Team approach in handling down cows

ANIMART and the Dairy Business Association jointly educate the dairy industry on handling down cows.

THE Dairy Business Association of Wisconsin and ANIMART, Inc. are collaboratively educating the dairy industry on proper procedure in handling down cows.

Dr. Mike Costin, ANIMART professional services veterinarian, discussed a balance approach to handling down cows at the Dairy Business Association’s Access Symposium on Feb. 19.

“In today's modern dairy facilities, ‘down cows’ are a fact of life,” said Dr. Costin. “Many reasons can cause a cow to go down ranging from disease and injury, to a simple slip on the concrete.  Simply stated, there is no easy way to handle a down cow or this situation. Adding to the challenge is many outside entities are increasing focus on how you address this challenge.”

Laurie Fischer, the Dairy Business Association Executive Director, added, “With recent events, so many dairy producers were concerned about the absolute best ways on how to handle down and sick cattle. I am so pleased that our industry now has a protocol that can be used by dairy producers from around the county.”

At the symposium, Dr. Costin presented the recently “Standard Operating Procedure” (SOP) document -developed by ANIMART-to serve as example protocol for handling and management of down cows that can be adapted for dairy operations.

As part of the SOP, dairy farms are encouraged to select key employees, with diverse skills and knowledge, to serve as the down cow team that would be responsible for handling all down cows based on training to follow the outline procedures.

Using a team approach, the group would first assess the potential reason for the cow going down by using the five “M”:  Metabolic, Metritis, Mastitis, Massive Peritonitis and Musculoskeletal injury.

Once the cause has been properly identified, the team could correctly determine effectively handling method of the down cow from five methods outlined in the document: 1.) moving a down cow using a sled; 2.) moving a down cow by means of mechanical conveyance; 3.) moving a down cow out of the parlor; 4.) moving a down cow out of the return alley; and 5.) moving a down cow out of a stall (Cow Facing Forward).

In addition to the handling procedure, the document included the SOP for humane euthanasia and the American Veterinary Medical Association approved methods when the down cow team determined it is necessary.    

The document is available to the public through the Dairy Business Association, click here.

“We believe in working together as an Industry to empower producers is the best approach; and to this end we have made an example of Dr. Costin’s Down Cow SOP available to the public through the Dairy Business Association,” commented Dan Ellsworth, President of ANIMART. “In addition, we are providing this so other veterinarians may use it as a guideline to set up farm specific SOPs for their clients with or without our direct involvement.”

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