Health management to reduce involuntary culling
The main culling reasons are usually lameness, mastitis and fertility problems. Experts from the US, New Zealand and Belgium will share their knowledge in detection, prevention and treatment of these diseases, and how to get the cows pregnant.
Lameness – Prevention, detection, and treatment (Steven Berry, University of California)
Dairy cow lameness is a costly disease both in euros and in cow welfare. The monetary costs of the disease are due to loss of milk yield, treatment costs, decrease in reproductive efficiency, and premature culling. Premature culling is probably the biggest cost of lameness. Improving cow welfare and longevity by improving hoof health requires dedication and careful management decision-making but it is possible. Some studies show that expert advice helps farmers make management changes, which have a positive effect on decreasing lameness prevalence.
Proactive mastitis management (Eric Hillerton, DairyNZ)
Mastitis costs money from lost production and costs of response e.g. labour and drugs. The costs are rarely understood by farmers. These can all be modelled and calculated but vary with severity of the disease. Prevention also costs and this is more obvious in terms of chemical and equipment purchases, along with labour. For many farmers none of this is real until it affects actual income including milk quality penalties. Certainly the longer-term impacts of failure to recover replacement costs and loss of genetic potential from culling are even less appreciated. Time rather than money is usually the motivation to manage mastitis better.
Getting the cow pregnant (Geert Opsomer, University of Ghent)
The fertility status of a dairy herd is the result of interactions of a whole range of factors from environmental conditions such as season, herd size and age composition, to pure managerial factors such as breeding policy, nutrition and estrus detection. Breeding efficiency depends almost totally on whether or not the farmer is able to skillfully cope with these factors in his herd. Sub-fertility has been proven to be a multi-factorial disease and the optimization of herd fertility often requires the optimization of several interfering managerial factors. There is almost never a single solution. Although poor fertility is becoming more and more common in our top dairy herds, there is a wide variation between herds and sometimes between years within the same herd.