Keep cubicles clean to ward off disease
Mastitis the main concern in run-up to calving
Good hygiene in the cubicle is critical at this time of year. Cows will soon be springing up to calve, which means the udder will begin to fill up with colostrum. The key period is two weeks before calving.
Clean, dry cubicle beds are an essential requirement during the two weeks before calving and, indeed, for the length of time the calved cow remains indoors. Mastitis is the enemy here and good hygiene is required to keep it at bay.
If cows calve down with mastitis, several areas need to be assessed. Firstly, was the drying-off process carried out correctly? Was a long-acting tube used? Was a teat sealer used? Dry cow tubes may have lost their ability to protect the udder in the past two weeks before calving.
One other group of animals -- in-calf heifers -- are about to calve down during this period and they have no outside protection at all from any pathogens in the immediate environment.
In-calf heifers don't have the protection of teat sealers when the udder begins to bag up. Therefore, hygiene needs to be at a high level during this time.
Cows calving down with mastitis are a sure sign that all was not well with hygiene, either on the cubicle bed or the passage way, directly behind the cubicle in the two weeks prior to calving.
The number of clinical cases of mastitis that occur in the first month of calving is a good indicator of how hygiene standards are. The benchmark is five clinical cases of mastitis for every 100 cows during this period.
What hygiene programme should one have to ensure diseases such as mastitis are kept to the minimum?