Veterinary farm specific employee training to manage dairy cows at calving time
Keywords:calving protocols, employee training, bulls, calving, case reports, cows, dairy bulls, dairy cattle, dairy cows, dairy farms, endometritis, heifers, inflammation, parturition, pathogens, penicillins, programs, reviews, training, uterine diseases, veterinarians, veterinary education, veterinary medicine, veterinary practice, veterinary services, beta-lactam antibiotics, antibiotics
This case report illustrates how a farm-specific training program aimed at teaching employees to properly manage the cow at parturition can improve animal health on the dairy. Numerous primiparous cows on a 700-cow Holstein dairy farm were reported by the herd veterinarian to have severe intra-pelvic inflammation and uterine infection after calving, requiring extended systemic antibiotic therapy. The farm's previous maternity protocol called for moving cows directly to the maternity pen from the close-up dry cow group when parturition was imminent. Cows were generally moved to the calving pen during the first stage labor. Farm employees were subsequently provided a review of obstetrics principles, and the maternity protocol was revised to move cows to the maternity pen upon reaching second stage labor. Following implementation of the new protocol, average calving ease scores and outcome variables of proportion of cows with veterinary diagnosed metritis, veterinary prescribed penicillin for puerperal metritis, and stillborn calves in 2009 were compared to the herd's previous records from 2008. Average calving ease scores were lower for multiparous cows having heifer calves, and fewer heifer calves required delivery assistance. There were no differences in the other outcome variables, suggesting that multiparous cows could be moved to the maternity pen in either stage 1 or stage 2 labor. In primiparous cows in 2009 compared to 2008. There was a significant decrease in the proportion of primiparous cows delivering bull calves that received veterinary prescribed penicillin treatment for puerperal metritis. In addition, there was a significant decrease in both average calving ease scores and percent of either heifer or bull calves delivered requiring assistance in 2009, suggesting an advantage to waiting until stage 2 labor to move primiparous cows to the maternity pen. Overall, moving cows directly to the maternity pen in stage 2 labor from the close-up pen was an acceptable cow movement strategy on this dairy. Results from this study show that the veterinarian is ideally suited to provide farm-specific employee training, and well trained employees managing dairy cows at calving time will improve postpartum dairy cow health and welfare.