Transition Cow Benchmarks


Source: Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Rates (achievable and alarm) and the parameters for transition cows
Parameter Achievable Rate Alarm Rate
Displaced abomasum <3% ≥6%
Milk Fever <2% ≥5%
Retained Placenta <8% ≥10%
Metritis and Ketosis If the rate of displaced abomasums is over 6% it is likely that metritis and ketosis may also be a challenge in fresh cows. At this point ketosis should be investigated by chemical analysis.
Stillborns – born dead or died within 24 hrs of birth <10% of first lactation, heifer calves
<6% multiparous cows, heifer calves
>12% of first lactation, heifer calves
>7% of multiparous cows, heifer calves
Dead and sold <8% ≥12%
Length of dry period: ≥ end of 2nd lactation 40-60 days >20% less than 30 Days
>20% greater than 80 days
Length of dry period: Between first and second lactation 50-60 days >20% less than 40 Days
>20% greater than 80 days
Ketosis (between 3-21 DIM)
Parameter Achievable Rate Alarm Rate
Clinical* 3% >8%
Sub-clinical** <15% >25%

*clinical ketosis – BHB (beta hydroxy butyric acid) >27mg/dL
**sub-clinical ketosis – BHB >14 mg/dL

Mastitis (Goal of BTSCC of 200,000)
Parameter Achievable Rate Alarm Rate
All cows First test LS>4 <10% ≥14%
Heifers first test LS>4 <7% ≥10%
New infections between first two tests after calving – all cows <10% ≥12%
Cure rate in fresh period: 1st test LS>4 followed by 2nd test LS<4 >60% ≤50%


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  • Overton, T. R. 2005. Is there a place for shortened dry periods for high producing herds? Advanced in Dairy Technology – Proceedings Western Canadian Dairy Seminar. University of Alberta, Edmonton. pp. 25-34.
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  • Overton, T. Transition Cows: Room to Improve, pg. 19
  • Stone, W. Tune Up Your Transition Program, pg. 20
  • Overton, T. The Energy Balance Beam for Close-up Cows, pg. 23
  • Dann, H. Attention Shifts to Far-off Dry Cows, pg. 24
  • Overton, T. Focus on Fresh Cow Culls, pg. 25
  • Overton, T. Eradicating Milk Fever ad Related Disorders, pg. 26
  • Overton, T. Retained Placentas: A New Look at an Old Subject, pg. 27
  • Smith K., Overton, T. Research Looks for a Way to Control Spikes in NEFA, pg. 28
  • Nydam, D., Stokal, T., Overton, T. Study Assesses Common, But Important, Conditions, pg. 30
  • Burhans, B. Transition Cow Health Disorders in New England Herds, pg. 32