Preventive veterinary health, reduction of antimicrobial use, optimization of production, .... all very great themes and focuses!
I have written a few articles on these lately, published in online forums and journals.
Click on these in case you want to read more:
Prevention of sub-clinical and clinical mastitis
Antimicrobial reduction in animal production
Future performance starts with good calf care
A strong immunity is a key to health and productivity!
This year I have been working on a white paper for MSD Animal Health called 'Time to Vaccinate'. It is a paper that covers a lot more than simply vaccinating. This is about optimizing health and immunity in ruminant animals and using vaccines correctly and strategically to provide optimal immunity against pathogens that may endanger health and productivity of our dairy cattle and sheep.
This coming Oct 13, I will be presenting at a free webinar regarding the challenges of antimicrobial resistance and the steps that are currently undertaken to minimize antimicrobial use.
The antimicrobial resistance threat is real, increasing and deadly.
But, we do not have to stand still watching the enemy attack, we can build up our defense strategies and fight to preserve our valuable life-saving antimicrobial substances for both animal and human use. We all have our parts to play in this battle.
The key to teaching preventive health is to make people realize the true impact of the small things done right today. A person is only motivated to make changes in every day life and invest in health, if the future consequences are deemed important enough. This goes for everything from a human starting to eat healthy, exercise and sleep well to taking care of our animals for future productivity.
Read this article in Progressive Dairyman regarding how to raise your heifers right for future optimal performance.
My dearest little Leo. It has now been over 2 weeks since you left me. I will never know if you were hit by a car, had a heart attack, or other. But I do know that my heart was torn apart. I still cry every day when I think about you. I just found myself in the kitchen... 'crying out your name... Leo Leo Leo'.. thinking that maybe this was all a bad dream, that you would come running and lok at me with those blue eyes again and say your little high pitched miaow.
Did you and I know this separation was coming? Our love was so beautiful, so intense, so deep this last year. It was like I was asking myself if something was going to happen.. we were soaking up every minute. Like in the staircase. Sara would run up the stairs to be fed in your cat room, but you would stop in the staircase on every step, right in front of my feet. So that I could not go any further and had to stop and pet you. It would take us about 10 to 15 minutes to get up the stairs.... our time.
So, now I look at you in the photos. I stroke your face and I cry. I cry out your name, like if you are outside playing, and then I cry. I pass your grave in the flower garden, where I have put photos of you and flowers, and I cry. Dear Leo. Love really hurts!
I am reposting here a commentary that I made in relation to food safety and local raw milk consumption at the Egg-cite.com
As reports have become available EGG-CITE has posted items relating to infections associated with consumption of raw milk. The retro-movement favoring raw milk parallels backyard egg production since both sources of food are devoid of safety measures required to prevent foodborne infection. Dr Catharina Berge a friend and colleague who is a highly qualified veterinarian with advanced degrees from the U.S. and her native Europe, and an accomplished athlete took exception to my comments. Accordingly she is afforded the opportunity to respond and defend her position which is reproduced in the rebuttal below
I know indeed that the mainstream public health community has a nearly paranoid fear of unpasteurized milk. No wonder this attitude prevails considering CDC’s position, and the frequent posting on ProMED and elsewhere for every pathogen found in raw milk, whereas most other foodborne disease outbreaks rarely reach the same publicity and reactions. The one-day recall of Organic Pastures milk was not due to any illness, simply a positive PCR sample of bulk milk that resulted in rapid identification of source with one cow with sub-clinical campylobacter mastitis got culled. Organic Pastures, approved by California State to produce raw milk, must stay within the same bacteriological limits as applies to pasteurized milk, namely less than 10 coliforms per ml milk and standard plate counts less than 1,500 cells per ml milk. OPDC is consistently below this limit and has a test and hold system, so that no milk leaves premises and is sold before results of production is tested and within limits.
Source attribution in outbreak data does not constitute a full risk characterization. Only a very small fraction of food-borne disease can be traced back to the source, and it is much easier to trace back a niche commodity than a commodity that everybody consumes. Thereby we get a false impression that certain products such as raw milk is causing so much more disease than maybe chickens, eggs or ground meat. Quantitative microbial risk assessments should be used to assess risk with raw milk or pastured eggs, and those risks should be compared to other raw produce, such as lettuce, strawberries, peanuts etc, that consumers prefer to consume raw, or products that are handled raw such as chicken and ground beef.
I believe that we need to differentiate measures applied to the conventional production to the small scale niche production. When 4% of the population are producing food for 96% of the population, naturally we are forced to concentrate and industrialize production. We need to assure the safety of this large-scale production in terms of dangerous microbial hazards, since the impact is so great. There are so many consumers of one broiler flock or one layer hen facility. We have come far, and the Salmonella control programs and other food safety programs are necessary.
However, the niche small commodity organic or small farm production is not a threat to public health in general or the conventional production. In a country of freedom of choice, people should be able to choose their risks. People can choose to smoke, drink alcohol, eat potato chips and candy, even though the risks associated with these habits are high. Some people are on the other hands making food choices that appeal to their ethical or health thinking. They are willing to pay 1 dollar per free-range egg (as I saw on the farmers market in New York this spring). This is a very small percent of the population. If we get a few Salmonella cases in this small population, it is not going to have a huge public health impact and they are mostly aware of the risks. These consumers are choosing those risks, because they feel that those products provide some other benefits in terms of taste, source or even health. Let them. I know some of these consumers are a bit paranoid and unscientific in their thinking, but so are people that feed their kids donuts for breakfast or let their kids drink coke.
Within the raw milk sector, there has now been a non-profit organization set up by the stake-holders to produce very safe high quality fresh milk (www.rawmilkinstitute.org). The standards set by this organization are much higher than what authorities are asking and involves requirements for farm-specific risk analysis and management plans and transparency. I believe that the small sector is able to regulate itself. Consumer pressure, internet media communication and increased transparency not only puts pressure on conventional production but also on the local small-scale farm production. I hope that the public health authorities will focus more of their efforts on reversing the trends of obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic disease and other ‘welfare’ diseases, rather than to go on witch hunts for ‘organic or small farm-source’ production that is such a niche sector. Information such as an egg for breakfast is important to prevent obesity and optimize performance in school needs more attention, than the fact that backyard flocks have not been Salmonella tested.
I am passionate about calves... Yes.. I mean those small bovine creatures that are stored in small pens somewhere on the dairy.. on the backside. Forgotten, underfed, freezing, struggling..
Unfortunately calves are treated like a byproduct of milk production, rather than the future of the dairy.
In all countries, the same challenges are facing the calves, insufficient colostrum, insufficient and sub-optimal milk feed and sub-optimal quality grain. Since most farmers do not evaluate performance of the heifers, it is generally not known if the calves are managed right for optimal growth and productivity. The first 2 months of life has a huge influence on the performance of the cow.
I am happy to note that the calf is getting increasing focus, and from North America to Russia, from Turkey to Estland, I preach the message 'Healthy Heifers for future productivity'.
I am very happy to announce that I am now going to work with Saskatoon Colostrum Company Ltd (SCCL), a Company that always have had the calf as primary focus, and delivers high performance colostrum Products to ensure that every calf can get an optimal start to her Life
Sitting in a rainy and quiet warm Helsingborg, with my parents and Marc, Leo and Sara, and writing my Christmas letter. Another year has passed, a year characterized by milk, family and friends.
Lots of friends and family came to be with me in our little home in Vollezele. I feel so blessed to be able to show those that I love and care about, a bit of my little paradise on earth.
My small new hatchery was used frequently this year, perfectly timed so that when my nieces and nephews came, they all could witness the miracle of a small bird pecking its way into the outside world.
January this year, I started fetching raw milk from my neighbour dairy, hoping to cure difficult hand eczema. The result was that I started making yougurt, kwark, feta cheese, ricotta and cheese. This has turned into a new hobby and passion.
My neighbours, Rick and Lut, who have three dairy goats, needed a second milker. This summer I started practicing twice daily, and now I can without problem perform the daily hand milking of Wiske and Heidi. I get goat milk too and the fresh goat milk has become one of my favorites.
The early summer travel vacations were unfortunately canceled due to that I was giving workshops on pig gut health. Furthermore the removal of our oil kettle and replacing it with a hot air exchanger was delayed, and our plans to go biking in the French Alps had to be cancelled. To my great pleasure Marc said ‘I have been home all summer, and I have not been bored’. And, he was certainly not idle either as house and garden work kept him busy from morning until night. Our vegetable garden produced a nice crop and our fruit and berry trees likewise. I have spent lots of hours making jam, preserving and canning and I believe that our cellar has enough for a whole year or maybe more.
As indicated, my consulting work sometimes interferes with my life. However, I do love my job. I have been travelling a lot this year for presentations, workshops and herd visits. My travels have brought me to the UK to work with pig producers to reduce antimicrobial use and improve herd health and Russia to teach farmers to raise their heifers to become top performing cows. I have been to Slovakia, Germany, Austria, Turkey and USA too. Lots of work from home too; analyzing clinical trials and field studies, and writing publications. I always plan to work, and then as night comes… the lazy ones gets to hurry (old saying by my grandma). So, after dinner, I sit down in front of the computer, only to quickly realize that my brain office has closed down for the night. So, I conclude, that the computer work will have to be postponed another day.
Marc and I continue to love biking. We had plans to ride an ultra race in Sweden, but our plans were cancelled, but we had fun training for it. When Jeanine came from California we combined cycling in the Ardennen with visiting war memorials, because her uncle David had died there in the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944. Jeanine was giving heroic appreciation as an American by the locals.
In November I had a great time in Pennsylvania where I combined a dairy nutrition workshop, a raw milk workshop and a visit with Anne Noone.
Cat, Marc, Leo, Sara and 31 chickens.
I am a veterinarian, animal and nature lover and a cyclist and hiker. I love what I do, and do what I love.