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Evaluation of the impact of a Herd Health and Production Management programme in organic dairy cattle farms: a process evaluation approach

Evaluation of the impact of a Herd Health and Production Management programme in organic dairy cattle farms: a process evaluation approach

involving: (1) setting objectives, (2) herd health monitoring activities, (3) implementation of practices and (4) evaluation of the outcome (Brand et al ., 2001). Improving the use of farm-speci fi c animal health planning processes has been identi fi ed as a promising way to improve animal health and welfare on organic dairy farms (Vaarst et al ., 2011). In theory, HHPM programmes allow to design farm-speci fi c and farmer-centred health programmes and promote the farmer – advisor dialogue. Duval et al . (2016b) described a participatory approach that allowed designing farm-speci fi c monitoring tools which farmers intended to use in a HHPM programme. However, so far no information was available on how these indicators were used in a HHPM programme setting. In general, relatively little published information describes HHPM programmes ’ actual use in fi eld conditions. Implementing a HHPM programme on farms can be regarded as a complex intervention. As defined by Craig et al . (2008), complex interventions contain several interacting components, involve different organizational levels, demand a number and certain complex behaviours by the persons receiving or delivering it, allow a certain adaptability of the intervention and fi nally can have a variation of results. HHPM programmes require a certain amount of fl exibility to be adapted to farm-speci fi c situations, and are in fl uenced by decision-making processes from both farmer and adviser. Many factors in fl uence the perceived pertinence of advice and ultimately farmers ’ decision-making processes whether or not to adopt advice. Preventive health behaviour will, for exam- ple, be in fl uenced by the perceived threat of disease and bene fi ts of taking action (Janz and Becker, 1984) or the per- ceived ability to implement practices (Garforth, 2011). Out- comes of HHPM programmes are depending on the heterogeneity of farms and advisors. Complex interventions may be challenging to evaluate and outcomes of evaluation studies can be dif fi cult to interpret and reproduce. It is thus important to evaluate not only the outcomes, but the
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Opinions and practices of veterinarians and dairy farmers
towards herd health management in the UK

Opinions and practices of veterinarians and dairy farmers towards herd health management in the UK

Where veterinarians perceive to have a range of topics recurring during their farm visits, adequately representing the holistic approach of herd health management, the farmers’ frequency of discussed top- ics was lower overall and some areas were only scarcely mentioned (Fig 3). This is supported by a similar trend observed in a Canadian study (Giger and others 1994) where veterinarians overestimated their involvement in areas such as nutrition and heifer rearing. It is possible that although veterinarians truly discuss the topics mentioned in Fig 3, the timing and method of communication may not be effective. For example, evidence from human medicine has shown that a com- bination of verbal and written information can improve the standard of care of patients discharged from hospital compared with verbal instructions alone (Johnson and others 2003).
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Herd health status and management practices on 16 Irish suckler beef farms

Herd health status and management practices on 16 Irish suckler beef farms

All farmers who tested purchased livestock for the presence of BVDV did so as a result of programme par- ticipation. This also occurred before the voluntary phase of the national eradication programme [33]. Considering the currently reported prevalence of BVD antigen- positive cattle in an Irish cattle population [34] then the testing for BVD antigen in purchased livestock on these farms was prudent. Farmers in the present study only tested purchases for BVD antigen, with no attempt being made to determine the status of purchases for diseases such as IBR, leptospirosis or Johne’s disease. Although there is significant interest at present (2013) among the Irish farming population in BVDV, due to the national eradication programme, greater attention also needs to be focused on testing purchased stock for other import- ant biosecure diseases. Given the previously reported seroprevalence in Irish herds for Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) [4], IBR [5] and leptospira interrogans [6], then a knowledge of the seller’s herd health history coupled with determining the serological status of purchased stock to these diseases should be considered.
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Disease Recording Systems and Herd Health Schemes for Production Diseases

Disease Recording Systems and Herd Health Schemes for Production Diseases

agricultural magazines. Information on the SPF scheme is given on affiliation. In Norway it gen- erally is the veterinary practitioner or advisory officers from the slaughterhouse who recom- mend affiliation to herd health schemes. The health status of Swedish herds with pro- duction of finishers is monitored by means of clinical observations and compilations of meat inspection findings. Besides observation of clinical indications of disease in SPF herds, serological tests are performed monthly in breeding and multiplying herds with regard to Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae (Ap) and Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae (Mh), and by means of nasal swab tests twice a year with a view to the toxin producing Pasteurella multo- cida. In production herds, serological tests for Ap and Mh are carried out once a year. As for PRRS, breeding and multiplying herds are re- quired to have serological examinations of ten samples each month, and production herds must take 20 samples once a year or an anti- body test with regard to PRRS in meat juice in 40 samples over a year. In Norway all diagnoses are used from the health cards, as well as dif- ferent data depending on herd category from “In-Gris” concerning production, reproduction and health, such as matings, farrowings, living and stillborn pigs, birth weights, weaning, weight at reception and slaughter, feed con- sumption, data from the quarterly meat inspec- tion reports, and environmental factors regis- tered during the herd visit.
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Welfare benchmarking and herd health plans on organic dairy farms (OF0343)

Welfare benchmarking and herd health plans on organic dairy farms (OF0343)

On the whole, the measures used for the assessment were considered to be relevant to herd health and welfare. Farmers were critical of the way in which scores were applied and questioned the relevance, at low/mild levels, of indicators assessed to animal health and welfare. This was particularly true of some scores for mild degrees of dirtiness, lameness and injuries from the environment where the assessment was considered to have been marked ‘severely’, ‘overly critically’ or ‘harshly’. Some were particularly distressed that their efforts to keep their animals clean had apparently failed and were at a loss as to what steps could be taken to improve the situation further. Whilst farmers acknowledged that lameness was a major herd health problem, their initial reactions were of shock and disbelief at the percentage of their cows that were classified as lame on the day of the assessment. Some were of the opinion that if detection of very mild lameness was so difficult, the measure at such a mild level was impractical and had no relevance to day to day management of herd health and welfare. Others considered that where detection and investigation of very mild cases of lameness was possible, it might have some value as a management tool in preventing more serious problems from developing. Injury to hocks, ranging in severity from slight rubbing of the hair to swelling and ulceration was a main focus of farmers’ attention. Although scores given were again at three levels of severity, interestingly there was greater acceptance of the significance of mild levels of incidence of hock injury. Furthermore, the links between hock damage, aspects of the housing environment and lameness were clearly recognised. It was suggested that the assessment should include all dairy animals, from calves, rearing and in calf heifers, dry and milking cows, to bulls. Respondents also considered that the addition of medicine use, fertility and calving indices and mastitis management to the assessment and benchmarking would add value to the process. 3. Raised awareness and motivation to improve
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Testing new dairy cattle for disease can boost herd health, cut costs

Testing new dairy cattle for disease can boost herd health, cut costs

The dairy industry in the United States has not widely adopted biosecu- rity practices, particularly those related to purchased cattle. In Wisconsin, less than 50% of producers with recently purchased cattle asked about the herd of origin’s disease status, and less than 20% did any testing of animals they purchased (Hoe and Ruegg 2006). In Idaho, 80% of herds undergoing expan- sion did not require health testing for new cattle, except for mastitis detection (Dalton et al. 2005a). In addition, only about 40% of producers purchasing bulls quarantined them on arrival and only about 25% required a breeding soundness examination (Dalton et al. 2005b). In the upper Midwest, nearly 60% of herds undergoing expansion obtained cattle with minimal health histories, and less than half required any health testing (Faust et al. 2001). Yet owners and managers involved in herd expansions indicated that herd health
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Variation of serum selenium concentrations in German sheep flocks and implications for herd health management consultancy

Variation of serum selenium concentrations in German sheep flocks and implications for herd health management consultancy

The widespread presence of subclinical Se deficiency in German sheep flocks was quantified by the presented data. The marked high intra-flock variation of serum Se concen- tration underlines the need for individual sample analysis, whereas pools cover relevant diagnostic information. More than one third of the flocks showed distinct Se deficiency, indicating the strong need to optimise the nutritional man- agement. The farmers’ statements declaring regular admin- istering of oral mineral supplements do not guarantee adequate Se status. The incidence of Se deficiency tends to be higher in Southern Germany. Influencing factors raising suspicion of Se deficiency are large flocks, shepherding/ transhumance and outdoor seasons. Moreover, careless use of surface water in stationary fenced flocks may indicate low general care intensity including efforts administering mineral supplements. The Se status should be an issue of concern in herd health management consultancy and defi- ciencies should be eliminated to improve herd health and performance.
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Communication in production animal medicine: modelling a complex interaction with the example of dairy herd health medicine

Communication in production animal medicine: modelling a complex interaction with the example of dairy herd health medicine

The veterinarian engaged in veterinary advisory practice does not only need to have acquired certain professional skills like correct interpretation of production data, feed ration calculations and assessment of herd health status, but is also involved in a different kind of communication process with his client. First, the interpersonal communi- cation between veterinarian and farmer involves personal relationship, discussion of emerging problems related to the herd and long-term strategies to improve herd health and performance. Secondly, other methods apart from conversation may be used to broaden the client’s knowl- edge and provide farmers’ education in areas concerning the herd health. Jansen and others [30] describe what influence farmers’ perception of what is “normal” has on somatic cell count (SCC) in dairy herds. By this phenom- enon of “ anchoring ” a farmer may perceive a critical situa- tion with, e.g. high SCC, as being normal, as he is biased by long-term experience [19]. A number of instruments such as brochures and written standard operating proce- dures, tailored to the needs and conditions as found on the individual farm, have been described in order to change this perception and shift the framework of what is perceived as being normal [19,25,29,31]. The use of other media for farmer education, such as internet-based educa- tion, study groups or workshops has been described by Chase and others [28].
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The marketing of herd health and production management services on Dutch dairy farms: perceptions of dairy farmers and their veterinary surgeons

The marketing of herd health and production management services on Dutch dairy farms: perceptions of dairy farmers and their veterinary surgeons

From the year 2000 onwards, a mandatory system will apply to farmers in The Netherlands. The “Quality Chain Milk” system specifies how milk should be produced and harvested (Brouwer and Franse, 1997). Non-participating farmers receive a milk price seven times lower. This system requires veterinarians to work according to principles of the Good Veterinary Practice Code. This requirement provides the veterinary surgeon with the opportunity to support farmers in optimising milk production (Rougoor, 1999), preventing diseases, decreasing costs and supporting fundamental decisions about herd health, welfare, quality and farm management in general. The veterinarians and the farmers potentially have the same goal, i.e., to produce a top quality product. This requires more veterinary input and means analysing problems and preventing disorders, with a good follow up. One of the main problems is that most farmers only contact their veterinarian for their skills or advice on problems (Lievaart et al., 1999; Lievaart and Noordhuizen, 1999). Whilst there has been initial interest in structured veterinary services, HHPM service participation is still limited. To obtain a better understanding of the demand for HHPM on dairy farms, the Veterinary Faculty of Utrecht surveyed both veterinary surgeons and farmers. The main goals of the study were to indicate problems that veterinary surgeons came across whilst introducing this service, and to make an inventory of the reasons why farmers did not want to use this service. It was also considered worthwhile to elucidate the attributes that the farmers using the programme viewed positively. Such market information will be useful in optimising the service and predicting its future role.
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Imbedding HACCP principles in dairy herd health and production management: case report on calf rearing

Imbedding HACCP principles in dairy herd health and production management: case report on calf rearing

During daily work, or in the framework of herd health (HH) and production management programmes (PM) both farmers and veterinarians are dealing with risk assessment. In order to optimise on-farm processes, they attempt to control on-farm processes (Brand et al., 1996). The HACCP concept appears to be very promising for application on farms because it is farm-specific, relatively low in labour and record-keeping demands, focused on risk management and prevention, easy to link to both operational management and food chain quality assurance and suitable for certification (Noordhuizen, 2004; Noordhuizen and Metz, 2005). In fact, introduction of HACCP on dairy farms means nothing more than “structuring and formalising what the truly good farmer would be doing anyway” (Ryan et al., 1997). The rearing of young stock is one of the main processes on farms; it represents a large cost within dairy farming, however often too little attention is paid to this process (Roy et al, 1984; Brand et al., 1996; Quigley III et al., 1996; Mourits et al., 1997; Garnsworthy et al., 2005). This inevitably leads
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A mixed methods inquiry: How dairy farmers perceive the value(s) of their involvement in an intensive dairy herd health management program

A mixed methods inquiry: How dairy farmers perceive the value(s) of their involvement in an intensive dairy herd health management program

More than two decades have passed since Bigras-Poulin and co-authors [1] in a classical paper demonstrated that the farmer's socio-psychological characteristics are more important to farm performance than the herd level varia- bles describing production, health and fertility. The per- spective brought forth by Bigras-Poulin et al. finds support in other scientific fields like management, rural sociology and economic psychology. These disciplines acknowledge that people take actions for a variety of reasons like rela- tive income standing [2], risk aversion [3], a feeling of uncertainty [4], employee satisfaction [5] and subjective well-being [6]. Nonetheless, research has remained scarce in veterinary science when it comes to the motivational and behavioral side of farmers' perspectives and overall decision utility in relation to disease and health [7], per- haps because it is complex, context-related, and contains elements that cannot be addressed with the research methodologies usually applied in veterinary science? Studying farmers' expectations and subsequent valuation when participating in a herd health management (HHM) programs requires an interdisciplinary approach [8-11]. This is needed to understand the variables, relationships, dynamics and objectives forming the dairy farm context, e.g. time-dependent variables related to cows and herd(s) as well as variables dealing with the farmer's goals and attitudes.
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Hock lesions in dairy cows in freestall herds: a cross-sectional study of prevalence and risk factors

Hock lesions in dairy cows in freestall herds: a cross-sectional study of prevalence and risk factors

The evaluation of risk factors for severe HL included 1035 cows from 98 herds in the univariable analyses. Cows with mild lesions were excluded, including one herd with a prevalence of 100% mild HL. Of 81 analyzed variables, 22 had a P ≤ 0.20 and were kept for further analyses in one of the four multivariable sub-models (6 in the sub-model for cow-related, 6 in the herd and hous- ing-related, 3 in the management-related, and 5 in the herd health-related factors sub-model; Additional files 1 and 2). Two risk factors were excluded (stocking ratio and farmer-reported presence of digital dermatitis in the herd) because of too many missing values. All variables significantly associated (P ≤ 0.05) with severe HL in the sub-models are presented in Table  4. These were then entered as main effects into the final model that initially contained 10 independent variables of which 6 remained significant. Variables with P ≤ 0.20 in the univariable analyses were re-tested and kept in the final model if they had P ≤ 0.05. Breed, cow hygiene, and use of teat disin- fectant or other spray/dip applied after milking were variables that became significant at re-testing. Regis- tered hoof disorder within 90  days was not significant (P = 0.057) and therefore removed from the final model. The random effect of cows within herd was not signifi- cant (P = 0.12), hence, a multivariable logistic regression model was used for the analysis instead of the mixed- effect model, this had a small effect (< 5% change) on the coefficients of the included variables.
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Farm characteristics and management routines related to cow longevity: a survey among Swedish dairy farmers

Farm characteristics and management routines related to cow longevity: a survey among Swedish dairy farmers

Results: The response rate was 35%. Seventeen of the 62 characteristics investigated had either a univariable associa- tion with the outcome (days from birth to culling) at P < 0.15, or were identified as confounders in the causal diagram and were therefore considered as candidates for the multivariable analysis. Multiple imputation was used to fill in the missing data from the questionnaires, and this increased the number of usable observations in the multivariable mod- eling from 156 to 228. Only a few of the investigated herd characteristics and management routines were associated with average cow longevity. The results demonstrated that using herd health advisory services shortened the average longevity, while using breeding advisory services prolonged the average longevity in the herd. Furthermore, having a greater interest in animal breeding (i.e. genetic selection) decreased the longevity, and calling the veterinarian when discovering an unhealthy cow increased the average longevity. Higher age of the farmer was also associated with longer average herd longevity.
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Veterinary decision making in relation to metritis - a qualitative approach to understand the background for variation and bias in veterinary medical records

Veterinary decision making in relation to metritis - a qualitative approach to understand the background for variation and bias in veterinary medical records

case definitions in field data and the use of different opin- ions on when to treat, also in cases where different observ- ers might agree on the metritis score they use (case 1 versus case 2 - fixed versus varying criteria for treatment). Further, we have identified interaction and feedback mechanisms between diagnostic observations (scores) and decisions (criteria to treat) which implicate that errors are not independent. Some veterinarians regard the two records as totally correlated, others regard them as entirely independent, and still others regard them as correlated, but adjust the score to suit a decision taken (justification). This study indicates that some veterinarians working within the herd health programme are primarily focused on case-related problems (at the level of the individual cow), hence lack focus on potential subsequent use and validity of their clinical records in a broader perspective. On basis of this, we suggest that the importance of the epi- demiological aspects on data quality of field data should be articulated and emphasised in the education of veteri- narians, both at student and post-graduate level.
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The influence of farm and herd factors on the health status of organic dairy cattle under low concentrate feeding considering an assessment tool for siterelated breeding

The influence of farm and herd factors on the health status of organic dairy cattle under low concentrate feeding considering an assessment tool for siterelated breeding

The objectives of this study were to examine influences of farm and herd factors on the health status of Swiss organic dairy cattle and to evaluate if an existing estimation tool is suitable to express im- pacts of not-site-related breeding on herd health and reproduction indicators in 72 organic dairy farms with low concentrate feeding. Farm and herd factors were body condition scores, milk re- cording data, and farm management characteristics. Data from an existing estimation tool to de- scribe farm and cow ‘types’ and the site-relatedness of breeding was also included. Health status was assesses by herd means of calving interval, fat-to-protein ratio, somatic cell score, veterinary treatments, culling rate, and number of lactation. A relation between the site-relatedness of cow type and calving interval was found. Further factors influencing the herd health status were mainly related to feeding. Also cow type factors had an effect, which is why strategies for improving ani- mal health should include both feeding and breeding practices and consider sight-relatedness of breeding.
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Reproductive management in dairy cows - the future

Reproductive management in dairy cows - the future

Background: Drivers of change in dairy herd health management include the significant increase in herd/farm size, quota removal (within Europe) and the increase in technologies to aid in dairy cow reproductive management. Main body: There are a number of key areas for improving fertility management these include: i) handling of substantial volumes of data, ii) genetic selection (including improved phenotypes for use in breeding programmes), iii) nutritional management (including transition cow management), iv) control of infectious disease, v) reproductive management (and automated systems to improve reproductive management), vi) ovulation / oestrous synchronisation, vii) rapid diagnostics of reproductive status, and viii) management of male fertility. This review covers the current status and future outlook of many of these key factors that contribute to dairy cow herd health and reproductive performance. Conclusions: In addition to improvements in genetic trends for fertility, numerous other future developments are likely in the near future. These include: i) development of new and novel fertility phenotypes that may be measurable in milk; ii) specific fertility genomic markers; iii) earlier and rapid pregnancy detection; iv) increased use of activity monitors; v) improved breeding protocols; vi) automated inline sensors for relevant phenotypes that become more affordable for farmers; and vii) capturing and mining multiple sources of “ Big Data ” available to dairy farmers. These should facilitate improved performance, health and fertility of dairy cows in the future.
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Farm economic thinking and the genetic improvement of fertility in northern beef herds

Farm economic thinking and the genetic improvement of fertility in northern beef herds

The property and herd characteristics for the hypothetical property in the Fitzroy NRM region were informed by recent industry surveys and research relevant to the region (McGowan et al. 2014; Bowen et al. 2015; Barbi et al. 2016). The property was located centrally in the Fitzroy NRM region and considered to be a total area of 8,700 ha and to consist of a mixture of native and sown grass pastures, giving an assumed carrying capacity of 1,500 AE. The beef production system was a self-replacing B. indicus crossbred breeding and growing activity that relied on the production of weaners by the breeding herd. The breeding herd was considered to graze on less productive, non-arable land types (predominantly a mixture of open Eucalypt woodlands and better quality land types; Whish 2011). The steers and heifers were assumed to graze more productive and arable Brigalow land types (Whish 2011) supporting sown, buffel grass pastures. All livestock classes were considered to have sufficient access to land types with Adequate P status (defined here as >8 mg/kg bicarbonate extracted P (Colwell 1963) in the top 100 mm soil) and hence to require no P supplementation. The heifers were assumed to be mated whilst grazing buffel grass pastures and then to calve on breeder country. Feed-on (feedlot entry weight) steers were sold through the sale yards while surplus heifers and cull cows went to the abattoirs. The price basis for each class of livestock was derived from Roma store sale data and JBS Australia Dinmore abattoir (Ipswich, Qld) respectively, between July 2008 and November 2015, which were taken to be representative of expected prices expressed in current (real) terms. Freight costs for steers were calculated as described in Bowen et al. (2015). A detailed description of the herd structures and dynamics, and cattle management activities, treatments and cost assumptions required as inputs for the analysis are given in Bowen and Chudleigh (2018). The starting level of reproduction efficiency for this herd was a 77% weaning rate calculated as the ratio of weaners produced to cows mated. This level of efficiency is close to the median value given for the ‘contributed a weaner’ parameter as reported for the region by (McGowan et al. 2014).
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A survey of management practices on Irish dairy farms with emphasis on risk factors for Johne’s disease transmission

A survey of management practices on Irish dairy farms with emphasis on risk factors for Johne’s disease transmission

Investigations into herd demographics [36] and risk factors associated with introduction and transmission of JD and testing JD positive on Irish dairy farms have pre- viously been conducted [37,38]. The risk factors iden- tified in these studies included larger herd size [38], importation of cattle from abroad [36,38], and not using individual calving pens [37]. These findings are in agree- ment with the international studies described previously. Although risk factors for testing positive for MAP have been identified in Ireland, a national survey document- ing the prevalence of application of JD risk-associated management practices at farm level has not previously been reported. Such a study may highlight underlying reasons for Ireland’s relatively low prevalence of JD test positive individuals and herds. The aim of the current study, therefore, was to document utilisation of manage- ment factors associated with JD transmission on Irish dairy farms, based on both national and international risk data, using a geographically representative group of Irish dairy farms. This will provide a baseline for JD risk in Ireland, which can subsequently be used to allow tar- geting of specific management practices that require im- provement as part of control programmes. Key influences on the application of JD-associated management factors were also investigated.
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Paratuberculosis sero-status and milk production, SCC and calving interval in Irish dairy herds

Paratuberculosis sero-status and milk production, SCC and calving interval in Irish dairy herds

The effects of paratuberculosis infection on milk yield are very inconsistent, varying between increased yield in infected cows (Johnson et al. 2001), no significant effect (McNab et al. 1991) and up to a 24% reduction in yield (Barrett et al. 2006). Effects of paratuberculosis on milk solids are also inconsistent, varying between increased solids production in infected cows (Johnson et al. 2001), no significant effect (Tiwari et al. 2007) and up to a 21% reduction in solids production (Benedictus et al. 1987). In contrast to milk production, there are only a limited number of published studies on the effects of paratuberculosis on mastitis or SCC. While the majority of studies show no significant effect (Hendrick et al. 2005; Lombard et al. 2005; Gonda et al. 2007), Wilson et al. (1993) found a reduction in mastitis in subclinically infected cows and four studies showed an increase in either mastitis (Merkal et al. 1975; Buergelt and Duncan 1978) or in SCC (McNab et al. 1991; VanLeeuwen et al. 2006). The impact of paratuberculosis infection on herd fertility is similarly variable with Gonda et al. (2007) and Lombard et al. (2005) finding better fertility in infected cows; Chaffer et al. (2002) and McNab et al. (1991) finding no significant effect; and, Marce et al. (2007) and Johnson-Ifearulundu et al. (2000) finding significantly reduced fertility in infected cows. These responses vary primarily with the stage of infection, the stage of lactation, parity and the diagnostic criteria for paratuberculosis case definition (Lombard et al. 2005; Gonda et al. 2007; Raizman et al. 2007). In general, impacts on production and reproduction are much lower in subclinically infected animals (test-positive only) than in clinically affected animals.
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Characteristics of the dairy goat primary sector at the Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil

Characteristics of the dairy goat primary sector at the Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil

The Brazilian and, by extension, the Fluminense societies passed through great modifications during the 171 years since the first registry about dairy goat presence as a farm animal, as we could depict from Pinheiro Jr. (1985). Cabral et al. (2008) pointed out that the average size of the rural properties of the State became shorter throughout the 20 th century. They speculated that such contingency could have favoured the development of dairy goat raising into the State, because goats do not demand large investments in herd, building, land, amount of food resources, and allow the employment of all rural family labour force. Another important event mentioned was the consolidation of a stable goat milk commercialization channel to a dairy industry settled at the State that process collected milk by ultra-high temperature, providing a regular long-life milk offer to markets of all Brazilian major cities. In this sense, the characterization of the primary sector of goat milk industry becomes essential to evaluate the present situation of this sector within its productive chain; the information generated could help the establishment of public and private policies aiming to achieve efficiency and positive accounts for dairy goat production systems. Results could help understand how such systems operates, its fitness to the household model, and what are their bottlenecks and problems that, in the long run, could give rise to critical research that will improve sustainability.
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