In 2014 the National Animal Health Monitoring System completed a calf study involving 104 dairy operations in 13 states. This was an 18-month longitudinal study involving 2,545 heifer calves. Holstein calves made up 89% of the population. By herd size, the study included:
- Small (30-99cows) 20%
- Medium (100-499 cows) 32%
- Large (500+ cows) 48%
What did they out about navel dipping? Seventy-nine percent of the enrolled calves had navels dipped.
What happened to the other 21% of the calves?
Of the 103 operations reporting 21 of them never dipped navels. Never, nada, not at all.
Is it profitable not to dip navels? There are good data to say, "No."
For a resource, "Dollars and Cents: Navel Dipping" click HERE.
[URL is http://atticacows.com/library/newsletters/DippingNavelsProfitR1782.pdf]
There is plenty of data to show that overall the rate of omphalitis (infected navels) is lower on dairy operations that routinely dip navels at birth. This probably based on the fact that overall most operations have calving facilities and calf housing that expose calves to high levels of bacteria - high enough to cause navel infections.
At our 1,200 cow operation almost all the calves had navels dipped in the calving pen (tincture of iodine) and then were redipped after being moved into a hutch. We had omphalitis treatment rate of well under one percent - and I did routinely check navels between 10 and 14 days to be sure we were not missing infections.