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IN the early 1970s and 1980s, vaccination schemes were considered as the primary herd health programme implemented by veterinary surgeons on dairy farms to reduce the risk of disease introduction and spread (Boersema and others 2010, Noordhuizen 2012). This was and still is the case for dairy farms in the USA. Discussions between farmers and veterinarians ultimately lead to the choice of vaccination and the best time to apply vaccines properly. Hence, each dairy farm has its own tailor-made vaccination scheme.
At about the same time dairy herd fertility schemes were being implemented in various countries throughout the world (De Kruif 1975, Esslemont and others 1985). These schemes were a combination of veterinary hands-on activities in the domain of herd reproduction (such as rectal palpation of ovaries and the uterus to determine the stage of the oestrous cycle, the detection of potential disorders such as metritis and cystic ovarian disease; and the diagnosis of pregnancy) and the more analytical work of data evaluation and the search for risk factors contributing to reproductive disorders. The objective was to reduce the economic losses associated with poor reproductive performance of …