Yesterday was a scheduled day for the veterinarian to examine our dairy cows in the milking herd. It could be compared to well-baby check-ups only on the dairy farm it happens at least once a month and continues through the life of the cow. We actually call these exam days--herd health. Although Dr. Gary comes monthly for herd health, monitoring the health of our cows is our responsibility everyday.
On our farm herd health check-ups occur in a special exam area called the management rail. This special exam area is basically an alley with a rail on each side and a gate on each end. After being milked, the cows walk from the milk barn to the management rail. Ten cows will be walked into the alley in single file and positioned side to side so the vet can examine them. After the exams are finished on each set of cows, the gate is opened and the cows will walk to the feed barn to eat,drink water, and then return to the pasture to rest.
My job on herd health day is to be on the front end of the cow, reading the cow's tag number, providing information to the vet about each cow such as breeding date or health issues that we are following and recording all the exam results. Most of our exams yesterday were to determine which cows were pregnant.