Dairy Science Department
BS in Dairy Science
The efficiency of today’s dairy has increased due to the growing number of cows per herd and the production of pounds of milk per cow. Increased milk production however has resulted in a reduction of conception rates causing a loss of income for the dairy producer since the dairy industry relies heavily on milk production, which is caused by good conception rates. Many reproductive disorders like dystocia, metritis, endometritis, and retained placenta affect conception rates, and can lead to metabolic diseases like rumen acidosis, milk fever, and displaced abomasums. Recurrent metabolic diseases can eventually lead to culling of the herd. Many of these metabolic disorders can be the cause of poor nutrition and management during the close-up period and after parturition. Cows in the close-up pen undergo many stressors such as temperature fluxuations, overcrowding, moving from pens, changes in ration, decreased dry matter intake, or metabolic disease which causes cortisol to be released from the adrenal gland. Cortisol suppresses the immune system making the animal more susceptible to metabolic and reproductive diseases that can overall impact production. Cortisol levels are also increased by low blood calcium during the close-up period.
Overall, it is the dairy producer’s responsibility to have a sufficient management program in place to treat and prevent the reproductive and metabolic diseases of the herd in order to optimize maximum productivity. The management program should work closely with a nutritionist in order to supply an appropriate feeding program for the transition cow when she is close to calving and after parturition. It is also crucial for the dairy producer to implement a disease treatment and prevention program with their veterinarian and herd managers.