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HERD HEALTH

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

LATEST

0512pd_daniel_1After more than 28 years working as a hoof trimmer in the dairy industry and, like many others, seeing the many changes within the dairy industry, I think a simple question has to be asked: “Why is lameness increasing as an issue?”

The answer is the modern dairy industry still has not recognized the requirements for the hoof to function “normally.”

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0412pd_sacker_1Lameness is one of the leading reasons for milk loss on any dairy.

It is also a hot animal welfare topic, according to Dr. Gerard Cramer, who is a bovine hoof care consultant, educator and researcher from Ontario, Canada. Cramer recently discussed his hoof health program via webcast.

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0512pd_sickenger_1Left abomasal displacement (LDA) is a common and economically important disease in high-yielding dairy cows. Since the first description of LDA in 1950, many techniques for surgical correction of this disorder have been developed.

At Giessen University in Germany, the standard procedure to correct LDAs is the minimally invasive repositioning of the displaced abomasum according to the Janowitz method, first described in 1998.

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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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