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Why Should Dairies have “Good Health Records?”

Make more informed individual cow management decisions

This is the most common use of health records on the dairy and is focused on keeping count of the strikes (disease episodes) on individual cows to determine if she should stay or be removed.  This is usually done by examining the health records one cow at a time, thus consistency of recording between cows is not critical. 

Though important, recording based on this function alone provides no insight into why a particular cow or group of cows struck out (were removed from the herd).  Was it a bad cow that needed to leave the team or a good cow that needed a better batting coach (health management)?  Answering these questions requires ‘team statistics’ or summary health data from the entire herd which need to be consistent (same information in the same order using the same abbreviations) if they are to be efficiently summarized and evaluated.

Meet FDA drug treatment record requirements

FDA investigations of drug residues most commonly cite failure to maintain complete treatment records as a reason medicated animals are likely to enter the food supply.  Most dairies won’t ever be investigated for a violative drug residue.  Nonetheless, having “Good Health Records” will help ensure that if visited the investigator can quickly and easily determine that it was not your cow or it was an honest mistake rather than you were negligent.

Complete treatment records include:

 – Animal ID     – Disease Treated
 – Drug Given     – Milk and Meat Withdrawal times
 – Dosage of Drug Given     – Date Milk and Meat Can be Used
 – Route of Administration
 – Treatment Date
 – Individual Who Gave Drug

This information can be recorded by a combination of written and computer records.  It is critical that this information is quickly and easily obtained for anyone to evaluate, most importantly those managing treated cows.

Evaluate the effectiveness of health management plans based on outcomes

Too often, big dollar decisions on dairies are based on biased human perception of the effectiveness of health management plans because hard evidence (like that used for reproduction and milk production management) is simply not available.

Accurate and consistent health records can be quickly and easily summarized for groups of cows or the entire herd to evaluate important health management outcomes:

  • New disease episodes: Are disease prevention practices working?
  • Disease re-treatments and recurrence: Are treatment protocols working?

Routine evaluation of these outcomes, provides hard evidence to evaluate the effectiveness of a dairy’s health management plan and inform future management decisions to improve the health and productivity of the herd.

Read about a real-life example of how “Good Health Records” facilitated Outcomes Driven Health Management.

Dairy Health Management Assessments

A guide to understanding the diagnosis, treatment and recording of the major diseases of dairy cattle on the farm

Dairy Comp 305® Users

DHI-Plus® Health Event Users

DHI-Plus® Rx-Plus Users

How are “Good Health Records” achieved?