Keeping your herd clean and clear

Keeping your herd clean and clear

22 April 2018

Southland farmer Jess Hardegger had 27 clinical mastitis cases present in just 17 days through the January dry period this year.

When the somatic cell count (SCC) jumped from 70-80,000 to 230-240,000 she contacted GEA’s FIL Area Manager Mike Robinson who recommended snapshot a bulk milk sample test.

Once the results were in and the causes of the outbreak understood, a few simple changes were implemented on farm. By the end of March, the herd was again clean and clear.

Jess manages a herd of 444 cows on 150 hectares (ha) effective near Otautau. The milking system encompasses an automatic teat spray system and computerised herd management which tracks cow performance and conductivity.

“We thought we practised good hygiene and herd management,” says Jess. “The sudden increase in clinical mastitis, with no response to treatment, was a big concern.

“On contacting Mike at FIL, he suggested we do a bulk milk sample test immediately. This was to give us a clear overview of what pathogens we were dealing with, and some strategic advice so we could act accordingly.”

A test developed by Farm Medix was delivered on farm by GEA’s FIL team. Snapshot bulk tank test helps determine exactly what bacteria are present in the milk and whether they are coming from the cows or are hygiene-related.

The results showed mainly Coagulase-negative Staphylococci (CNS) was present, with some Strep uberis (Strep) and Staph aureus.

“The results were a relief, because CNS is hygiene-related and relatively easy to fix,” says Jess. Further testing with the Farm Medix Check-Up mastitis diagnostic tool revealed one cow with Staph aureus. She was segregated, while those with Strep were successfully treated.

Mike also assessed the team’s milking and cleaning routines and recommended the following changes:

Hose the yard and feed pads after every milking

During the drought, the team was trying to save water and only hosing down the feed pads on either side of the yard every two to three days.

“Mike recommended we hose the feed pads every morning, but also ensure the cows were well clear of the yard when hosing down. Otherwise dirty water could splash onto the udders, entering open teat canals (straight after milking) and contributing to infection,” says Jess.

Wear clean gloves every milking

While the team wore gloves to deal with treatment cows, they milked mostly with bare hands. “We didn’t realise how much bacteria we were spreading with our hands,” Jess explains.

“Now we wear gloves all the time, clean our hands with iodine after stripping a cow, and we’ve even added extra methylated spirit to our wipes.”

Switch teat spray from Chlorhexidine to FIL Iodoshield Active

An iodine-based teat spray works better in feed pad situations. Made with Manuka honey and emollient, Iodoshield Active also aids in conditioning teats and preventing mastitis.

Calibrate the automatic teat spray system

“Every step we’ve taken in this process has made perfect sense,” Jess concludes. “I feel we have been able to get on top of the mastitis issue very quickly with more knowledge and better practice. We’ve only seen a couple of infections since, and our cell count is reducing back down to 80,000 as at 29th March.

“Furthermore, we treat for the identified pathogen - blanket treatment is a thing of the past.”

Keep mastitis in check with the right tools and good practical advice. Contact your local GEA FIL Area Manager, Farm Source TSR or visit your nearest Farm Source store to find out more.

Article supplied by GEA FIL