Beyond fertility to udder health, fresh pen, foot health (Proceedings)

Aug 01, 2010

We have talked about supervision and finding treatment failures and conditions that have low odds of successful treatment in an efficient manner that is cost efficient for the dairy, good welfare for the cow and work we'd like to do. These are hollow words unless it can be delivered to the cows in need on a timely basis.

Times have been hard on dairies economically for several years. How can we expect to expand our work in this economic climate regardless of the legalities of AMDUCA, the need for a valid VCPR, or the introduction of a welfare program?

The 1 defined condition / 1 treatment / 1 recording plan we build into the written protocol is exactly the tool to accomplish this and our fertility work schedules allow a modest expansion of work that has huge opportunities for improved the welfare of the cow and clinical effectiveness of the treatments. We can accomplish this in a cost effective way and more importantly we pay for it ourselves by improving the dairies profitability. We have the perfect vehicle already set up on our dairies.

The record system initiated allows us to make a list of all the cows currently under treatment for each management group, check on the accuracy of the record keeping, and compliance with the written protocol at the same time. Additional information can be integrated into the list that identifies cows that the protocols don't cover and need professional care.

Logistically, this works best when we arrive early and initiate the herd check by looking at the lists of the animals being treated for any condition that is of interest. Consider:
     • A summary command of the fresh cow
           o Now we are measuring prevalence rates not incidence rates as a vertical assessment
           o Problem cows are visible as individual animals and are identified before we start
     • A summary command of clinical mastitis cows
           o Prevalence rate and the pattern of scenarios is visible
           o Problem cows are visible as individual animals and are identified before we start
     • Cow or calves treated for diarrhea or pneumonia
           o Problem cows are visible as individual animals and are identified before we start

We consider sufficient knowledge to be knowledge of the herd patterns of conditions and outcomes before we considered the plan for supervision because it is important to have an understanding of them first so that the supervision has value for the herd as well as the individual. Changes in current patterns from historic patterns are the basis for deciding if the recent change should trigger a more in depth investigation.

We know the herds' history:
     • The written treatment definitions, drug protocols, and recording plan
     • The herd's policy toward detection sensitivity and management of mild cases
     • The recent trends in KPI's
     • The production medicine risk factors that are imbedded into the management plan
     • The pattern of conditions and treatment outcomes routinely experienced by the dairy

We can step out of the past into the present with a list of animals currently under treatment for every management group we want to have input into. Arriving early for this portion of the herd check was not said by accident. Since our cows have been released from stanchions and moved into covered yards the commitment of not interfering with the cows resting schedule has become a major factor in the scheduling of herd checks and the time commitment by both the workers and ourselves is usually predictable.

Supervision of the cows under treatment is also reasonably predictable from week to week as to the time commitment for examinations or potential diagnostics. However it is not as predictable as the number of palpations in a pen. It is elective work so the reason to start our assessment of supervision with the treatment records is so we can triage the work that is urgent from work that could be delayed. There will probably be animals that require an examination and there may be animals that only need a visual examination and could be accomplished easy if some is watching for the cow.