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HERD HEALTH

Find information about mastitis, transition cows, vaccination protocols, working with your veterinarian, hoof care and hoof trimming.

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Metritis is a common and costly disease that affects dairy cows during the early postpartum period. Researchers at the University of British Columbia’s Dairy Center have completed a number of studies investigating the relationships between health and behavior (behaviour) of cows during the transition period and have found that both feeding behavior (behaviour) and dry matter intake (DMI) can be used in the early detection of disease.

One of these studies characterized prepartum behavior (behaviour) and DMI of cows that developed metritis after calving. Relative to the healthy cows, those that developed metritis after calving spent less time at the feedbunk and had lower dry DMI as far back as two weeks prior to calving (approximately three weeks before clinical signs of disease were evident).

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As many veterinarians, nutritionists, farmers and students would agree, management during the transition period is one of the most crucial roles to produce a successful lactation. Making your transition cow program a success relies heavily upon proper body condition score at calving, minimizing pre-calving energy intake and maximizing feed intake throughout the freshening period.

Although special attention is commonly given to transition cows, heifers calving for the first time are often not seen as high-risk animals. This may be due to the fact that heifers often suffer from lower rates of milk fever, or displaced abomasum during the fresh period, when compared to animals in their second or third lactation.

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Dairy cows are often grouped according to age, days in milk, feed requirements and health status. To create these groupings, cows are often moved to new groups four or more times per lactation.

At each regrouping, cows are mixed with unfamiliar herdmates, resulting in changes in group composition and dynamics. In the new group, each cow must re-establish social relationships through threats, butting and other physical and nonphysical interactions.

A series of recent studies at the University of British Columbia (UBC) have assessed the effects of regrouping on dairy cows.

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It’s always a good idea to set your sights on milk quality improvements that can help you capture greater return from your milking herd.

“There is always room for improvement when it comes to milk quality, and small steps taken today can reap rewards tomorrow through increased production, higher premiums and reduced labor and treatment costs,” says Dr. Bradley Mills, senior veterinarian for Pfizer Animal Health Dairy Veterinary Operations.

“In addition, progressing your mastitis management is part of doing what’s best for the health of your cattle and dairy operation.”

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1411pd_bass_fg_1Lameness is one of the top welfare considerations and economic limitations in the U.S. dairy industry, negatively impacting involuntary culling rates, milk production, reproductive efficiency and overall costs of production.

Each year with the arrival of late summer or early fall, dairy producers nationwide see a seasonal increase in lameness prevalence within their herds.

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The transition period of a dairy cow is one of the most crucial and vulnerable stages of a lactation cycle. During the last three weeks before calving through to the first three weeks of lactation, your cows’ metabolic needs dramatically increase.

How the animal copes with this high-energy transition can have a drastic impact on how well she will perform throughout the remainder of her lactation.

Research has shown that at the time of calving, a cow’s requirement for calcium increases fourfold, glucose demand triples and protein requirements double.

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