Endometritis - Early Treatment is Best

Immediately after calving, bacteria can be isolated from the uterus of virtually all cows. Over the next 40-50 days most cows clear these bacteria as the uterus contracts and prepares for the next pregnancy. However 10-20% of cows do not clear these bacteria and instead they develop an inflammatory bacterial infection in the uterus known as endometritis.

Cows with endometritis have slightly reduced submission rates and very poor conception rates. As a result, they tend to be late to conceive or empty. On average, dirty cows take about 3 weeks longer to conceive and have empty rates 10 to 30% higher than cows that are clean.

'At Risk' Cows

Endometritis is particularly common in cows which have complications at calving, the so called 'At Risk' cows. These cows are less efficient at clearing the bacteria from the uterus after calving. Cows with any of the following conditions at calving should be marked and examined 14 days post calving:

· Retained foetal membranes (cleaning's)
· Stillbirth, or a calf that died within 24 hours of birth
· Difficult calving – assisted delivery
· Twins
· Milk fever around calving time

Examination of the vagina should be performed with a CLEAN gloved hand or a metri-checking device. Cows with pus present should be marked for treatment with a metricure either by yourselves - if you have experience, or one of the vet team. 

The sooner dirty cows are detected and treated, the better the results. This is because the treated cows then have longer to recover before the start of mating, maximizing the improvement in their fertility. The return on investment (ROI) from early treatment (8-28 days post calving) as opposed to delayed treatment (4 weeks prior to planned start of mating) has been estimated  at around 3:1.

Speak to one of the vets if you’d like to learn more