Regional results of a new survey show U.S. dairy producers are acutely aware of the consequences of immune suppression, and 59 percent of survey respondents rate mastitis as the top complication of compromised immunity. To a lesser extent, U.S. producers identify immune suppression itself as the cause of this costly disease. The U.S. results were presented by Elanco at the 2016 National Mastitis Council annual meeting in Glendale, Ariz. on Jan. 31.

“As we reframe how we manage the vulnerable time around calving and make immune suppression a priority, we know that more than 80 percent of U.S. producers are looking to their veterinarians for help in protecting their cows’ immune systems,” said Paul Rapnicki, DVM, MBA, Dairy Technical Consultant, Elanco Animal Health. “Focusing on immune suppression as the cause rather than managing the consequences will decrease costly diseases post-calving, while setting cows up for a productive lactation.”

Survey findings further reveal that achieving a successful lactation cycle is the top reason 96 percent of U.S. dairy producers agree that the period of 60 days prior to and 30 days after calving – known as The Vital 90™ Days – is “very important” for the health of their cows.

“Dairy producers universally agree that The Vital 90 Days are critical in preparing their cows for the next lactation and related milk yields,” said Rapnicki. “Productive lactations are the result of well-managed energy balance and immune function around calving, and the recognition that it all starts in that pivotal 90-day window is the first step in making the goal of a successful lactation a reality.”While setting cows up for a healthy lactation is a top goal, additional survey findings indicate that U.S dairy producers rate optimizing nutrition (40%), preventing mastitis (32%), and enhancing reproduction (28%) as their leading dairy healthcare priorities.

The survey was conducted on behalf of Elanco from December 2015 to January 2016 in an effort to gauge awareness, knowledge and understanding of immune suppression around the time of calving and identify topics of concern in dairy healthcare. Computer assisted telephone interviews (CATI) were conducted with dairy producers who were owners or dairy herd managers. All survey respondents had at least 20 years of experience working in the dairy business. The survey was conducted among 1,200 dairy producers in seven countries with responses gathered from 187 U.S. respondents representing an average herd size of 850 and an average of 33 years of dairy experience.