Much of our efforts on the dairy involve watching, tracking and monitoring performance of the herd and individual animals. When it comes to monitoring metritis—a costly and time-intensive disease with far-reaching repercussions—a consistent protocol for monitoring animals is essential to proactively preventing disease.
“In evaluating transition management and fresh cow health, the key is to ask appropriate and timely questions and then find data that answers the questions,” explains Michael Overton, DVM, MPVM, University of Georgia. “Mistakes in monitoring and in interpretation of results are often made. Distinguishing between normal and abnormal changes are elusive and frequently problematic concepts.”
Prefresh Pen Offers Answers
One critical thing to monitor that is directly linked to future uterine health and incidence of metritis is dry matter intake (DMI) in the prefresh pen.
“Research¹ has been published that illustrates the link between precalving DMI, immune function and postpartum disorders,” shares Overton. “The odds of severe metritis increased by 2.87 for every 2.2-pound decrease in DMI during the close-up period.”
Fresh Cow Follies Plague Milking Herd
In the fresh cow pen metritis is one of the most common diseases cows experience. Researchers estimate as much as 20% of the herd is diagnosed with metritis while subclinical endometritis may impact as much as 50% of the herd!²
“Effective screening programs that focus on appetite, attitude, body temperature, rumen fill and function, manure quality, udder fill and presence or absence of uterine discharge can help detect and treat problems promptly,” shares Overton.
As part of an effective uterine health screening program, Overton recommends tracking the following areas in the fresh cow pen:
- DMI. As with prefresh cows, DMI is one of the simplest and earliest indicators of changes in health and performance in fresh cows. Aim to weigh feed delivered and feed refused and target a five percent refusal rate. DMI should be at least 38 pounds for Holsteins and greater than 27 pounds for Jerseys, but these levels will vary based on how long cows stay in the fresh pen.
- Disease and health monitoring. Dairies should consistently record and monitor major fresh cow events, such as metritis, milk fever, displaced abomasums, retained placentas, mastitis and lameness. In many cases the incidence of one disease can open the door for other health problems, so identifying and treating diseases early can prevent additional health concerns.
For more information on preventing metritis, click here.