Rising calf numbers pose health challenges
There has been a significant rise in cases of mastitis and other dairy health issues this spring
Published 02/03/2016 | 02:30
As the extremely busy spring is now well underway, the benefits of expansion in the dairy herd are plain to see - more litres in the tank, more calves on the ground and more cows in the field.
However, it's not all rosy in the garden. Increased cow numbers has given rise to some serious health issues - a significant rise in cases of mastitis, increased calf mortality and a significant rise in infertility levels.
We are seeing more cases of acute-mastitis in freshly calved cows this spring than any other year to date.
On many farms, cow numbers have increased by 20pc or more. However, the facilities on farm have remained the same.
There should be a minimum of one cubicle space per cow. Imagine if you came home after a hard day's work in the middle of the spring to find someone asleep in your bed and you had to stand up and wait until the bed became free.
Already very tired, you would get very stressed! This is exactly what happens to a cow. She is in the middle of the most stressful time in her year, and she doesn't have a place to lie down when she needs to.
Increased levels of stress leads to a decreased level of immunity which leaves the cow open to picking up infection. With an already swollen udder and probably dropping milk, mastitis is inevitable.
An inadequate number of calving pens is also a contributor to mastitis.