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Transition Cow Management Report (DHI-403)

Kathy Lee
Extension Dairy Educator
Northwest Lower Michigan

Dairy Herd Information (DHI) records are summarized in a variety of herd performance reports. In 2009 Dairy Records Management Systems (DRMS) introduced a new report designed to evaluate transition cow management.

Dairy producers, veterinarians, dairy nutritionists and other herd consultants can use the Transition Cow Management Report (DHI-403) to monitor seven key measurements that indicate the quality of the dry cow and fresh cow programs in dairy farms.

Information Monitored
The Transition Cow Management Report highlights key indicators related to management of cows during the dry period and early lactation. Each key indicator is given a rating for level of success based on a 100-point scale.

The level of success achieved by the top 10% of herds of a similar size is indicated for each measurement for comparison to a benchmark. Level of success data are graphed while other relevant summary data are listed in tabular format. Data from the past 12 months are provided to show trends for the herd.

A short description of each key indicator follows.

Dry Periods – Number of days dry influences performance. Dry periods that are too short or too long can result in reduced milk yield in the subsequent lactation. In this report, the percent of dry periods that are between 30 and 70 days long are graphed for two groups – second lactation cows and third and greater lactation cows.

First Milk – Higher daily milk yield for fresh cows tends to indicates few or no problems during the dry period or at calving. The First Milk graph shows the percentage of fresh cows that produced well on the first test day prior to 40 days in milk. To be considered a “successful” first test day milk yield for Holstein cows, first lactation cows must have a first milk of 40 or more pounds and second and later lactation cows must produce 50 or more pounds.

Fat Protein Ratio – An abnormal ratio of milk fat percent to protein percent on first test can indicate metabolic problems in fresh cows. In the Transition Cow Management report, milk fat percent to protein percent ratios of 1.0 to 1.6 are considered acceptable.

Udder Health – The percent of fresh cows without a mastitis infection is calculated for two lactation groups comprised of first lactation cows or second and later lactation cows. Cows are considered not infected if the somatic cell count (SCC) is below 200,000 cells per ml (or SCC score is below 4.0). A high percentage of infected cows early in lactation can indicate problems in the dry cow groups or the maternity area, such as lack of clean bedding.

Reproduction – Transition cow management can influence how quickly cows are ready for breeding following calving. In this graph, the percent of cows that were bred by the herd’s voluntary waiting period (VWP) plus 30 days are summarized separately for first lactation cows and second or greater lactation cows. For example, if a herd has reported a 60-day VWP, the graph would be based on the percent of cows bred by 90 days in milk.

Survival – Dairy producers strive to minimize the number of cows that are culled or die in early lactation. This report provides a summary of the percent of cows that survived to 60 days in milk for two lactation groups (first lactation and second and later lactations). A table also lists the percent of cows that left the herd or died in the first 60 days for each of the two lactation groups.

Distressed Cows – Minimizing stress during the transition period increases the likelihood of optimum performance after calving and throughout the lactation. The percent of cows not distressed during the transition period is graphed in this section of the report.

Cows are considered to have been distressed if one of more of the following occurred:

  • mastitis infection based on SCC of 200,000 or greater on the first test day;
  • calving ease score of 3, 4 or 5;
  • stillborn calf;
  • twins; and,
  • abortion

In addition to the graphs described above, an overview graph summarizes these 7 key indicators for the most recent time period. The time period includes data from the past 1 to 3 months depending on the number of calvings in the herd each month.

A table also is provided that lists individual cows that had low milk yield or high SCC at calving during the most recent test period.

How to Receive DHI-403 Report
Dairy producers can sign up for the Transition Cow Management Report (DHI-403) through their DHI technician. The report can be received monthly or quarterly.

Veterinarians, dairy nutritionists and other herd consultants can download a copy of the report via the DRMS website at www.drms.org using the new Reports On-Demand feature. They will need to log on using their account number and password. To obtain an account number, dairy industry professionals can contact DRMS (1-515-294-2526).

The cost of the report is 3 cents per cow per test day with a maximum charge of $20 per report.




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