Improved udder health and lower SCC restores milk price bonus for Wicklow dairy farm

Strategic management of high somatic cell counts (SCC) in individual cows is allowing a Co. Wicklow dairy farm to command a higher milk price.

The Miley family milk a herd of 140 dairy cows with breeds including Montbeliard and Fleckvieh. The herd produces an average annual milk yield of 7,370L at 560kg butterfat.

Milk is sold to Glanbia but last year their milk didn’t capture the best available price because around 15 cows had very high cell counts, pushing up the herd cell count average.

This meant that not only were there losses from poor udder health but significant price penalties for failing to achieve the required levels of cell count.

“We were penalised big time,’’ recalls Stephen Miley, who farms near Dunlavin with his wife, Maeve, and parents, Miles and Rosalind.

Profitable milk production

Udder health is central to profitable milk production and a different approach to antibiotics was needed for dealing with high cell count issues.

The business chose Maycillin, an udder health system manufactured by Mayo Healthcare, which releases allicin, an active substance in garlic. Allicin is used in bolus form in several countries as an alternative to antibiotics in both clinical and sub clinical challenges.

The bolus was given to all cows with cell counts higher than 340,000 cells/ml at milk recording. Miley says udder health improved and his milk now commands a higher milk price.

Antibiotic use has also decreased, and that is important going forward, Stephen reckons. “It is all going that way; it is going to be harder for farmers to get antibiotics to treat mastitis in the future.’’

Maycillin has also brought peace of mind in the milking parlour.

“If you miss a cow that has been treated with antibiotics that is serious and costly but if a cow has been given Maycillin it doesn’t make any difference, her milk can go into the tank,’’ says Stephen.

He anticipates that the bolus will help to reduce the herd’s replacement rate.

“Many of the cows we had been getting problems with were younger cows so it is good news that we will lose fewer of those because of udder health issues,’’ he says.

Mayo Healthcare area manager Ray Delaney

Find out more

Stephen was introduced to the bolus by Ray Delaney, Mayo Healthcare (pictured above), nearly a year and a half ago now through local stockists, Quinn’s of Baltinglass. He can be contacted by telephoning: 085-8621963.