The use of targeted diagnostic testing to monitor and manage herd health is now economically viable.
For the past few years, our industry has been getting smaller with average herd size getting larger. That fact, coupled with increasing operating costs and a decrease in dairy margins, points to the importance of detailed and efficient herd health management practices. The use of diagnostic tools as they relate to herd health has become a necessity when it comes to ensuring both a healthy bottom line and a healthy herd. The demand to monitor health, performance, quality and food safety while still trying to make a living and remain viable requires new, innovative products and services. Quite simply, incorporating diagnostic testing into a health management plan allows for a dairy’s operation to be more efficient, and improve profitability.
Infectious Disease – Identification and Prevention
Infectious diseases, such as BVD, BLV, Mastitis, and Johne’s disease continue to be the source of large losses on dairies. Over the last ten years, advances in technology along with educational outreach efforts have presented dairies with the unique opportunity to better manage these conditions and reduce associated losses. Often, in the case of BVD, by the time the disease is identified, the infected animals had been shedding virus for some time and the entire herd has been affected. The use of diagnostic testing gives producers an invaluable tool in their ability to circumvent losses as pathogens are identified before clinical signs can be identified. Within a day of testing, operators have results and can make decisions with regard to the removal of infected animals before the spread of disease overcomes the herd and the bottom line.
Preg Testing Made Easy
The last few years have brought exciting advancements in reproductive efficiencies involving the use of diagnostics to determine pregnancy in cattle. The first diagnostic preg test introduced to the market uses a small sample of blood sent to a lab for processing with timely results. Preg checking cows on any day that suits your operation’s schedule is now another tool in your management "toolbox." Time and staffing allocations are benefits to this method of preg checking in addition to the direct financial considerations related to the reproductive efficiency. The recent introduction of a milk-based pregnancy test is the latest tool that will, without a doubt, alter and enhance reproductive management on dairies of all sizes and provide an excellent reconfirming test after 35 days.
Although the options technology presents may at times serve as a source of angst, the use of diagnostic testing will undoubtedly continue to emerge as one of the keys to protecting and strengthening the all-important efforts behind improving efficiencies and avoiding disease-related losses on our nation’s dairies.