August 7, 2020 News

DHI Herd Data Review for Udder Health and Profitability

Dr. Rob Swackhammer & Megan Jamieson (DVM student, Class of 2022)

Once again thanks to our veterinary student Megan Jamieson for entering and helping to analyze the data from 2019 Lactanet annual reports. Not all our herds are on Lactanet testing but we feel it is representative of the overall trends.

Clinic Comparison: Herds with Consistent Herd Health Visits vs. Herds with Inconsistent Herd Health Visits



  • • Herds with consistent herd health visits = 2-4 times a month
  • • Herds with inconsistent herd health visits= 0 to <2 times per month
Consistent HH AVERAGE Inconsistent HH AVERAGE Difference
Average Linear Score   2.5 3.1 +0.6
Average SCC 222 291 +69
Average Profit per cow end of 3rd lactation $3070.79 $2378.00 +$692.79
Average Profit end of 2nd lactation $968.38 $422.75 +$545.63
Ave Profit end of 1st lactation -$1476.38 -$1742.08 +$265.70
Ave profit at onset of 1st lactation -$3209.08 -$3176.75 -$32.33
Average Milk Value ($/cow) $7560.63 $7317.73 +$242.90

*(Numerical differences were found between the 2 groups however the differences between the 2 groups were not found to be statistically significant. We believe this is mostly due to inadequate numbers of herds in this evaluation. We also believe the trend is plausible and follows what we observe in practice.)


Similar to our findings on reproductive measurements, herds that have a vet on-farm on a weekly or biweekly basis show slightly better results on udder health and profitability.  Although we would love to take full credit for this success there is enough variation in each group to know that we are only a part of the recipe for success.  Could it be that the herds with better numbers are more likely to follow routines (including herd health)?  Or that herds with better numbers use all outside sources of information on a more regular basis (like nutritionists, foot trimmers, accountants…)? From our limited data, we see success in both large and small herds, so we do not believe it is directly related to herd size.

Some advantages of having a vet on-farm regularly include:

  1. 1) Often cow health improves by having a second set of eyes look at a cow or the herd
  2. 2) Often diseases can be treated early, or advice can be dispensed on animals that would not necessarily have needed a special visit from the vet that day.
  3. 3) Other advantages include the ability to discuss new treatment protocols or products often.
  4. 4) Frequent monitoring of performance allows a quicker response

For the herds already on regularly scheduled herd visits, I look forward to discussing these findings with you at our next visit.

For herds that currently have inconsistent herd health visits consider trying a test period of routine herd visits.  We can help you decide on an appropriate amount of time needed to evaluate response as well as what measures to use to gauge any advantages you might see.

In conclusion, we were very pleased to see the overall positive results of having consistent and timely herd health visits.  Thank you to all the clients that give us the opportunity to work with you on your farms.  We look forward to helping you achieve your goals for your farm.

If you have any questions on these or other topics, please do not hesitate to contact one of our Veterinarians.


January 1, 2020 News

ProAction Update (Dairy) – Dr. Shannon Walsh

Biosecurity Module: Began Sept 2019, has (4) components
Signage: Posted at main point of access, including a phone #
New SOPs (4): 1) Vaccination, 2) New cattle, 3) Returning cattle, 4) Visitor biosecurity
Disease event records: Mandatory for diseases listed below even if not treated

  • Cows (6): DA, RP, mastitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, death
  • Calves (3): pneumonia, diarrhea, death

Biosecurity Risk Assessment Management Plan (RAMP): Questionnaire completed
with a vet once every two years

  • Graded on completion (not scores)

Applied Cattle Handling – Dr. Derek Haley

Differences in productivity between farms can largely be explained by how cars are handled.
Negative handling = decrease in productivity and vice versa; this is due to effects of stress and
elevated cortisol on production. Useful resources for principles of cattle behaviour and

  • Temple Grandin
  • Paul Rapnicki
  • CowSim by Nicholas Free

Precision Technology for Calf health – Dr. Dave Renaud

Calf Health Category Technological Aids Description / Comments
Calving Management Body temperature monitor Decreases 1°C 48hrs prior to calving
New & coming soon
Activity/Pedometers Increases 48hrs prior to calving
NOT the same as estrus monitors which have insufficient sensitivity
Rumination monitors Decreases 70%, greatest 4-6hrs prior to calving
Tail position (“Moo-Calls”) Raised tail 2-6hrs prior to calving
Feeding Management ATP swabbing (luminometer) An accurate, quantitative measure of bacterial contamination.
A U of G study shows that a high-level of bacterial contamination of
feeding equipment is common and that visual assessment alone greatly
underestimates contamination.
Early Disease Detection Calf pedometers
(automatic feeders)
Activity decreases by ~1000 steps if sick
Undergoing validation for automatic calf feeders
Infrared thermography Measure of core body temperature
Under development
Lung ultrasound If incorporated into automatic calf feeders, would ease growth tracking
Growth & Development Weigh scales If incorporated into automatic calf feeders, would ease growth tracking
Blood ketones Tool for weaning decision-making. A blood ketone of ≥0.2mmol/L is
consistent with the calf eating 1kg starter for 3 consecutive days.

Vaccination Decision Making for Farmers – Dr. Robert Tremblay

Unfortunately, vaccines do not provide protection against all disease-causing microbes. Your vaccination program should match your herd’s disease risk and strike a balance between optimum protection and convenience of use.

FAQ: Does it matter when I vaccinate my cattle? For some vaccines, yes: i.e. fertility and scours vaccines

  • Can’t I just vaccinate my beef cows at preg-check time? – Yes BUT must be done at roughly the same time each year with a vaccine that provides a sufficient duration of protection (ask your vet).
  • Can’t I just vaccinate my dairy cow herd once a year? – This may cause some gaps in protection (e.g. cows may be boosted after they need the protection, may miss heifers’ pre-breeding vaccine)

Aquaculture – Dr. Myk Kamaitis

Aquaculture is an established and growing industry in Ontario. Aquaculture producers face similar challenges as other food producing operations (actually, challenges may be magnified as a result of managing larger numbers). Successful aquaculture operations remind us that:
– A pinch of prevention is worth a pound of cure
– Consistent data collection and analysis is critical for efficient management practices and profitability, applicable in:

  1. Prevention (e.g. health monitoring)
  2. Production performance (e.g. growth parameters)
  3. Troubleshooting (e.g. disease, growth, etc.)

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7707 Mill Rd., Guelph ON N1H 6J1
1139 Settlers Rd., Sheffield ON L0R 1Z0
7643 ON-6, Arthur, ON N0G 1A0

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