The Real Reason why you should Milk Record

Cattle have been used by humans as a source of milk for about 10,000 years. Over this time, the dairy industry sector has expanded to become one of the largest sectors in the food industry.

Dairy cattle and their products are a part of our cultural heritage, and all dairy farmers milk cows to make money. Milk composition and milk quality are what it all boils down to on pay day from your milk co-operative.

In 1963, only 60 years ago, Antibiotic Dry Cow Therapy (ADCT) started in Ireland. All cows benefit from antibiotics for the prevention of new infections but not all cows need antibiotics during the dry period.

European Law regulates the use of antibiotics and when animals are treated with antibiotics there’s a withdrawal date to be adhered to before they can be killed or their milk goes into the tank. Thanks to these regulations, the quantity of antibiotics found in milk and meat has become rare.

EU legislation

So what’s the problem about the miniscule amount of antibiotics in your cup of tea, glass of milk, stew or casserole?

When man or beast are treated with antibiotics, drug residues settle in their tissue. Residues they may be, but the residue builds up and ends up in not only the meat but also in the milk and eggs.

There can also be potential hazards, to both animal and human health, from excessive levels of herbicides, pesticides and fungicides being ingested. Many of these compounds accumulate in animal tissues and are excreted in milk.

Because of the use of ADCT, residues are creeping into humans’ digestive systems and hence the rise in hypersensitivity of food, allergens and intolerances across the population over the last few decades. As well as this, research shows strong evidence that antibiotic use in food animals can lead to resistant infections in humans by transferring resistance genes from agriculture into human pathogens, take for example tuberculosis.

What is the situation?

In 2022, there are new legislations being brought in by the EU to milk record. In light of increasing resistance, we will no longer be allowed to administer blanket dry cow therapy. On January 28th 2022, using dry cow antibiotics for both treatment of udder infections and also to prevent infection will become a thing of the past. The reduction in the use of antibiotics will lead to a healthier and superior product for consumers.

Milk is an excellent medium for bacteria, yeasts and moulds. Unintentional contaminations such as mastitis can occur from milking the cow. The somatic cell count detects mastitis. Inferior milking hygiene is the major cause of poor milk quality and arises through poor management of cluster hygiene, staff hygiene and also can be spread through the herd laterally.

An udderly excellent way to avoid using antibiotics….

As a farmer, it’s a massive change in mindset because we have been told to use antibiotics for the whole herd in the past. However, we know now that there’s other ways to keep the herd safe from infection. Now we need to take the safety blanket away and use technology and data collectively to farm better.

With blanket dry cow therapy being phased out, milk recording is used to show the somatic cell count of a cow and enables you to decide whether a cow needs to be dried off with antibiotics to prevent mastitis. In this screenshot you can see the somatic cell count is colour coded. Any cows in the red have a high somatic cell count. Orange means they’re slightly over the count that you’d like to get and green means all good.

milk recording

Weaning calves too early before they’ve had a chance to develop a strong immune system and fully matured gastrointestinal tract can create a false need for antibiotics. Consider keeping replacement calves on the cow for longer and keep tabs on their daily average gain and target weight to make sure they’re up to standard.

Progressive Genetics: Milk Recording

Milk recording shows the yields, constituents and hygiene quality of cow’s milk to more in-depth testing, such as testing for bacterial contamination and/or disease status through testing bulk tank milk samples and/or individual cow milk samples. Blood or tissue samples can also be tested.

milk recording

Progressive Genetics are now offering pregnancy testing done through the milk recording test – all in the one sample. Progressive Genetics make milk recording accessible to all farmers and can milk record in 99% of parlours.

AgriNet HerdApp: Knowledge gives power

Having all of this information at hand in AgriNet HerdApp enables you to be proactive rather than reactive. Milk recording testing enables a farmer to know exactly the quality and quantity of milk a cow produces, if they need antibiotics or not and accelerates herd genetic gain and overall milk value.

milk recording

  • Somatic Cell Count, Fat% & Protein% – for each cow
  • Annual Yield of fat, protein and milk are calculated
  • A number of farm reports – herd and group averages, trends, individual cow yields and detailed SCC reports for cows, cow groups and the overall herd
  • Calf target weights and average daily gain
  • All cows that need a dry cow tube are clearly divided from the cows that only need a teat sealer

milk recording lists

Moving on to Selective Dry Cow Therapy….

Reduce somatic cell counts in your herd by identifying and isolating cows with subclinical mastitis infection. Improve management information by combining milk recording information with ICBF Sire Advice. Farmers can select the correct bull for a specific cow with this data, for example, targeting cows with high SCC with low SCC bulls.

All of these functions increase the value of your herd and this information can be reached from the palm of your hand in an insightful easy-to-read format on AgriNet HerdApp. There’s no other farm software that makes selection for dry cow therapy so transparent.

Goals for the herd:

  • Bulk milk SCC <200,000 cells/ml
  • Recent infection rate <5%
  • Clinical mastitis <2% of cows over the last three months
  • Excellent hygiene at dry-off

The Positives of the new Guidelines….

With a further reduction in the use of antibiotics we will be fighting the rise of resistance of antibiotics across Ireland and the world. This will lead to an even healthier product for home and abroad. Irish dairy farmers are already flourishing in the market abroad selling our dairy products to 124 countries. A further improvement to our dairy produce will enable us to market our product better again and continue to thrive in years to come.

New technology such as AgriNet HerdApp has made processes like this more cost effective through successful collection of data that is convenient to access and easy to decipher so that you can make the best management decisions going forward.

Click here to find out how to easily move over to AgriNet HerdApp.