Animal Health Diagnostic Center

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New York State Cattle Health Assurance Program

herd health Farm-specific herd health plans are good preventive medicine

Herd Health

Welcome to the Loe Farm

Doe Farm

Lactating Cows

In 1990, as a means to increase profit, farm owners decided to increase the milking herd cow numbers from 200 to 300. They eventually want to milk 500 cows. At the same time they expanded the milking herd, they also switched from milking three times a day to milking twice daily. The initial herd expansion was accomplished by purchasing additions (cows) through dealers, farm dispersals and sale barns. Animals are identified with a plastic tag when they enter the milking herd.

Feeding alleyThe milking herd is kept in a freestall area built to hold 250 cows, but they have opened up a lot that is contiguous with the freestall by building up a stream bank. The edge of the stream bank is fenced off to keep cows from accessing the stream. The freestall barn has two concrete water vats, one on each end of the freestall. Mattresses were installed in the freestall building about 2 years ago. Lime is sprinkled on the mattresses a few times a week but no additional bedding is used. Prior to the installation of mattresses sand was used for bedding. An increase in the number of hock injuries has been noticed over the past year or two. The cows walk a total of 2400 feet (part gravel and part roughened concrete) from the freestall to the milking parlor and back.

No beddingA skid steer with a rubber tire on front is used to scrape alleys once per day. The owner changes buckets on the farm skid steer before driving into the feed bunk. Manure from the freestall is mixed with the manure from the calf barn and spread on the fields. A separate bucket is used exclusively for loading ration components into the TMR wagon, after removing the half tire that they have used for cleaning. The central feedbunk is filled with a TMR (twice daily) from a wagon which is driven in on one side of the barn and out the other. After the mixer wagon is emptied it is parked next to the feed bunk where it will be loaded the next time a ration is prepared.

Empty feedThe TMR is balanced for the higher producing cows. The herd milk fat test is running around 3%. Forages are tested once, at harvest. Milk production has gradually declined over the past several years. Milk production per cow has gone from 80 pounds to 60 pounds. About 6 months ago the ration was adjusted by decreasing the amount of hay in the mix and adding 3 pounds of corn meal per cow per day. The use of bST was instituted. It does not appear that these changes have made much of a difference.

The herd is on test (DHIA, owner sampler). Test information is used primarily for determination of rolling herd average and to keep track of SCC. BTSCC runs around 350,000 with peaks up to 550,000. Prior to expanding from 200 to 300 milking cows, the BTSCC remained very close to 300,000. All cows are treated with a penicillin-based dry cow formula at the time of dry off. Milking equipment has never been evaluated. The owners have noted that it is hard to find and keep dependable milkers.

All the cows are bred by artificial insemination. They have owned a semen tank for many years and recently (about a year ago) began to inseminate their own cows to cut down on costs associated with the AI technician. They feel very fortunate to have been able to purchase 20 straws of semen from a valuable bull at a great price form a neighboring dairy that went out of business.

FreestallCows that are treated with antibiotics are identified with a red leg band and moved to the treatment/fresh cow barn to be milked. The treatment/fresh cow barn is a separate building. The milking parlor in this building is the one that was used prior to the milking herd expansion. A chalkboard is located in the treatment/fresh milking parlor, which contains treated animal's ear tag numbers and the date they can return to the freestall. When a fresh cow's milk clears or the milk withholding time is satisfied for a treated cow's milk, she is moved back to the freestall barn. A treated cow's red leg band is removed prior to moving her back to the regular milking barn. A cow sold at the end of 2000 was identified at the packing plant with a violative antibiotic meat residue.

When cows are dried off they are moved to a barn down the road, rented from the neighbor. They are kept as a single group until one week prior to their due date, when they are moved to the dry cow pen of the calf barn. All dry cows are fed the same ration. As freshening time gets close (approximately 5 days from their due date) cows are vaccinated with a 'killed 9 way product.'

AbomasumLameness is a problem. A footbath containing copper sulfate located at the entrance of the milking parlor is changed twice weekly. The cow's feet are trimmed on a yearly basis. Both heal warts and laminitis have been noted. A cow (50 DIM) was recently found dead after having been off feed for two days. A necropsy performed by the herd veterinarian noted peritonitis associated with a perforated abomasal ulcer as the probable cause of death.

The herd veterinarian visits the farm for herd health on a monthly basis. They have had difficulty finding cows in heat and cows just don't seem to be getting bred. The veterinarian has suggested that they begin a scheduled breeding program ('OvSynch').

Management Areas of the Loe Farm: