Fall is an important time in the management of beef cows. Valuable management can include pregnancy exams, vaccinations, deworming and delousing. Pregnancy exams done in the fall can determine whether or not a cow is bred. Early determination of open cows can have a positive economic impact. Typically beef cows are not culled until the spring when they do not produce a calf. Because an average cow will eat approximately $400 worth of hay throughout the winter, it is cost effective to have infertile cows leave the herd in the fall. This can also improve the fertility of the herd as fertility is a heritable trait. Pregnancy exams can also give valuable information to determine the stage of pregnancy, the sex of the calf, and whether or not the cow is carrying twins. If the goal is to determine the sex of the calf, pregnancy exams are best done between 55 and 80 days.
The fall is also a great time to get caught up on vaccinating your herd. A killed 10-way vaccine is recommended for pregnant cows. This vaccine will protect against respiratory and reproductive disease. Deworming and delousing are also recommended in the fall. An adequate deworming and delousing protocol can help insure cows maintain their weight over the winter and deliver a nice, healthy calf in the spring.
In recent years, the dairy industry has enjoyed steady improvements in milking equipment, cow environment, teat dips and genetics. While these improvements are notable, dairy producers are still faced with udder health challenges that range from fine tuning somatic cell counts to the occasional severe mastitis case. These challenges can often be fatal or permanently damaging to the cow.
A case of mastitis is estimated to cost over $100 in direct costs and over $400 when future costs such as production loss and premature culling are considered. (Rollin, Dhuyvetter, Overton – Preventative Veterinary Medicine 2015). Factors that influence the total cost of a mastitis case include rate of contagious transmission, bacteriologic cure rate, herd replacement cost, and decreased milk production. (Down, Green, Hudson – Journal of Dairy Science 2013).
Given the economic importance of mastitis, a strategic approach to clinical and subclinical mastitis is important for every dairy farm. Culturing is considered the gold standard in mastitis diagnostics. By identifying the pathogen involved and considering the cow’s history of past mastitis events or elevations in somatic cell count, we are able to determine the likelihood of cure and the contagious risk to other cattle. The costs to perform these diagnostics are low and the majority of pathogens can be isolated within 24 hours. The following is a brief overview of common mastitis pathogens, their causes, and typical outcomes.
Gram Negative Mastitis Pathogens
Gram Negative mastitis pathogens are environmental pathogens found in manure, bedding, water, soil, and plant materials. Most pathogens in this group respond poorly to antibiotic treatment. Some gram negative bacteria are likely to cure without treatment, while others are more likely to cause chronic and sometimes untreatable infections. For this reason, it is important to differentiate the gram negative pathogens.
E coli: causes acute, frequently toxic, mastitis. Mild cases often cure spontaneously, but severe cases can be fatal.
Klebsiella: causes acute, sometimes toxic, mastitis. This form is associated with wet, organic material. Mild cases often cure spontaneously, but severe cases can be fatal.
Enterobacter: causes acute, sometimes toxic, mastitis. Mild cases often cure spontaneously, but severe cases can be fatal.
Serratia: can be subclinical or clinical. This pathogen has a poor response to antibiotic treatment and the cure may lead to abandoning the quarter or culling.
Pasteurella: causes acute toxic mastitis. This pathogen is unresponsive to antibiotic treatment and can be fatal.
Pseudomonas: causes chronic low grade or acute toxic mastitis. This form thrives in wet environments and does not respond well to antibiotics.
Proteus: a less common cause of acute mastitis that thrives in wet environments and does not respond well to antibiotics.
Of the commercially available mastitis antibiotics, Ceftiofur products have the best gram negative spectrum. Supportive care is an important component of treatment for moderate to severe mastitis cases. This may involve oral or IV fluid therapy, anti-inflammatory treatments, and potential systemic antibiotics. Some farms elect to withhold intramammary antibiotics for mild cases caused by gram negative mastitis pathogens. Talk to your herd veterinarian about a targeted gram negative protocol, and be sure to monitor outcomes of your decision.
Gram Positive Mastitis Pathogens
Gram Positive mastitis organisms are endemic to the environment and skin of dairy cattle. Characteristics of common gram positive mastitis pathogens are listed below.
Streptococci: These bacteria are typically picked up from the cow’s environment. Strep species represent the most common cause of chronic infections on many dairies and longer duration therapies are sometimes needed.(Strep ag is no longer commonly found in Wisconsin dairy herds, but has a far more acute, contagious presentation).
Coagulase Negative Staphylococci: These bacteria are common skin flora of the teat and udder. Poor teat dipping practices are a common cause. Infections are frequently subclinical resulting in 2-3x increases in SCC. Infections vary in their persistence.
Staph aureus: This is a highly contagious mastitis pathogen that is primarily transmitted from infected quarters during the milking process. The hands of milkers, teat cups, and parlor towels are common means of spreading the pathogen. Staph aureus infections wall off in the mammary gland making treatment less effective than other pathogens. The walled off infections sporadically break open leading to repeated infections and varying cell counts. Culture and culling is a common strategy for fighting Staph aureus issues at the herd level.
All of the commercially available mastitis antibiotics have suitable spectrum for gram positive mastitis cases. Products differ in the duration and interval for which they are researched and labeled. For Streptococcal mastitis, longer duration therapies are frequently necessary to achieve bacteriologic cures. Talk to your herd veterinarian about choosing a product appropriate for your farm’s pathogen profile.
Other Organisms Implicated in Bovine Mastitis
Prototheca: An algae that thrives in wet environments, Prototheca typically causes low grade mastitis with months-long incubation periods before detection. Some Prototheca infected cows do not show elevated cell counts but most will eventually develop a clinical case of mastitis. It can spread from cow to cow in the parlor but herd issues often begin with an environmental source. Because Prototheca does not respond to antibiotics, cows are usually culled or the infected quarter dried.
Mycoplasma: This is a highly contagious mastitis pathogen that spreads from cow to cow in the milking parlor. Respiratory and urogenital infections can also spread through the bloodstream to the mammary gland. Fresh heifers can be infected by way of cross-suckling calves or internal spread of respiratory Mycoplasma infections. Mycoplasma mastitis is not effectively treated by intramammary antibiotics so culling is often recommended. A cow that is being added to the herd should be cultured to prevent the introduction of this pathogen.
Because of these differences in risk factors and treatment outcomes, mastitis culture data can help us design the best possible program to limit the number of new infections. Culture data can also help us choose the best treatment protocols for those that do occur. Operational decisions involving bedding, milking routine, teat dip, drug choice, and culling are made easier based on the knowledge of pathogen factors.
LVC Recommends Culture and Records Analysis to Improve Milk Quality
Request a monthly bulk tank culture. Be sure to share these results with your herd health veterinarian.
Culture individual mastitis cases. To maximize the benefit of these results, log them in Dairycomp or wherever you keep individual cow histories. This information can be very useful should a second case of mastitis occur or when evaluating the cow for other purposes.
If contagious pathogens such as Staph aureus, Prototheca or Mycoplasma are present in your herd, develop a strategy with your herd veterinarian to reduce spread and remove infected cows.
Regularly analyze a combination of DHIA and mastitis culture data to design a program that protects your cows and maximizes farm profitability.
Septic arthritis (commonly known as joint infections) are common in all breeds of cattle and can be life threatening to the animal. They are most commonly seen in young calves as secondary infections to umbilical (navel) infections shortly after birth. They may also be caused by direct trauma or wounds to the joint or the surrounding tissues. The most common joints that are affected are the carpus (front knee), stifle, or hock. While young calves can sometimes become lame and have a swollen joint secondary to trauma without infection, any lameness and joint swelling should be investigated as a possible joint infection, especially if there is evidence of an accompanying navel infection.
Clinical signs of septic arthritis include varying degrees of lameness in the affected limb, joint swelling, fever, and the feeling of warmth upon manipulation. When identified very early in the course of the infection, systemic antibiotics may be an effective treatment. However, once the infection has been established in the joint, it becomes very difficult to treat and often requires more aggressive therapy.
One treatment that has proven very effective is joint lavage. This involves sedating the calf and flushing a sterile solution into the joint through precisely placed needles. This procedure removes bacteria and toxins from the joint and allows antibiotics and the body’s own immune system to heal the joint.
In more advanced cases when joint lavage is ineffective, surgery may be required. This involves opening the joint and lavaging the area more aggressively. While this treatment carries a poorer prognosis, it can often obtain an acceptable result. Treatments of septic arthritis often require hospitalization for several days. If you suspect that your calf has an infected joint, contact us for an examination and evaluation of your animal.
The advanced reproduction team at Lodi Veterinary Care is excited to announce Laparoscopic Artificial Insemination (AI) and Embryo Transfer (ET) procedures in sheep and goats.
The laparoscopic AI procedure requires the animal to be lightly sedated, given a local block at the site of the abdominal incisions, and then tipped in a special cart to allow access to the organs. Because this is a sterile procedure, sheep and goat AI/ET are done in our surgical suite at our Lodi location. Patients must be held off feed and water for 24 hours before surgery.
Why choose AI or ET? Getting an animal bred through an artificial procedure eliminates the need to have a buck or ram on the farm. It also expands your choice of the genetic donor pool by utilizing frozen semen which can be shipped nationwide. Unlike pasture breeding, AI also allows for accurate breeding dates which lead to anticipated delivery dates.
As with any reproductive program, the general health of the herd or flock greatly influences the success rate. Therefore, good nutrition, parasite management, and a detailed vaccination program are essential.
Contact us for more information regarding sheep and goat AI/ET services.
Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) and Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) are common diseases present in pig populations. PRRS is a viral respiratory and reproductive disease which causes abortions and infertility in adult sows. PEDv is a virus which causes diarrhea in all ages of pigs but is more severe in young piglets, often times leading to death. In an effort to reduce exposure to PRRS and PEDv, Wisconsin has recently changed the rules regarding the transportation of porcine. All pigs(with a few exceptions below) are required to be tested before moving within or in/out of Wisconsin. Below are some frequently asked questions…
What pigs have to be tested?
Any swine moving into or within Wisconsin must be tested within 90 days of movement (swine moving to slaughter or to one exhibition prior to slaughter are exempt).
What happens when I go to an in state show?
The herd of origin must test negative for PRRS/SECD within 90 days of any swine’s movement to the exhibition or show. This allows swine from jackpot shows to have one test early in the spring to travel to a number of shows throughout the season.
What happens when I go to an out of state show?
If swine originate from Wisconsin and return to Wisconsin after an exhibition or show in another state, the exhibitor must notify DATCP of the movement before returning to Wisconsin. DATCP will quarantine the swine, herd of origin, or both until a herd plan is
developed and approved.
How do I test?
● A simple way to test is the “cotton rope” test which can be done by the swine owner under the direction of an accredited veterinarian.
● Cotton rope kits are available at Lodi Veterinary Care free of charge.
● Instructions for how to collect an oral sample using the rope test are
included with the kit. Please read the instructions carefully.
● Test samples can also be collected via blood serum and swab by a
● Regardless of who collects the sample, an accredited veterinarian
must submit the sample.
How much does it cost to test for PRRS and PEDv?
● Cotton rope test kit is free of charge
● Submission fee: ~$15
● PCR testing for PRRSv and PEDv: ~$65
● Health Certificate per exhibition: ~$50 (plus call charge)
*Fees may vary based on the number of animals going to an exhibition and is at the discretion of your veterinarian.
When should I test for PRRS/PEDv?
We recommend testing at least two weeks prior to your first exhibition to allow for the return of test results and to develop a herd plan if the results are positive.
What is a herd plan?
● A herd plan is a program developed with your veterinarian and
approved by DATCP to help bring your herd back to negative status
and reduce the spread of the disease.
● A herd plan is required if any pigs test positive for either PRRS/PEDv
or if the pigs were imported into Wisconsin without a negative test
within 90 days of being imported.
Details regarding what must be done for your herd plan can be discussed with your veterinarian at the time of a positive test result for PRRS or PEDv.
For more information please go to datcp.wi.gov.
Scours, or diarrhea, is a common illness of young calves and one of the leading causes of mortality prior to weaning. Affected calves may suffer from decreased appetite, weakness, and eventual death from dehydration or electrolyte imbalances. Fortunately, scours can often be prevented with good management practices, including proper nutrition, hygiene, and a vaccination program recommended by your veterinarian. For calves that are already sick, early and appropriate treatment is the best way to ensure recovery.
The most important factor in preventing calf death from scours is hydration. Calves should always be given access to clean fresh water. Scouring calves should be offered a balanced oral electrolyte solution either free choice or as a separate feeding from their normal milk or milk replacer. Calves that maintain their appetites will often recover in three to five days without further treatment.
Calves that refuse to drink for two or more consecutive feedings may need to be given oral electrolytes via an esophageal tube feeder. Feeding milk with a tube feeder is not recommended, as it may cause harmful digestive upsets. If calves are too weak to stand or suckle, IV fluids or a plasma transfusion may be necessary. This will likely require veterinary assistance.
The decision to treat a scouring calf with antibiotics is dependent on the severity and symptoms of the disease. Many of the common causes of scours (viruses, parasites, and nutritional changes) will not respond to antibiotic treatments, and most calves recover without treatment after a few days. Reserve antibiotics for calves that have fevers higher than 103° F or show other signs of illness (depression, refusal to eat, coughing, etc.). Consult with your veterinarian to choose the best antibiotic for your animals.
What is Ringworm?
Ringworm is a common fungal infection of livestock that is caused by several different organisms called dermatophytes. The most common type to affect cattle is called Trichophyton verrucosum.
How is ringworm transmitted?
The organisms that cause ringworm are very hardy and persist in the environment for long periods of time, even after there is no direct animal contact. They can survive in bedding, soil, and on inanimate objects (posts/halters/neck straps) for many months. Because of this, ringworm is extremely contagious and minimal contact with the organism can infect animals and humans.
Why is Ringworm a concern at local and county fairs?
Ringworm is considered a zoonotic disease. This means that it is contagious between animal species as well as to people who come in contact with it. While farmers and ranchers may be familiar with ringworm and avoid touching the lesions, visitors of the fairs are an unsuspecting population. We have a duty to keep the general public free from this disease while also attempting to not spread it to other animals visiting the fair.
Where are ringworm lesions located and what do they look like?
Lesions frequently occur around the eyes, ears, muzzle, neck and trunk of animals. They are typically round/oval areas of crusted skin combined with hair loss. Occasionally, the lesions may have a raised look to them due to oozing and may have a secondary bacterial skin infection underlying the crust.
How long is ringworm contagious?
Ringworm lesions can persist for weeks to many months. During the entire time that the lesions are visible, they are considered contagious. At all stages of the ringworm disease process, small hair follicles are present (including underneath the crusted lesions). The old age saying that states, “If there’s hair growing through, it’s not contagious” is simply false. This is because on visual inspection it is impossible to determine if thin hair growth is due to hair falling out or hair growing back in. Tests have shown that animals recovering from ringworm with spotty hair growth will still culture positive for organisms that cause ringworm. Only animals without visually detectable lesions are considered no longer contagious.
If some lesions are healed but other spots are still present, is my animal still contagious?
Yes. Due to the prolonged disease process, individual ringworm lesions can be at different stages of healing depending on when the area was exposed to ringworm. Lesions can also heal at different rates, depending on the level of exposure. Another factor that affects healing rates is whether or not the animal has developed a secondary bacterial skin infection, which can slow the ringworm healing process.
How do I treat ringworm?
Ringworm is often self-limiting, meaning it will go away on its own without any treatment. However, if ringworm is present on an animal that is destined to attend a fair or show, treatment will need to be initiated immediately. As mentioned earlier, ringworm can persist for weeks to many months even with treatment. Therefore, it is not a disease that can be cleared up quickly in just the week prior to the fair. Consult with your herd veterinarian for strategies and treatment options.
What is pinkeye?
Pinkeye is a very painful and bothersome disease of cattle that has changed greatly in recent years. Traditional pinkeye (Moraxella bovis) is a summertime, pasture-based problem, easily treated with antibiotics. Modern pinkeye (Moraxella bovoculi ) is more of a year-round disease,
common in both indoor and outdoor cattle pens. It is difficult to prevent and more difficult to treat with antibiotics. Mycoplasma bovoculi is a less common bacterium but is also a type of pinkeye.
What causes pinkeye?
Pinkeye is caused by a bacterial infection of the tissues of the eye. Irritants such as sunlight, flies, dust, wind, thistles, tall grass and trauma can all contribute to the development of pinkeye. Flies can spread the bacteria from cow to cow while a weakened immune system will also allow the infection to take hold.
What are the symptoms of pinkeye?
Common symptoms include a more pronounced reddish or pink discoloration to the pink part of the eye, while the clear part of the eye turns whitish-grey. Because it is painful, the cow will hold the eye partially closed, and extra tearing will stain the side of the face.
How is pinkeye treated?
Your veterinarian can prescribe antibiotics or a medicated spray specifically designed to treat pinkeye. In some cases a patch or suture is necessary to treat the infection.
How is pinkeye prevented?
Fly control with insecticidals such as ear tags, pour-ons, and back-rubbers can be helpful in controlling traditional pinkeye. Feed ingredients, weed control, and pasture maintenance can also help.
Is there a vaccine for pinkeye?
The bacteria that cause pinkeye have great strain variations. To be effective, the strains in your vaccine need to compatible to those affecting your cows. Because of this, commercially available vaccines can have limited efficacy. Lodi Veterinary Care has developed an autogenous vaccine that contains local strains of the pinkeye bacteria cultured from cattle in your area which makes it effective in preventing pinkeye. Talk to a Lodi Veterinary Care veterinarian for more information.