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Disappearing Cows in Your Herd

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I have a problem at my farm. I have a herds-person who has such a tender heart and really loves animals. The upside of this is that we have saved a lot of calves by putting them on an IV and nursing them back to health. The downside is that she hates letting any animal leave the herd.

I have to remind her that the herd is my bank account. I have to balance the books of feed and inventory. The problem is that we keep animals... and eventually lose some animals... that should have never been treated.

This brings me to the subject of disappearing cows. What I mean by disappearing cows are those that are recorded in your herd management software but aren't physically in the herd - or cows that are in the herd that aren't recorded.

How do animals disappear? The following are some reasons:

  • The animal was sold and never removed from the herd software.
  • The animal died and was never removed from the herd software. This also occurs when a person is trying to make the numbers better than they are. Hoping that they will do better in the weeks to come and the numbers will average out.
  • I have also found animals that have ear tags and were never enrolled in the data system.
  • My least favorite is discovering animals that were taken during the night. How secure is your facility?

Cows also disappear in pens, especially the hospital pen. This and other reasons cows disappear are an opportunity to evaluate your management practices on the farm. Regarding the hospital pen, what is your process? You may want to ask the question, "How long should a cow stay in the hospital pen and be separated by disease?"

To improve your management practices, you can use your herd software. Amelicor does a nice job showing hospital information right in their mobile app. See the following examples:

Herd One

DHI-Plus Hospital Overview of Herd One

Herd Two


It's interesting that just in evaluating the Mastitis cows between these two groups there is a difference of 15 days (35 to 9.7).

Taking the time to interpret the data in your herd management software can help you re-evaluate your protocols, and in this case... take another look at how mastitis is diagnosed on the farm.


Discover More About Health Events by Using DHI-Plus Herd Management Software: