A fresh-cow wellness program involves more than just checking temperatures; it also involves keeping a close eye on the cows for any problems that may develop, say Jeremy and Art Meinholz, of Middleton, Wis.

The Meinholzes check the cows for fever and ketosis on a daily basis.  In addition, the older cows (three lactations or more), as well as heavier ones (body condition score greater than 4.0), receive an IV dose of calcium gluconate within the first 12 hours of calving to perk them up and perhaps alleviate any symptoms of subclinical milk fever.

The Meinholzes do fairly well when it comes to limiting the number of animals culled within the first 30 days of lactation. According to data they receive from the Dairy Wellness Plan Manager software program from Pfizer Animal Health, 4.8 percent of the 518-cow herd is culled within the first 30 days of milk, which is close to the 4-percent target suggested by experts. 

“They are very meticulous,” herd veterinarian Barry Kleppe says of the Meinholzes.