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Effects of particulate matter on health and production of dairy cattle.

A. A. Anderson



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Effects of particulate matter on health and production of dairy cattle.
A. A. Anderson*, P. Rezamand, A. Ahmadzadeh, A. L. Skibiel. University of Idaho Moscow, ID.

Seasonal wildfires affect a large portion of the country and are expected to increase in size and severity in the coming years due to drier conditions and hotter summers brought on by global climate change. Because wildfires cause severe episodic reductions in air quality, the health and production of livestock in open-air housing may be adversely affected. The objective of this study was to examine associations between increased fine particulate matter during the wildfire season and incidence of disease and changes in production of Holstein dairy cows. Health records for lameness, mastitis, pneumonia, metritis, displaced abomasum, retained placenta, abortion and death were collated from a large dairy (>5,000 head) in Washington and monthly milk production records were obtained from a small farm in Idaho (~100 head milking). Air quality data from a monitoring site 14 km from the Washington farm was extracted from archived data maintained by the Washington State Department of Ecology. Idaho air quality data recorded from a monitoring site 5.9 km from the Idaho farm were obtained from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. Air quality records, health records, and production (milk yield and composition) data were collated from May through September (encompassing the Pacific Northwest wildfire season) across a 5-year period (2015—2019). Peaks in PM2.5 observed were concurrent with known wildfire events in both states. Data were analyzed using a generalized linear model and a negative binomial distribution. Lags of up to 2 weeks were included in the models to account for potential delays in the effects of particulate matter exposure. PM2.5 was significantly positively associated with general illness (P = 0.025), mastitis (P < 0.0001) and calf deaths (P = 0.003). No significant relationships between particulate matter and milk yield or components were found; however, the broad time scale of monthly milk records may have precluded detection of any effects. Our data indicate that exposure to high particulate matter is associated with adverse health outcomes in dairy cattle.

Keywords: climate change, PM2.5, air quality.

Biography: I am a first year Master's student studying lactation physiology at the University of Idaho. My research investigates the health, production and immunological effects wildfire smoke has on dairy cattle and their calves. The purpose of this research is to improve health and comfort of dairy cows on farms that are affected by seasonal wildfire smoke. Additionally, we would like to learn more about their immune and inflammatory responses to environmental pollutants.