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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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Farmers’ behavioural health affects the animals they raise. Dog owners are well aware their pets sense how they feel.

Practitioners of artificial insemination of livestock have long known their stress levels affect the conception rate of the animals they are breeding.

Animals detect the tension of the people working with them. Reproductive success diminishes when the A.I. technician is stressed out.

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Does vaccination equal immunization? How do animals develop immunity? What challenges do animals encounter when trying to develop adequate immune response?

These questions come up occasionally as dairy producers are working with their herd veterinarian to develop a herd health protocol. Let’s start by going over some immunology basics.

Vaccination does not equal immunization. When we talk about immunization, we actually mean the protection from the invasion of a foreign protein into the body.

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Pinkeye in your cattle herd can rob you blind. A reduction in weaning weights greater than 40 pounds has been reported in affected calves.

These losses can be avoided if a complete preventative program is implemented.

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The Ontario Dairy Hoof Health Project is a successful applicant for one of several projects mandated by the Agricultural Biosecurity Program (ABP). The project was funded by participating members of the Ontario Hoof Trimmers Guild, The Agricultural Adaptation Council, Dairy Farmers of Ontario, EastGen and Grandview Concrete Grooving.

The Ontario Dairy Hoof Health Project was created to investigate cases of dairy cattle lameness due to claw lesions from structural damage to and/or infections of hoof (claw) tissues.

The project’s short-term goals were to:

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An on-farm assessment program developed by Novus International Inc. and the University of British Columbia (UBC) Animal Welfare Program, led by Drs. Marina von Keyserlingk and Dan Weary, is cracking the code in measuring, tracking and improving animal welfare.

The acronym C.O.W.S. stand for Comfort, Oxidative Balance, Well-Being and Sustainability. Those performing the assessments look at a number of factors including facility design, lying behaviour, stall maintenance and the health of hocks and knees.

The assessments first began in 2010 when Novus and UBC undertook a cow comfort benchmarking project, says Novus C.O.W.S. Project Manager Lindsay Collings.

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While paying off-farm professionals to trim feet on your herd may be cost-effective, relying upon them to treat lame cows is probably not profitable. Lame cows produce less milk, suffer from pain and may become chronic problems unless the issue is dealt with immediately and treated correctly.

Waiting even a couple of days for your foot trimmer to return and treat a lame cow is much more costly than training one of your workers to handle lame cows as part of the work routine.

In fact, many professional hoof trimmers are unprepared to treat lameness. Their responsibility is to trim feet of healthy cows to prevent lameness. Your responsibility is to organize and train a member of your staff to care for lame cows as soon as they are identified.

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