Within these case studies are the SOPs developed for each of the nine participating farms in relation to their animal welfare bottleneck.
In conclusion, these farms have improved animal care and subsequent welfare in their operations by creating and implementing these SOPs. These nine farms will now serve as case studies for the dairy industry to study and replicate. Improving dairy animal care and welfare will support the ongoing goals of optimal animal care and stewardship already in place within the industry. Improving cow comfort and animal health is an area on the farm where hidden profits can be realized. Therefore, the improved profitability of these farms will allow them to be sustainable over time.
Secondly, improved on farm animal welfare will help to further demonstrate the commitment of the Pennsylvania dairy industry to consumer groups largely unfamiliar with modern practices on dairy farms. This cow care and herd health case study project has and will continue to help dairy farmers to make necessary improvements regarding herd health and cow comfort in order to remain a part of a long term viable industry.
Bottleneck: The herd has had continued issues with fresh cows and transition cow health at the time of calving.
Goal: Improve the overall health and longevity of this herd demographic and reduce the incidence of metabolic disease.
SOPs that will address the Cow Care and Herd Health Bottleneck:
1. Monitor Ketosis after freshening
a. Test each cow every day for 7 days after calving for Ketosis
b. Use urine keto-stix for diagnosis
c. Record findings on all fresh cows
2. Monitor temperatures after freshening
a. Record daily temperatures every morning-milking
b. Give appropriate treatment to any cow with a temperature over 103 degrees Fahrenheit
3. Record daily milk weights of cows after 4th milking
a. Monitor daily milk weight for fresh cows at each milking
4. Any cow that has a milk yield reduction greater than 20% will be monitored through a physical examination and treatment protocol determined
5. Analyze fresh cow data at monthly herd check
a. Examine peak/summit milk for entire lactating herd
6. Analyze any metabolic disease occurrence for that particular month and determine trends
SOP Implementation Impact Summary:
1. Adjusted dry cow grain in ration
a. Reduced the number of incidences of metabolic diseases
2. Tested any suspect animals for metabolic diseases
a. Previously, most cows were calving in with ketosis and underlying milk fever
3. Awareness of protocols for transition animals heightened
a. Started doing preventative measures earlier and monitoring becoming routine
4. Followed milk production changes closely
a. Visual and physical exams done on any suspect animals
5. Displaced abomasums were reduced