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J Dairy Sci. 2013 Jun;96(6):3621-31. doi: 10.3168/jds.2012-5922. Epub 2013 Mar 30.

Metritis in dairy cows: risk factors and reproductive performance.

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Cátedra de Fisiología, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias - Universidad Nacional de La Plata (FCV-UNLP), La Plata, B1900AVW, Argentina.


The objectives of this study were to assess the risk factors for metritis, its effects on milk yield and on reproductive performance, and the efficacy of ceftiofur therapy in Holstein dairy cows. Cows (n=303) from a commercial dairy herd in Argentina were studied. Cows were scored for body condition, and blood samples were collected on d -14, 7, 21, 31, 41, and 50 relative to parturition. Cows having a watery, purulent, or brown, and fetid vaginal discharge (VD) and rectal temperature ≤ 39.2°C were diagnosed as having clinical metritis, and those having a similar VD and rectal temperature >39.2°C were diagnosed as having puerperal metritis. Both clinical and puerperal metritis cows were randomly assigned to control (no treatment) or ceftiofur group (2.2mg/kg×3 consecutive days). Cure was declared if clear VD was observed at 21 d in milk (DIM). Blood samples were analyzed for nonesterified fatty acids, β-hydroxybutyrate, and blood urea nitrogen using commercial kits, and for insulin-like growth factor-1, insulin, and leptin by RIA. Data were analyzed with PROC MIXED, GENMOD, PHREG, and LIFETEST from SAS (SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC). The risk for metritis increased with dystocia, retained fetal membranes, and dead calf [AOR (adjusted odds ratio)=2.58, 95% CI: 1.189-5.559], and as prepartum nonesterified fatty acids levels increased (AOR=1.001, 95% CI: 0.999-1.002). Conversely, risk decreased as prepartum insulin-like growth factor-1 increased (AOR=0.65, 95% CI: 0.349-1.219). Cows having either clinical or puerperal metritis produced less milk by 90 DIM than did healthy cows (2,236 ± 172 vs. 2,367 ± 77 vs. 2,647 ± 82 kg, respectively). Cows with puerperal metritis had lower risk for pregnancy by 100 DIM (AOR=0.189, 95% CI: 0.070-0.479) and a lower hazard rate for pregnancy by 150 DIM (hazard rate: 0.753, 95% CI: 0.621-0.911), and took longer to get pregnant (129 vs. 111 vs. 109 d, for puerperal metritis, clinical metritis, and healthy cows, respectively). Ceftiofur treatment was not associated with cure rate or milk yield but was related to increased risk for pregnancy at timed artificial insemination (AOR=2.688, 95% CI: 0.687-10.832), and for lower risk of reproductive cull (AOR=0.121, 95% CI: 0.014-1.066). In conclusion, abnormal calving and negative energy balance are associated with increased risk for metritis. Metritis, especially puerperal metritis, correlates with reduced milk production and poor reproductive performance. Finally, the likelihood for having a normal VD (indicative of cure) increased 2.6% for every day of increase in postpartum time and was 2 times higher for cows with clinical metritis than for those with puerperal metritis.

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