Calving

  • Calving in wet conditions

    In most regions, spring calving has either started or is about to start, and some regions are as wet as they have been in recent memory.

    mud_2_web

        mud

    These wet conditions have created extra mastitis risk, especially at calving, and especially for environmental mastitis bacteria such as Strep uberis and E. coli

    A few key actions can help to reduce those risks –

  • Dairy Focus Calving Strategy

    On most farms, mastitis is most common at calving and in early lactation, so any effort to reduce the risk of new mastitis infections around calving is likely to be well rewarded, as long as the efforts are properly targeted and well done.

    fresh cow and calfEven though drying-off is a very important part of preventing new infections at calving, there are still significant opportunities to manage the calving period (2 weeks before calving until 2 weeks after calving for each cow) to further reduce the risk of new mastitis infections.

    Every new infection at or around calving has a strong chance of becoming a chronic infection until we get another opportunity at drying-off to remove that infection, so this is surely a time where "an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure".

    And how depressing is it to see a well bred freshly calved heifer that you have spent a lot of time and money to rear to this point, only to see her come into the herd with mastitis, or develop it shortly after calving?

  • Has your dry-off budget increased the risk of mastitis at calving?

    Given the difficult year and tight cash flows, treatment cost at drying-off has been closely scrutinised and some farms have needed to compromise in favour of cost.

    We should consider the impact of a compromise in terms of the two broad goals for dry-off treatment -
    * Treatment of existing infections
    * Prevention of new infections

    DryCowTherapyThe options at dry-off will have included antibiotic dry cow therapy, teat sealant (or a combination of both), blanket therapy, selective therapy, and different choices for different cows.

    The options chosen at drying-off will probably be the single biggest influence on the risk of mastitis at calving and in early lactation!

  • Has your dry-off increased the risk of mastitis at calving?

    Most of the spring calving cows have now been dried-off and will be enjoying their “annual holiday”.

    This is an ideal time to pause briefly, reflect on the dry-off and consider whether any adjustment to the calving management strategy might be beneficial.

    Given the difficulties of this season, all costs have been closely scrutinised and treatment cost at drying-off has been no exception.

    As a result, some farms have needed to compromise at dry-off in terms of cost.

  • How much mastitis is too much mastitis at calving?

    In most areas, spring calving is well under way, so now is a good time to be very aware of how much mastitis is occurring at calving time, and to be ready to act if necessary.

    Countdown has given us a set of "triggers" to indicate when there could be a significant problem which is likely to be worth looking into.

    The trigger point for clinical cases of mastitis at calving is 5%.

    For this purpose, the calving period for each cow (or heifer) is defined as two weeks before calving until two weeks after calving.

    For every 100 cows that calve, if you have 5 or more cows that develop a clinical case in the first 2 weeks after they have calved, it is likely that there is a problem.

    For an earlier indication, you can think of the trigger as 3 cases in every 50 cows that calve.

    What if you find that you are exceeding that trigger? What should you do?

  • Is your "Plan B" ready?

    springing cows in paddock

    It really shouldn’t have been this dry - after all, it was the last week in June and it was Gippsland!

    In fact, the only problem we had as we walked across the designated calving paddock on that day was the icy wind which was intent on going through anything in its path rather than around it!

    The paddock was a great choice for calving - it was close to the house as well as to the dairy yards and facilities, plus it was well drained, with a clean pick of pasture.

  • Look after your fresh cows!

    Fresh cow and calfIt’s not long till the autumn cows start to calve, so we have been busy developing calving strategies with our new clients, and updating previous calving strategies with our “old” clients.

    We work through six key areas of management of the calving and fresh cows to reduce the risk of mastitis in those cows, and one key area of risk has consistently shown up as a potential problem.

    Many farms are running the freshly calved and colostrum cows as a separate herd during the calving period. Whilst this has lots of advantages, there are also some inherent risks.

  • Low cost effective mastitis control at calving

    Freshly calved cow and calf

    Wet weather and mud has returned with a vengeance, and many farms will now be calving cows in these conditions.

    The most common cause of mastitis around calving, both clinical cases and new subclinical infections, is Streptococcus uberis (Strep uberis). This is an environmental organism passed in the faeces of cattle, so the major source of these mastitis infections on the farm is from contamination of teats with faeces and mud.

  • Two hints to reduce the risk of mastitis at calving

    Many herds have either just started spring calving or are just about to, and in many cases that will be in wet & muddy conditions.fresh cow and calf small

    For each cow, the calving period (2 weeks before calving until 2 weeks after) is the highest risk period for new mastitis infections, and wet conditions significantly increase that risk of mastitis.

    Most new mastitis infections in this calving period are likely to be environmental (commonly Strep uberis), and for this infection to occur, the teat must come into contact with contaminated material (generally mud and/or faeces).

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