Recommended Practices for Improving Herd Health

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Source: North Dakota State University

Recommended practices for Improving Herd Health include:

  • A clean environment
  • Adequate nutrition program
  • Good reproduction (A.I. and Calving) practices
  • Quality vaccination management
  • Keeping records

Good herd health practices include a clean environment. A clean, well-drained calving area with facilities to cope with calving problems is useful. Cattle will perform better and will also be healthier overall if feeding and watering areas are free of mud, excess manure and standing water. Minimizing these stress factors will decrease the spread of disease, infection, and parasites.

Your nutrition program determines the health and the ability of your cattle to perform. Cows and heifers should have access to a good quality diet, particularly when they are lactating. Females should be in good condition (Body Condition Score of 5 or greater), at calving time. In addition, mineral should be supplemented based on nutrient composition of the forages available. Feeders and troughs should be free of moldy and/or stale feed, and feedstuffs should be checked for nitrates, mycotoxins, and nutrient composition. If medicated feed is fed, withdrawal times must be adhered to.

Proper reproductive management is essential to prevent the spread of reproductive diseases and infections. Plastic sleeves should be used when artificially inseminating cows or assisting with calving. Watch cows after calving for retained placentas and treat all uterine, vaginal, and udder infections according to veterinarian recommendations. Retain cull animals long enough to meet withdrawal times of any drugs given.

Maintaining a good set of records is essential to the efficiency of any operation. To keep a good set of records, cows need to individually identified. Tag and record all calving information at birth. Producers need to be able to inform potential buyers when vaccinations and other management practices were performed.