Salmonella is a pervasive bacterium that is difficult to keep away from the dairy. While most dairies have some level of presence, each individual animal will have a different ability to fight off the disease before breaking with clinical symptoms. 

Salmonella is an opportunistic pathogen,” says Bradford Smith, DVM, DAVIM, professor emeritus, School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California-Davis. “If animals face a high level of exposure and are compromised in their ability to fight it at the same time, Salmonella will win. Fresh cows are at a higher likelihood of this happening than other adult animals on the dairy, so it is our task to make sure we help them stay ahead of the organism and remain healthy.”

Even if your dairy has never experienced a major outbreak, controlling Salmonella in fresh cows can help to prevent infection of the rest of the herd. Prevention strategies include but are not limited to:

  1. Monitor fresh cows – Follow a regular fresh-cow monitoring protocol to detect fevers and other signs of early illness.
  2. Manage feedbunks – Keep fresh feed available at all times so that intake disruptions are minimized. In hot weather, clean bunks more frequently than normal to remove any rancid feed. Salmonella numbers can double every 20 minutes in warmer temperatures.
  3. Keep rodents out – Limit exposure of feedstuffs to rodents, birds, cats and other potential Salmonella disease carriers.
  4. Separate fresh cows – Fresh cows have a compromised immune system after calving and should not be kept in the same pen with hospital cows who may be shedding pathogens to the environment.
  5. Provide space – Adequate bunk space is critical in the pre- and post-fresh pen so that all animals can eat at the same time. Stocking density should be maintained below capacity so all transition cows can lie down at the same time.
  6. Provide cow cooling – Offering shade, misters, and/or fans in the pre- and post-fresh pens during hot weather can encourage cows to keep eating.
  7. Sanitize equipment – All fresh pen equipment, including balling guns and rectal thermometers should be disinfected between animals using chlorhexidine solution at 3 ounces per gallon. Never use the same needles and syringes for different animals.
  8. Clean water – Watering troughs should be cleaned and disinfected in the fresh pen on a regular basis, because Salmonella can be transmitted via saliva, and survives well in water.
  9. Protect newborns – Remove calves from dams immediately after calving and immediately disinfect navel stumps. Bedding should be clean, dry, and well-maintained in maternity facilities as well. If the herd has a history of Salmonella, consider feeding pasteurized colostrum or a colostrum replacer followed by pasteurized milk or milk replacer.
  10. Consider vaccination to help control Salmonella – Work with your veterinarian to determine the most prudent vaccination strategy based on your herd’s history and your Salmonella risk factors.

For more information on strategies for helping control Salmonella, talk to your herd veterinarian.

Source: Pfizer Animal Health