Recording Herd Health Data
With DHI-Plus, you can record and analyze individual dairy cow health events to make informed and deliberate decisions that will affect your overall herd health.
It's important to realize that dairy cow performance doesn't improve naturally. We get used to performance always improving because it has essentially been like that for our lifetime. However, there is no guarantee that production will continue to improve without deliberate decisions. The action required on our part is to collect information that will help drive deliberate decisions—decisions based on real data.
Why record health data?
The following video reviews some of the benefits and gives a demonstration of what recording cow health events in DHI-Plus looks like.
Table of Contents
Related Herd Health Articles
The Benefits of Recording Health Data
Recording and managing your herd's health provides many benefits... but here are a few of the most important reasons:
- For the health and well-being of the animal
- To improve the future of your herd health and genetics
- To protect your business and meet FDA requirements
Keep track of health events and treatments for the health and well-being of your cows.
Tracking treatments and health events does not mean you will have fewer problems… but it will help greatly when corrections need to be made. If you make a habit of recording health events, and take the time to consistently analyze your data, you will be able to identify trends that may lead to problems sooner. This will help to minimize loss of production and cull rates… effectively increasing the performance of your herd.
Genetic Health Data: Record health data to improve the future of your herd.
Whether or not you are participating in genomic evaluations, you can record your herd health data and share it to a national database to help to improve the data you have available to your business. To do that, you just have to authorize your data to flow between your software and national organizations.
In addition, when you record the health data, your record needs to be in a standardized format so that information can easily be understood. DHI-Plus will help ensure your data entry is consistently entered, but you can additionally use standard health entry codes. For example, you can record the health events and codes specified by the CDCB because they are recognized by the dairy industry.
The Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB) genetic health traits
In 2018, the CDCB began providing health traits to their official collection of genetic evaluations. In additions, Net Merit and other profit indices have also been revised to factor in the economic impact of these health traits.
The CDCB selected six of the most common, costly health events impacting dairy cattle. The health traits are:
- Hypocalcemia (Milk Fever) - MFEV
- Displaced Abomasum - DA
- Ketosis - KETO
- Mastitis - MAST
- Metritis - METR
- Retained Placenta - RETP
Ultimately what does recording health events mean for the individual dairy farmer? It could mean hundreds of dollars saved on reducing treatments and lost production. If you participate in the national programs, selecting Sires for these new health traits can help you have a herd that is more resistant to these problems over time.
Protect Your Business and Meet FDA Requirements
When drug residue enters the food supply the most common reason the FDA cites following an investigation is failure to maintain complete treatment records. If an investigator were to visit your farm, having good health records will help protect your dairy by showing diligence in maintaining records.
Related Topic Pages
Genomics on the Dairy
Amelicor’s Records Processing Service has always provided you with access to valuable pedigree information. With this type of information, producers have the ability to predict the production value of a specific cow. However, even though the prediction is based on generations of data, it still takes years to prove those predictions.
Genomics allows you to make decisions before you have even fed the animal. The pedigree information is used in tandem with the genetic information to make decisions that will lead to healthier animals which will make your herd more profitable.
Drug Tracking with DHI-Plus
Following simple protocols will protect your dairy from unintentional mistakes that keep drug residue from entering the food supply. These protocols also keep you focused on a quality product instead of treating sick cows.
When the conditions surrounding a disease and the protocols for treatment of the disease are clear, your employees will know what is required to keep drug residue out of the bulk tank.
Record Health Data Now for Added Benefits in the Future
The most common use of health records on a dairy is done one cow at a time… which is usually done to decide whether or not a cow should be removed from the herd.
However, depending on data entry methods and the priority of a particular cow, the recording of that data may be inconsistent from one cow to another... and if a cow is removed from the herd, the final health event may not have been recorded at all.
Though this type of information is helpful to make decisions on individual cows, it doesn’t help answer questions about the health management of the herd. For example, knowing the number of cases of mastitis that led to a group of cows leaving the herd.
Use DHI-Plus to record health-related events to establish future proofing habits:
Create protocols for consistent ways of recording health events for individual cows. This will help you evaluate your management practices for the entire herd... and you will know if they are effective.
If you see an increase in new disease episodes, ask yourself: Are my disease prevention protocols working? Out of the cases that are treated, have my treatment protocols reduced the recurrence of the disease? Use DHI-Plus analysis to answer these questions.
Establishing a time to routinely analyze whole herd reports helps to provide hard evidence to effectively evaluate protocols and practices established on your farm.
Your Herd Vaccinations May Not Always Be Successful… Why?
How much does mastitis change milk production? [Video]
Mastitis Recovery and New Infection Rates [Video]
Track and Analyze Health Events with DHI-Plus
Although there are many ways to track and analyze health events in DHI-Plus, the following information is meant to provide some detailed examples about how it works.
Health Count Reports
Do you want to know how many mastitis incidents there are in the herd? Do you want to find the possible cull cows because of a large number of treatments for transition diseases?
Health Counts provide this data in a custom report. Health Counts are a way to count the number of health and disease-related items in your herd.
Recording Calf Data
Sire genetic evaluation summaries are being done for both Calving Ease and Calf Livability. Calving Ease information can be recorded in the DHI-Plus system in one of two styles:
- One value—calving difficulty only
- Four values—calving difficulty, size, livability, and condition.
Many dairies only record calving difficulty data. We are encouraging dairies to also record calf livability data.
Accurate and complete reporting of complete calving ease data will benefit your operation now and in the future.
- It will increase the accuracy of sire calving ease and daughter calving ease evaluations
- It will allow the development of national stillbirth evaluations.
- It will enhance your opportunities for better sire selection in the future.
Consistency When Recording Health Data
DHI-Plus has many features to help you consistenly record data… even when it’s being recorded by multiple people. However, then health events are entered into the program, the DHI-Plus system allows you to use one of two styles:
- Using standard CDCB health event codes
- Using your own custom health event codes
Because consistency is key when sharing data with the dairy industry, DHI-Plus provides a way to map custom health event codes to dairy industry standard codes. Even in instances where multiple custom codes have been used for the same health event throughout the software, you can bring those all together by mapping them to an industry-standard code.
Using DHI-Plus, you can make sure all codes are consistent when being used for reporting, analyzing, and transmitting genetic evaluations.
Talk to a Customer Service Representative about how DHI-Plus can help you track health events.
By filling out the form, here is what will happen:
- We will send you an email with a few specific questions we might have to help us customize our thoughts for your needs.
- After we get your response, you will be contacted by one of our customer service representatives.
- The representative can show you how health event tracking works in DHI-Plus. If you want, they can help you install DHI-Plus so you can try it for a period of time with your own data.
- If you want to talk to someone today, use the options on our contact page.