Aim: To quantify and economically evaluate the effect on milk production of peri-parturient treatment of dairy cows with eprinomectin.
Methods: On 3 farms in separate geographic areas of New Zealand, 849 first-calf heifers and multiparous cows were ranked and paired within parity, date of calving and expected milk production. Within pairs, cows were randomly allocated to treatment with either a commercial formulation of eprinomectin, applied at a dose rate of 500 mug/kg liveweight, or an equivalent volume of vehicle containing no antiparasitic agent and administered at the same dose volume, generally within the first week post-calving. On each farm, trial cows shared the same pasture. Over a single lactation, records were maintained of milk quantity and content.
Results: Trichostrongylid eggs were identified in pre-treatment faecal samples from all farms, verifying the presence of gastrointestinal parasites. Overall 25.5% of the cows sampled were positive for nematode eggs, but only 8% had counts 50 eggs per gram of faeces (epg). Daily milk volume, milk protein and milksolids (yield of milk fat + milk protein) were higher for eprinomectin-treated multiparous cows than for controls (milk volume: 20.36 l/day vs 19.76 l/day, p=0.005; milk protein: 0.700 kg/day vs 0.685 kg/day, p=0.012; milksolids: 1.613 kg/day vs 1.583 kg/day, p=0.031, respectively). The daily value of the increased production from eprinomectin-treated multiparous cows was estimated to be NZ0.034 dollar for milk fat (p=0.095) and NZ0.078 dollar for milk protein (p=0.012), equating to NZ0.104 dollars for milksolids (p=0.031), averaged over the whole lactation. No significant difference in milk production was detected between treated and control first-calf heifers. Averaged over the whole herd, the peri-parturient treatment of multiparous cows and first-calf heifers with eprinomectin increased daily milk volume and milk protein production of treated vs control cows (19.28 l/day vs 18.86 l/day, p=0.020, and 0.661 kg/day vs 0.650 kg/day, p=0.047, respectively).
Conclusion: These data provide evidence that the use of a peri-parturient treatment of eprinomectin on multiparous cows can increase their production of fluid milk and milksolids.