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Disposal and disease rates in British dairy herds between April 1998 and March 2002
  1. D. A. Whitaker, MA, VetMB, MVSc, MRCVS,
  2. A. I. Macrae, BVM&S, CertSHP, PhD, MRCVS and
  3. E. Burrough, BSc1
  1. 1 Division of Veterinary Clinical Studies, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Veterinary Centre, Roslin, Midlothian EH25 9RG


Data derived over four years from 434 dairy herds in 1998/99 to 244 in 2001/02 revealed average disposal rates of 22.6 per cent per year, half of which were for poor fertility, mastitis and lameness. The quartile of herds with the lowest disposal rates sold an average of 11.5 per cent annually and the quartile with the highest rates sold 35.5 per cent. Average annual disease rates over the four years were as follows: for assisted calving 7.8 per cent, for digestive disease 1.2 per cent, for ketosis 0.5 per cent, for hypomagnesaemia 0.5 per cent, for hypocalcaemia 5.0 per cent and for injuries 0.8 per cent. The incidence of mastitis increased from 36.0 to 43.3 per cent of cows per year. The incidence of lameness decreased from 23.3 per cent in 1998/99 to 20.7 per cent in 2000/01 but increased to 21.9 per cent in 2001/02. Data received from the same 219 farms during the first three years showed no effective differences from the full set of data for each of the three years. The lowest annual incidences of mastitis and lameness on individual farms were below 7 per cent and 2.5 per cent, respectively. In general, housing cows in cubicles was associated with a greater risk of lameness, and housing them in straw yards with a greater risk of mastitis. However, some of the lowest rates of lameness were recorded in cubicle.housed cows and some of the lowest rates of mastitis were recorded in cows housed in yards. Larger herds were not associated, in general, with higher rates of mastitis.

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