Parlor practices that successfully manage mastitis

What percentage of dairy producers do that prep step that in the parlor? Does it really have relevance to improved Somatic Cell Count? What separates producers of high quality milk from their peers?

Answers to these questions came to light through a “Survey of Mastitis Management on Dairy Farms” completed by dairy producers in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida in early 2013. The survey was developed as a part of a research study by Michigan State University Extension, Penn State University Extension, Florida A & M University and Mississippi State University. A total of 660 dairy producers (41 percent response rate) returned the survey. Some of the things that we learned from the survey are listed below.

 Producers were asked to respond yes or no about certain parlor practices:

  • 86 percent disinfect teats (pre-dip) before milking
  • 57 percent wear gloves when milking
  • 34 percent massage teats (other than stripping) before milking
  • 89 percent use separate towels for each cow
  • 93 percent disinfect teats (post-dip) after milking
  • 22 percent use water in the prep of cows for milking

Many of the practices above involve long-standing recommendations by university and industry professionals and yet it is obvious that adoption by producers is not universal.

In the survey, producers also reported their bulk tank somatic cell count (SCC), therefore, practices can be correlated with udder health as reflected by SCC. This is what the data tells us.

  • Pre-dipping was positively correlated with lower SCC
  • Post-dipping was positively correlated with lower SCC
  • Wearing gloves was positively correlated with lower SCC
  • Use of water or washing teats was negatively correlated with lower SCC

Not only does the research on these practices tell us what is effective in reducing mastitis, but so too, do the results on farms where they are practiced. For those not implementing the recommended practices, the question is why?

One answer sometimes given is that adding a step (ie. pre-dipping or forestripping) would add extra time in the parlor. However, proper prep of the cows actually reduces the time spent milking because the cow lets down her milk before the milking unit goes on. In addition, good prep reduces the time that otherwise is added to deal with increased mastitis cases.

Something else that was correlated with lower SCC on the farms responding to the survey was the level of importance given by owners to recruiting, retaining, training and motivating employees. On many farms, employees are the key personnel who milk the cows.  Therefore, it was not surprising that when dairy owners place greater importance on having employees that consistently implement good milking  practices, they had a lower SCC.

The level of importance by the owner is communicated to his or her employees through a regular appearance in the parlor during all milking shifts. Taking the time to observe the work of employees, commend positive actions and correct negative ones, will provide positive results in cow udder health.

One other finding that impacts udder health is the owner’s attitude about mastitis. Owners who take responsibility for udder health achieve better udder health, whereas those who blame mastitis on external factors including “bad luck” have higher SCC.

Employees will not be more motivated to improve udder health than what they perceive management to be. Consistently emphasize udder health and the steps necessary to achieve it.

The survey of mastitis practices reminds us that those who achieve the greatest success have some common characteristics including attitudes and actions that keep everyone doing what is best for the cow and together fighting this costly disease.

Aprosoja-MT defende viabilidade do etanol de milho

Entidade encomendou estudo para a consultoria Celeres

Para a Aprosoja-MT, produção de etanol de milho não inviabilizaria abastecimento de outros segmentos (Foto: Thinkstock)

A Associação dos Produtores de Soja e Milho de Milho de Mato Grosso (Aprosoja-MT) defendeu nesta quarta-feira (18/6) a viabilidade da produção de etanol a partir do cereal. A entidade divulgou dados de um estudo sobre o assunto que encomendou para a Consultoria Céleres.

A conclusão é a de que não há empecilhos em relação à tecnologia no país. Mesmo com a demanda das usinas, haveria milho suficiente para abastecer outros segmentos, como alimentação animal.

Nas contas do estudo, se uma usina de produção de etanol de milho processar mil toneladas por dia, seriam produzidos 130 mil metros cúbicos de etanol e outros 80 mil do chamado DDG, farelo usado na alimentação animal. Considerando a atual legislação tributária, o estudo mostrou que um investimento de US$ 69 milhões, o retorno seria possível em 66 meses. O lucro líquido é calculado em 10% com taxa de retorno de 25%.

No entanto, o desenvolvimento do etanol de milho encontra alguns entraves. Um deles é a atual taxa de juros para o financiamento do setor, de 10% ao ano e indexada ao dólar. “Por enquanto, o governo federal não informou se haverá uma linha de financiamento diferenciada por meio do Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES)”, informou nota divulgada pela Aprosoja-MT.

Outro entrave é a dificuldade para vender o etanol, assim como já ocorre com o próprio milho. De acordo com a entidade, é difícil entrar no mercado de combustíveis. E ainda é preciso maior incentivo ao uso do etanol no país.

De acordo com o divulgado pela Associação, atualmente, Mato Grosso produz 15,4 milhões de toneladas de milho. A produção de etanol está em torno de um bilhão de litros, sendo 60% consumidos no estado.


Has she come into heat?

Success in the cow-calf industry is dependent on the females’ ability to produce a calf annually. Managing the postpartum interval, or the time between calving and when she comes into heat, is important for maintaining your yearly calving interval. The average beef female will have a gestation length of around 283 days. With 365 days in the year, that only gives you around 82 days to get her rebred.

Prolonged postpartum anestrus, during which she is not cycling, is a major cause of failure to rebreed or breed late in the breeding season. Postpartum intervals ranging from 46 to 168 days cause management challenges. Overcoming an extended postpartum interval allows for the achievement of optimum pregnancy rates.

There are many factors occurring during the postpartum interval that affect her ability to resume estrus, or to come back into heat. These factors include suckling, nutrition, season, breed, age, dystocia and presence of a bull. After calving the first process that occurs is uterine involution, which is the general repairing of the uterus. This process usually occurs within 20 to 40 days after calving. Dystocia, or a difficult calving, can increase the length of time needed for uterine repair. While you cannot manage the time it takes the uterus to repair, you can manage some dystocia by breeding to calving ease bulls especially on heifers.

After the physical repair there is repair or reestablishment of the hormonal system occurring within 30 to 40 days after calving. The major hormones involved in reproduction are gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH), which includes follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), progesterone, estrogen and prostaglandins. During anestrus there is a reduction in follicular development. Increased concentrations of FSH cause the follicular development to resume. During the postpartum interval the failure of the dominant follicle to ovulate, or release the egg, is due to reduced concentrations of LH. The continued development of follicles containing estrogen, which produces the expression of estrus or heat, stimulates the release of LH causing ovulation and the development of a corpus luteum (CL) containing progesterone. The progesterone is necessary in this process to maintain a viable pregnancy. Progesterone is also necessary for estrogen to be recognized by the animal and for her to show heat. In addition, the decreased concentration of progesterone decreases the LH needed for her to release the egg. It all works together to return the animal to a cycle that is able to become and maintain a pregnancy. Implementing a synchronization protocol using progesterone in the form of a CIDR insert or feed additive, MGA, is a management option to help get her back on track hormonally. Recommended protocols are published yearly from the Beef Reproduction Task Force and can be found at:

As a beef producer it is most challenging to breed back your first calf heifers. These animals are still growing and are most likely around 85% of their mature body weight at calving. They are partitioning nutrients into growth where your cows are partitioning their nutrients into lactation and reproduction. In general, cattle use nutrients in order of maintenance, growth, lactation and reproduction. During the time they are being rebred they are also experiencing peak milk production at around 60 days after calving. Nutrition is one area of management that you have the most control over during the postpartum period. To minimize this period it is important that the animal has enough condition going into calving. To achieve this it is most advantageous to add condition during a period when the animal has the lowest nutrient requirement. This occurs when she is not lactating and is early in her next pregnancy. Later in gestation the calf increases growth and requires more from the dam. After the calf is born the nutrient requirement for lactation makes adding condition very challenging. This is especially true for the first calf heifers that again are still growing. It is recommended that cows have a body condition score of 5 and heifers 6 at calving.

By managing dystocia, progesterone and nutrition your herd should be right on track for rebreeding. If you are interested in using other factors to shorten the postpartum interval there are options like removing the suckling calves or introducing a gomer bull. These options work well for some operations but provide management challenges for others. It is best to find what works for you to get her bred.

Fonte: Katie Pfeiffer, University of Wisconsin Extension