Reduce the risk of retained placentas
No one knows more about the health issues of the dairy herd than the farmers themselves so for this article, I spoke to farmers from Navan down to Clonakilty and from Oranmore across to Enniscorthy to find out what problems are rearing their heads in 2013.
For the farmers I interviewed, the spring has exceeded their expectations so far. It was a tough winter in terms of animal health, with pressure on silage stocks and a need for supplementary meal feeding and other supplements because of the poor quality of silage available.
However, the farmers I spoke to have had a reasonably good spring so far. Nonetheless, they are nervous about potential problems that could occur within the next two months.
The most common problem on farms this year is retained placentas/foetal membranes. Essentially you have a significant problem if 10pc or more have retained foetal membranes 24 hours after calving.
While approaches to the treatment vary, the general rule is to leave cows with retained placenta for three to five days without treatment, provided that the cow is not sick.
At this stage, the farmer can assist its removal without tearing the placenta.
However, illness can occur either because of bacterial infection or because the cow is absorbing toxic waste as the placenta degenerates naturally.