Is your ‘Plan B’ ready?

Dairy News Australia - - MANAGEMENT - ROD DYSON

IT RE­ALLY shouldn’t have been this dry - af­ter all, it was the last week in June and it was Gipp­s­land!

In fact, the only prob­lem we had as we walked across the des­ig­nated calv­ing pad­dock on that day was the icy wind which was in­tent on go­ing through any­thing in its path rather than around it!

The pad­dock was a great choice for calv­ing - it was close to the house as well as to the dairy yards and fa­cil­i­ties, plus it was well drained, with a clean pick of pas­ture.

We had just spent an hour dis­cussing the strat­egy for calv­ing this spring, as mas­ti­tis at calv­ing had been an is­sue in the last few years - well above the Count­down trig­ger point of 5 clin­i­cal cases per 100 cows in the first 14 days af­ter calv­ing.

Nat­u­rally we had pre­vi­ously re­viewed the dry-off strat­egy, and all cows had been dried off with the up­dated pro­to­cols and pro­ce­dures, and now the time had come to re­view the ac­tual calv­ing strat­egy.

In par­tic­u­lar, we were dis­cussing the man­age­ment of this calv­ing area as the first 100 spring­ing cows were due in there in a cou­ple of weeks.

Surely, if it stayed this dry, prob­lems would be min­i­mal, and the area would cope with the whole spring calv­ing, wouldn’t it?

Well, no, prob­a­bly not! Why not? En­vi­ron­men­tal mas­ti­tis bac­te­ria will read­ily con­tam­i­nate teats if ud­ders are ex­posed to mud and ma­nure.

If a typ­i­cal cow de­fae­cates about 7 times a day, then there will be 700 new ma­nure pats in that area each day the first 100 cows are in there. That num­ber is cu­mu­la­tive if the cows stay in the same area, and/or new cows come into that area re­plac­ing cows that have calved.

Given that Count­down ad­vises that “if more than two pats of ma­nure are present per square me­tre, it is not clean enough for calv­ing cows”, ob­vi­ously it won’t be too long be­fore parts of that area will ex­ceed this trig­ger point.

How­ever, our walk had re­vealed that the lo­ca­tion of the wa­ter trough would make man­ag­ing this area in sec­tions an ab­so­lute breeze. Cows could eas­ily be moved on to the next fresh sec­tion when the cur­rent sec­tion be­came too con­tam­i­nated and they would still have ready ac­cess to wa­ter.

A quick “back of the en­ve­lope” cal­cu­la­tion sug­gested that this area plus the neigh­bour­ing pad­dock would likely cover off most, if not all of the spring calv­ing.

So, that’s it, all done with the calv­ing area? Ac­tu­ally, no. “What about Plan B?”, I asked

If it comes in wet, if the main ar­eas be­come too dirty, or if a prob­lem arises, then “Plan B” will be es­sen­tial, and it would be much bet­ter to plan for it now and be ready.

A short walk fur­ther on re­vealed an­other area that could eas­ily be held in re­serve, and it was only a lit­tle fur­ther away from the yards and fa­cil­i­ties.

“If more than two pats of ma­nure are present per square me­tre, it is not clean enough for calv­ing cows”

When to call on Plan B?

Count­down rec­om­mends that if three or more clin­i­cal cases of mas­ti­tis have oc­curred in the last 50 calv- ings, you should move the springers to a new area.

If you are calv­ing 50 cows in a week, and the time in­ter­val in ques­tion is the first 14 days af­ter a cow calves, then three cases in 7 - 10 days would sug­gest that you take a closer look, do the arith­metic prop­erly, and move the springers to a fresh area if nec­es­sary.

Watch the calv­ing area closely and if it ap­proaches two ma­nure pats per square me­tre, con­sider mov­ing the cows.

A handy tip here is that if you can walk across the area with­out hav­ing to watch where you place your feet, it is likely to be less than the two pats per square me­tre, but if you have to watch where you put your feet, it is likely to be above that thresh­old.

If the gate­way, the lane, or any reg­u­larly used sec­tion of the area or ac­cess point be­come heav­ily con­tam­i­nated, or turn into a bog hole, then it is time to move to Plan B, so that freshly calved cows don’t have to tra­verse those ar­eas.

In sum­mary, as we head into July, many of our south­ern dairy ar­eas are still dry, but that may well not last, and it is not just mud that we have to be aware of as a mas­ti­tis risk at calv­ing.

Do your plan­ning, and make sure you have “Plan B” up your sleeve!

• Rod Dyson is a vet­eri­nary sur­geon and mas­ti­tis ad­vi­sor with www.dairy­fo­cus.

It may be dry, but en­vi­ron­men­tal mas­ti­tis bac­te­ria will read­ily con­tam­i­nate teats if ud­ders are ex­posed to ma­nure.

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