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The long-term goal of this project is to increase and sustain organic dairy production and animal welfare through breaking barriers to organic dairy transition. One of the major barriers preventing transition to organic dairy production includes dairy producers' concerns about dairy calf disbudding and the challenges with calf health in an organic production system.The long-term goal of this project is to enhance organic dairy animal welfare by advocating for science-based methods to alleviate the negative effects of disbudding. Producers and veterinarians of organic dairy cattle often express their critical need for evidence-based information concerning the efficacy of organic-approved treatments and management practices to reduce the adverse effects of disbudding on animal welfare. Critics of organic dairy practices are concerned that producers use ineffective approaches to care for animals.This project proposes to address an important portion of stakeholder critical needs by conducting controlled experiments to evaluate organic-approved treatments to mitigate acute pain caused by the disbudding procedure, and to evaluate long-term effects of disbudding on animal welfare in organic systems.Our goal is to identify and recommend management practices for disbudding young calves that will address a challenge but also likely provide a market opportunity for transitioning organic dairy producers, therefore improving dairy farm profitability. Specific objectives are: 1)To determine a dose of Salix extract that minimizes inflammation, 2) to evaluate the post-disbudding analgesic effects of Salix extract in calves, 3) evaluate effects of disbudding on weaning stress of calvesand evaluate effects of disbudding on transition stress in primiparous postpartum cows, and 4) disseminate project findings to stakeholders through hands-on and written communication and provide hands-on education for farmers. The success of this project will be evaluated by acceptance and implication of the project findings by organic and transitioning dairy farmers, and publications in farmer magazines, on extension websites, and in peer reviewed journals.

Heins, Br, J.
University of Minnesota
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