How best practice at dry off can protect profit lines
As we look ahead to dry off 2016, it’s fair to say that the first full lactation of the post-quota era has been tougher than hoped for financially.
While the end of the quota provided many farmers with good opportunities for expansion, the volatile milk price in 2016 has made this year particularly challenging.
Although global economic patterns and commodity prices are out of our control, there are actions dairy farmers can take to optimise profitability.
An understandable reaction when faced with a low milk price,is to look to cut costs; however, this is a short-termist view which often results in increased expenses.
Disease, and particularly mastitis, is among the biggest threats to farmers and their profits, and therefore efforts to protect profit margins should be centred on disease prevention, rather than risky cost-cutting. This means ensuring cows reach their potential in terms of the quality and volume of milk, with a low SCC count.
Preventing Mastitis And Protecting Profits
What is mastitis? The dictionary definition tells us that ‘mastitis is the inflammation of the udder, typically due to bacterial infection via the teat’.
But for dairy farmers around Ireland, mastitis is much more than a dictionary definition. It is time, it is money, it is labour costs, it is vets’ bills, it is co-op penalties, it is stress and ultimately it is a reduced profit margin on your farm.
It stands to reason then, that in order to prevent costs and maximise profitability, a key priority for farmers at this time of year has to be mastitis prevention. It also stands to reason that if you reduce or remove your mastitis prevention protocols, mastitis rates will increase and profits will suffer.
Costs of mastitis
We are all familiar with the saying ‘prevention is better than cure’ and when it comes to mastitis, prevention is both better and cheaper than cure.
A straight forward clinical mastitis case costs around €150 to €200 (Cellcheck cost calculator). This does not take into account the loss of milk for the rest of lactation due to reduced yield. Nor does it take into account the potential to lose cow to mastitis.
A bad case of mastitis can cost the farmer as much as €2000 in terms of treatment, loss of milk yield and replacement costs. Any farmer looking at these figures will immediately understand that the cost of maintaining healthy, productive animals through simple but vital mastitis prevention protocols is significantly less than the costs associated with mastitis.
Proper drying off technique (including aseptic technique and correct seal placement) good housing conditions up to and after calving, and the use of Boviseal internal teat sealant are three critical factors in preventing new infections throughout the entire dry cow period.
Farmers have to look for greater efficiencies on their farms and the dry cow period is a critical time to get great results from improved mastitis treatment.
When used at dry off Boviseal prevents the incidence of mastitis during the dry cow season, regardless of the length of the dry cow period and is proven to work on dry cow period up to 100 days.
Farmers throughout Ireland have eliminated cases of e coli mastitis around calving by sealing off cows and the reduced treatment costs in early lactation from reduced mastitis is a key efficiency benefit of using teat seals.
Therefore in order to maximise efficiencies preventing mastitis should be a key goal of all dairy farmers. The dry cow period is a key time of year for mastitis treatment of subclinical cases and preventing mastitis in the dry period and early lactation.