Water Troughs

A major study led by Cornell researchers reveals for the first time that water troughs on farms are a conduit for the spread of toxic E. coli in cattle, which can then spread the pathogen to people through bacteria in feces. The study was published Feb. 7 in the journal PLOS ONE.
“Water troughs appeared in our mathematical model as a place where water can get contaminated and a potential place where we could break the cycle,” said Renata Ivanek, associate professor of epidemiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the paper’s senior author. The hypothesis was then tested in the field – with surprising results.
People commonly acquire infections from shiga toxin-producing E. coli through cow feces-contaminated beef and salad greens. The main shiga toxin-producing strain, E. coli 0157:H7, causes more than 63,000 illnesses per year and about 20 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Though cows carry and spread E. coli 0157:H7 when they defecate, the bacteria do not make them sick.
“Farmers do not see a problem because there are no clinical signs in cows; it is totally invisible,” Ivanek said.
A vaccine to reduce bacterial shedding in cows exists, but the beef industry has little incentive to use it, partly due to cost, and the industry does not benefit from labeling beef as “E. coli safe,” Ivanek said. So Ivanek and a research team of 20 co-authors conducted a study to identify other ways to reduce the bacteria’s prevalence in cattle, which can vary over the year from zero to 100 percent of cows in a feedlot carrying the bacteria, with rates generally rising in the summer.
The researchers ran mathematical modeling studies to see if they could pinpoint areas in the farm where infections might spread between cattle. They found that water in a trough, especially in summer months, could heat and promote pathogen replication, causing more cows to acquire the bacteria when they drink. The researchers hypothesized that frequently changing the water in the summer could keep the water colder, limiting bacterial growth.
On most farms, water troughs automatically refill when they get low enough, and farmers can adjust the water levels so they refill more often. This tact saves water and keeps it fresher while ensuring cows still have enough to drink.
The group ran control trials in a feedlot over two summers. This involved reducing the water volume in troughs in randomly selected treatment pens and leaving the volume unchanged in control pens. They expected that reducing the water levels in troughs would prevent the spread of E. coli. Instead they found that it increased spread; in the treatment pens, the odds of finding shiga toxin-producing E. coli in cows was about 30 percent higher than in the control pens.
“Our modeling studies did pick up the right parts of the system,” Ivanek said, “but the mechanism that we postulated is the opposite from what we thought.”
More study is needed to determine why more water in troughs reduced E. coli in cows, but Ivanek questions whether the lower volume made it easier for cows to swallow debris at the bottom of tanks, or whether a fuller tank reduced E. coli concentrations.
The study will trigger more research on environmental sources of E. coli spread in cattle, Ivanek said.
Next steps include repeating the results in other feedlots, evaluating the effectiveness and cost benefit of using more water to reduce E. coli, investigating how seasons and temperatures play a role in prevalence of E. coli, and understanding the actual mechanisms that led to the results.
Wendy Beauvais, a postdoctoral researcher in Ivanek’s lab, is the paper’s first author. Co-authors included researchers from Texas A&M University, West Texas A&M University and Texas Tech University.
The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Institutes of Health and the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation.

What is Sub Clinical Mastitis?

Mastitis is the most predominant and costly disease that affects dairy cows. Dairy Farmers have been struggling to corner the disease for years, but it continues to be the single major issue for the dairy industry. The ability to spot mastitis early and do something about it can have a significant impact on milk production, milk quality and herd health.

When microorganisms raid a dairy cow’s udder this activates an immune response that results in mastitis, an inflammation of the cow’s mammary gland. Mastitis-causing pathogens can be contagious, spreading from cow to cow, or environmental, coming from dirty or wet conditions in the cow’s living area.

Clinical mastitis infections are those with symptoms like udder swelling or redness that are visible to the naked eye. On the other hand, subclinical mastitis infections don’t cause any visible changes in milk or udder appearance, making it difficult to detect.

Subclinical mastitis infections affect the dairy producer’s bottom line by reducing milk production, decreasing milk quality, and suppressing reproductive performance. Cows with a high Somatic Cell Count (SCC) indicative of subclinical mastitis on the first milk test have an estimated loss in milk production of more than 1,500 pounds per cow, Subclinical mastitis also risks milk quality, preventing dairy producers from getting those valued SCC premiums.

So what’s the big deal about a couple cases of subclinical mastitis? After all, you can’t see any change in the milk and the cows don’t appear to be sick or uncomfortable. Sure, your bulk tank somatic cell count may be higher than you prefer, but there’s not much you can do about that. Besides, when it comes to mastitis, you focus on what’s important — the clinical cases.

This approach couldn’t be more wrong. On average, mastitis will cost you about £200 per cow this year. And for every one clinical case, there are 15 to 40 subclinical cases lurking in your herd. (Subclinical mastitis is defined by cows with a somatic cell count of more than 200,000, but no visual signs of mastitis.) According to researchers, these subclinical cases may account for 70 percent of total milk loss due to mastitis.

Ultimately, to address subclinical mastitis, you must go back to individual cows and find those that need attention or require action.

Farmers generally ignore high cell count cows “If BTSCC (bulk-tank somatic cell count) is pretty good, I’m probably going to ignore a cow with subclinical mastitis unless something breaks
A prime example of when you could ignore a chronic subclinical cow is if her SCC fluctuates between 200,000 and 500,000 from month to month, but she doesn’t break with clinical mastitis.

Set targets with your team
Chronic sub-clinically infected cows should comprise no more than 5 percent of your herd
To help ensure success you should set up a team or at least allow one person to address subclinical mastitis on your farm. You’ll be surprised how much this will help improve milk quality and cow health.
Do not ignore Sub Clinical Mastitis!

Performance management on large dairy units

Some Dairy Farms are now moving into the realm of big business, they have several employees and if people are the greatest creators of value in business, then good performance management are critical for success. Employees must understand what’s expected of them, and to achieve those goals they need to be managed so that they’re motivated, have the necessary skills, resources and support, and are accountable.

Good performance revolves around regular, effective feedback on progress towards objectives. It’s multifaceted, not a technique in itself, and there’s no single best approach. It should align with a business strategy and suit the type of jobs in question.

Daily Routines of Successful business (The Health and Mindfulness Rituals of Success)

Most businesses preach that the key to success is holding employees accountable for their actions; to be successful is all about holding yourself  accountable. You skip the blame and complain game, and make things happen despite major obstacles.

Generosity, Respect, Integrity, and Truth, with accountability being a major component of integrity.

No accountability, person totally unaware of failures. These are employees, managers, who don’t have a clue about what is required or the devastation they leave behind. Usually these people think they are doing a great job, and are totally oblivious. “why am I cleaning the beds Four times a day ?” they know the beds are being cleaned but don’t know why , simple but true .

Use blame and complain in lieu of accepting accountability. Some business people always play the victim, finding someone or some natural force as the cause for all their failures. An example of this would be finger pointing.

People deliver excuses rather than results. It’s easy for an employee to convince themselves that they would have been successful if they had more time, received more help, or had the proper training to do the job. Usually the real culprit is no action, lack of focus,

The next step is to accept ownership and responsibility.

Apply known solutions to predictable tasks and challenges.

Before you start assessing accountability in others, it usually pays to take a hard look at yourself in the mirror.

Effective performance should be frank, yet supportive , conversations that include ongoing feedback.

An example of poor management is not listening to employees when issues arise , the herd cell count has risen dramatically , this is a team effort on a large dairy unit , not the fault of one individual .