Long live the healthy cow

Preventing disease in your cows has untold benefits for your cow’s well-being and your dairy farm business.

It’s not exactly a secret amongst farmers that mastitis is a major reason for involuntary culling in farms, second after infertility. Lameness is the other main reason for involuntary culling and significantly reduces your cow’s productivity. 

Preventing both and other diseases will extend your cows productive life. 

Simply put, healthy, happy cows live longer and produce more. The other, perhaps obvious point, is that preventing disease from occurring in the first place is much better than treating a disease that already exists.

But diseases are not always easy to detect. 

Mastitis, for example, is not always visible. “You could say that a case of visible mastitis is the tip of the iceberg. If you have detected one case, then there’s a pretty good chance that there are others undetected in your herd,” says Charlotte Hallén Sandgren, Head of Dairy Development at DeLaval.

Mastitis in early lactation is particularly costly and has been shown to affect pregnancy results negative as well as longevity and milk yield.

When it comes to mastitis, the most important message is to ensure good hygiene in the barn, including the dry period and during milking. “Post-teat disinfection has been shown the most cost effective thing you can do to prevent mastits from occurring,” says Hallén Sandgren. 

There are also a range of other things you can do to reduce mastitis cases .

Lameness is the next big reason for involuntary culling and, like mastitis, is not always easy for everyone to detect.  If six cows are detected in a herd of 100, then it is likely that in the region of 30 more cows are walking undetected. The most successful farmers detect and act swiftly on lame cows thereby prolonging their productive life considerably.

Prevention here includes ensuring that the cows can rest in a very comfortable lying place when it suits them.  

Hygiene is also critical here. Clean floors, well maintained foot baths and stalls as well as non-slip comfortable flooring are all factors to take into account to reduce the amount of lameness in a herd.

Finally, one of the most important factors is to ensure professional and regular trimming of your cows.

“A systematic method of detection is a strong recommendation from our side. Early detection minimizes the healing times and the losses in milk production,” says Hallén Sandgren.

This is the fifth article in a series on cow longevity.