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Three tips to minimize uterine health disorders

Joel Pankowski Published on 31 January 2013

Uterine infections are the bane of a dairy cow’s reproductive efficiency. That’s because these infections can lead to reproductive challenges, including greater days open and lower pregnancy rates – which often lead to cows prematurely leaving the herd.

Plus, uterine infections are expensive. A case of metritis, one of the major culprits of uterine disease, may cost a dairy as much as $354, and subclinical metritis can impact as much as 20 percent of the herd.

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These could run in a loss of as much as $70,000 per year for a 1,000-cow dairy from metritis infections alone.

Use these three tips to minimize uterine health disorders on your dairy:

1. Step up nutrition
Feeding a properly formulated ration has been shown to reduce incidence of uterine diseases. The right diet provides the high-quality nutrients cows need for optimal performance in the fresh cow pen and meets growing energy and protein needs.

One proven nutritional tool is feeding bypass Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs), which support improved uterine health and immune function, both which are vital for reproductive success.

2. Monitor transition cow
One key indicator directly linked to post-fresh uterine health and incidence of metritis is dry matter intake (DMI) in the prefresh pen. While a slight decline in prepartum DMI is anticipated, a large drop in appetite can be problematic.

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Research indicates the odds of severe metritis increase by 2.87 times for every 1-kg decrease in dry matter intake during the close-up period. Therefore, watch DMI closely and feed an energy-dense ration to anticipate normal declines in DMI as calving nears.

This is also the time to implement screening programs for transition cows to assess performance.

In addition to monitoring appetite, effective programs also assess attitude, body temperature, rumen fill and function, manure quality, udder fill and the presence or absence of uterine discharge. Address changes in health or behaviour promptly to ward off even greater challenges.

3. Keep good records
Consistently monitor and record major fresh cow events such as metritis, milk fever, displaced abomasums, retained placentas, mastitis and lameness.

This information can help you set a herd baseline so that you can compare future incidence and help determine when and where prevention and intervention are needed.

As you continue to improve uterine health on your dairy, make prevention your focus. Prevention over treatment is always the most cost-effective and successful solution to any dairy health challenge.  PD

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Pankowski is the manager of field technical services for Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition.

This article originally appeared on the Progressive Dairyman-U.S. website on July 17, 2012.

References omitted due to space but are available upon request. Click here to email an editor.

Joel Pankowski
  • Joel Pankowski
  • Manager Field Technical Services
  • Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition Group

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