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 Doe Farm

Doe Farm

Lactating Cows

Lactating barn75 Hostein milking cows are housed in the conventional tie-stall barn constructed in the 50s. Concrete beds are 58” in length and fresh wood chips from a local saw mill are used for bedding. The water cups are original equipment and are in constant need of repair. Two small wall fans are located on one end of the barn, drawing air over the calf pen to the outside. Hay shoots are left open and windows are ‘cracked’ to help deliver fresh air in the winter.

Wood chipsAnimals seem to do a lot of coughing in the winter so they like to keep the barn comfortable (~62°F) in an attempt to reduce cold stress on the cows. The milkers prefer working in the barn at that temperature also.

Cows are milked twice daily using a 1½ inch pipeline system with up to four units operating concurrently and on one side of the milking row or the other. Milking times may vary up to +/– two hours and ocytocin is used on a regular basis to encourage milk let down (most cows are given between ½ to 1 cc in the milk vein prior to being milked). The herd is on test (DHIA), which includes individual cow somatic cell counts. However, records are reviewed primarily for pedigree information. The BTSCC averages about 250,000 but does spike to ~500,000 on occasion. It is conjectured that since high BTSCCs seem to occur when they have a few cows develop 'hot mastitis' that this is the most likely cause of the periodic elevation of the BTSCC. Within the past 4 or 5 years there have been a few episodes where the raw plate count jumped over 50,000.

OxytocinA technician from the milking equipment dealer could not identify a problem with the milking equipment. They believe they have a higher incidence of displaced abomasom and retained placenta than they should.The herd veterinarian examines cows for pregnancy and reproductive health every 6 weeks in the winter but less often during the remainder of the year. Cows are dried off and kept in the milking barn. At drying off they are fed low quality hay and 'some corn silage.' About a week from calving 'a little grain' is added to the diet.

Cows are identified with metal DHIA tags and neck chain tags. The neck chains are switched to other animals when cows leave the herd. The herd is 'mostly closed' with the exception being an occasional purchase of a registered cow or heifer and replacement of the bull when he gets mean. Most cows and heifers are bred using the herd bull. Cows and heifers are purchased as a means to help achieve their goal of selling registered dairy stock, including bulls, on domestic and international markets.

The herd is vaccinated once yearly, as time permits. Products are purchased from the local farm supply truck and are kept in a cabinet outside the milkhouse, within the barn. Cows are noted as treated on a calendar that is hung next to the milk house door. Individual treatment records are not maintained. On two occasions in the past five years an antibiotic residue has been identified in their bulk tank milk. One animal, sold for beef within the past year, was identified with a violative antibiotic residue. The owners are convinced that the beef residue was an error on the part of the packing plant as they do not use (and, in fact, have never heard of) the antibiotic that was identified. The herd veterinarian says that the drug identified at the plant was never dispensed by him or through his office.

Miscellaneous Farm Practices:

  • There is no forage testing done on the farm. A high and a low group diet is fed via a mixing cart. Corn meal is added (top dressed) to the high group's ration.
  • Farm dogs have free access to all farm facilities.
  • Employees and family members consume milk from the bulk tank as well as neighbors that purchase milk.
  • The rendering truck pulls up at the opposite end of the barn from the sick pen. The driver walks past the calves and through the barn to the sick/maternity pen.

Management Areas of the Doe Farm: