Antibiotics no longer used to treat mastitis and high cell counts in the ‘Landmark herd’
By Richard Halleron
Steven Nagle milks 230 Holstein Friesian cows with his brother Ivan near Mitchelstown in Co. Cork. His pedigree Landmark herd is currently selling 600kg of milk solids per cow.
“In volume terms, herd output is in the region of 8,500L,” Steven explained. “The cows calve down in two batches: October to December; and January through to March.
“We breed for healthy, productive, long-lasting and trouble-free cows, with good confirmation with particular focus on health traits.”
Steven continued: “I use sexed semen on the heifers. Repeating animals are bred to an Angus bull.”
Improving management practices
Reducing his reliance on antibiotics has been a priority for Steven over recent years.
“Consumers want this and so do I. The most obvious way of tackling this issue is to improve the management practices implemented across the farm. Healthier animals will always be less predisposed to disease,” he explained.
“But clinical cases of mastitis and problems associated with high cell count cows will still arise.”
Given this background, Steven had been on the lookout for ways of dealing with high cell counts and mastitis in ways that would not require a reliance on antibiotics. However, a visit to the National Dairy Show at Millstreet back in October 2019 provided him with an opportunity to implement such an approach.
“I met up with the AHV team at the event and they explained to me how this new science of quorum sensing is helping to reduce antibiotic usage on dairy farms across Europe.
I decided to use the AHV product range on the cows, from a mastitis and high cell count perspective, and I have not been disappointed.
Regular milk recording is an integral part of his management plan for the Landmark herd.
“This allows me to individually identify cows with high cell count pretty quickly,” he continued. “It is now standard practice on the farm to give these cows an AHV Extra tablet. This is placed into the cow’s rumen with an easy-to-use applicator.
“In cases where physical clots are noticed the cow immediately receives an AHV Extra tablet. She will also receive Aspi. This is an anti-inflammatory drench, also produced by AHV.”
Steven explained that it takes time to get used to the impact made by the AHV range.
“Patience is required, particularly where cases of clinical mastitis are concerned. The amount of curds coming out of the teat can go up quite substantially after the tablets have been administered as the udder is being cleaned out.
But the results speak for themselves. I have not used an antibiotic to treat a mastitis case in nine months. Our cell count currently sits at 100,000.
“There is no milk withdrawal or milk tainting associated with the use of the AHV range. This means that all of our milk can go into the bulk tank all of the time.”
AHV’s Adam Robinson was a recent visitor to the Nagle farm.
“AHV products represent new science and a new way to tackle these on-farm challenges,” he commented.
“As these are new concepts to the dairy industry, the farmers need to be educated on this new method enabling them to move away from traditional methods. This is why we offer an on-farm support team to assist farmers with this transition. It takes time for farmers to build up their confidence as the products work in a very different way from what they are used to.”
Continuing, he said: “Steven and Ivan are very forward thinking and have a great herd of cows, so they want to look after the cows the best they can to keep the cows in the herd for longer. As in most farms’ udder health, fertility and feet problems are the main reasons for culling good cows.
“We can now help reduce the culling rate by optimising udder health. As each cow receives an AHV Extra tablet, we are cleansing out the udder tissue in all cases. The sooner the udder is cleansed, the less chance she will need to be culled from the herd.”
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