Examining the impact of mastitis on the profitability

146 IRISH JOURNAL OF AGRICULTURAL AND FOOD RESEARCH, VOL. 52, NO. 2, 2013

Table 9. Incremental gain in industry returns for each improvement in milk suppliers scenario examined

Analysis

National average BMSCC 1 (cells/mL)

Incremental gain relative to the baseline national returns, € m

Current

281,432 271,760 262,100 252,420

0.0 6.5

10% movement 2 20% movement 30% movement

19.4 37.6

1 BMSCC=bulk milk somatic cell count. 2 10%, 20% and 30% movement refers to a movement of producers from one cell count category to the next lower BMSCC categories where possible, i.e. lowest cell count category there is no movement.

more significant improvements would sub- stantially increase the value of the Irish dairy industry. Expansion Post-2015 The removal of milk quota by 2015 (CAP Health Check 2008) presents a wealth of opportunities for the Irish dairy industry. In anticipation of this the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in Ireland have set a number of dairy indus- try targets to be achieved by 2020, the most significant of which is a 50% increase in the volume of milk produced by 2020 (Food Harvest 2020, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine 2010). Considering the current national aver- age BMSCC of 281,432 cells/mL and a national herd of 1,060,300 (CSO 2012); reducing this BMSCC by 100,000 cells/ mL results in an estimated increase in milk output of 142.1 million litres nation- ally, equating to 5% of the Food Harvest 2020 target. Expansion in Ireland is well underway with an additional 100,000 dairy replacement heifer calves born in 2012 relative to 2008 (Shalloo, Ryan and French 2012). Expanding herd size in the pres- ence of high herd SCC will present many challenges (i.e. management, high on farm costs etc.) and may limit the number of cows that one individual can carry. As the Irish dairy industry is expanding farmers and processors need to be aware of the costs associated with mastitis and focus

on it to motivate themselves to implement effective mechanisms to reduce the impact on farm and processor returns. Effective mechanisms As demonstrated in the analysis presented here, as BMSCC increased, milk price decreased and the values per kg of fat and protein decreased which was not lin- ear. There was a significant advantage of reducing cell count even under the lower cell count categories. For example a reduc- tion in cell count from the 200,000–300,000 to the 100,000 to 200,000 cells/mL cat- egory resulted in a milk price increase of 0.37c/L. Payment systems, either in the form of a penalty or bonus or both, are effective tools to encourage reductions in the national BMSCC profile (Sampimon, Sol and Kock 2005, Valeeva, Lam and Hogeeven 2007). Currently many Irish milk processors continue to pay the base milk price up to a BMSCC of 400,000 cells/mL, only imposing penalties after this BMSCC threshold. Such a system (i) does not incentivise farmers to reduce BMSCC below 400,000 cells/mL, implying that they only need to meet the EU regulations and (ii) does not optimise farm and processor returns. The analysis presented in the cur- rent paper showed that there should be a difference of 0.96 cents per litre between milk supplied with a BMSCC of  100,000 cells/mL and milk supplied with a BMSCC of >400,000 cells/mL. Incorporating this

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