NSW DAIRY farmers James, Peter, Cheryl and Katrina Neal have just won their fifth consecutive milk quality award − staying up-to-date with best practice for mastitis prevention and treatment is keeping them at the top of their game.
James believes milk quality is essential to the industry’s social licence to operate.
“It’s great to be recognised for supplying high quality milk to consumers year after year. It’s so important for the industry’s reputation that dairy farmers produce good quality milk,” James said.
The Norco suppliers have consistently achieved an annual BMCC ranging between 67 to 77 by paying close attention to maintaining farm infrastructure and implementing a stringent system of mastitis controls.
This is no mean feat for a 700-cow mixed herd of Holsteins, Jerseys, Aussie Reds and crossbreds.
“Muddy udders produce mastitis, and we get an average of 1100 mm of rain per year, as well as extensive flooding events,” James said.
To reduce the impact of mud, gravel laneways and the network of farm drains are kept well maintained.
To limit pugging, Peter has implemented a series of laser scraped drains in each paddock to reduce the build-up of water, while minimising the depth of the drains.
To keep udders clean, drains are also fenced off during wet periods.
Monthly herd recording is seen as critical to identifying cows with elevated BMCC and James can access a website within 24 hours of herd recording, including a weighted average report which shows the impact of individual cell count history on the herd’s average cell count.
Rapid mastitis testing is then used to identify the problem quarter.
“The quicker you can identify the cows with mastitis, the better the chance they can be cured,” James said.
To limit mastitis at calving particularly during wet conditions, blanket antibiotic treatment and teat sealing is used.
The washing of teats is minimised to prevent bacteria from entering the teat end.
For James, upskilling his farm team to prevent mastitis and achieve a low cell count is a crucial part of maintaining high milk quality.
He ensures the farm stays up-to-date with the latest information and staff are encouraged to attend Cups on Cups Off training as part of Dairy Australia’s Countdown program.
“Cups on Cups Off courses give our staff a basic understanding of the important things to look for in the herd and dairy for mastitis management,” James said.
As well as attending training, James ensures resources such as the Countdown farm guidelines are kept on hand for his team to refer to.