Focus on lowering SCC essential for farmers to add value to milk
IFA President, Joe Healy
I farm in Athenry, Co. Galway, and supply my milk to Arrabawn Co-op. From the very early days of my involvement in dairy farming, it has been clear to me that quality is a crucial area farmers can and must focus on to add more value to their milk, improving their milk income as a result. An essential part of milk quality is the somatic cell count (SCC), which affects the processability of milk, and which, above a certain level, is a marker of mastitis infection. A number of years ago, an SCC problem arose on my farm. I began milk recording, which enabled me to identify two high cell-count cows which between them accounted for 31% of the total cell count of a herd which was 70 cows at the time. I immediately culled them, and saw my herd SCC improve dramatically over the following years, as I persevered in focusing on lowering it. Morerecently, Ihostedonmy farmtwoCellCheck farmer workshops organised by Arrabawn Co-op and Teagasc for the benefit of suppliers. I applied what I learned on those two days: I made some small adjustments to my cow and herd management, to my milking routines and other areas, and also carefully selected my cows with a view to continuous improvement. The result of my efforts was that my milk quality improved sufficiently to allow me to qualify and be among the top 500 out of Ireland’s 18,000 dairy farmers for cell count performance.
I was honoured to receive an AHI CellCheck Milking For Quality Award for low SCC milk for the 2015 milk year. Since then, I have found that keeping my cows’ somatic cell count low has had multiple benefits. It ensures healthier cows, a better environment, it has increased my milk yield and quality, and consequently the value of my milk.
....an SCC problem arose on my farm. I began milk recording, which enabled me to identify two high cell-count cows which between them accounted for 31% of the total cell count of a herd which was 70 cows at the time. I immediately culled them, and saw my herd SCC improve dramatically over the following years....
The CellCheck programme for mastitis control is very helpful to farmers in that it focuses on practical, evidence-based, best practice recommendations which cost little, or return a multiple of the cost involved, because they are proven to be effective in getting to grips with, and reducing dramatically the risk of mastitis infection in the herd.
CELLCHECK NEWSLETTER • JUNE EDITION 2017
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