Focus on prevention

February 5, 2010 05:16 AM
 


 

Brian Medeiros
Hanford, Calif.

Keeping our cows healthy and happy is our No. 1 priority at Medeiros & Son Dairy. We believe that the key to getting our cows bred back quickly, and with the next cycle, starts at the end of the previous lactation.

A complete dryoff and good dry periods and transition periods are instrumental to maintaining and increasing the health of our cows.

On our dairy, we practice a moderate vaccination program, with vaccines at dryoff, three weeks prior to the expected calving date and finally after the cow has freshened.

At dryoff, we give our cows a three-shot series of J5 E. Coli, Clostridium and Salmonella vaccines. The series is then repeated at three weeks prior to calving, when the cows are moved from the dry cow pen to the close-up pen. After cows calve, we give them their final round, which includes a single shot of Pyramid 10.

Along with preventive vaccinations, we strive to ensure that the transition period is as smooth as possible for the cow. The close-up cows are provided with dry bedding that's changed on an as-needed basis. We offer a DCAD (dietary cation-anion difference) ration for our close-up cows to assist in rumen transition from dry-cow ration to milk-cow total mixed ration.

We have also invested in a calving area that houses cows in individual pens with access to plenty of water and hay. The pens are floored with sand and almond shells to allow for maximum comfort, combined with easy cleaning and sanitation. These facilities allow us to keep a better eye on the status of our mothering cows and newborns as well as to maintain a clean environment to minimize new infections.

Once our cows enter into the fresh pen, they are checked for retained placentas and any other reproductive tract infections. They all receive a diluted Polyotic tetracycline hydrochloride infusion within the first 15 days of freshening. The cows are then checked 15 days after the treatment to ensure that they're clean and ready for breeding.

If a cow is not ready, she is infused again and a shot of prostaglandin is administered. Cows that are clean and ready to be bred but that haven't shown heat after 60 days in milk are checked by the vet and put onto either a Presynch or Ovsynch program. Otherwise, we wait our voluntary waiting period of 55 days and breed when the cow comes into heat.

We strive to maintain low numbers in the hospital pen. With the freestalls, we experience a low number of mastitis cases. However, when any symptoms or signs of infection arise, we try to treat and cure the case quickly to avoid any catastrophic problems.

Our milkers are trained to observe such warning signs and to move suspect cows from the herd to our hospital area. There, we can milk and treat the cows individually until they are healthy again and ready to return to the milking string.

Medeiros & Son Dairy runs a relatively simple herd health program that works well for us and is easy to implement on any size dairy.


Medeiros' December Prices  
Milk (3.8% bf, 3.36% prt): $14.44/cwt.
Cull cows: $51/cwt.
Springing heifers: $1,600/head
Alfalfa: $185/ton
Cottonseed: $255/ton (contracted)
$311/ton (spot)
Corn:  $180/ton
   








 

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