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Indicators of milk quality and animal well-being on compost Bedded-Pack Dairies

Abstract

The compost bedded pack housing system for dairy cows has been increasingly used worldwide due to a dramatic decrease in the environmental impact caused by animal waste. Reports by dairy producers and few descriptive studies conducted in North America suggest that an improvement in the animal welfare indexes can be observed for most herds after transition from the conventional (freestall) to the compost bedded pack system. Nonetheless, contradictory results were observed about the effect of the system on the quality of milk and animal health. It is not clear if the use of feces as part of the composting process and the toxic gases resulting from the fermentation of the bedding material influence the occurrence of mastitis and other diseases. In Brazil, the system has already been implemented on some farms, but scientific evidence about the impact on udder and animal health is lacking. Three herds where the system is used will be followed prospectively during one year to identify risk factors for the incidence of clinical and subclinical mastitis, the microbiological profile of the pathogens that cause mastitis and contaminate bulk milk, and factors associated with the total bacterial count in the bedding material. Animal well-being indexes will be estimated and associated with the environmental quality of the animals. Results of this study can be directly applied by producers that wish to transition or learn about the system. The validation of the compost bedded pack system would be of great importance due to the dramatic decrease in the environmental impact caused by disposal of animal waste. (AU)

Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
FAVERO, S.; PORTILHO, F. V. R.; OLIVEIRA, A. C. R.; LANGONI, H.; PANTOJA, J. C. F. Factors associated with mastitis epidemiologic indexes, animal hygiene, and bulk milk bacterial concentrations in dairy herds housed on compost bedding. LIVESTOCK SCIENCE, v. 181, p. 220-230, NOV 2015. Web of Science Citations: 4.

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