Cow Health a Priority

January 31, 2012 07:40 PM


LarryHancockLarry Hancock

Muleshoe, Texas

A dairy pioneer on the Texas High Plains, Prairie View Dairy milks 4,200 Holsteins.




Cow health is a top priority and always a challenge at Prairie View Dairies. All cows are grouped (penned) according to their reproduction status. Dry cows are vaccinated and dry treated, then moved to the dry pen weekly. Open and ready-to-breed cows are penned together, where they are locked up, heat-checked and bred daily.

Pregnant cows are in their own pen, where they are also locked up. Heat and general health are checked on a daily basis there also. The springers are watched carefully and moved to another springer pen three weeks before calving. They are vaccinated, given vitamins and wormed at that time.

We calve all cows at one dairy. There is a "just fresh" pen for those that have just calved. They remain there until their milk is ready for sale, usually three days. They are then moved to one of the three fresh cow pens. Each morning they are locked up, their temperature is taken and they’re placed on the proper treatment protocol depending on the results.

The fresh cow program usually lasts 14 days, at which time they are marked and ready to move. They usually stay in the fresh cow pen for three weeks. All cows receive reproductive checks by our veterinarian at 30 days fresh. They tend to be ready to breed at 50 days fresh.

Currently, we are not on a timed breeding program. We feel it is best to allow the cow to be as normal as possible, so we won’t start any kind of Ovsynch program until after 70 days with no heat.

West Texas weather tends to be dry and breezy, ideal for the cows, most of the year. We do have our few weeks of wet and cold in the winter, and very hot, dry and windy days with thunderstorms during the summer. During those bad weather times, we face the same challenges with our operation as everyone else. We clean the pens at least three times a year. We scrape and harrow the pens daily when the weather permits in an effort to keep the cows dry and comfortable. In the summer, it is very important to scrape under the shades, because cows group together and cleanliness can become a problem.

To ensure herd health, we use a variety of specialists. The veterinarian comes weekly and is involved with our prevention program: vaccinating, checking on problem cows and general herd health. The nutritionist comes out every six weeks and is always available by phone for any nutrition problems or questions. Our nutritionist also addresses feed changes that have to be made to keep the ration balanced, and helps evaluate the condition of the cows and young stock.
We value the input of these and the other specialists when making plans and protocols involving the care and treatment of our animals.

We at Prairie View Dairies strive to produce a clean and healthy product from our cows. After all, what’s more natural than milk!


Hancock's Most Recent Prices  
Milk (3.54% bf, 3.22% prt) $17.87/cwt.
Cull cows $70-$75/cwt.
Springing heifers $1,400-$1,600/head
Alfalfa hay (milk cow) $315/ton contracted
Cottonseed $342/ton
Ground corn $270/ton
Canola $285/ton
Soy hulls $248/ton


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