The first meeting of the National Mastitis Council to take place outside North America has proved to be a resounding success, attracting over 650 delegates in Ghent, Belgium. The event was part of a whistle-stop tour for dairy production medicine expert Dr Michael Overton who presented an abstract on new tools set to improve how cows are managed during ‘The Vital 90TM Days’ around calving. Another consequence of Dr Overton’s work is the emergence of a new metric – cost per calving.
Dr Overton’s two year project with the Elanco Knowledge Solutions team has culminated in the development of a Risk Assessment Tool and an Economic Assessment Tool. His findings have been very positively received at a number of high profile events in the US and the World Buiatrics Association congress in Australia, as well as at the Ghent event.
Both digital tools take a structured approach to help consultants and producers manage cows and heifers more effectively from dry-off to 30 days post calving. The Risk Assessment Tool evaluates the priority areas for cow management and identifies the top three interventions that are most likely to improve performance during The Vital 90 Days – and subsequently the lactation that follows.
The Economic Assessment Tool is an equally impressive piece of work – painstakingly referenced for reliability and accuracy. The on-line tool allows the calculation of direct and indirect costs associated with lost opportunities during lactation. It has allowed a new metric to be proposed: the ‘Vital 90 Days Cost per Calving’. Both producers and consultants will quickly see the benefits to calculating such a metric, including improved decision making based on solid data and the ability to evaluate and compare different strategies.
The coming year will see the tools rolled out across Europe and they are set to shift the focus away from the sole ‘sick cow’ to more active preventative management of herds. “The aim is to get value out of farm data, transform them into information and help producers to make the right decisions to address the challenges of lowered immunity and negative energy balance during transition period.” says Dr Overton.