Seven-year SCC re­duc­tion saved in­dus­try €38m

Irish Examiner - Farming - - DAIRY SECTOR - Joe Sheehy

De­spite very good progress in re­duc­ing SCC, there is still room for im­prove­ment.

If the av­er­age SCC in Ir­ish milk was re­duced by 10%, it would be worth €38m to the dairy in­dus­try.

From 2010 to 2017, the an­nual av­er­age SCC re­duc­tion in the na­tional herd was 50,000. This was worth €38m to the in­dus­try (€27m to farm­ers and €11m to milk pro­ces­sors. Farm­ers par­tic­i­pat­ing in Cellcheck pro­grammes re­duced SCC at al­most dou­ble this rate in re­cent years.

Cost of Mas­ti­tis/scc

Tea­gasc has es­ti­mated that a 100-cow dairy herd with av­er­age SCC 400,000 in­curs ad­di­tional mas­ti­tis re­lated costs of €11,700 com­pared with a sim­i­lar herd with 100,000 SCC. High SCCS also cause very sig­nif­i­cant costs at pro­ces­sor level.

An­i­mal Health Ire­land (AHI), Tea­gasc, co-ops and vets es­tab­lished the Cellcheck pro­gramme to achieve a na­tional av­er­age bulk milk SCC of 200,000 or less by 2020. I think the tar­get should be 100,000, but we would need a vast in­crease in the num­ber of farm­ers in milk record­ing, for reg­u­lar SCC mon­i­tor­ing.

Tack­ling SCC prob­lems

In­ves­ti­ga­tions dur­ing milk­ing often reveal prob­lems, par­tic­u­larly re­gard­ing milk­ing and hy­giene prac­tices. If cows are rest­less in the par­lour, it may in­di­cate elec­tri­cal prob­lems, cows be­ing packed too tightly, a milk­ing ma­chine fault or poor milk­ing prac­tices. Teat end dam­age is a ma­jor tell tale sign that some­thing is wrong.

Tak­ing clus­ters off un­der some vac­uum is still fairly com­mon in prob­lem herds. This may be due to faulty shut-off valves or poor milk­ing tech­nique. Clus­ters should be taken off and put on with­out any noise of air or vac­uum. Oth­er­wise there will be teat end dam­age which will lead to mas­ti­tis and high SCC. Teat end dam­age also re­sults from vac­uum be­ing too high, poor pul­sa­tion or in­ad­e­quate fall in milk line (very com­mon in older ma­chines). In­ad­e­quate teat dis­in­fec­tants is quite com­mon which is often due to faulty or wrong type of sprayers. The proper us­age of a good teat spray is 15 mls per cow and teats should be sprayed evenly all around. In a small mi­nor­ity of high­scc herds, it is dif­fi­cult to iden­tify the cause. Dis­in­fect­ing clus­ters be­tween cows was found to pre­vent mas­ti­tis spread­ing within in­fected herds. Al­ter­na­tively, if there are only a few prob­lem cows, they could be milked last. The aim should be to keep bulk SCCS con­sis­tently un­der 150,000 and have very few cases of mas­ti­tis. SCCS of first lac­ta­tion an­i­mals should be con­sis­tently un­der 70,000. If SCCS of first calvers and other young cows are ris­ing, there is cer­tainly some­thing wrong and ur­gent ac­tion should be taken. There is a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of herds with SCCS con­sis­tently less than100,000. SCCS av­er­ag­ing over 200,000 in­di­cates some in­fec­tion in the herd which is likely to give rise to spo­radic out­breaks of mas­ti­tis. Dis­eases such as BVD can de­press the im­mune sys­tem and give rise to SCC prob­lems.

Mas­ti­tis con­trol

There are two main as­pects: get rid of ex­ist­ing in­fec­tions, and pre­vent new in­fec­tions. The first step in get­ting rid of ex­ist­ing in­fec­tions is to iden­tify and cull chron­i­cally in­fected cows with high SCCS. Good dry cow ther­apy will help re­duce SCC lev­els, but will not help chron­i­cally in­fected cows. They should be culled. Pre­vent­ing or min­imis­ing new in­fec­tions is the key to mas­ti­tis con­trol. The main prac­tices for achiev­ing this are: Main­tain milk­ing ma­chines in per­fect work­ing or­der.

Some farm­ers find that low­er­ing the vac­uum level below the rec­om­mended 48 kpa helps to lower SCC. Change lin­ers af­ter 2,000 milk­ings, which is July for most spring calving herds. Prac­tice a good milk­ing tech­nique and good hy­giene. Use an ap­proved teat dip af­ter ev­ery milk­ing. Use 10 cc/ cow/milk­ing if dip­ping (1 litre of dip per 50 cows per day). If spray­ing use 15cc/cow and spray all around each teat. If the dip is at the cor­rect strength, do not di­lute it with any other prod­uct. Make sure your sprayer works cor­rectly. Iden­tify and treat new cases of mas­ti­tis promptly with an­tibi­otics.

Some farm­ers find the CMT test very use­ful for early de­tec­tion.

It is cheap, easy to use and gives in­stant re­sults. Ev­ery farmer should mon­i­tor SCCS reg­u­larly through­out the year us­ing milk record­ing re­ports. Use dry cow ther­apy prop­erly.

Milk­ers should use clean gloves to pre­vent spread of bac­te­ria on hands. Pro­vide a com­fort­able, clean, dry en­vi­ron­ment for cows and heifers in­doors. Keep cows free of stress from stray elec­tric­ity or rough han­dling.

Cows are par­tic­u­larly sus­cep­ti­ble to mas­ti­tis in­fec­tion in the few weeks be­fore and af­ter calving and need a lot of at­ten­tion.

En­sure that cows have ad­e­quate high qual­ity min­er­als and trace el­e­ments.

“I think the tar­get should be 100,000, but we would need a vast in­crease in the num­ber of farm­ers in milk record­ing, for reg­u­lar mon­i­tor­ing”


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