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.

Cow longevity conference 2013

Keeping the growing herd on its feet

Interview with Steven Berry, dairy management & health specialist

Steven Berry will talk about lameness prevention, detection and treatment on the conference's second day. He finds the question about cow longevity interesting but complicated.

"If we have decided to eat beef, and the beef cattle are slaughtered at 15-18 months of age, why is there an issue if dairy cows are slaughtered after two or three lactations and then used for human consumption? What concerns me is the welfare of the cow while she is alive. To prevent diseases and keep her healthy."

Read the interview here>>

Cow longevity conference 2013

Fertility problems in high-yielding dairy cows – how to avoid them

Interview with Geert Opsomer, University of Ghent

“I don’t think there is enough awareness about the need to reduce the culling rate in modern dairy cows and at the same time the industry clearly lacks a thorough discussion about the reasons for culling. Directly or indirectly, infertility is one of the most common reasons why dairy cows get culled. Directly, because they are not getting pregnant, or indirectly, because cows with prolonged calving intervals run a high risk of suffering from a wide variety of other diseases.”

Read the interview here>>