Dairy & Beef Cattle
The Gippsland Veterinary Hospital team of cattle and mixed practice vets provide ambulatory emergency care 24 hours a day for dairy and beef cattle farmers across the Gippsland region. We pride ourselves on our preventative medicine focus, and our vets are encouraged to develop an in depth understanding our our clients’ farming operations so that they become an integral part of the farm’s management team.
The normal gestation length of a cow can range from 279 – 288 days.
The normal progression of the calving process involves 3 stages of labour.
The 1st stage is when the cervix is starting to dilate and uterine contractions become regular. This leads to signs of discomfort, mild colic and restlessness. The cow will show this by getting up and down frequently, standing with an arched back, holding her tail raised and may have increased heart rate and respiratory rate.
The 2nd stage begins with the onset of abdominal contractions and rupture of foetal membranes, often seen as fluid spilling from the vagina. This stage ends when the foetus is born. The average duration of second stage labour is 70 minutes but can range from 30 minutes to 4 hours. This stage of labour is normally longer in heifers than in cows.
Consult your veterinarian if:
- A cow close to her expected calving date has been restless for 12 hours (ie possibly in 1st stage labour) with no signs of straining.
- A cow has been straining (ie in 2nd stage labour) for 1 hour without progress.
The 3rd stage of labour begins once the calf is born and ends when foetal membranes have been passed, in a cow this may last a couple of days.
There are many different causes for a cow not to make progress during calving such as a malpresented or oversized calf, foetal deformity, uterine torsion, or the cow’s inability to push. Our veterinarians are well trained to identify the problem, and provide the appropriate solution for you and your animal.
Calving Cows Program
Apiam Animal Health’s Calving Cows program:
- Identifies risks in key management areas
- Provides tailored farm medicine advice
- Establishes specific written treatment protocols
- Provides training for common periparturient diseases and perinatal conditions.
Flying Start Calf Management Program
Successful calf rearing requires attention to detail and balance across all the specific areas of a calf rearing system. Recognising this is the first step to ensure your calves stay healthy, grow well and reach their full genetic potential. There are no two herds the same and as a result, blanket recommendations are not always appropriate or relevant to your individual situation. The Flying Start Calf Management Program provides basic fundamental principles in each specific calf rearing area, to help lay the foundations for successfully rearing calves.
Areas covered are:
- Pre-Calving Care
- Colostrum Management
- Health Management
- Nutrition and Weaning
In both beef and dairy herds, accurate pregnancy diagnosis is the cornerstone of effective management practices.
Dairy herds rely on accurate pregnancy test results to plan for the coming season.
Pregnancy testing via rectal palpation
For many years, rectal palpation has been the gold standard of pregnancy diagnosis.
Ultrasound pregnancy testing
Over recent years, ultrasound pregnancy testing has become more commonly used.
- Ultrasound pregnancy testing is faster and more accurate than rectal pregnancy testing.
- Ultrasound can also identify twins and an infected uterus.
Gippsland Veterinary Hospital has several vets NCPD accredited in ultrasound pregnancy testing, an Australian Cattle Vet scheme that guarantees accuracy through examination of vets pregnancy testing.
In most circumstances we will use a combination of both methods to pregnancy test your cows.
How accurate is pregnancy testing?
As long as the cow is far enough in calf, we can tell you if the cow is pregnant or not.
Why pregnancy test early?
Whilst we can tell you yes (pregnant) or no (not pregnant or empty) later on, to efficiently run your dairy farm, you need to know what stage of gestation the cows are.
The further in calf a cow, the harder it is to be accurate about how far pregnant she is:
> From 6 to 16 weeks of pregnancy we are very accurate.
> Above 16 weeks, the accuracy is reduced.
When should I pregnancy test my herd?
To get the most information try to present cows for preg testing when they are between 6 and 16 weeks pregnant.
The minimum number of preg. tests should be:
> Test 6 to 7 weeks after the end of AI.
> Test 6 to 7 weeks after the bull is removed.
What can I do to help with pregnancy testing?
Good facilities are quicker, safer and less stressful. Talk to us about the design of a vet (AI) race or stand for a rotary if you do not have one.
A list of AI dates converted to the number of weeks pregnant at the time of preg testing optimizes pregnancy testing accuracy. Cow identification needs to be accurate, easy to read, not have 2 or more cows with the same identification and not have cows with no identification.
The pregnancy testing results need to be recorded accurately. Recording results is not an easy job – the person doing that job cannot do other jobs. If the cow identification is difficult to read, then the recorders job is more difficult. If you do not have a spare person to record results, let us know and we can bring an extra person to record.
How can I make more use of my pregnancy test results?
As well as deciding empty cows, knowing when cows are going to calve lets you plan for the next season.
Some things you do with your information include:
Inducing late cows 10-12 weeks prior to their expected calving dates gives the best chance of bringing these cows in line with those calving to A.I. and therefore tightening up the calving period.
Cull empty cows
Knowing how many empty cows you have allows you to calculate how many other cows you can afford to cull.
Formulate a feed budget
A feed budget is an accurate assessment of the herd’s future feed requirements compared to feed availability. An accurate predicted calving pattern is required for the calculation of a feed budget.
Benchmark your Results
You have spent a lot of money on joining your cows – how do your results compare? A danger in talking about figures with other farmers is that you are often comparing apples with oranges. For example comparing how many empty cows you have compared to another farm is meaningless, if you joined for 10 weeks and they joined for 20 weeks.
Veterinary Calf Disbudding
Gippsland Veterinary Hospital’s stress and pain free procedure for disbudding calves.
The process is designed to allow easier disbudding whilst maintaining animal welfare.
We can reduce the pain, discomfort and other negative health impacts from the dehorning process.
This is achieved by the administration of general sedation and then local anaesthetic to the horn base, this in turn allows us to complete the job consistently and efficiently.
Recent studies have found that calves receiving heavy sedation/pain relief and local anaesthetic prior to Veterinary disbudding will have improved growth rates and appetites in the two weeks following disbudding.
Veterinary disbudding with sedation and local anaesthetic, results in an average of 1.4kg greater growth over the 2 week period following disbudding (this is a 17% increase in growth rate over the period).
- Heavy sedation/pain relief
- Local anaesthetic disbudding
- Antibiotic protection
- Hernia checks
- Removal of extra teats
The following guidelines are essential to providing the most effective stress and pain free disbudding process:
- Calves must be older than 2 weeks of age to handle the sedation that is administered.
- Do NOT feed the calves for 6 Hours prior to the disbudding, to avoid bloating, choking and aspiration of food.
- Sick Calves should have disbudding delayed.
- Disbudding can be scheduled for Lunch time or afternoon bookings as well as in the morning.
- Calves that are on once daily feeds can be fed in the morning and then disbudded later in the same day.
Step 2. Clipping
Step 4. Disbudding
Step 6. Antiseptic Spray
Calves should be monitored post disbudding to ensure full recovery from the procedure.
The sedation we use makes it more difficult for the calves to regulate their own body temperature. This makes them more susceptible to over heating on hot days and becoming too cold on cold days.
Delayed Wake Up:
On completion of the job the vet will assess the calves for alertness and treat accordingly. If calves are still unresponsive 2-3 hours after disbudding then please contact us.
As calves have been off milk for some time we would like to feed them approx 2 hours after the completion of procedure.
Hernias & Extra Teats:
Calves with hernias or extra teats will be identified and treated accordingly at the time of disbudding.
Gippsland Veterinary Hospital provides several herd performance programs to help farmers improve productivity and performance on farm. Correct Weight follows on from the Flying Start program to help manage appropriate growth of your heifers in order to improve reproductive efficiency and milk production when they enter the milking herd.
The program entails 5 weighing visits usually about 2 months apart starting from when heifers are weaned and finishing prior to start of mating. Prior to each weigh events a bulk faecal egg count is carried out on each group to facilitate selective worming practices on farm. Following each weigh event you will receive a comprehensive data analysis and report detailing how the groups are performing and how you can improve practices in the coming months to ensure your heifers are growing appropriately to reach industry target weights for their breed. If you have any further enquiries, please call the Maffra Vet Clinic and speak to one of our dairy vets.
Correct Weight is a package that will guide you in the profitable management of heifers from weaning to joining by providing:
- Regular weighing
- Worm monitoring
- Nutritional and animal health advice
Take the stress out of your heifer management!
Proactive management and early intervention improves chances of having a healthy and productive animal enter the herd
Benefits of Correct Weight
- Improved fertility (bigger heifers get in calf earlier)
- Increased longevity (they live longer!)
- Reduced calving problems
- Higher production – 50kg heavier at calving results in 1041 litres extra milk over 3 lactations
- Smarter drenching using FEC results – saves money on drench and reduces worm resistance
- Confidence that heifers are protected from disease by up-to-date vaccination
- Expert joining advice available on request
- Additional animal health monitoring and treatment beyond the package are available on request.
Lame Cow – Vision
To use the latest research and resources to minimize the impact of lameness on dairy farms in Gippsland.
- Continual Education and Training
- Improving Welfare whilst improving productivity for dairy farmers
- Incorporate functional trimming into lameness treatments
- Record all treatments to allow better analysis to reduce risk factors
- Full Lameness Investigations
> First Step Investigations
- Targeted Investigations
> Locomotor Scoring
> Claw Lesion Analysis
- Small Group training for corrective foot trimming using the Dutch Method.
- Small Group training for treatment of lame cows
> How does it lameness happen
> Practical functional trimming
> Treatment of lame cows
- Small Group training on anatomy
> Causes of lameness
Mark Humphris is one of our veterinarians and is the only veterinarian in Australia to be trained in First Step. With the backing of the best Lameness Investigative Package available we are able to prioritise areas for improvement in reducing the incidence and impact of lameness.
Do you need a clear direction with reducing lameness on your farm?
Due to the complexity of risk factors and causative agents in lameness baseline information is very helpful in starting the process of determining your specific farm risk factors. These vary greatly from farm to farm.
Two critical pieces of information are:
- The lesion identification records of any lame cows
- The number of lame cows you have had during the year.
Other information that we will seek during our investigation:
- Details of transition diets and lactating cow rations
- Animal movement and staff routines
- Size of the dairy
- Yards and races
Find out more about the First Step Program
Gippsland Veterinary Hospital’s mobile Teatseal Trailer improves safety and efficiency when teatsealing heifers.
The operator has easy access to the cow’s udders and applying teatseal with improved comfort and safety for both the animal and the operator.
The Teatseal Trailer takes the stress out of what can be a difficult and time consuming exercise.