Dairy Herd Management

Successful dairy herd managers know their herd very well. Having a strong sense of important statistics and rates helps dairy herd managers to lay out plans for future growth. Special dairy herd management software can help managers track and analyze all the details of their herd.

Cow Growth Process

A young female cow that has not yet calved is called a heifer. Heifers do not produce milk, but they are an important part of a dairy herd and require proper management to grow and become fertile.

When heifers have grown enough to sustain a pregnancy, the dairy herd manager must accurately detect when the cow is in heat so she can be inseminated. There are several methods commonly used for heat detection, including prostaglandin injections, record systems, heat detector animals, and mount detection aids.

Cow Comfort

Keeping cows comfortable and stress-free is an important factor in fertility and production. Dairy herd managers should minimize stress and maximize comfort for their cows, as this will impact the health and production capacity of the animals. A comfortable environment includes soft bedding, plenty of clean water, and well-ventilated housing.

Dairy Herd Health Concerns

Common issues in dairy herd health include mastitis and lameness. Mastitis is an inflammation of cow’s udder tissue and mammary gland. This disease is infectious and can be spread between animals through bacteria on the milking machine, so keeping the milking area and equipment clean is essential. Other factors that help prevent mastitis are managing cattle housing and providing nutritious rations.

Lameness is also a common problem in dairy cows, affecting the animal’s gait and ability to walk. Lameness can be avoided by keeping cattle on dry, soft, and even surfaces, as well as other methods. Wet hooves wear down faster, so keeping them dry will allow the sole to build up and become more durable.


Despite the best efforts of a dairy herd manager, not all cows will grow to be fertile and meet production expectations. Sometimes, managers and owners must make the decision to euthanize cattle who are suffering because of disease, debilitation, or significantly reduced quality of life. Managers should always consult their veterinarian to determine if euthanasia is the appropriate choice for the animal.