Endometritis is caused by a chronic infection in the uterus after calving and is more prevalent in cows defined as "high risk".
What is Endometritis?
Endometritis is a bacterial infection of the uterus but with which the cow doesn’t show any symptoms of being sick (not clinically unwell).
Why is it important?
Endometritis reduces fertility in affected cows. In particular, it reduces conception rates which in turn reduces pregnancy rates. It can be at a large cost to farms, not only in a reduced total milk payout but also in loss of genetic gain as cows which do not get in calf are culled and in reduced culling options (e.g. high somatic cell count cows). Endometritis is therefore a vital consideration when planning post calving management of your herd.
What is a "high risk" cow?
Cows which have had to be assisted when calving, twins, premature calvings, dead calves, abortion, uterine prolapses, retained foetal membranes and metabolic cases are at a higher risk of developing Endometritis. However, other cows in a herd can also be affected by Endometritis, even without any of the above risk factors. In a 2009 study it was shown that 71% of cows with endometritis weren't considered "at risk" and so it is important to check your entire herd for Endometritis before mating.
How do we diagnose Endometritis?
Most commonly in New Zealand a MetricheckTM device is used to diagnose Endometritis. This tool is used to sample the discharge present in the base of the vagina, looking for the presence of pus.
This check is best done in the seven to 28 days following calving to most effectively diagnose Endometritis. Metrichecking can be done outside of this time but this reduces the accuracy of the test. If the check is done after 28 days then the cervix can close, locking the pus inside the uterus where it cannot be sampled by the Metrichecker.
We offer two different options for Metrichecking your herd:
- A single MetricheckTM of the entire herd four weeks before mating with any positive cows treated with Metricure® at the time of testing. This approach costs $1.60* including GST per cow + Metricure® cost.
- An intensive three check plan. Cows calved for more than a week are checked at each visit, starting from three weeks after planned start of calving. Any cows found to be positive at each visit are treated at the time with Metricure®. Checks are done every three weeks after the first check (each cow can be checked up to three times). This approach costs $3.75* including GST per cow in the herd + Metricure® cost.
A recent study involving over 15,000 dairy cows in the North Island showed that using the intensive three check plan produced a 2.4% increase in six week in calf rate at the whole herd level. The study found that early identification and treatment of affected cows leads to around 3.4 to 4.4 times return on investment making this plan well worthwhile. For this reason, we strongly recommend the three check plan.
What is the treatment for Endometritis?
Cows identified positive for Endometritis at Metrichecking are treated with Metricure®. Metricure® is deposited into the body of the uterus and contains Cephapirin, a cephalosporin antibiotic. This treatment leads to excellent cure rates in cows affected with Endometritis (up to 87% cure). A single treatment should be sufficient to treat almost all affected cows in your herd.
Contact your veterinarian to discuss post-calving management and Metrichecking in your herd to improve your herd performance this year!
*Prices as at September 2018 and subject to change without notification.