Lessons to learn in lowering SCC in Central Districts

Lessons to learn in lowering SCC in Central Districts

1 May 2022

Dannevirke Farmer Thomas Read recently took advantage of the support offered by his local Farm Source team to help reach the farm's milk quality goals.

He and wife Jennifer are in their first season on the 236 hectare (HA) property they've 50:50 sharemilked on for the last seven seasons. The 680 crossbred cows had a rolling 200,000 Somatic Cell Count (SCC) over both herds, which they milk across two sheds (24 and 36 aside herringbones). Believing they were carrying out best practice, or close to it, Thomas reached out to his local Farm Source team for further support.

"We wanted to make sure we weren't missing anything," says Thomas. "Maybe have some blind spots pointed out. We'd tried to solve it in-house, and it would always be discussed at team meetings. But we weren't seeing much change."

Grant Rudman, the Regional Food Safety and Assurance Manager for Central Districts, made a farm visit last December (2021).

"He identified a few things we might improve on. One of those was changing out milk liners, and that's helped," Thomas says. "Some of the advice was around early lactation, the idea being you minimise new mastitis infections at the high-risk time of the season and maintain it for the remainder of the season, and we're looking at implementing some new ideas come August."

Over the past three and a bit months, Thomas and his team have maintained SCC to 175,000.

"We're trying to continually improve and are looking forward to dropping to 150,000 and lower. We want to keep production paramount too...but without the SCC. If we do that, there's not so many clinically treated cows whose milk we have to remove from collection.

"We've dropped the number of cows being treated from 40 down to 14 too. It's important all round, including for animal health reasons. Better cows give better production."

Grant says Milk Quality Insight Visits are another way to align farmers with good management practices for mastitis prevention and support farmers to achieve milk quality excellence.

There's good science and reasons to support the recommendations covered on farm and in the reports provided.

Grant says as well as animal health implications, from customers and consumers points of view it is important to see fit and healthy cows. A low SCC is indicative of this.

"This is a great product from Farm Source and Fonterra. It's free, and you've got nothing to lose," says Thomas. "We don't know everything, and this nudges us in the right direction. Why not use it, it works."

To find out more or book your Milk Quality Insight Visit, contact your Area Manager.