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March 2012 Archive for Dairy Today Healthline

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Dairy Today Healthline

Work Backward from Early-Lactation Mastitis to Find Where the Money Lies

Mar 09, 2012

When it comes to transition cows, dollars are made in the details.

BruceVande Steeg 1   CopyBy Dr. Bruce Vande Steeg, Professional Services Veterinarian, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.
New mastitis infections that begin early in lactation are many times the result of a small lapse in protocol just before or immediately after calving. There’s a rush of events happening in the lives of these transition cows. So many that, if we don’t give the attention needed to prevent problems, we may lose production and dollars later in the lactation. Let’s work backward from an early-lactation mastitis infection through this critical period of time to find out where the dollar-making details lie.
·         Was a CMT test conducted within a few days after calving?
-   CMT-paddling all fresh cows shortly after calving can help you identify and treat warranted cases of mastitis with an intramammary antibiotic before it becomes a more serious infection.
·         How was the cow handled at calving?
-   Every cow should be milked within one hour of calving. Colostrum quality depletes as cows begin producing milk after the calf is born.
·         Was she in a clean, comfortable environment immediately before, during and after calving?
-   You’ve heard it before, but it always rings true: Clean, dry, comfortable is a must for pre- and post-calving pens.
·         Were there signs of hypocalcemia?
-   Calcium aids in muscle contractions throughout the body. The onset of milk fever, or even subclinical hypocalcemia, can relax the teat sphincter muscle, which stops mastitis-causing pathogens from entering. Consider using a calcium bolus for cows near and after calving to stay ahead of milk fever.
·          What is your fresh-cow milking procedure?
-   The milking procedure for a fresh cow is vital — just as it is with all lactating cows. Be sure you’re using clean milking equipment, always pre dip, clean the teat end before milking, and make sure you’re getting complete post-dip coverage.
·         Could lameness have affected mobility in the dry period?
-   No cow should freshen with lameness issues. Be sure to trim and recheck hooves at dry-off and shortly after. Lameness in the dry period means cows lie down more often — reducing dry-matter intake and exposing their teat ends to potentially poor environments.
·         Was an intramammary dry tube administered properly?
-  Proper administration of a broad-spectrum, long-acting antibiotic therapy can reduce new mastitis infections by as much as 50 percent.1 I also recommend coupling dry tubes with an internal teat sealant. 
These critical control points are not an all-inclusive list. But, they do give you at least a glimpse into the small details that could mean dollars down the line. Managing the finer points of the dry period will aid in the prevention of mastitis and lost milk production. If you would like to learn more about our commitment to disease prevention, please visit us at
1Boddie RL, Nickerson SC and Sutherland SF. New design of mastitis tubes reduces infections. Hoard’s Dairyman, August 1989, 134(13)579.
Dr. Vande Steeg joined Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. in 2011 with over 20 years of industry experience. Following pursuit of his bachelor’s and DVM at the University of California — Davis, he was a practicing veterinarian for 14 years, 11 of which were as the founder and owner of his own practice in central California. In 2006, Bruce helped launch a new 3,200-head dairy in Colorado and served as partner and chief operations officer for five years.
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