DHI Lab Services

Lab Services & Herd Health Testing

CanWest DHI operates three milk analysis laboratories to serve our widespread customer base. The labs are located in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. The Ontario lab (located in Guelph), serves as the main lab and in addition to completing all of Ontario’s milk sampling, is responsible for all specialized herd health testing including Mastitis4, Milk Preg Test, Johne’s & Leukosis, and BVD. Currently, both Alberta and British Columbia labs provide payment and quality testing services for the regional milk marketing agencies for producers in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

DHI offers a variety of additional health testing options to test individual animals or screen your whole herd. With our advanced lab technology and multiple locations, testing is seamless and inexpensive. For DHI and non-DHI herds, individual cow milk samples can be analysed on a per-test basis for Fat, Protein, and Somatic Cell Count (SCC), as well as Milk Urea Nitrogen (MUN), Mastitis, Johne's and Leukosis.

Health Testing Services

Individual cows are analysed for Somatic Cell Count levels. The report also lists the individual cow linear score and summarizes results on a herd trend basis (DHI herds only). Non-DHI herds receive raw lab results. Copies of your results can be sent directly to an advisor(s) of your choosing, including veterinarians, nutritionists, etc.
MUN (Milk Urea Nitrogen) analysis involves measuring urea levels in milk which is a useful tool for managing and optimizing your feeding program.

Ketosis is a common metabolic disease that affects cows in early lactation. Affected ketotic cows may exhibit signs like low feed intake, decreased production, firm dry feces, and occasional nervous signs. However, subclinical ketosis is much harder to detect and occurs quite often. Studies have shown that subclinical ketosis can be costly due to lower milk production, higher incidence of mastitis and metabolic diseases, and negative impacts on reproductive performance. The only way to monitor subclinical ketosis in the herd is to test for it. Although individual cow treatment of ketosis is possible, prevention, through optimal management of the dry and early lactation period is by far the most economical method and should be a priority for all herds.

How does Ketoscreen work?

Easy and inexpensive, Ketoscreen uses routinely collected DHI samples. The test measures the level of beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), a ketone body, which when found in high levels is an indication of ketosis risk.
The first few weeks during lactation are the most critical time for ketosis occurrence. Herd results are reported in 2 categories: 5-21 Days in Milk and 22-42 Days in Milk.

Results Reported to You:

1. Percentage of cows with elevated BHB levels, ‘Positive’;
2. Herd trend for the last 10 DHI tests;
3. Three-month period trends;
4. Individual cow results between 5-90 DIM

Results Indication:

5% Positive: Low-Very Good
5-10%: Low-Good
10-20%: Average (improvements possible)
20-40%: High
Greater than 40%: Very High

Mastitis4 is a milk DNA test that identifies the presence of four mastitis pathogens commonly referred to as the 'contagious' pathogens: Staph. aureus, Strep. agalactiae, Mycoplasma bovis, and Prototheca.

Why use Mastitis4?

Targeted: Mastitis4 identifies exactly which contagious pathogens are present. These pathogens can spread easily from cow to cow at milking time, and for Staph. aureus and Mycoplasma bovis , are difficult to treat. Prototheca infections are not treatable.

Reliable: The test is based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which detects the presence of the bacteria’s DNA in the milk sample. You no longer have to rely on the ability of the bacteria to grow under culture conditions.

Convenient: Your regular DHI sample can be used! No more messing around with time consuming sample collection, storage and shipment.

Fast: Once samples are in the lab, results are usually available within a day.

Flexible: Test the entire herd, selected cows (such as newly purchased or clinical cows), or cows that exceed a selected SCC level.

Milk Preg Test is based on reliable and cost-effective ELISA technology and has been well-validated for use on routine DHI samples. Results are reported in three categories: Pregnant, Open, and Recheck inconclusive.

Flexible Options for Tests:

1st Check: Use at 28 days post breeding or later, ideal for in between vet visits.
Re-check: Use at 75+ days post-breeding. Find open cows quickly
Dry-Off Check: Use at dry-off and save on unnecessary dry cow costs.

Automatic testing enrollment available for all options.

Milk Preg Test is based on ELISA technology detecting the level of pregnancy associated glycoproteins (PAGs). PAGs are produced when a cow is pregnant and rise in concentration in blood and milk as the gestation progresses. This technology is similar to what is being used in commercially available blood pregnancy tests that have been available to producers for years. With Milk Preg Test, no extra sampling is necessary to capture the tested milk so there is much less stress on cows. It is affordable and highly accurate making it a great tool to help confirm and keep track of pregnancies on your farm.

Johne's Disease

Johne's Disease is a bacterial infection that causes abnormal thickening of the lining of the intestinal tract in infected animals, restricting the absorption of nutrients. It is spread through the shedding of the bacteria in manure, which can contaminate feed or water, and also can be transmitted to calves through colostrum from infected cows. Clinical symptoms include long lasting diarrhea and extreme weight loss despite maintaining some appetite. The impact on profitability of a herd includes reduced milk production, increased involuntary culling, loss of heifer sales and reduced beef production. Johne's Disease may also be associated with increased incidence of other diseases, as well as milk and meat safety. It is speculated that Johne's Disease may be linked with Crohn's disease, an incurable, chronic, intestinal disorder in humans.


Leukosis (Bovine Leukosis Virus), is a blood borne viral infection which can cause tumours in the lymph nodes, uterus, heart, abomasums, spleen, kidneys and brain. The disease is spread by transfer of blood cells from infected animals via such sources as re-use of contaminated equipment, colostrum and waste milk and transmission to the calf before it is born. Clinical symptoms caused by resulting tumors include weight loss, decreased milk production and immobility. Impact on profitability of a herd includes reduced milk production in infected cows and condemned meat at slaughter, as well as potential costs associated with lost marketing opportunities such as the sale of replacement stock, bulls to AI or embryos, domestically and to international markets. There is no suspected link between Leukosis and any human disease.

Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD) is a milk sample test which gives you the option of screening your adult milking herd with the sensitive PCR test (with pooled samples), or test selected cows with the cost-effective ELISA antigen test. BVD is a viral infection in cattle, which has a negative impact on herd performance and can result in significant economic losses. Common signs of infection include respiratory problems, infertility and abortion which eventually lead to reduced milk production and early culling. This test is designed to identify Persistently Infected (PI) animals. PI animals are infected for life and constantly shed the BVD virus. The recommended course of action is to use this test firstly for herd screening. If PI animals are present, BVD can then be tested at the individual cow level to determine the specific source of the virus.
On a per-test basis, or part of a 4-test package, individual milk samples can be analyzed for fat, protein, SCC, and MUN. Reports are returned to the producer directly from the lab, or distributed to the advisor of your choice.
Specialized lab services offered by the Central Milk Testing Lab in Edmonton. Prices

SCC: Understanding the Basics

Minimizing the Risk for Ketosis in Dairy Herds

Silent Cow, Silent Costs - Subclinical Ketosis Selection for Increased Resistance to Metabolic Disease

More information IDEXX Test (Preg Test)

Mastitis4 Factsheet Mastitis4 FAQ

Johne’s Factsheet ELISA Test for Johne’s Disease Best Management Strategies

DHI Leukosis Report Explanation

BVD Factsheet

× Internet Reports Daily Production Avgs Recent Updates Industry Links Herd Recording Herd Benchmarks Health Testing DairyComp FeedWatch Robotic Testing Mobile DHI Company Profile Career Opportunities Governance District Managers Policies Contact