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Until recently, Danish dairy farmers have not been allowed to treat their own dairy cows suffering from milk fever using intravenous infusions of calcium. Such treatments could only be performed by a veterinarian. Farmers were only allowed to perform oral calcium treatments. In September 2010, a new legislation made it possible for Danish dairy farmers to use intravenous infusions of calcium to treat their own cows suffering from milk fever (Anonymous 2010). It has recently been shown that farmers with easier access to own treatment had higher intention-to-treat cases of mild clinical mastitis (Lind and others 2012). It can therefore be anticipated that the new legislation for treatment of milk fever could affect the treatment rate for this disease also.
The objectives of the present study were to evaluate whether the new possibility for the farmers themselves to treat cows suffering from milk fever has had any effect on (1) the proportion of cows treated for milk fever, (2) the number of treatments per case of milk fever and (3) the case fatality among cows treated for milk fever.
According to the new legislation, Danish farmers need to complete a course (including 1 day theory and treatment of five milk fever cases under the supervision of a veterinarian) in order to become authorised to perform treatments with intravenous calcium infusions. Additionally, the farmers have to participate in a herd health programme with weekly routine herd visits by a veterinarian. Participation in the course and the subsequent possibility of performing intravenous treatments are voluntary for farmers. As part of the authorisation, the farmer is required to record all intravenous treatments and report them to the Danish Cattle Database. All milk fever treatments performed by veterinarians are also recorded and reported to the Danish Cattle Database. Farmers are only allowed to treat uncomplicated …