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Peruse practical information for the dairy producer on essential topics including management, A.I. and breeding, new technology, and feed and nutrition.

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When dairy producers have a record of the mastitis pathogen profile for their herds, control measures and treatment decisions are improved. While elevations in bulk tank somatic cell count (SCC) can be an indication of herd mastitis problems, the personnel milking the cows are typically the initial component in the decision-making process for clinical mastitis treatment. Strategic milk culture programs are the only mechanisms to determine which microbial agents are causing mastitis problems.

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A recent economic analysis estimated each clinically lame cow costs the dairy producer approximately $300. Costs associated with lameness include decreased milk production, reduced fertility and increased culling risk, treatment costs and labor requirements. Surveys indicate incidence of lameness on dairies varies between four and 55 cases per 100 cows per year and is dependent upon farm, location and time of year. Clearly, lameness is a costly disease and reducing its incidence will have a very favorable impact on dairy profitability.

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Over the past few years, dry cow management has been re-examined with respect to nutrition housing and health. This [article] focuses on new ideas in lighting for dry cows and altering the length of the dry period as methods to improve overall productivity and health during the transition and subsequent lactation.

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The ability of dairy cows to convert feedstuffs into products for human consumption is generally referred to as feed efficiency and is expressed as pounds of milk produced per pound of dry matter (DM) consumed. This expression represents a gross measure of feed efficiency and does not account for nutrients partitioned to reproduction, growth and tissue deposition. Thus, interpretation of the value obtained should consider stage of lactation, age and stage of gestation for the herd in question.

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During the past few years, there has been a noticeable increase in publication of applied cow behavior research. Presently, many of the most active research groups in dairy cattle behavior are located in Europe and Canada. We need more dedicated research effort in the United States on applied behavior, and greater collaborative efforts, with a goal of developing decision support tools that assist the producer and consultant in making profitable decisions by accurately modeling behavioral responses to facilities and management and associated changes in cow and herd performance.

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Editor’s note: The following material is sourced from writings by Dr. Nigel Cook. An extended version of this information is called “Footbath alternatives” and is available at www.vetmed.wisc.edu/dms/fapm/fapmtools/lameness.htm

Footbaths are used as a tool to assist in control of infectious diseases of the claw and interdigital area of the foot. Foot rot and hairy heel warts are the main infectious diseases of the foot, and each respond only partially to footbath use. Both diseases are directly related to the level of environmental hygiene. Footbaths are generally viewed as helpful when disease is present at a low (less than 10 percent) level. When more animals are affected with disease, such as hairy heel wart, other methods must be employed for treatment.

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