Thursday, 12 October 2017 07:55

Uterine infection hits production

Written by  Nigel Malthus
Vet Paul Daly Vet Paul Daly

Wet spring weather is having “a huge impact” on the number of ‘dirty’ cows, says veterinarian Paul Daly, of Selwyn-Rakaia Vet Services, Dunsandel.

“I want to make sure you guys are getting on top of those dirty cows, getting them checked and getting them treated,” Daly told attendees at a recent DairyNZ farm systems group meeting at a nearby farm.

Dirty cows are those suffering the uterine infection endometritis following calving, which causes poor subsequent reproductive performance. It is detected by a procedure known as ‘metrichecking’.

Daly told farmers at the meeting that detection too late was costing them “a lot of money.” He said a trial done on 15,000 cows in the North Island had emphasised the value of early, versus late, metrichecking. Early checking leads to 18% of cows being treated; late checking to only 6%.

But while that requires treating a lot of cows, the early intervention increases the six-week in-calf rate by 3%, he said.

“So even though you’ve spent two or three grand -- depending how big your herd is -- you get a 3% increase in your six-week in-calf rate by going in early. I know your time is precious but you need to be doing this.

“Keep on top of it. To get the benefit of the six-week in-calf rate you need to be on this.”

Daly said endometritis is normally diagnosed from three weeks after calving. It has a big impact on fertility levels and how quickly those cows get back in calf.

Although vets see it routinely every year, this season had been bad “on some farms”.

“A cow with an adequate or better immune system is going to be able to fight off the infection. Due to the hard weather, milk fever cases, trace element deficiencies… all these impact on the levels of endometritis you see.

“So you try to take a holistic approach -- deal with the trace elements, make sure their copper and selenium levels are up, try to reduce the number of milk fever cases you get; you try to promote a healthy cow, a cow in good condition, well fed. And all those will help reduce the number of cases.”

Daly said wet weather knocks cows energywise, and in some cases if they had a bad calving in the wet it would also knock their immune system.

“There’s no one factor; everything gets tied in like a jigsaw so you have to have all the pieces fixed to try to reduce it.”


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