The Who, What, Where and How of Endometritis and Metrichecking

The Who, What, Where and How of Endometritis and Metrichecking
By David Dymock, Veterinarian, Anexa FVC Rototuna

What is Endometritis?

Endometritis is relatively common infection of the uterus following calving. We often term cows with endometritis ‘Dirty Cows’. ‘Dirty Cows’ do not show any signs of being sick and they often look like normal healthy cows. We can identify the ‘Dirty Cows’ by using a quick, cost effective and simple method called metrichecking.

Who gets endometritis?

As a rule, ‘At Risk Cows’ that have had retained foetal membranes (RFM), twins, milk fever, an assisted calving and/or a dead calf, are more likely to be ‘Dirty Cows’. However, when whole herds are metrichecked, up to 71% of cows that were metricheck positive, were considered ‘Not at Risk’. Unfortunately, we still don’t know all the causes for endometritis but once identified they should be treated due to the negative effects on reproduction. The whole herd prevalence of metricheck positive cows can vary greatly, with some herds only have a few positive cows and others having between 25 to 50% of the herd metricheck positive. In a recent study of 100 New Zealand herds, the average metricheck positive cow prevalence was reported to be 25%.

Why do we care about endometritis?

Endometritis results in lower conception and 6-week in calf rates, higher empty rates of up to 30% and if they do get pregnant it can take 2 to 3 weeks longer than cows without endometritis. There is a positive return on investment to whole herd metrichecking when there are more than 2% of dirty cows, which is probably >95% of herds in New Zealand.

When to detect and treat endometritis?

Traditionally we have metrichecked the whole herd in one go, at least 35 days before the start of mating, to give the treated cows time to cure before mating starts. But a recent New Zealand study showed that if you metricheck in batches starting 2 to 4 weeks following calving, it gave a 9.6% improvement in the 6-week in-calf-rate and a 3% higher 12-week in-calf-rate, compared to late treated cows i.e. cows treated a month prior to mating. So, there are some real positive benefits for identifying and treating cows early.

How do we treat endometritis?

The most common treatment is with an intrauterine infusion of antibiotics that has a nil milk withholding. So, talk to your Vet about your plan for metrichecking this year, as there are some real positive reproductive and financial benefits of identifying and treating ‘Dirty Cows’ early.

Date Added: Wednesday, 1st August 2018