The stink about metritis
Metritis is a common fresh cow disease that can affect up to 30% of a dairy herd.1 It can have serious impacts on Dairy Wellness, including reduced fertility, lower milk production, a greater risk of culling, and increased labor and treatment costs. These can add up to more than $350 per cow for each case of metritis.2 And it stinks. Here’s why.
Fresh cows have a suppressed immune system due to calving and nutritional stress prior to calving. This makes them more susceptible to disease. Under normal conditions, the defense cells of the immune system are active and guard the uterus from bacterial infection during the natural process of uterine repair.
However, immune-suppressed animals have fewer defense cells that are less active and can’t fight invading bacteria, such as Escherichia coli (E. coli). Invading bacteria grow faster than defense cells that can kill invading bacteria, paving the way for subsequent infection, damaging the lining of the uterus. This can lead to metritis. An infected cow might develop a fever and look sick on the outside, but more serious effects are occurring on the inside.
Metritis occurs most commonly following 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. Watch (and smell) for these symptoms.
Screening fresh cows within the first 10 days of calving is the best way to prevent more costly complications of metritis. See steps for a complete fresh cow screening.
For a fast recovery, work with your veterinarian to establish an on-label treatment regimen of antibiotics as early as possible. For a successful recovery, treat cows for the full therapy duration to help ensure that the appropriate amount of medicine is administered for fighting infection, preventing bacterial regrowth and allowing the uterus to heal. Once the uterus heals completely, defense cells return to normal and are ready to fight infections on their own. A full treatment also reduces the chance of relapse, which can be even more costly and severe for the health and well-being of the animal and your bottom line.
Read the full article in Progressive Dairyman
1 Kelton DF, Lissemore KD, Martin RE. Recommendations for recording and calculating the incidence of selected clinical diseases of dairy cattle. J Dairy Sci 1998;81(9):2502-2509.
2 Overton M, Fetrow J. Economics of postpartum uterine health. Paper presented at: Pfizer Animal Health Dairy Wellness Summit; April 23, 2009; Dallas, Texas.