In the dairy industry, it's a commonly held belief that cow comfort contributes to healthier and higher producing dairy herds. One additional way to increase cow comfort is to manage and control ectoparasites like mange and lice. Comfortable cows simply produce more milk.

Dr. Brian Miller, professional service veterinarian with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc., says an annual whole herd parasite control program is the best way to keep irritating and painful mange at bay.

"Even in dairy herds where cows do not have access to grass, a well thought out program is important to controlling external parasites and keeping cows comfortable and productive," says Miller. "Chorioptes bovis, the parasite that causes chorioptic mange in dairy cattle, lives at the base of a cow's hair and tends to be concentrated around the tail head, escutcheon, udder and thighs. These parasites are spread by direct contact, and because of close confinement, they spread very quickly and easily within a dairy herd."

Mange infestation results in the development of irritating nodules that provoke the cow to lick and scratch, leading to weeping lesions that cause extreme discomfort and subsequently loss of milk production.

Miller offers the following tips to help control irritating mange mites and keep your dairy herd more profitable:

  • Do not abandon deworming or parasite control programs in difficult economic times. Keeping animals healthy and comfortable also keeps them productive.
  • Regardless of cold or warm weather climates, implement a whole herd deworming or parasite control program in the late fall. Mange usually is more of a problem in the colder months, even in warmer climates, however treatment may be necessary whenever mange is noticed.
  • Remember to pour any new animals entering the herd on arrival, including dry cows, first calf heifers and newly purchased additions as an important element in the biosecurity program.
  • Pouring first lactation cows is important for protecting them in the last 10-15% of their growth and maximizing the first lactation.