It’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.
One risk that has commonly emerged is the use of a “fresh cow paddock” close to the dairy during calving.
Early in the calving period, this area is relatively clean, but it then progressively becomes more and more contaminated, and especially in areas around hay feeders, etc.
Strep uberis is the most comon cause of mastitis after calving and faecal contamination is the major risk factor for Strep uberis!
Your freshly calved cows are your highest risk cows for mastitis – don’t put them in the highest risk paddock!!
With a little planning of how to best manage these areas, and preparation of alternative areas to use if they become too contaminated, the risk of mastitis can be greatly reduced.
Also consider the order that herds are milked – don’t milk the fresh cows after the hospital herd!
In some cases the fresh cows and the hospital cows are run as a single herd. Possibly the biggest risk here is if the number of cows in this herd exceeds the number of milking units on the platform, potentially exposing freshly calved cows to being milked with a cluster that has just come off a mastitis cow!
Either separate the mastitis cows and milk them last, or have a strict post-milking cluster disinfection procedure to manage this risk.
Always remember that once cows become infected after calving, they often remain infected for the rest of the lactation – prevention has got to be a better bet!
A Dairy Focus Calving Strategy looks in detail at these six areas of management of the calving and fresh cows -
- Maintaining the seal at the end of the teat until the cow calves (and what to do if it is lost)
- Managing the environment to reduce the risk of environmental infections around calving
- Managing the freshly calved cows and calf removal
- Dealing with the first milking for both mature cows and heifers
- Reducing the risk of mastitis infections for cows in the colostrum period
- Ensuring that milk is safe to go in the vat (without colostrum or residues)
The strategy is generally developed with the farm management and staff, and includes examining proposed calving areas and how they can best be managed - after all, it has to be "do-able" on the individual farm and by the people on the farm, or it simply won't happen!
For more information on calving strategies to reduce the risk of mastitis at calving and in fresh cows, call us at Dairy Focus on (03) 58590706.