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November 2013 Archive for Dairy Today Healthline

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Dairy Today Healthline

Herd Health Vigilance Pays on Your Dairy

Nov 18, 2013

When disease hits, lost production and big costs occur. Producers can keep production profitable by staying ahead of the curve.

By Andy Bennett, DVM, Merial Veterinary Services

With the economic constraints of the past several years, it has become critical for producers to remain vigilant to potential problems on their operation. Letting a problem smolder to a point that may negatively impact production and profitability could be compounded with new hazards lurking around the corner.

Remaining vigilant does come with an associated cost, however; it is essential to ensure farm productivity. Just as a producer maintains milking equipment by utilizing new inflations, regular monitoring of your herds’ health is just as important. Sure, milk samples from individual cows and the bulk tank are regularly monitored by local and federal agencies, but producers can keep production profitable by staying ahead of the curve. The real cost is lost production when disease hits.

Implementing a vaccination program is a great first step in prevention of disease, but the protocols should be periodically reevaluated. What if a particular vaccine used in the past doesn’t contain the current bacterial or viral strain on your farm? Maybe the purchase of replacement animals served as a reservoir for new diseases. It is also possible that an employee went to help a friend at another farm on their way to work and toted along a new bug. Or perhaps after diagnostic testing a producer determines that an organism residing on their farm isn't contained in a commercially manufactured vaccine.

A National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) study found that over 47% of U.S. dairies had salmonella circulating in their herd annually.1 However, this pathogen remains elusive due to the variability in clinical signs or lack of symptomatic carriers. Salmonella can cause a wide range of diseases in cattle of all ages, including neonatal septicemia2 and respiratory disease,3 which can be quite costly to treat. Salmonella can be shed from manure, milk, nasal secretions, urine and saliva.3 Animals such as rodents, birds, dogs, cats and raccoons can spread the disease on the farm. As there are several different species of Salmonella, it is important to pinpoint which variation might be causing disease on your farm.

Another example of a common disease is Pinkeye. This is normally caused by Moraxella bovis, but recently another strain has been isolated, Moraxella bovoculli. M. bovoculli is not commonly found in commercially manufactured vaccines and usually does not respond well to common treatments.

The appropriate and most cost-beneficial management program should be to vaccinate your herd with a product that is specific for the current disease processes on your farm. These organisms, and others, can be accurately diagnosed and treated. With the input of a veterinarian, producers might consider reevaluation of their current vaccination program. Producers should also consider Custom Made Vaccines (CMVs) that would contain antigens specific to their needs. And remember, when working with your veterinarian, ask them what the appropriate tests might be.

About Merial
Merial is a world-leading, innovation-driven animal health company, providing a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health, well-being and performance of a wide range of animals. Merial employs approximately 6,000 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its 2012 sales were $2.8 billion. Merial is a Sanofi company. For more information, please see

©2013 Merial Limited, Duluth, GA. All rights reserved. RUMIOTD1332 (9/13).


1 National Animal Health Monitoring System, Salmonella and Campylobacter on U.S. dairy operations. 1996-2007. APHIS Info Sheet. July 2009.N562.0709.
2 Merck Manual. 8th ed. Whitehouse Station, NJ. Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc. 2006:120.
3 Preconvention Seminar 7: Dairy Herd Problem Investigation Strategies.
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF BOVINE PRACTITIONERS 36th Annual Conference. September 15-17, 2003 - Columbus, OH. Salmonellosis in Cattle: A Review; Drs. Sheila M. McGuirk and Simon Peek School of Veterinary Medicine, UW-Madison.

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