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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.