News - October 13, 2011

Udder health in Canada

Who? Karin Meijer (fourth year, Animal and Livestock Science, VHL)
What? Internship
Where? University of Guelph in Canada
Why? Research on udder health

‘The preventive side of udder health among dairy cows is becoming more and more important. Antibiotic use in the Netherlands has got to go down, and that goes for our farm at home too. So that makes udder health a very interesting topic for me. Here in Canada I can carry out my own research. I mainly work independently and can plan for myself when I process which data. No two days are the same.
I am monitoring the standing and lying behaviour of cows on five dairy farms using sensors. I look at the effect it has on the cell count (the number of white blood cells per millilitre of milk), and thereby also on udder health. Cows with an udder infection produce milk with a raised cell count. Milk production is taken into account in the research as well. I hope that it will produce results that can help improve udder health through preventive measures. Because the research will be published in a professional journal.
I did my farm internship in Canada too, so I already knew the country a little bit. Canadian livestock farmers are very fanatical and there's a lot to be learned from them. It is a pity the distances are so vast. You cannot just hop on your bike to get to the station, or take a short bus ride. So you do everything by car. Even getting cash from an ATM: a lot of them are drive-in. Some things strike me as quite American, like the way they drive big cars here, drink coffee at Tim Horton's, do their shopping at massive supermarkets and love doughnuts.
I would like to send a message to Resource readers: if you get the chance to go abroad, go! Even if it seems a bit scary at first, what with another language and the unknown factors. You learn so much from it!