New Bolton Center Kennett Square, PA
Emergencies & Appointments:
Ryan Hospital Philadelphia, PA

Penn Vet Research Centers

Penn Vet's research centers are recognized throughout the nation and the world for groundbreaking advances in comparative oncology, health and productivity in food animal herds and flocks, infectious disease, regenerative medicine, and neuroscience.

Center for Animal Health & Productivity (CAHP)

The Center for Animal Health and Productivity (CAHP) was established in 1986 to implement teaching, research and service programs directed toward the improvement of health and productivity in food animal herds and flocks.

These programs involve an integrated approach making use of our expertise in clinical nutrition, reproduction, health economics, and computer science, in addition to conventional specialties in veterinary medicine.

Our focus is the maintenance of physical and economic health in the whole animal population rather than clinical treatment of individual sick animals.

Contact Information

David Galligan, VMD, MBA
Professor of Animal Health Economics
Director, MBA/AHE Program
Phone: 610-925-6306
Fax: 610-925-6823

University of Pennsylvania
School of Veterinary Medicine
Department of Clinical Studies
New Bolton Center
382 West Street Road
Kennett Square, PA 19348

The CAHP provides health management services for animal populations and conducts field investigation of herd and flock problems which pose a threat to the economic productivity of animal agriculture. Most of these services have concerned poultry and dairy operations, but we are currently implementing a new swine production program and are exploring production medicine program initiatives in aquaculture. The CAHP constitutes an important line of early defense against the spread of economically important disease among food animal populations of Pennsylvania.


The CAHP provides an infrastructure for applied research and directly supports specific research and development projects pertaining to the health management of food animal populations. Examples of these activities are our widely used nutritional formulation and health record management computer programs and new economic algorithms for evaluating and improving the productivity of dairy herds, research in farm nutrient management and the development of a comprehensive computer model for food animal resource management. 


The educational activities of the CAHP include instruction of veterinary students in production systems medicine, postgraduate training and continuing education for food animal practitioners. A recently implemented new food animal curriculum allows interested students to concentrate their studies on production medicine subjects that are relevant to the needs of modern food animal agriculture. The new curriculum includes expanded food animal didactic courses and extended large animal clinical rotations. The CAHP participates in continuing education programs such as the Penn Conference, the National Practitioner Association workshops and courses such as the Dairy Production Medicine Certificate Program presented in cooperation with Penn State University. We are currently developing a joint program with the Pennsylvania Animal Health and Diagnostic Commission, Penn State University, and other commonwealth agencies to provide an integrated program of field investigation services and postgraduate training in production medicine.


A dual degree program has been developed between the School of Veterinary Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. The goal of this program is to provide a unique training opportunity for veterinarians that integrates the underlying principles of animal health and economics in livestock production systems. 

Through the Wharton MBA program, basic fundamental skills and principles in economics, finance, financial and cost accounting, marketing, and operations research will be covered along with courses in competitive strategy. Each individual will develop a comprehensive livestock production system project (Advance Study Project) with sponsoring faculty at the Center for Animal Health and Productivity (CAHP) in the School of Veterinary Medicine. This Project will allow for exploration of applications of economic principles in animal production systems.

Learn more about the VMD/MBA and how to apply.

Body Condition Scoring

Body condition scoring is subjective measure of body fat stores (3,11). Typical systems that use a scale of 1 to 5 to body score cows (11). A cow with a condition score 1 is considered emaciated, 2 is thin, 3 is average, 4 is fat, and 5 is obese. Often this scale will be divided into quarter point increments (1,3). Because of the subjective nature of body condition scoring, concerns arise about the repeatability of body condition scoring between observers. In addition there are questions about the relativity of body condition scoring as it relates to body composition and energy balance. For those reasons there are questions about its utility as a management tool in dairy herds.


  1. Domecq JJ, Skidmore AL, Lloyd JW, Kaneene JB. Validation of body condition scores with ultrasound measurements of subcutaneous fat of dairy cows. J Dairy Sci 1995;78:2308-13.
  2. Ferguson JD, Galligan DT, Thomsen N. Principal Descriptors of Body Condition Score in Dairy Cattle. J Dairy Sci 1994;77:2695-703.
  3. Ferguson, JD and KA Otto. Managing Body Condition in Dairy Cows. Cornell University; 1989; Ithaca, NY. 1989; 75 p. Proceedings of the 1989 Cornell Nutrition Conference for Feed Manufacturers.
  4. Garnsworthy PC, Jones GP. The influence of body condition at calving and dietary protein supply on voluntary food intake and performance in dairy cows. Anim Prod 1987;44:347-53.
  5. Garnsworthy PC, Topps JH. The effect of body condition of dairy cows at calving on their food intake and performance when given complete diets. Anim Prod 1982;35:113-9.
  6. Gearhart MA, Curtis CR, Erb HN, Smith RD, Sniffen CJ, Chase LE, Cooper MD. Relationship of changes in condition score to cow health in Holsteins. J Dairy Sci 1990;73:3132
  7. Morrow DA, Hillman D, Dade AW, Kitchen H. Clinical investigation of a dairy herd with the fat cow syndrome. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1979;174:161-7.
  8. Otto KA, Ferguson JD, Fox DG, Sniffen CJ. Relationship between body condition score and composition of ninth to eleventh rib tissue in Holstein dairy cows. J Dairy Sci 1991;74:852-9.
  9. Ruegg PL, Milton RL. Body condition scores of Holstein cows on Prince Edward Island, Canada: Relationship with yield, reproductive performance, and disease. J Dairy Sci 1995;78:552-64.
  10. Wildman EE, Jones GM, Wagner PE, Bowman RL. A Dairy cow body condition scoring system and its relationship to selected production characteristics. J Dairy Sci 1982;65:495
  11. Wright IA, Russel AJF. Estimation in vivo of the chemical composition of the bodies of mature cows. Anim Prod 1984;38:33
  12. Wright IA, Russel AJF. Partition of fat, body composition, and body condition scoring in mature cows. Anim Prod 1984;38:23-32.

Milk Urea Nitrogen (MUN)

What is Urea?

Urea is a small organic molecule composed of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen. Urea is a common constituent of blood and other body fluids. Urea is formed from ammonia in the kidney and liver. Ammonia is produced by the breakdown of protein during tissue metabolism. Ammonia is very toxic. Urea is very non-toxic and can be at very high levels without causing any problems. If urea was not produced from ammonia we would very quickly become ill every time we ate a meal containing protein. The conversion of ammonia to urea, primarily in the liver, prevents ammonia toxicity. Urea is then excreted from the body in urine.

Urea diffuses readily into body tissue spaces with water. Urea, readily diffuses from blood into milk. Urea is a normal constituent of milk and comprises part of the non-protein nitrogen normally found in milk.

Urea concentrations in blood vary. Urea concentrations will be influenced by protein intake, energy intake, and urinary excretion. Consuming higher protein diets will result in higher blood urea levels. Increasing energy intake will often decrease the concentration of blood urea. Since urea is passed out of the body in the urine, increasing water intake, which may increase urinary production, will tend to decrease blood urea concentration. Conversely, slight dehydration will be expected to increase blood urea concentration. Thus, urea is sensitive to protein intake, energy intake, and water intake.

(Study based on 4,287,917 milk urea nitrogen (MUN) samples from 25 September 1995 to 2 November 2002 provided by Pennsylvania DHIA. Statistical summaries were done by CAHP based on the raw data.)

Milk Protein

As component pricing based on solids not fat and/or protein becomes more a standard in the industry, production of milk components, particularly protein, will receive more emphasis. In addtion, methods of measuring and reporting milk protein will also become more important. The average composition of milk from Holstein cows is presented in Table 1 (4,7).

Table 1. Composition of milk
Water 87.00
Lactose 4.90
Fat 3.70
True Protein 3.00
Crude Protein 3.10
Casein 2.60
Ash .80
Other .50

Historically, milk protein has been estimated by Kjeldahl determination, which measures the total nitrogen content in milk. Nitrogen is released from protein and other nitrogen compounds in milk and converted to ammonia through acid digestion in the Kjeldahl procedure. Crude protein (CP) is estimated by multiplying the N value by 6.38, the average N content in milk protein (2). Protein determined in this fashion is referred to as crude protein because N comes from true protein and nonprotein sources. As milk pricing places more emphasis on protein, there will be more emphasis on measuring true protein (TP) not crude protein, as true protein has nutritional value. In addition, milk protein yield will become increasingly important.

Nutrient Management & Software

Visit the Center for Animal Health and Productivity site to learn more about Nutrient Management and associated software, including

Interactive examples are available online.

You may also visit CPM-Dairy, our Google Groups presence.

The Center for Animal Health and Productivity subscription site is designed to allow consultants of the dairy industry access to the latest publications and producer instructive materials developed by the members of the Center. These materials are designed to help consultants and producers understand the economic issues confronting today’s dairy producer in a manner that facilitates problem solving. The subscription gives the user access and download capabilities for the various presentation materials developed by the CAHP over the course of a year.

In order to view the different publications, you must create an account and purchase a publication subscription. 

Subscribe or login here.