Inspire Cattle Solutions


A new published article has shown how the microbial environment in the uterus of cows alters in the development of Clinical Endometritis. These interesting results show that Healthy cows have a diverse population of bacteria present in their uterus at 30 days post calving. Subclinical Endometritis cows  had more Acinetobacter and Lactobacillus present and Clinical Endometritis cows had Fusobacterium, Trueperella and Peptoniphilus as predominant species.

This confirms that Gram positive, anaerobic bacteria exist in the unhealthy uterus of dairy cows, which is important to know when choosing antimicrobial therapies. The authors review a lot of previous work on the species variations as endometritis develops but propose that in the future, more work should concentrate on looking at how those species interact to produce such dramatic population changes.

This work was carried out in China, on 38 cows from an 800-cow dairy. Cows treated with antimicrobials were excluded from the study and all cows in the study were of comparable parity and body condition score. Samples were taken at 30 days post calving from the uterus and DNA analysis techniques were used to identify species. This fascinating new paper is from Wang et. al. (2018), Frontiers in Microbiology, 9:2691 doi 10.3389/fmicb.2018.02691

Contact 0044 222118 if you want to meet at EuroTier 2018 today!

Inspire Cattle Solutions is now at EuroTier in Hannover! This huge agricultural fair is the largest in Europe and has every agricultural business type imaginable on display. From Animal Health, Education institutes and Feed businesses to machinery and data solutions, this is an exciting event to put into your calendar.

Today, Inspire Cattle Solutions will be there, so arrange a meeting if you want to talk about our services: Consultancy on Lean Projects; Research support and Training/Workshops for professionals.

Alternatively, CONTACT US and we will listen to your needs.

Almost half of vets in UK fought in WW1

As we remember soldiers and civilians from all countries who gave their lives in war today, it is fitting to include the vets and their roles in our thoughts.

At the start of World War One, 364 British vets worked in the Army Veterinary Corps: a division created after the Boer War, where the need to treat and avoid suffering of animals was seen as an essential requirement to keep the forces supplied. By the end of the war, there were 41,755 members of the Veterinary Corps.

Their contribution to animal health was critical: they often paid the ultimate price to ensure that the animals under their care saw relief from pain and trauma. Typical French Veterinary hospitals could manage up to 2,000 animals and most frequent diseases seen were battle trauma, exhaustion, mange and later in the war, gas attack damage. Out of 2.5 million animals admitted, over 2 million were returned to duty: an admirable cure rate!

There were more theatres of war than Flanders and the Veterinary Corps saw themselves learning to treat camels in Egypt as well as their usual equine and canine patients. At the end of the First World War, the Corps were given a Royal Charter by King George V and the Quartermaster-General made this quote of the brave vets in combat: “The Corps by its initiative and scientific methods has placed military veterinary organisation on a higher plane. The high standard which it has maintained at home and throughout all theatres has resulted in a reduction of animal wastage, an increased mobility of mounted units and a mitigation of animal suffering un-approached in any previous military operation.”

Link to History of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps site



How do you improve the lifestyle of producers by enhancing cow welfare?

Whether they own 2 cows or 2,000 cows, farmers are extremely busy people. They have animals to nurture, a business to run and a family to support. All of these have multiple demands and priorities can be easily distracted. So the key to making significant changes is to keep focus on whichever is the primary need. Inspire Cattle Solutions excels at this, in any geography!

The best question to ask any producer is the “magic wand” question: “If you had just one wish, what would you change about the management of your farm?”. This nearly always produces a surprising result. As a vet, you expect “reduce disease” or “make more money” to be the obvious answers. However, in my experience, it is often something very different. “Spend more time with my children at weekends”; “Improve communication between my family members that run the farm with me”; “Allow me to provide more facilities for my poor village labourers” are just a few of the answers I have come across.


So how do you translate this into improving cow welfare? Often, making cows more comfortable or reducing their risks of disease have knock-on effects on productivity: more milk, better quality milk and better fertility for another healthy lactation after the present one. Learning how to make changes and SHOW the value from these is the key to excellent consulting.

Ensuring that everyone is aligned with definitions of diseases and risks is the first step. If you can define and measure things, you can manage them efficiently. Now, you can measure the current situation in order to tell what position you are in at the start. When this is done, you can look towards the data you have collected in order to find a single, most important priority point to fix: mastitis? heat abatement? ketosis? communication? training? Then you can design a project around that priority.

Making sure that everyone is accountable and responsible for their own components of this project is the next stage: “WHO does WHAT by WHEN”. Communication is always improved by ensuring that everyone is kept up to date throughout the project regularly: this is where good consultancy really excels!

When a project is complete, re-evaluate all of the key data, ALWAYS connecting back to the original issue. If for example, this was about fixing ketosis, then obviously show ketosis data but many times, the original “magic wand” wish was something else: so if it was “spend more time with the kids”, make sure you measured the amount of time spent at the start and at the end: after all, this is what the customer wanted!

Examples of Inspire Cattle Solutions’ consultancy have been:

  1. $1.6M more saleable milk per year by improving cow cooling (Pakistan)
  2. This project also allowed producers to give their poor labourers better accommodation, a canteen to ensure they weren’t hungry and a sports field on some farms
  3. Changing lives of producers by doubling milk income which allowed their children to have access to education for the first time in their generation (East Africa)
  4. Allowing farmers more time at weekends by not having to fix so many sick cows by reducing ketosis (UK)

There are many others.



Resilience to infection pressure has been shown to be predictable over Calving:

New research has shown that with the help of sensors and data collected over transition, it can be possible to predict which cows are more likely to cope with disease pressure.

Who and How?

Wageningen logoA group of scientists lead by Prof. Ingrid van Dixhoorn at Wageningen University, Netherlands, have put together data collected from multiple sensors and information from 2 weeks before calving to 6 weeks afterwards. They looked for any detrimental condition in the cow after calving, such as mastitis, metritis, increased lameness score, retained placenta, displaced abomasum, fever and others. In summary, any cow showing a clinical event scored 1 on a Total Deficit Score (TDS) each day until it recovered or continued scoring 1 per day until the end of the measurement session if it did not recover or was culled. Cows were examined by a vet daily after calving and sensors placed on the cow before calving were automatic, frequent-measuring sensors measuring lying/eating times, rumen/ear temperature and motion/rumination activity. 22 cows averaging 10,000L/305d lactation from the same farm were used for this study published in the Journal of Dairy Science (Open Access).


Total TDS varied from 0 to 121 per cow. 7 cows were very healthy, scoring <7; 7 cows scored between 7-14 and 9 cows scored over 21, mastitis being the most common condition encountered after calving. The best predictor parameters pre-calving for HEALTH were shown to be average eating and lying times, consistent behavioural motion (more variance predicts for more disease) and daily ear temperature.

Thoughts for the Future

This excellent study shows that trying to manage cows by concentrating lots of data to predict one disease is very challenging. However, if we use this more holistic method of combining all detrimental events after calving and having a Total Deficit Score, we can have a clearer picture of which cows stay healthy and which are less resilient to disease.

In the future, it would be great to see this repeated using more data from pre-calving (e.g. from dry-off) and adding drops in productivity such as daily milk weights into the TDS. This kind of study has a lot of potential for future research processes over many interventions.

Do YOU know what bedding is best for reducing Mastitis and Lameness?

Sand bedding has been shown by research to be associated with fewest mastitis cases, least lameness lesions and longest lying times in dairy cows. A NEW Review published by Veterinary Evidence, a peer-reviewed, Open Access journal looks at many aspects of bedding for dairy cows and compares sand, recycled manure solids (RMS) and rubber mattresses. Outcomes such as bacterial growth in bedding, mastitis incidence, teat quality, leg and foot lesions and behavioural lying times were all included in the research. This is an extensive review of current scientific literature on bedding for dairy cows and answers a question that is frequently asked to many consultants when producers are considering upgrading their barns.

Author, Mike Steele, of Inspire Cattle Solutions, looked at literature from the last 20 years up to present day in order to reflect the types of bedding that are seen in Dairy Barns by most practitioners today. A lot of evidence supports deep sand bedding but also deep RMS is shown to have good welfare parameters (less lameness lesions, less mastitis and less bacterial growth) compared to rubber mattresses covered with straw, wood shavings or other materials. It is worth mentioning that in all cases, the sand and RMS must have been replaced frequently and kept clean in order to achieve these better conditions.

This research is brought to you by Inspire Cattle Solutions

Download the FREE Webinar

Follow this link to register and learn at your own convenience. See the best evidence supporting how to cool cows and make more profits on dairies from Africa to Estonia (yes, even here).

Mike Steele BSc(Hons) BVSc MRCVS explains how to define heat and stress, how to spot the signs on dairies and how cows are physically affected by heat. Making cows more comfortable can increase milk and reproduction efficiency, which can bring great returns to any dairy business.



Do you know how you can make the most of every stall in the Dairy Barn?

Calved CowHuge value can be made from improving reproductive efficiency on most dairies. Up to US$33 (29Euro, £26GBP) per % point of improved Pregnancy Rate at $0.40/L (0.35 Euro or £0.31) milk price has been calculated by a new prediction model.

Professor Mike Overton published* an economic model for predicting the gains to be made from improving pregnancy rates in dairy cows. By defining Insemination Risk (IR): % cows inseminated in the eligible population every 21 day cycle after 50 voluntary days and Conception Risk (CR): % cows confirmed as conceived from those inseminated, Mike programmed a computer model to compare 21-day pregnancy rates. Inputs such as dry period length, cull risk, milk production,  etc. were kept as constant and the model was run over many iterations (Monte Carlo method) under one figure for Pregnancy Rate. He then improved IR by 10% and saw the returns in the model. At varying milk prices, the returns varied, increasing with increasing milk price and decreasing with increasing pregnancy rate.

As efficiency increases (PR increases), the returns decrease, which happens in many biological systems. Think of when you exercise: you can make big improvements when you start but as you get more fit, gains become more marginal.

By understanding the inputs and particularly culling costs, it is possible to maximise the profits of a dairy using well-targeted reproductive advice.


*Proceedings of XVI Congress of ANEMBE, Spain (2011)


Sign up Today for our Webinar on Heat Stress in Cows

Only 3 Days until our LIVE session on Heat Stress. This webinar will be given by Mike Steele MRCVS, our consultant with Global experience in cow cooling.
air atmosphere blue blue skyMore comfortable cows are more productive and more efficient, utilizing more food for milk production and therefore wasting less energy and CO2. Find out how to spot heat stress, what it does to dairy businesses and what to do to show more value to your advice.

Never mind if you’re too busy or not available at the time: a recording will be available to download after the showing in our Library.

A recent review has shown that leukocytes in colostrum have a major role in immunity in calves. It has long been known that immunoglobulins (antibodies) in colostrum pass on immediate protection, but this communication talks about the latest evidence that leukocytes (white blood cells) from the mother’s colostrum are ingested in the first feed. They pass into the gut of the calf within 12-24 hours and appear in the circulation. They then disappear from circulation within 36 hours. This implies that they are actively Solo calfmigrating to, or interacting with the immune system of the calf (reference of Reber, 2006). Monocytes migrate to lymph nodes in order to pass on information to the long-term, acquired immune system and this may help to strengthen the calf’s immune health.

This review from Mike van Amburgh at Cornell University, looks at papers supporting the theory that maternal cells play an important role in the “memory” of the calf’s immune system. It goes on to look at the effect of amounts and freezing of colostrum and its impact on the immune health of the calf.

Continuing Education Webinar on Heat Stress in Dairy Cows

On Wednseday 24th October, you will have the chance to register for a FREE INTRODUCTORY WEBINAR from Inspire Cattle Solutions!

Mike Steele BSc(Hons) BVSc MRCVS will be presenting the latest and past evidence supporting cow cooling strategies that show value BACK to our producers. Cooling down our dairy cows in most climates (even close to the Arctic Circle!) can pay back in terms of milk volume and reproduction.

In this webinar, we discuss:

  • What heat stress is
  • How it can be measured
  • What effect it has on cows and businesses
  • Strategies for cooling cows
  • How to show value back to the producer from your advice

Evidence comes from peer-reviewed, scientific articles and a certificate of attendance will be sent by email after the session.

If you can’t make it at that time, DON’T WORRY! The webinar will be available for download at any time afterwards in our ARCHIVES.

Turning sprinklers on for longer (and off for shorter periods) has better cooling effects

A brand new research paper has shown that when the sprinklers are turned on for longer periods in the same overall time, cows’ body temperatures and air temperatures are lowered more than frequent, shorter sprinkler periods. Water use went up from 59L/min to 99L/min (19L vs 34L/cow/hour) but this paid off with more comfortable cooling effects in the cow. Follow this reference link for Tresoldi et al, 2018 Journal of Dairy Science from UC Davis, California. – opens in a new window

In this experiment, 2 groups of 10 cows were PAK milk shed good fansexposed to either frequent, short bursts of sprinkler activity (1.5 mins “on” every 3, 6 and 12 minutes)  or longer bursts: 3 minutes “on” every 3, 6 or 12 minutes for 45 minutes duration. Body temperature, Respiration rate, Air temperature, Temperature Humidity Index and the temperature on the surface of the shoulder and leg of the cows were measured.

The key point to take away from the results was that BOTH strategies were effective at cooling down cows to comfortable limits, with no differences found in THI, air temperature or shoulder surface temperature. However, using the higher water volume for longer did show lower body temperatures by 0.5ºC and lower temperatures at the leg of the cows.

This is a useful research paper in terms of cow physiology but future research should include performance indicators such as energy-corrected milk volume per day, conducted over longer periods of time. Only then could producers make the decision as to when it would be of better value to use more water.