By Doug Savage, Holstein International, October 2020
The costs incurred for treatment and from lost production due to mastitis have made it one of the biggest challenges facing the average dairy producer. Selecting cows that are more resistant to udder infections is therefore a priority. The use of somatic cell scores has been a practical management tool that has been used in many countries for the past 40-50 years. In the ‘90s this data became the basis for the first fitness trait to receive genetic evaluations worldwide. More recently data from mastitis incidences have been added so that many countries now have mastitis resistance proofs. However, genetic selection is only part of the answer. Here we bring you a number of management tools that are designed to help improve udder health.
For any cow, but especially the cow in transition phase, swelling is never your friend. The buildup of swelling and congestion in the udder before and around calving time can impact blood circulation and slow the process of reaching peak production. It’s uncomfortable for the cow and may even leave her more prone to infections and mastitis. Canadian company Udder Comfort has developed a range of products based on essential oils that help to soften udders and deal with problem swelling.
The products are available as a lotion or in a spray-on format. In addition to the spray bottle, a back-pack is now available with a spray wand that provides fast and easy treatment for large numbers of cows.
“We use Udder Comfort for our fresh cows, especially 2-year-olds,” says Tom Kestell from Ever-Green-View in Wisconsin. “We don’t have much mastitis or extreme edema. We use this product on fresh udders to speed up circulation and bring out any swelling they might have.”
Softer, more pliable udders can make a significant difference to how quickly 2-year-olds adapt to being milked, especially with robot milking. Robot owners report that the fetch time – the time it takes to train a 2-year-old to go to the robot for milking – can be dramatically reduced. “The Udder Comfort heifers came in with udders full of milk, but so soft, no edema, and faster robot attachments. First lactation robot fetch time was cut by 70%; from 2-3 weeks to under a week. That’s huge,” says Josh Lingen who milks 240 cows (now 320) through robots in Minnesota.
“Our first-calf heifers adapt much faster to visiting the robots on their own, due to little or no udder edema, less irritation, less stress, all of which make happier, healthier, more productive cows with fewer problems, more milk and lower SCC,” explains Chad Fredd from Grapeview Dairy, New York. “We find 2x/day for 3 days optimal for fresh cows, 5-7 days for heifers.”
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This article is offered here by the Comfort team (Udder Comfort) with permission from HI. Read about all the tools discussed in this Holstein International article (above) or download below: