAL SOURCE OF SOLUTIONS to help solve many of the big issues facing animal agriculture, from climate change and environmental impacts to antimicrobial resistance and animal health and welfare.

According to Livestock Research Innovation Corporation (LRIC) CEO Mike McMorris, although Ontario has a very good livestock innovation system, there is always room to do things better.

“LRIC has a mandate of continuous improvement, achieved best by working with all parties in the system, which includes industry organizations, University of Guelph and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs,” he says.

That mandate led to a recent review of the innovation system by LRIC’s International Research Advisory Committee. The process included a review of written briefs, and surveys of LRIC member organizations and University of Guelph faculty. McMorris is pleased

Recommendations

1. Closer working relationships between research and industry, along with welldefined problem statements from the industry.

2. Adequate funding for Ontario’s new research and innovation facilities to ensure optimal return on investment.

3. Establishment of research priorities using a collaborative approach that involves industry, government and faculty.

4. Willingness by the livestock sector to look sideways and learn about issues and opportunities in other sectors.

5. Competitively priced overhead charges at research facilities.

6. More focus on the entire innovation system versus one of siloed activities.

7. Collaboration by industry, government and faculty to create a new system of “Getting Research into Practice” (GRIP) with an industry champion for each project.

8. Include excellence in GRIP and building strong relationships with industry as part of a faculty reward system.

9. Engage social sciences to help improve adoption of research results.

10. A Canada-first focus in commercialization.

33 WWW.MILKPRODUCER.CA LATE FALL 2022 RESEARCH: INNOVATION

with the response rate – 53 faculty and 11 industry organizations –which he says demonstrates keen interest in charting a new course forward collaboratively.

“The resulting report is concise by design and brings clear focus to the need for more collaboration between industry, government and academia,” he says. “This is something we’ve been hearing about anecdotally for some time, and this report confirms the need to make this a stronger priority for the livestock industry.”

McMorris says LRIC will focus on two specific areas over the next year: developing a new process of setting research priorities and a new model for getting research into practice.

LRIC is recommending annual “Shark Tank” sessions to give researchers early industry input into research ideas and priorities. As well, cross-disciplinary research proposals – projects that include faculty from more than one department or school – should be encouraged and incentivized, and the timing of OMAFRA’s release of its research priority document should be consistent to allow more time for industry input and proposal submission.

Industry, faculty, LRIC, and OMAFRA must all work together to develop a new getting research into practice (GRIP) system. This should include enhanced communications, coordination of an annual

livestock conference to bring together sector representatives for learning and discussion, and GRIP training and tools for researchers. As well, participation in GRIP should be included in faculty reward programs to encourage more widespread uptake and adoption.

Though there is always room for improvement, Ontario’s dairy sector is already a GRIP leader thanks to the Dairy at Guelph program, a network of more than 60 faculty across the University of Guelph who do work related to dairy. Activities include industry events and producer meetings; writing news articles for agricultural media; and generating content like plain language summaries, infographics, webinars, and podcasts.

Read the full report at www.livestockresearch.ca.

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LRIC is recommending annual “Shark Tank” sessions to give researchers early industry input into research ideas and priorities.

LARGE ANIMAL HANDLING SAFETY

LARGE ANIMAL HANDLING SAFETY

For the most part, large animals are peaceful. If left to themselves they will not seek out situations to do you harm. That said, one in five injuries on Canadian farms are livestock related and 50% of those are due to human error. By understanding animal behavior, being mindful, and following some basic rules, we can prevent injury.

Take Special Care with Bulls and Horses

LARGE ANIMAL HANDLING SAFETY

For the most part, large animals are peaceful. If left to themselves they will not seek out situations to do you harm. That said, one in five injuries on Canadian farms are livestock related and 50% of those are due to human error. By understanding animal behavior, being mindful, and following some basic rules, we can prevent injury.

For starters, cattle and horses are sensitive to sudden movements and loud sounds and may startle and jump, or move away quickly. You can be crushed if you happen to be in their path.

For the most part, large animals are peaceful. If left to themselves they will not seek out situations to do you harm. That said, one in five injuries on Canadian farms are livestock related and 50% of those are due to human error. By understanding animal behavior, being mindful, and following some basic rules, we can prevent injury.

Be Aware of Flight Zones and Blind Spots

For starters, cattle and horses are sensitive to sudden movements and loud sounds and may startle and jump, or move away quickly. You can be crushed if you happen to be in their path.

For starters, cattle and horses are sensitive to sudden movements and loud sounds and may startle and jump, or move away quickly. You can be crushed if you happen to be in their path.

Take Special Care with Bulls and Horses

Be Aware of Flight Zones and Blind Spots

It must be stated that while great care needs to be taken around cows and horses, bulls represent a whole other level of danger. Bull attacks account for over 40% of all livestock fatalities on Canadian farms with only one in twenty victims surviving a bull attack. Bulls are territorial and may aggressively attack you if you invade their space, especially if there is a cow in heat or if they are fighting another bull.

It must be stated that while great care needs to be taken around cows and horses, bulls represent a whole other level of danger. Bull attacks account for over 40% of all livestock fatalities on Canadian farms with only one in twenty victims surviving a bull attack. Bulls are territorial and may aggressively attack you if you invade their space, especially if there is a cow in heat or if they are fighting another bull.

Take Special Care with Bulls and Horses

It is crucial that we understand an animal’s flight zone. This is the animal’s personal space and it is the distance from an animal that we must maintain for the animal to feel comfortable and unthreatened. Entering the flight zone will cause an animal to move away and if there is no place to move, it may react aggressively to you.

It is crucial that we understand an animal’s flight zone. This is the animal’s personal space and it is the distance from an animal that we must maintain for the animal to feel comfortable and unthreatened. Entering the flight zone will cause an animal to move away and if there is no place to move, it may react aggressively to you.

Be Aware of Flight Zones and Blind Spots

It is crucial that we understand an animal’s flight zone. This is the animal’s personal space and it is the distance from an animal that we must maintain for the animal to feel comfortable and unthreatened. Entering the flight zone will cause an animal to move away and if there is no place to move, it may react aggressively to you.

Understanding an animal’s point of balance enables us to use the flight zone strategically to move an animal one way or the other. For example, if you approach a cow from behind her shoulder, she will move forward; approaching her from in front will cause her to move back.

Understanding an animal’s point of balance enables us to use the flight zone strategically to move an animal one way or the other. For example, if you approach a cow from behind her shoulder, she will move forward; approaching her from in front will cause her to move back.

The blind spot is the area directly behind the cow or horse. Standing in the blind spot will make it feel uneasy, confused and possibly endangered. This could result in a kick. Be aware of an animal’s kick zone and be sure to stay out of it. If you have any visitors to the farm who are unfamiliar with large animals, sharing the importance of staying out of their kick zone is important information.

Understanding an animal’s point of balance enables us to use the flight zone strategically to move an animal one way or the other. For example, if you approach a cow from behind her shoulder, she will move forward; approaching her from in front will cause her to move back.

The blind spot is the area directly behind the cow or horse. Standing in the blind spot will make it feel uneasy, confused and possibly endangered. This could result in a kick. Be aware of an animal’s kick zone and be sure to stay out of it. If you have any visitors to the farm who are unfamiliar with large animals, sharing the importance of staying out of their kick zone is important information.

The blind spot is the area directly behind the cow or horse. Standing in the blind spot will make it feel uneasy, confused and possibly endangered. This could result in a kick. Be aware of an animal’s kick zone and be sure to stay out of it. If you have any visitors to the farm who are unfamiliar with large animals, sharing the importance of staying out of their kick zone is important information.

When working with or near cattle or horses always have an escape route, especially when you are in a location that is walled or has any other kind of barrier. You may be doing everything right. But if the animal is startled, by the wind flapping a bag for example, you need to have an immediate escape route should it become spooked.

When working with or near cattle or horses always have an escape route, especially when you are in a location that is walled or has any other kind of barrier. You may be doing everything right. But if the animal is startled, by the wind flapping a bag for example, you need to have an immediate escape route should it become spooked.

When working with or near cattle or horses always have an escape route, especially when you are in a location that is walled or has any other kind of barrier. You may be doing everything right. But if the animal is startled, by the wind flapping a bag for example, you need to have an immediate escape route should it become spooked.

Horses can kick you with their front and hind hooves if they are startled or angry. They will also bite their handlers if they are annoyed because you are asking them to do something they don’t want to do.

It must be stated that while great care needs to be taken around cows and horses, bulls represent a whole other level of danger. Bull attacks account for over 40% of all livestock fatalities on Canadian farms with only one in twenty victims surviving a bull attack. Bulls are territorial and may aggressively attack you if you invade their space, especially if there is a cow in heat or if they are fighting another bull.

Horses can kick you with their front and hind hooves if they are startled or angry. They will also bite their handlers if they are annoyed because you are asking them to do something they don’t want to do.

Many horse related injuries occur when a rider falls off the horse. Sometimes the horse bucks, or bolts because the horse is startled by noise or the wind, and the rider is thrown off.

Horses can kick you with their front and hind hooves if they are startled or angry. They will also bite their handlers if they are annoyed because you are asking them to do something they don’t want to do.

Many horse related injuries occur when a rider falls off the horse. Sometimes the horse bucks, or bolts because the horse is startled by noise or the wind, and the rider is thrown off.

Let’s not forget about the back pain caused by mucking out pens. It’s important to always use correct lifting techniques – bending at the knees and not twisting your spine when lifting. Trimming hooves regularly can also cause back pain. As with any process that is done repetitively, it is important to take regular breaks and do stretching.

Many horse related injuries occur when a rider falls off the horse. Sometimes the horse bucks, or bolts because the horse is startled by noise or the wind, and the rider is thrown off.

Let’s not forget about the back pain caused by mucking out pens. It’s important to always use correct lifting techniques – bending at the knees and not twisting your spine when lifting. Trimming hooves regularly can also cause back pain. As with any process that is done repetitively, it is important to take regular breaks and do stretching.

An Abundance of Patience

Let’s not forget about the back pain caused by mucking out pens. It’s important to always use correct lifting techniques – bending at the knees and not twisting your spine when lifting. Trimming hooves regularly can also cause back pain. As with any process that is done repetitively, it is important to take regular breaks and do stretching.

An Abundance of Patience

Large animals will remember a bad experience for a long time. If your animals aren’t loading into the trailer and doing what you want them to do, yelling and hitting them will only make the situation worse.

Large animals will remember a bad experience for a long time. If your animals aren’t loading into the trailer and doing what you want them to do, yelling and hitting them will only make the situation worse. We need to remember to have an abundance of patience working with them. Take your time. Move slowly and speak softly and your animals will treat you decent too.

An Abundance of Patience

Large animals will remember a bad experience for a long time. If your animals aren’t loading into the trailer and doing what you want them to do, yelling and hitting them will only make the situation worse. We need to remember to have an abundance of patience working with them. Take your time. Move slowly and speak softly and your animals will treat you decent too.

We need to remember to have an abundance of patience working with them. Take your time. Move slowly and speak softly and your animals will treat you decent too.

OMAFRA is providing funding to Workplace Safety & Prevention Services to deliver resources and consulting services to help farmers and other agri-food businesses provide safe workplaces.

OMAFRA is providing funding to Workplace Safety & Prevention Services to deliver resources and consulting services to help farmers and other agri-food businesses provide safe workplaces.

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a five-year, $3 billion investment by federal-provincial and territorial governments to encourage innovation, competitiveness and sustainability in Canada’s agriculture industry.

OMAFRA is providing funding to Workplace Safety & Prevention Services to deliver resources and consulting services to help farmers and other agri-food businesses provide safe workplaces.

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a five-year, $3 billion investment by federal-provincial and territorial governments to encourage innovation, competitiveness and sustainability in Canada’s agriculture industry. Call Customer Care

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a five-year, $3 billion investment by federal-provincial and territorial governments to encourage innovation, competitiveness and sustainability in Canada’s agriculture industry.

Call Customer Care to speak with a consultant. 1 877 494
(9777) customercare@wsps.ca
free online resources relating
including our capsule
WSPS
For
to animal handling
video series, visit: https://engage.wsps.ca/ag-lrg-animal-handling-2022
to speak with a consultant. 1 877 494 WSPS (9777) customercare@wsps.ca For free online resources relating to animal handling including our capsule video series, visit: https://engage.wsps.ca/ag-lrg-animal-handling-2022
Call Customer Care to speak with a consultant. 1 877 494 WSPS (9777) customercare@wsps.ca For free online resources relating to animal handling including our capsule video series, visit: https://engage.wsps.ca/ag-lrg-animal-handling-2022

Qualities of a good employee.

BRITISH COLUMBIA

Mountain

Enderby — 250 838-6455

Pacific Dairy Centre Ltd. Chilliwack — 604 852-9020

ALBERTA

D.

Lacombe Country — 403 782-6473

Dairy Lane Systems

Leduc — 780 986-5600

Lethbridge Dairy Mart Ltd.

Lethbridge — 888 329-6202

SASKATCHEWAN

Dairy Lane Systems

Warman — 306 242-5850

Emerald Park — 306 721-6844

MANITOBA / NW ONTARIO

Penner Farm Services Ltd.

Blumenort — 204 326-3781

Thunder Bay – 800 461-9333

ONTARIO

Claire Snoddon Farm Machinery

Sunderland — 705 357-3579

Conestogo Agri Systems Inc.

Drayton — 519 638-3022

1 800 461-3022

Keith

Lamers Silos Ltd. Ingersoll — 519 485-4578

Lawrence’s Dairy Supply Inc. Moose Creek — 613 538-2559

McCann

Seeley’s Bay — 613 382-7411 Brockville — 613 926-2220

McLaren Systems Cobden — 613 646-2062

Melbourne

Aylmer — 519 773-2740

Silver-Tech Systems Inc. Dunnville — 905 981-2350

ATLANTIC PROVINCES

Atlantic Dairy Tech.

Charlottetown, PE — 902 368-1719

Mactaquac Farm Equip. Ltd.

Mactaquac, NB — 506 363-2340

Sheehy Enterprises Ltd.

Shubenacadie, NS — 902 758-2002

Sussex Farm Supplies

Sussex, NB — 506 433-1699

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County Automation Ameliasburg — 613 962-7474
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RESEARCH FUNDING TO SUPPORT

IN AG AND OTHER SECTORS PROJECTS

INVESTMENT IN RESEARCH returns value to Ontario’s dairy sector.

Through Dairy Farmers of Ontario, Ontario producers directly fund $2.2 million in research every year, one of the highest contributions of any agricultural commodity group in Ontario.

New funding announced by the government in October could also contribute to the dairy industry research pot.

An investment of more than $5.6 million for the BioCreate program, was announced by Filomena Tassi, minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). It will provide funding and support to help researchers and companies in the food and agriculture sector, among others, bring new products and technologies to market.

“The Government of Canada recognizes the vital role businesses, including those in the dairy sector, play in creating jobs and contributing to the country’s economy,” Minister Tassi says. “Since 2015, FedDev Ontario has invested more than $11 million in five projects that help expand operations for companies in the dairy sector.”

Through the BioCreate program, Ontario Genomics will partner with Velocity (Waterloo), McMaster Innovation Park/Synapse Life Sciences Consortium (Hamilton), Toronto Metropolitan University Science Discovery Zone (Toronto), and Cleantech Commons (Peterborough), to provide more than 30 successful applicants with access to lab space, tech support and mentoring.

Past Ontario Genomics projects relevant to dairy include disease management, use of antibiotics and animal performance.

Apply before December 15, 2022, at www.ontariogenomics.ca

“Since 2015, FedDev Ontario has invested more than $11 million in five projects that help expand operations for companies in the dairy sector."

— Filomena Tassi, minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

QUICK FACTS

Genomics is the study of all the genetic information of an organism’s genes.

Engineering (or synthetic) biology merges genomics and molecular biosciences with computing, automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and the application of engineering principles to biological systems.

37 WWW.MILKPRODUCER.CA LATE FALL 2022 RESEARCH: FUNDING

DFC SUPPORTS DOZENS OF INNOVATIVE PROJECTS

UNDER NATIONAL DAIRY RESEARCH STRATEGY

CANADIAN DAIRY FARMERS are committed to supporting research to increase farm efficiency and sustainability, enhance animal health and care practices, improve milk quality and strengthen the role of dairy in human nutrition and health. On their behalf, Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) and 30 partners invest millions annually in human health and nutrition and dairy production research, as well as administer research programs targeting investment priority areas and outcomes of the National Dairy Research Strategy.

In these times of “fake news” and misinformation, it is more important than ever to debunk dairy myths with factual reporting. That’s why DFC is proud to fund independent, credible research that is subject to a rigorous scientific peer-review process by external experts. When eligible, DFC aims to finance research through competitive, public scientific programs to obtain matching funding contributions.

Here are a few highlights of the investments and initiatives undertaken by DFC on behalf of Canadian dairy farmers over the past year.

INVESTMENTS IN RESEARCH

• In 2021-22, DFC invested $2 million in dairy production and human nutrition and health research, which was boosted to a total of $11 million by leveraging investments through grant programs and partnerships.

• 45 research projects are in progress at 34 research institutions across Canada.

• More than 140 scientists and 135 graduate students and postdocs are conducting studies in dairy production and human nutrition and health.

• More than 1,000 dairy farmers from coast to coast are investing their time as part of several research projects to help drive innovation in the Canadian dairy sector.

DFC’s research investments and activities contribute to increased knowledge translation and transfer (KTT) for the dairy industry, the goal of which, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, is to “accelerate the transformation of knowledge from research into use.” Some key outcomes from this work include:

• In-barn water usage and heat stress indicators were measured on select Canadian dairy farms, both inside and outside the barns. With this data, water use benchmarks were established, as well as equations relating outdoor weather conditions to in-barn conditions.

• A web application was developed to help dairy farmers explore correlations between production traits for Canadian Holstein dairy animals. Visit https://cgil.shinyapps.io/correlations

• Bulk tank fatty acid profile was used as a tool to monitor and adjust management and housing in automated milking system farms.

• A training and integration tool for dairy production workers was created, called Let’s test your knowledge. Cow...me on! The kit, available in English, French and Spanish, was developed by AGRICarrières in collaboration with the Mastitis Network, Lactanet and the Canadian Dairy Commission. Visit https://bit.ly/3IQEs3C

• A training tool for graduate students, dairy veterinarians, teachers and interested individuals called the Bovine Mastitis MOOCs series was developed by the Mastitis Network with the collaboration of experts from more than 20 countries. Visit www.mastitisnetwork. org/online-open-courses-moocs/

• A study of almost 8,000 Canadian participants demonstrated a beneficial role for dairy foods in the cognitive health of older adults.

• A randomized controlled trial of almost 60 Canadian adults consuming dairy two hours before a meal, showed a decrease in appetite, blood glucose and later food intake compared to drinking water.

• Videos, podcasts and infographics were produced for DFC’s first online competition for graduate students to encourage engagement and create innovative content for research users.

To learn more about Dairy Farmers of Canada’s 2021-22 Research Highlights, download your copy of the full publication today: www.dairyfarmersofcanada.ca/en/dairy-research.

• LATE FALL 2022 WWW.MILKPRODUCER.CA 38
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BEYOND THE HOLSTEIN

Up close and personal with Ontario’s other dairy breeds

The Holstein and its iconic black and white patches are synonymous with dairy. The breed accounts for more than 90 per cent of Ontario’s milking cows.

There are many other breeds being actively milked in the province, with physical characteristics, origin, production capabilities, and other facts that make them special. These genetic strengths and weaknesses are the basis of why producers choose one breed over another.

The Jersey is Ontario’s second-most popular dairy cow followed by Ayrshire and Brown Swiss, with some smaller numbers of Guernsey, Milking Shorthorn and a few Canadienne.

JERSEY

Origin: Jersey, the southernmost island in the English Channel.

Appearance: A small cow with a brown coat and white markings.

Interesting Facts: Highly productive, with some cows giving more than 10 times their own weight in milk per lactation. Popular in Quebec because their manure contains 50 per cent less phosphorus compared to other breeds and the management of this nutrient has received a lot of attention in recent years.

The Jersey provides many benefits in a small, pretty package. Several Ontario Jersey farmers are among those who now have dairy processing plants on their farms because there is strong demand for the rich and creamy products derived from the breed’s higher-fat milk.

At Little Brown Cow in Brantford, ON,

Jersey qualities have been the key to success. This dairy farm/processor is owned by Jenny Butcher and Wes Kuntz, who received the Ontario Outstanding Young Farmers award in 2021. They milk 65 Jerseys in a swing seven milking parlour.

Jenny and Wes started out in 2008, both working their farm and full-time jobs an hour away, with dreams of making cheese. They say Jerseys were the only choice.

“The higher milk fat means the world to us,” says Jenny. “For the exact same amount of labour and fixed plant costs, we get dramatically more cheese production than we would from Holstein milk. Also, the calving ease was very, very important. With few exceptions, when calving goes well for a cow, the next 364 days do, too. Overall, the Jersey breed requires lower management and that was what we needed when we started out and what we still really value today.”

Their heifers calve very early, at 18 to 20 months, with great success. “It’s not the norm to calve Jerseys at that age,” Jenny explains, “but they’re very fast-maturing and perfectly capable. I can’t emphasize enough how much consistently lowering the age at first calving increases the velocity of genetic improvement and the production cycle. This effect is further exaggerated by their ability to breed back quickly. It is common for a cow on our

farm to have calved twice and have a daughter join her in the milking herd and become a grandmother all before 36 months of age.”

Little Brown Cow opened its cheese plant in 2015 with a humble store, but it was expanded to become the Local Food Emporium, where the couple now sell milk, chocolate milk, 10 different cheeses, oven-ready meals, and lots of cheesecake from their commercial kitchen.

“The Jersey milk is definitely important in the marketing,” says Jenny. “They are the most beautiful cow and from a marketing standpoint, that matters. People are attracted to them. Fortunately, they’re not just a pretty face. They make the highest-quality milk, they’re efficient producers and the resulting cheeses are distinctly different.”

The Jersey is Ontario’s second-most popular dairy cow.

• LATE FALL 2022 WWW.MILKPRODUCER.CA 40 RESEARCH: BREEDS

AYRSHIRE

Origin: Native to the mountainous regions of Ayr county in Scotland, though some historians believe they originated in Holland.

Appearance: Noted for their red and white colour which may range from a very dark, almost black mahogany to a very light brownish-red.

Interesting Facts: Famous for functional conformation, freedom from genetic disease and easy calving. Adapt well to variable environmental conditions.

More than 80 per cent of Canada’s Ayrshires are found in Quebec, where there is a strong history of farming the breed and demand for the milk in the production of butter and cheese. “Some cheesemakers market their products specifically as Ayrshire and they respect the ratio of fat and non-fat components,” says Michel Boudreault, General Manager of Ayrshire Canada. “The number of kilos of cheese is easily three to four per cent higher for Ayrshire milk by volume than Holstein. The taste is also different.”

BROWN SWISS

Origin: Considered the oldest of the dairy breeds, developed in Switzerland and brought to Canada in 1888.

Appearance: Pale brown.

Interesting Facts: Considered a dual-purpose breed in Europe (where the dairy version is called Brown Swiss and the beef, Braunvieh); bred in North America for dairy farming.

The Brown Swiss is the next most popular dairy cow in Ontario behind Holstein, Jersey and Ayrshire, however, in terms of global herd size, it’s second only to the Holstein. The milk is in demand by cheesemakers because of the high volume and the best fat-to-protein ratio of any of the dairy breeds. The Brown Swiss is rugged, with strong feet and udders. They have rapid growth, long and productive lives, and a quiet temperament.

GUERNSEY

Origin: Arrived in Canada by accident when they were being taken by ship to New England and rough seas forced a landing in Nova Scotia.

Appearance: Generally, a fawn colour with white markings. Interesting Facts: Guernsey milk is high in milk solids and has a distinctive golden colour resulting from high levels of beta carotene.

Guernseys are known for their quiet temperament, calving ease, early maturity, and efficiency in converting forage to milk

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solids. The breed is also adaptable to extreme climate conditions and various housing systems.

At Eby Manor in Waterloo, ON, Howard and Annie Eby made the switch to Guernseys years ago. Their son Jim, President of the Canadian Guernsey Association, now co-owns the farm with his wife Ruth, son Ben and daughter-in-law Sheri. They milk 60 cows in a tie stall barn.

When Howard and Annie started out, milk prices were low. “After a meeting with Maple Lane Dairy in Kitchener, ON, they were offered a milk contract, provided they would switch to Guernseys,” says Jim. “Maple Lane was experiencing a strong and growing demand for Guernsey milk and was able to pay suppliers a better price.”

While the sale of breed-specific milk was disallowed some time ago, the Guernseys stayed and the Ebys found a way to take advantage of the breed’s unique milk. In May of 2012, they launched a Guernsey A2 milk retail business, with nearby Hewitt’s Dairy doing the processing and bottling. “A2 is very impactful for many customers who have lactose intolerance,” Jim explains. “As well, Guernsey milk… has a distinct, full flavour which is well-received and appreciated by our customers.”

Jim says Guernseys are similarly manageable to other breeds. He adds that while they are efficient butterfat converters, “we do have a goal to make some significant increases in milk

production and maintain or increase our percentages of fat and protein.” Farmers with pasture-based operations have commented that Guernseys adapt well to pasturing due to a higher level of heat tolerance and other factors, Jim adds.

MILKING SHORTHORN

Origin: Established in the 18th century in Northwestern England.

Appearance: Red, red with white markings, white, or roan.

Interesting Facts: A “very quiet” or “quiet” temperament. Easy calving, with 98 per cent calving unassisted or with very little assistance.

The Milking Shorthorn (MS) is a smaller cow, and like the Guernsey, an efficient converter of feed to milk, especially on pasture and other forages. MS cows boast industry-leading figures for longevity, with almost half performing well until fourth lactation or more.

At the farm of Johnathan and Julie Eccles in Holstein, ON, the herd is about 80 per cent MS or MS-Holstein. The Eccles milk 30 to 35 cows in a tie stall barn with their children. John is also the president of the Canadian Milking Shorthorn Society.

John likes the breed because they are “healthy, hardy, quiet, and moderate-sized” though production is about 80 per cent of the Holstein.

Increasing fat percentage has been a priority in recent years. “In 2012, the breed average was 3.7 per cent and now it’s 4.1,” he says. “That’s a big improvement in 10 years.”

CANADIENNE

Origin: Developed in Canada with its ancestors arriving in 1608 from France.

Appearance: Coats range from black and brown to russet. Interesting Facts: Also known as the Black Canadienne or Black Jersey. While numbers are critically low now, the Canadienne was the most common dairy cow 150 years ago.

The only dairy breed developed in Canada, the Canadienne was once the most popular in the country. There were 300,000 Canadienne in Canada around 1850 – they were hardy and could produce milk on poor forage and under very challenging conditions. The national herd has since declined significantly as the larger breeds have become more popular.

Dave Berubé, chair of the Société des éleveurs de bovins canadiens, in Quebec, says there are about 500 purebred Canadienne in Canada, mostly in Quebec on commercial dairy farms and small mixed farms. “These types of farms are growing a lot in the province,” he says, “and these farmers are going for Jersey and Canadienne.”

• LATE FALL 2022 WWW.MILKPRODUCER.CA 42 S ILO- K I NG S ILO- K I NG® Forage & Grain Treatment NEIL WIDEMAN (519) 577-6893 (800) 435-9560 AGRIKING.COM/CANADA 16 DIFFERENT ENZYMES TO PREDIGEST FIBRE MULTIPLE STRAINS OF LACTIC ACID BACTERIA USES ANTIOXIDANTS TO LIMIT RESPIRATION IMPROVE CELL WALL DIGESTIBILITY REDUCES pH FOR A MORE STABLE ENSILING PROCESS
• LATE FALL 2022 WWW.MILKPRODUCER.CA 44 AD INDEX NEXT ISSUE Innovation | Coming November 30 Agri Plastics 34 Agri-Trac .............................................................. 30 Boehringer Ingelheim, Bovikalc .............. 32 Boehringer Ingelheim, Lockout ............... 45 Boumatic 47 Calf Star ............................................................... 28 Canarm ................................................................ 43 CEVA ........................................................................6 DairyTrace ........................................................... 14 DFC ......................................................................... 17 Donkers Agri ..................................................... 23 EastGen 48 Elanco 29 GEA Alley Scraper ......................................... 36 GEA Dairy Robots .......................................... 20 Grober Nutrition ............................................... 31 JemBrook Welding 13 Jeni Mobile Wash ............................................. 13 Lactanet ................................................................. 2 Legend Rubber ................................................. 10 Mapleview Agri ................................................ 25 McFeeters Wood Shavings Inc. .............. 27 MNP ....................................................................... 21 Mueller Dairy Equipment 9 New Life Mills 23 Norwell ................................................................. 39 Ontario Veal Farmers ................................... 44 Patz ......................................................................... 16 Silo-King 42 Udder Comfort ....................................................8 Vic Daniels .......................................................... 41 We Cover Structures........................................ 7 Weber’s Farm Service .................................. 22 Workers Compensation .............................. 35 Zuidervaart Agri-Import Ltd. ..................... 41 Wednesday, November 30 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. EST Join us online or in-person at the Arden Park Hotel, Stratford, Ontario All-Canadian speaker line-up! Join us for Ontario’s premier calf event! Register on Eventbrite by scanning the QR code or visiting HCC2022.eventbrite.ca How to register: Organized and hosted by: Supported and sponsored by: Title sponsor: CalfCareCorner CalfCareCorner calfcare.ca OntarioVeal vealfarmers.ca

ONTARIO PRODUCERS FUND MORE THAN $2 MILLION IN RESEARCH PER YEAR, one of the highest contributions of any agricultural commodity group in Ontario.

A strong conviction to serve and advance the dairy industry means research has always been a priority for DFO.

“Research is the basis for remaining competitive and for meeting and changing consumer attitudes,” says this article from July 1987.

Though just $121,300 went toward research that year, the Board recognized then, as it does now, that “research is essential to the future well-being of milk producers and the dairy industry as a whole.”

• LATE FALL 2022 WWW.MILKPRODUCER.CA 46
BACK40: A LOOK BACK IN MILK PRODUCER MAGAZINE HISTORY

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