Management strategies at herd and cow levels for improved efficiency, environmental sustainability, health and welfare for cows of the future

Leaders: Søren Østergaard (Aahrus University), Mark Crowe (University College Dublin) and Geert Opsomer (Universiteit Gent)

Having identified the key phenotypes and phenotype predictors in WP2, a HACCP analysis will be proposed at the herd level and a more dynamic EVOP for potential management (intensive systems) of “risk cows” using the system detailed below. Critical control points will be identified so that clear recommendations can be made on how to manage cows for optimum production in relation to specific management requirements.

Task 6.1. Assure a sufficient data inflow
Using the GPlusE database, a web-based platform will be created to allow a significant data inflow from a diverse range of dairy herds from all partner countries. Data will come in via different software programmes and will also be provided by different partners as part of WP2, WP3 and WP4. Input data will be carefully controlled, converted and subsequently collated. Analyses will then be carried out to calculate uniform Key Performance Indicators (KPI) in relation to physiological status, health, reproduction, production efficiency and environmental impact.

Task 6.2. Develop systems for dairy management at herd and cow level
The large dataset obtained under Task 6.1 and the GWAS study in WP4 will allow us to compare contrasting systems regarding health, reproduction, production and environment. Based on this, we aim to develop a HACCP system to continuously monitor and optimize the management at herd level in relation to physiological status and subsequently health, reproduction and production and a more dynamic EVOP system for cow level management based on surveillance of biomarkers in milk and performance – a system that can potentially be automated.

The HACCP concept is based on seven principles i) Identify the most relevant hazards and risks, assess their likelihood of occurrence and impact, and identify preventive measures for control. ii) Determine the critical control points (CCPs) and points of particular attention (POPA). iii) Establish dynamic critical limit(s) allowing identification of when a CCP is out of control. iv) Establish a system to monitor proper control of the CCPs and POPAs by scheduled testing and/or observing. v) Establish corrective action to be taken when monitoring indicates that a particular CCP is not under control. vi) Economic modelling (Task 6.3) vii) Implementation and validation (Task 6.4).

Also based on the biomarkers, we will develop an EVOP system that dynamically optimizes the feed ration of the individual cow. The basic principle is to introduce small changes in production factors and procedures based on the milk biomarkers and thereby identify the production factors and procedures that secure efficiency and at the same time minimize problems. CCPs provide the potential to automatically optimize individual cow feeding in a more robust way as the impact on cow health can be integrated. This is a significant further development of the dynamic feeding system.

Task 6.3. Economic modelling of key management decisions
The implementation of the newly developed HACCP and EVOP will only make sense and will only be sustainable if they prove to be economically sound. Economic herd simulation modelling will be applied to simulate the economic consequences of those cow level relationships which are affected by management decisions in the HACCP and the EVOP systems. This will provide a cost/benefit analysis of the key management decisions addressed in the developed HACCP and EVOP systems.

Task 6.4. Implementation and validation of HACCP and EVOP systems to optimize physiological status, health, fertility, production and environmental footprint in dairy cow management
While some of the herds in the GPlusE database will implement the newly established HACCP system, others will not. The latter will be used as control herds that will allow a sound validation of the implementation of the newly created system on the physiological status, health, fertility and productivity of the herds. The proposed dairy herd HACCP control system will be developed as a new web based application tool within the GplusE database. This will allow direct contact with a large number of participants spread over different countries within Europe (and it may also be extended to China and the US). EVOP will be a first generation (prototype) system that will be evaluated in selected herds.

Task 6.5. Interaction with and translation of HACCP and EVOP systems into performance recording
The development of HACCP and EVOP systems will be based on a dataflow from performance recording. Therefore the interaction and potential translation of HACCP and EVOP systems into performance recording will be studied and developed as this facilitates an additional dissemination channel.

WP2 WP3 WP4 | WP5 | WP6 | WP7 WP8 WP9

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