A weekly task on the farm is the vet visit where our vets come on a Friday morning to check relevant cows and their fertility. It’s a great way for us to keep on top of where the herd is at and catching problems early. So I thought I would share a recent vet visit with you all.
The vets usually arrive at 8.30am, the first job they do is put on their overalls and get their equipment out of the car. Gavin pulls out the cows that are to be seen that day and prepares the inspection stalls for use. The vets will then get their equipment ready, this include the scanner for pregnancy detections. The vets will also get all the different injections that may be required at the visit and a load of long armed gloves (for internal examinations) together with lots of blue paper and lube. Whilst this all happens, Gavin’s mother is preparing the computer that is used to check the history of each cow and a diary to make notes of what happens to the cows that morning.
The process happens in a repetitive order until all the cows have been seen that need to be on that day. Five cows at a time are put into the stalls ready to be assessed by the vet. Gavin will read out the cows identification number for his mother to find out the relevant information required for the vet to make an accurate diagnosis (e.g. when the cow was AI’d previously or when the last calving date was). The vet will go down the line and check each cow individually. The vet will make a diagnosis from the internal inspection and will also say what treatment needs to be given, if any.
The timeline of a cow is as follows; a cow gives birth to a calf on day one. As long as there is nothing wrong with that cow, twenty eight days later is when the vet will see her for the first time. The cow will then see the vet on a weekly basis until it falls pregnant, this is so we can pick up any problems early and give treatment if needed. If after 100 days that cow has not got pregnant for any reason, it will then go to the ‘sweeper’ bull and see the vet on a monthly basis to see if it is pregnant. If after 200 days in total that cow has not managed to get pregnant and the vets can’t find a substantial reason for this, that cow is then added to the ‘cull’ list. This means that once her milk runs dry she will be rendered unprofitable for farm use and we are unable to keep her on this farm.
There are different types of prognosis given when the vet inspects a cow and I thought I would go through all the terminology together with what treatment (if any) is given.
After a cow is four weeks post-partrum (since giving birth) it will go to the vet for a PNC (this stands for post natal check up). Just like in humans, the womb should have reduced in size and gone back to its original shape.
If a vet says the cow is ‘clean and cycling’ this is a positive and means the cow has recovered from giving birth so no treatment is required. However if the vet was to say ‘Wash Out’ this means the cow is ‘dirty’ as in she has a UTI and the vet will then need to intervene by removing the after-birth by hand (the after birth in a cow is called a membrane), this is basically pulling the after-birth out, as much as is possible. Gavin has since told me that if this happens it’s all due to an in#balance in the cows diet. ONO are small ovaries, which means the cows system overall is tied and not functioning correctly. This usually means the cow isn’t ovulating at all or there are no signs of an ovulation happening from either ovary. A ‘seeder’ will be implanted into the cow to make her body think she is having a false pregnancy which in turn should start the ovulation process again.
FLO or FRO are follicles seen on either the left ovary (LO) or right ovary (RO) on the vets ultrasound scanner. This means an egg is going to be released soon, so the vet will prescribe receptol. This is a drug in the form of an injection that helps the synchronisation of her ovulation pattern.
CLLO or CLRO are left over remnants of an egg that has already been released from either the left ovary (LO) or right ovary (RO). Estrumate will be given to this cow on the vet visit and then again two days later. This is in anticipation for Gavin to AI (artificially inseminate) the cow twelve hours later.
If a cow is found to have an infection in her uterus, betamox is given which is a penicillin. This works as an antibiotic to fight the infection. Sometimes Glycol is also prescribed in this situation which is full of energy to aid the cows stomach to work correctly.
If a cow is found to have an infection in her udder, norodine is prescribed, which again is an antibiotic which helps against mastitis.
At the end of the visit the vets need to disinfect all their equipment and clothing so there isn’t a risk of cross contamination when they go onto another farm. The vets will check on the supplies held at the farm and leave any extra medication that is required for the farm to use that week. Once the vet visit is over, Gavin’s mother will take the notepad of what happened on that day so she can immediately transfer the data onto the computer to keep the records up to date.
It’s also worth noting that the list of cows to be seen on that day is generated the night before. Gavin’s mother will sit down and run a report from Interherd (the cow program which records the data history for each individual cow). The list is made up of animals needing to be checked if they are ‘in calf’ (pregnant), together with cows needing to be checked over who have recently calven (given birth) and any extra cows that are having problems or are showing signs of being poorly.
I would like to add that this is what happens on our farm and I can’t vouch for what happens on other dairy farms. There is a cost implication for weekly visits, together with the farmers time and the availability of the vets. Next year I plan to follow a cow through a full cycle to show each stage a cow may experience on a dairy farm. I certainly hope that this doesn’t offend people as I do believe education is needed, so we can then teach our younger generation about their food and help them to grow up to understand the world.