Herd health problems increase dramatically in spring calving herds as cows have to be housed for extended period after calving.
Farm visits in county Cork and Limerick today reveal that farmers are unable to milk cows outdoors because of poor grazing conditions. Ground is saturated because of high water tables and an extremely wet month of February. The calving season for spring calving is now well underway with almost 40% of cows calved in many herds but no opportunity I get these animals outdoors. The added stress load for these freshly calved cows because of poor housing environment, has increased the risk of mastitis, E. coli in mastitis, pneumonia and mortellaro. This combination of health problems will have a knock-on effect on the future reproductive performance in the dairy herd. It is essential that diets consisting of silage as a primary ingredient are balanced correctly with the demands of these freshly calved cows. Excessive body weight loss in freshly calved cows will result in persistent uterine infections, delayed onset to first natural heats and culminate in poor reproductive performance in cows bred next May and June.