What to do with Key Performance Indicators
Once you have the Key Performance Indicators, investigate the possible causes of the high infection rate. If the HiFresh Infection Rate is an issue, you should be directed to dry and transition period issues.
- Do I have infections persisting through the dry period (Staph aureus)?
- Is the problem confined to cows going through a dry period or are heifers also contributing to the problem?
- Will a teat sealant at dry off help?
- What are cow hygiene scores of dry and fresh cows and heifers?
- Are dry cow and fresh cow areas properly bedded?
- Are facilities overcrowded?
- Are maternity pens properly maintained?
- Always look at the first lactation animal HiFresh infection rate. They can contribute to a cell count issue more than you would think.
If new infections are an issue you need to look at management of the lactating herd. This includes very basic management issues that may be overlooked. Factors include:
- Cow hygiene. Cow hygiene scoring is another Key Performance Indicator.
- Milking procedures. Measure teat end cleanliness after prep for milking – a Key Performance Indicator.
- Identify pathogens involved with new infections (especially clinical infections).
- Evaluate milking system performance.
- Are infection rates high in some pens than others?
- Days in Milk can be an important indicator of the problem source.
Chronic infections are often the greatest contributor to excessive cells in the bulk tank. Chronic infection rates are a function of the new infection rate, the cure rate, and culling practices and policies. “Animals with an elevated HiFresh infection are also more likely to become chronically infected, so look at the first test after calving linear score of these animals,” Welcome suggested.
High Chronic infection rates should direct you to investigate and:
- Identify the pathogens involved.
- Evaluate treatment protocols and cure rates.
- Chronically infected animals are more likely to have repeated clinical episodes.
Key performance indicators are also very effective tools to evaluate management changes made to improve herd performance. If you change bedding or manure removal frequency to improve cow hygiene and new infection rates, you should be able to use either of those criteria to determine improvements. If cow hygiene improves but the new infection rate does not, you may have to look for other contributing factors.
Key performance indicators exist for all management issues on the farm. “It is our place to determine those issues that impact the productivity and profitability and develop measures of efficiency,” Welcome said.