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Cows 365 Blog

January 2011 - Posts

  • Pedometeres used in heat detection

    Visited a farm in County Louth where we scanned a herd of cows which had pedometers used as a tool in heat detection. Pedometers, in my opinion work well if heats are evidently shown. They will not pick up on silent heats. On the farm visited today, 20% of the cows presented had heats as determined by ultrasonography which were not picked up the pedometer heat detection system. The major danger with this technology is that the farmer becomes dependant on the machine to detect heats and spends less time watching the cows for visual signs of heat or other signs or other than a standing heat. Dr.Dan Ryan @
  • Holstein dairy cow herd with cows producing in excess of 10,000 litres in second lactations and greater.

    Visited a Holstein dairy herd in County Wicklow which presented me with a herd of cows producing in excess of 10,000 litres in a 305 yield. This production system suits where winters in this part of Ireland are at least 6 months. The base farm is relatively small so feed has to be harvested on outside farms and brought back to the home farm for feeding the animals. The argument that one should focus on grass based milk productions will not work in this part of Ireland. Drawing up these systems, one has to bear in mind farm fragmentation, soil types, farm labour and the skill of the farm labour involved. Dr.Dan Ryan @
  • Udder chaos as cow takes to the streets in Ennis County Clare.

    Read where a cow did not want to be sold at Ennis Mart during the week. Once she was left out the cow box she took to the streets in Ennis town. She got very agitated by her new surroundings. When the Garda man and another man tried to corral her, she knocked them to the ground and took off at high speed. Eventually she was caught and put into a field. She didn't settle very well here either until a few hours later when she got tired. Passers by thought it was a bull that was creating all the commotion and not a cow. Thank goodness no one got injured.
  • Limousin cows and excellent stockmanship

    Visited a Limousin herd in County Laois which I have to say is one of the best managed Limousin herds in Ireland. This herd would also be one of the largest pedigree registered Limousin herds. The nutrional, housing and welfare management of these Limousin cows is excellent. They use embryo transfer to harvest genetics from the best dams in the herd. Today we were assessing potential donor cows for the purpose of a superovulation programme, sexing pregnancies on cows previously diagnosed pregnant and pre-breed scans on cows that had calved between 2 and 6 weeks previously. This herd uses scanning as a preventative health management tool for their Limousin herd. Dr.Dan @
  • Cows need to be scanned at the correct stage post breeding to get correct dry off dates.

    Visited a dairy herd in North Clare today where cows were presented for pregnancy diagnosis and a stock bull was running with the herd. They had no idea of dry off dates for cows and it turned out that they were too late in getting cows scanned as a lot of the cows needed to be dried off at least 4 weeks previous. This situation where dry off dates were totally in-correct action needed to be taken to avoid excessive milk withdrawal post-calving because of antibiotic treatment in the dry cow period. The short dry cow period will also result in fertility problems post calving and impact on the milk yield in the subsequent lactation. Accurate dry off dates are only achieved by scanning cows pregnant in the window 35 to 120 days of gestation. Dr.Dan @
  • Listeriosis in cows

    Visited a farm today with a herd of dairy cows presented for scanning which had not been detected in heat. A high proportion of these cows presented had abnormal ovarian activity. Further discussion with the farmer revealed that the herd had undergone an outbreak of listeriosis associated with feeding baled silage which was previously wrapped in plastic in a high dry matter state. This facilitated the development of listeria bacteria on the silage. The impact of this stressor in the uterine environment was phenomenal. I advised the client the cows could not be induced into oestrus and the recovery time would be protracted. The best advise to this client was to ensure that these cows were given the optimal in terms of comfort available on the farm with the maximum dry matter intakes of quality. Dr.Dan @
  • 100% pregnancy rate to AI in a group of 11 heifers.

    Visited a farm in county Waterford to-day where 11 heifers were AI’d to natural heats and all 11 heifers held to first AI. This is a remarkable result. The farmer wanted them scanned for pregnancy because he was convinced some of them were not in calf. Dr.Dan @
  • Carbon taxes from cows admissions.

    Got a ‘phone call from a farmer in County Cork today enquiring if I had customers with heifers which they wanted reared off farm enabling them to increase milk production on their own farm. In addition, there would be the opportunity to reduce carbon taxes associated with admissions of methane by exporting these animals to Limoges in France. The stock would be reared as in-calf heifers to enter the dairy herd. In my opinion, this is a noval approach to dealing with carbon taxes associated with cattle admissions. The client informed me the cattle could be reared off the farm in France at a cost which would be less than rearing them in Ireland. Dr.Dan @
  • ET in cows and maiden heifers

    Visited a farm in County Limerick today where pedigree Charolais and Angus embryos were implanted in multiparous and nulliparous cows and heifers respectively. The pregnancy rate was the same in both groups with embryos transferred directly from donor to cow giving a pregnancy rate of over 80% with 34 transfers and a pregnancy rate of less than 20% in embryos previously frozen or imported and transferred after thawing to recipients. This pool of data was remarkably interesting in that the recipients were checked using ultrasonography prior to ET. The recipient cows resulted in a pregnancy rate similar to that in maiden heifers. Maiden heifers or multiparous cows are suitable for ET if ultrasonography of the reproductive tract determines that same is normal. Dr.Dan @
  • Cows milk foam bath- another use for milk!

    A client recently gave me a present of a liquid milk carton with a cow blazoned on the front of it. The carton contains foam bath. Further examination revealed that the carton did contain milk as part of the ingredients and marketed by a Canadian company called the ‘’ Moo Company’’. The milk carton was very catching in terms of marketing and would entice one to use it as the most natural form of bath for relaxation. Dr.Dan @
  • Blind cow produces several off-Spring using ET.

    A farm visit in County Limerick today to a Holstein Friesian breeder with a blind Holstein cow which has survived on the farm from birth with a condition of blindness but has an excellent background genetically. Has been flushed on a number of occasions and has produced many female off-Spring. Embryo transfer is the option to harvest genetics from an animal which may not have any future on the farm. This particular cow is an exception to the rule in that she managed to survive on the farm with the rest of the herd using her senses. Dr.Dan @
  • A good stockman knows his cows.

    Visited a client in County Laois with a pedigree Holstein Friesian herd. This client had identified all cows correctly in terms of reproductive status except those cows with embryonic death, which could not be identified in terms of state. He had missed none of the repeats and correctly identified the pregnancy status with a pregnancy rate of 55% to the first service period. This was excellent considering that this herd has a rolling herd average in excess of 9,000 litres. Dr.Dan @
  • Farmer disappointed with sexed Charolais semen

    Visited a client in north Cork who had used sexed Charolais semen to ease calving difficulty in maiden Charolais heifers. Of the 5 straws used, 4 repeated and he was very disappointed. However, I noted that 2 of the heifers which had repeated had abnormalities associated with the reproductive tract which may partially explain the poor pregnancy rate encountered. When using sexed semen one should give consideration to using reproductive assessment using ultrasonography prior to using sex semen. Dr.Dan @
  • Low milk protein this season compared to last year.

    Visited a farm in West Cork where a herd of Holstein Friesian cows presented with an underlying problem of low milk protein relative to previous milk season. Milk proteins previously were at this time of the year between 3.4 and 3.55%. This year they have slipped in the past 8 weeks from 3.5 to 3.2. BCS in the cows was in the acceptable range between 2.5 and 3.0 for the freshly calved cows and 3 to 3.5 in cows which had calved greater than 120 days. The pregnancy rate among cows presented was below 20%, The incidence of embryonic death from cows presented was in excess of 25% and of those cows diagnosed not pregnant, over 70% of same had abnormal uterine environments which would not be conclusive to the establishment of pregnancy. I advised the client to consult his nutritionist to investigate in more detail the underlying stressors giving rise to poor reproductive performance and depressed milk proteins. Dr.Dan @
  • Genetic base for Short Horns needs to be more diverse

    Visited a pedigree Charolais and Short Horn breeder in County Antrim. I was astounded by the quality of stock bred by this client. In fact, he had a Short-Horn bull which he plans to sell at a show which surpasses all bulls that I have seen in the last year. In fact he won a show class last year beating all other breeds in his class. It is a shame that the genetic base for Short-Horns is not more diverse. Dr.Dan @
  • Cow on the pill and that is no bull!

    Visited a farm in Enniskillen , County Fermanagh where a cow was presented with a serious fertility problem. The client claimed that the cow failed to settle in calf after several attempts and continued to show regular repeats. His vet had inserted progesterone devices per vaginum to rectify the presumed ovarian disfunction . On examination today, I found that cow was 100 days pregnant carrying a heifer calf. The client was in shock. However, I was amazed when I noted that this cow was not alone carrying one but indeed two intravaginal progesterone devices per vaginum. The farmer’s comment as I removed the devices was’’ it just proves that the pill is not 100% effective in preventing pregnancy’’ Dr.Dan @
  • Testing for Johne’s disease.

    A new test will become available shortly which will increase the detection rate earlier post infection for Johne’s disease. A research group at the Meridian Research Institute have developed a test for Johne’s disease which yields less false positives and earlier post infection detection of the disease. Dr.Dan @
  • Very high pregnancy rate once health problems were rectified

    Visited a farm in North Cavan which had a serious problem with endocarditis last Spring. This problem was attributed to immune system depression associated with low blood coppers, high incidence of IBR and acidosis in cows. The problem with both copper and IBR was rectified and on a pregnancy scan today all cows in the herd showed a very high pregnancy rate with cows freshly calved returning with normal involution rates post calving. Dr.Dan @
  • 11 cattle died due to water or salt poisoning

    A farm visit in County Cork where 11 cattle had died following water poisoning or salt poisoning. This was associated with the fact that the animals had not received water during the very cold spell of weather. When the water returned, they engaged in same which caused a breakdown in red blood cells and death of the animals. Where water is not available to animals, it should be returned to them slowly. Dr.Dan @
  • Low starch content in maize.

    Visited a farm in County Waterford. A herd of cows presented for scanning for calving next Autumn. The cows were on a diet with maize which had low starch content. The cows presented with a very high proportion of animals in an anoestrus state. This may be partially explained by the poor starch content in the maize supplied to the total ration. The nutritionist concerned advised the client to increase concentrate to content in the maize. In addition, the nutritionist advised not to put maize in the same area as was planted before as the same results pertained for the last 2 years. Dr.Dan @
  • Hospitality abounds in Upperchurch, County Tipperary.

    Visited a farm in Upperchurch in County Tipperary where the temperature was -7⁰C at 2 p.m in the afternoon during the cold snap before Christmas. 2 kettles were on a fire out on an open farm to boil water in order to thaw pipes to get water to cows. There was a total of 6 people on hand when I came into the yard to scan the cows. This form of ‘’ meitheal’’ pertains in certains parts of rural Ireland and this is definitely one of them. There were characters a plenty. Nothing would do but to have the tea and the scones afterwards. No matter how out of schedule I was there was no way I could refuse the hospitality shown. Dr.Dan @
  • Sub-zero temperatures associated with increased silage intakes and possibilities of food shortages in the Spring.

    A farm visit in County Tipperary during Christmas week, I remarked the amount of cotton-seed hulls purchased by farmers. This is in conjunction with a fear by farmers that they will have insufficient feed to take them through next Spring because cows are eating a lot more silage than expected. This can be expected because of the higher metabolic demands of the cows in sub-zero temperatures. Price of cotton seed hulls has increased from €170 to €200 per tonne in the past 2 weeks. Farmers consider the big plus with cotton-seed hulls is the ability to feed large quantities of the feed with silage without any detrimental effects when compared with citrus pulp or molasses. Happy New Year to all readers. Dr.Dan @
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