2013-05-07 xml
Managing Post-Calving Endometritis

Endometritis or an infection of the womb is seen in 20% of cows post calving and whatever the cause or however many cases it costs you money!

Fergal Morris, MVB, MBA, MRCVS
Estimates put the cost per case at around £130 per cow to cover treatment, fall in milk production, increased culling and, of course, a delay in getting that cow in calf again! In Northern Ireland the average calving index is 425 days, which means that with a 280 day pregnancy it takes 145 days to get cows back in calf.

Fergal Morris, MVB, MBA, MRCVS Veterinary Advisor MSD Animal Health

Fergal Morris, MVB, MBA, MRCVS
Veterinary Advisor MSD Animal Health

Yet the optimum calving index is 365 days i.e. one cow per calf per year. Research at Reading University shows that for each day over the 365 day calving index it costs £3 per day. Therefore a typical 60 day delay costs £180 per cow or potentially £18,000 a year for a 100 cow dairy herd!

The most common factors predisposing cows to endometritis are difficult calvings, retained foetal membranes, dirty calving conditions, milk fever, induced calvings, stillbirths and abortions. A selenium or vitamin E deficiency can also predispose an animal to infection since they both support the animal’s immune system. Indeed there is evidence that cows fed poor quality silage cows are more susceptible to endometritis.

So what can be done to minimise the impact of any infections?
Working with your vet is crucial. Look at the possible causes, make rapid diagnoses and treat effectively. Post calving veterinary checks are invaluable, since not all cows will have vaginal discharges and it is very easy to miss an infection – with costly consequences.

The infection can be diagnosed by a vet using an ultrasound scanner during the routine fertility visit that occurs on most dairy farms. You should get your vet to make an inspection 21-35 days post calving when they will be able to determine whether infection is present and at what level. For some farms, only high risk animals will need inspected, but where there has been a high incidence in the past it is advisable to examine every freshly calved animal. Putting an expensive straw of semen into an animal with endometritis is a total waste of money.

The farmer can also look for endometritis using a device called a Metricheck, a metal rod with a rubber scoop that can be inserted into the cow’s vagina. All cows should be examined 15 days post calving to make sure that they are not infected.

The Metricheck device was developed in New Zealand and is routinely used there to detect the presence of endometritis.
Cows should have a clear discharge 15 days post calving, if pus is present or if the discharge is red-brown in colour with a foul smell the cow has endometritis.

All cows with endometritis can be treated with Metricure, which is formulated specifically to treat the entire surface of the cow’s womb. It also contains a broad spectrum antibiotic effective against the bacteria that cause this condition.
Any cows with an infection that are treated with Metricure should be re-assessed 14 days after treatment.

Metricure from MSD Animal Health is the only treatment for endometritis proven to improve reproductive performance. Trials have shown that cows with endometritis that are treated using Metricure had shorter intervals between calving and conception compared with other treatments.

Cases which persist are often those where initial treatment is delayed so early intervention with a product such as Metricure is advisable to avoid costly culls.


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