ISU Dairy Team Introduces Biological Risk Management Tool to Dairy Producers

Chris Mondak, Field Specialist-Dairy, Northwest; Dale Thoreson and Robert Tigner, Field Specialists-Dairy, Northeast; Lee Kilmer and Leo Timms, Faculty, Animal Science

Problem Statement:

Improving herd health and management is one of the 6 key areas of the ISU Dairy Team Plan of Work (Adopt, apply and evaluate approaches to integrated dairy herd and health management practices that result in improved profitability, enhanced food quality and safety, and improved environmental stewardship.)   When offered an opportunity to participate in a research project aimed at getting a better understanding of specific herd biosecurity and herd management practices that are correlated with healthier, more productive herds, Team members saw the connection to POW goals, and committed work time to the project.

Programmatic Response:

Dairy Team members divided the task of collecting BRM project data from 40 Iowa herds.  Information was collected via in-person farm visit that consisted of a herd walk-through, questionnaire completion, and interview with the dairy owner.  Completed assessments were mailed to Dr. Danelle Bickett-Weddle, research project leader, who entered the data and sent back to Team members preliminary analyses of herd information, profiling for each herd both the strong points in and weak points in current biosecurity herd management practices. This initial analysis identified disease vulnerability in the conceptual framework of Routes of Transmission, thus explaining that many diseases can be controlled or prevented if one understands how to interrupt the 6 common routes of disease transmission aerosol, direct contact, fomite, oral, vector, zoonotic.


The final analysis may indicate which biosecurity and herd health recommendations are associated with healthier or more productive herds. However, before the final results are in, benefits are already evident from the Team involvement in this project:  It helped raise dairy producers awareness about biosecurity practices, and opened the door for discussions with producers to help them identify and correct their herds vulnerabilities to infectious diseases. The project also familiarized the Dairy Team, producers, and herd veterinarians with the BRM Assessment resources which can be accessed through the ISU Center for Food Security and Public Health website and used for future herd analysis or troubleshooting.

Next Steps:  In addition to Team members follow-up farm visits to report and explain initial herd analyses, the Team has opportunity to increase state-wide  awareness and use of  BRM assessment materials in the Iowa dairy community through workshops, class assignments, and Dairy Days in 2007- 2008.  Final research results may provide further opportunities to discuss and learn new information about herd and health management practices.

July 10, 2007
110 Dairy

Page last updated: August 2, 2007
Page maintained by Linda Schultz,