About Dairy Wellness

Control Salmonella in the fresh pen
Posted by Gary Neubauer

Because fresh cows have depressed immune systems after calving, they rely on your help to protect them from Salmonella and other opportunistic bacteria. Even if your dairy has never experienced a major outbreak, controlling Salmonella in fresh cows can help prevent the costly disease from spreading to the rest of your herd. Here are 10 tips to include in your Salmonella prevention plan for managing your fresh cows:

  1. Monitor fresh cows — Follow a regular fresh-cow monitoring protocol to detect fevers and other signs of early illness.
  2. Manage feed bunks — Keep fresh feed available at all times so that intake disruptions are minimized. In hot weather, clean bunks more frequently than normal to remove any rancid feed. Salmonella numbers can double every 20 minutes in warmer temperatures.
  3. Keep rodents out — Limit exposure of feedstuffs to rodents, birds, cats and other potential Salmonella carriers.
  4. Separate fresh cows — Fresh cows have compromised immune systems after calving and should not be kept in the same pen with hospital cows, which may be shedding pathogens into the environment.
  5. Provide space — Adequate bunk space is critical in the pre- and post-fresh pen so that all animals can eat at the same time. Stocking density in pre- and post-fresh pens should be maintained below capacity so all transition cows can lie down at the same time.
  6. Provide cow cooling — Offering shade, misters and/or fans in the pre- and post-fresh pens during hot weather can encourage cows to keep eating.
  7. Sanitize equipment — All fresh pen equipment, including balling guns and rectal thermometers, should be disinfected between each use. Never use the same needles for different animals.
  8. Clean water — Watering troughs should be cleaned and disinfected in the fresh pen on a regular basis, because Salmonella can be transmitted via saliva, and it survives well in water.
  9. Protect newborns — Remove calves from dams immediately after calving and disinfect navel stumps immediately. Bedding should be clean, dry and well-maintained in maternity facilities. If the herd has a history of Salmonella, consider feeding pasteurized colostrum or a colostrum replacer followed by pasteurized milk or milk replacer.
  10. Consider vaccination to control SalmonellaWork with your veterinarian to determine the most prudent vaccination strategy based on your herd’s history and your Salmonella risk factors.

Visit if you have questions or want more information on controlling Salmonella in your herd, or speak with your veterinarian.

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