Minimize metritis setbacks: screen and treat
Metritis commonly follows calving complications such as dystocia, retained placenta, twins or stillbirths. It can range from a mild disease with a high rate of spontaneous cures to a severe, acute disease that can be life-threatening.
Screen for metritis symptoms
Screening fresh cows for metritis symptoms within the first 10 days of calving and quickly treating those with symptoms are the best ways to prevent more costly complications. Here are steps for a complete fresh cow screening:
- Check the udder for fullness before milking. Fresh cow udders should be full and tight.
- Watch for drops in production from one milking to the next.
- Examine uterine discharge and beware of red-brown or watery discharge accompanied by a strong, foul odor.
- Assess the cow’s attitude and demeanor. Look for “depressed cows” with sunken, dull eyes, nasal discharge or cold, lowered ears.
- Watch for cows that might be hanging back from the feed bunk or look dehydrated, and check for fever. A temperature of 103˚F or higher could be an indication of metritis.
Avoid treatment shortcuts
Though it might be tempting to stop treatment when the cow looks better, it is critical to complete the full duration of therapy. The defense cells often are too weak to fight the infection on their own, and bacteria can begin to grow back. This can cause the cow to relapse and delay recovery, which can pose an even greater threat to the animal’s well-being and your bottom line.
Remember, the true price of treatment involves more than the cost of the antibiotic. If the initial incomplete treatment fails, you will need to invest in re-treatment. This also can impact milk production and future reproductive performance.
Closely monitoring cows for early symptoms and diagnosis of metritis are keys to any fresh cow program. Completing a full antibiotic treatment as recommended by your veterinarian, even if the cow looks healthier, is important to ensure full recovery and minimize relapse.