Cost of pen moves
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Count the costs of pen moves

September 15, 2016
POSTED BY: Mark Kirkpatrick | DVM, MS | Managing Veterinarian | Dairy Technical Services | Zoetis

With fresh cows being one of the more fragile and immunosuppressed groups of cattle on your dairy, pen moves shouldn’t be taken lightly. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine list reducing pen moves among the five keys to preventing poor fresh cow transition.1

Hospital pens worsen the situation. Moving fresh cows into a hospital pen with a group of sick cows carries serious risk. Threats fresh cows may encounter include:

  • Metritis: Costs per head can amount up to $354 in losses of production and performance.2
  • Mastitis: Contagious mastitis pathogens can easily be passed via equipment or milkers’ hands from sick cows to fresh herdmates. Outbreaks can cost up to $200 per case.3
  • Salmonella: Hospital cows are 11 times more likely to contract Salmonella from carriers shedding organisms in the pen.4

Count the potential costs of pen moves on your dairy with this worksheet. In the meantime, continue to employ best management practices, such as keeping complete and accurate health records and monitoring disease incidents and treatments. Additionally, work with your veterinarian or Zoetis representative to understand pen move risks and discuss treatment options that minimize the pen moves.


¹ Nordlund K. The Five Key Factors in Transition Cow Management of Freestall Dairy Herds, in Proceedings. 46th Florida Dairy Prod Conf, 2009. Accessed July 29, 2016.

2 Modified from Overton M, Fetrow J. Economics of Postpartum Uterine Health, in Proceedings. Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council Conv, 2008:39-44.

3 National Mastitis Council. The Value and Use of Dairy Herd Improvement Somatic Cell Count. Accessed July 29, 2016.

4 Cobbold RN, Rice DH, Davis MA, Besser TE, Hancock DD. Long-term persistence of multi-drug-resistant Salmonella enterica serovar Newport in two dairy herds. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2006:228(4):585-591.






  • Hospital pen moves can be risky
  • What is metritis costing you?


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