Cut disease incidence
CALVING is dangerous for cow health. Prolonging lactation and thereby reducing the number of calvings in a cows life will reduce disease incidence and improve profitability, according to one Gloucester vet.
Not only does calving itself have inherent dangers, but a weakened immune system associated with calving increases cows susceptibility to disease, believes vet Roger Blowey.
"Dystocia, blood loss, retained placenta, endometritis and milk fever are directly associated with calving. But equally important are mastitis, ketosis and lameness.
"About 60% of all clinical coliform mastitis cases occur within 60 days of calving, the most severe often being at calving time. This is likely to be due to reduced immunity associated with calving."
In addition, onset of hoof damage occurs at calving, explained Mr Blowey. "It is well-known that there is a peak incidence of sole ulcers and white line disease 10-14 weeks after calving – the time it takes for horn damaged at calving to grow to the sole surface."
A reduction in disease incidence through calving cows less often would benefit cow welfare and herd profitability, said Mr Blowey. "I can see no health problems associated with extending lactations as long as cows arent allowed to become over-fat."