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DBweekly 4 FOCUS ON HERD HEALTH: HIDDEN VALLEY DAIRY Hidden Valley Dairy, owned and operated by the Nutcher Family in Modesto, Calif., is extremely conscientious when it comes to herd health. The 1,350-cow herd, operated by Mike, Darcy, son Trevor and daughter Katie, has taken steps in cow comfort, transitioning, mastitis control and reproductive health to boost efficiency, productivity and profitability. There are many costs associated with “fixing” herd health. Metabolic disorders, mastitis and other issues can severely impact the bottom line with increased costs in labor and treatment, and losses in productivity. “We try to hit problems as soon as we can before it begins to impact milk production,” Trevor said. “We’ve seen our numbers start to creep up a bit because we’re pretty aggressive with prevention protocols, and it’s helped. We have less treatment costs, less labor costs and overall healthier cows.” One area Hidden Valley has seen improvement is in fresh cow management. Adjustments in protocols have reduced metabolic issues to under 5% for ketosis, milk fever and retained placentas. Fresh pen management After the cows enter the fresh pen, their health is carefully monitored. Temperatures and palpation exams occur three days each week. On days where the cows aren’t locked up and examined, the staff walks through the cows and keeps a close eye on their visual condition. Depending on cow flow, the animals stay in this pen between 20 and 50 days. “I check the fresh cows to make sure they’re cleaning out well. I’ll also check them with Keto Stix,” Trevor said. “If they’ve got clinical ketosis, we’ll begin an intensive treatment, but if it reads as a subclinical case, we try to see if they can work through it on their own. Before, we were treating a little over intensively.” In addition to monitoring cow health, comfort in the fresh pen is maximized to reduce stress.