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Dairy Herd Health Management Tips

Every season brings its challenges in terms of maintaining animal health and with all grazing animals turned out to grass there are a number of issues that farmers need to be mindful of right now. Most notable at this time of year is issues with Mastitis, Lameness and Parasite control.

The overall aim for any herd is to provide the correct nutrition to promote a healthy, productive dairy animal at grass and to minimise incidence of metabolic and health disorders. There are many factors that will have a significant effect on the prevalence of these disorders, but with careful supervision they can be minimised with our dairy herd health management tips.

Mastitis Prevention

Summer mastitis can be a major problem in the dairy herd and must be carefully controlled with an exact milk routine management policy. For example, the milking routine must be followed in a structured protocol and hygiene will be most important here, together with pre and post dipping.

Allowing cows to stand following milking will also help, as this allows teat sphincters to tighten and a lesser opportunity for bacterial infection. Roadways and collecting yards must be kept clean. Some farmers I talk to have considerable success using garlic molassed lick buckets together with applying stockholm tar to teats. Others use pour on fly repellents.

Minimising Lameness

Lameness is another reoccurring problem and needs to be addressed early in the season; hoof trimming is the key here together with some hoof bathing to ensure hoof health. It is important to monitor cows vigilantly to avoid the onset of chronic lameness. Farmers are always surprised to hear that the losses to milk revenue and reproductive performance due to lameness are as high as €500 per cow, depending on the severity.

Parasite Control

This is the time of year when all classes of dairy stock should be treated for parasites such as stomach and intestinal worms (gut worms), lungworms, liver and rumen fluke. It is important to assess the status of all animals and administer the appropriate use of anthelmintic control. Regular rotational grazing will reduce the level of infestation and a leader follower system should be exercised.  Young calves are most at risk of parasites as they have no immunity. Regular anthelmintic control is vital here to maintain a good health status and to maximise average daily gain.

Across the country I still see young calves with traces of red hair and this is simply a lack of copper. A mineral lick with protected copper will correct this problem.  Providing regular clean paddocks will allow calves to thrive and achieve greatest performance.

In summary, animal health will dictate the longevity of dairy animals in the herd and with careful monitoring and a planned protocol successful results can be achieved. For further information or advice on dairy herd health management, please do not hesitate to contact any member of the Connolly’s RED MILLS ruminant team.

  • Tags:
  • Agri
  • animal health
  • gut worms
  • lameness
  • liver fluke
  • lungworms
  • mastitis
  • parasite control