Metritis, a common reproductive disease, occurs in 10% to 30% of dairy herds. Typically diagnosed during the first 10 days in milk, metritis is associated with other transition and fresh cow challenges. Several risk factors can alert producers to look for -- and better manage -- high-risk cows for metritis, says Dr. Carlos Risco at the University of Florida:
· Retained placenta – Failure to expel the fetal membranes within 12 to 24 hours after calving creates a likelihood of developing metritis six times more than a normal birth.
· Dystocia – Difficult calving is the leading cause of calf mortality. It increases the likelihood of a cow developing metritis by 2.1 times more when compared to a normal calving.
· Stillbirth – A calf that is not born alive or that is lost within the first 48 hours of birth increases the chances that a cow experiences a retained placenta by 2.6 times. A stillborn calf also raises the likelihood that the dam will develop metritis by 1.5 times when compared to a live birth.
· Twin birth – Compared to a cow that gives birth a single calf, a cow that produces twins is 3.4 times more likely to experience a retained placenta and 10.5 times more likely to have dystocia – creating an indirect link to metritis.
A case of metritis is estimated to cost producers between $304 and $354 from losses in production and performance, according to research from Dr. Michael Overton, University of Georgia.
Among Overton's findings:
· Costs from culling within the first 60 days of milk are estimated at $71 per case. Cows affected with metritis have an increased culling risk of 4.2% during the first 60 days in milk.
· Cows diagnosed with metritis average 4.9 fewer pounds of daily milk production for the first 120 days post-calving. Total losses from all cows due to declines in milk production because of metritis are $77 per case.
· Metritis causes a depression in fertility resulting in an increase of 18 days open and a decline in 21-day pregnancy rate of 3 to 6 percentage units. Costs associated with a decrease in fertility and reproductive performance due to metritis are estimated at $98 per case.
· Treatment costs and associated milk withdrawal range from $58 to $108 depending on antibiotic chosen.
A 1,000-cow dairy with a typical incidence rate of 22 percent is losing $66,000 a year due to costs associated with metritis.