CellCheck awards sees ‘significant SCC improvements’

The CellCheck Milking For Quality Awards ceremony was held today (Thursday, November 29), in the Lyrath Hotel, Co. Kilkenny.

An award is given to the 500 milk suppliers with the lowest weighted annual average somatic cell count (SCC) nationally for the previous year’s supply.

The initiative aims to recognise and reward the excellence of Irish farmers who are achieving high standards of udder health on their farm.

All 15 co-ops that submitted data to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine had representatives in the ‘Best 500’ category.

The CellCheck Milking For Quality Awards ceremony was sponsored by FBD Insurance and supported by Ornua.

In addition to the individual awards being presented, two new discussion group categories were introduced for 2018 – Most Improved Group and Best SCC Group.

Since the inception of the awards, the maximum SCC of award recipients has fallen each year from 103,000 cells/mL in 2014 to 72,000 cells/mL in 2017.

The winners of both categories were announced at the awards ceremony.

The CFS Discussion Group from Kerry won the Most Improved Group while the Pastures Apprentices Discussion Group took the Best SCC Group Award.

The judges for the event were: George Ramsbottom, Teagasc; Kevin Downing, ICBF; and Finola McCoy, AHI.

The judges used information submitted on the application form and information accessed from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) and Teagasc systems to identify the winners.

In addition, a special presentation was made during the awards ceremony to the best performing supplier from each of the participating milk processors.

Commenting on the event, Finola McCoy, CellCheck programme manager, said: “It is a privilege to be involved in something so positive, and to be able to acknowledge the excellence on so many farms around Ireland.

The ever-increasing quality, even on the farms that already demonstrate excellent udder health, never ceases to amaze me.

Fiona Muldoon, CEO of FBD added: “At FBD Insurance, we know that awards such as this help to reward decision makers for following the right path on their farms and I wish all of the participants the very best for this coming year.”

George Ramsbottom, Teagasc dairy specialist, said: “Introducing the discussion group competition to the awards is in recognition of the importance of groups as a motivator and driver of technical excellence, in this case somatic cell count, on dairy farms.”