‘I’ve found SDCT very effective but you need to be milk recording regularly’

“I’ve found selective dry cow therapy (SDCT) to be very effective but you need to be milk recording regularly.” That’s the view of dairy farmer Tom Power, from Co. Waterford.

AgriLand visited Tom last week to see him milk his herd of 285 cows through his brand new 50-bail rotary parlour.

Also Read: Buildings Focus: Milking 285 cows through a 50-bail rotary parlour in Co. Waterford

Having found SDCT to be successful in recent times, Tom has opted not to go carry out SDCT this year. He has already dried off 85 cows – the majority of which were first-time calvers.

His reason for not going down the SDCT route this back end is due to his herd’s somatic cell count (SCC) increasing.

He puts this down to the stress and the change of milking environment that came with milking his herd of cows through the new rotary parlour this year.

Tom said: “Our average SCC increased this year; although not by a massive amount that it would cause me too much concern.

“At the moment, our herd’s average SCC is quite good at 85,000 cells/ml but we would like it to be better.

I would have carried out SDCT last year and it worked very well when we were milking in the old parlour. It’s something that all dairy farmers are going to have to adapt to and get used to.

“We won’t know until the blanket ban on antibiotic usage coming into effect from 2022. If we hadn’t moved into a new parlour this year, I would definitely have carried out SDCT.

Tom Power milking his cows last week through his 50-bail rotary parlour

“It works to good effect as long as you are milk recording regularly and ensuring cows are kept clean over the dry period.

“On milk recording, I would have been doing at least four milk recordings a year but I feel that isn’t enough. I’ll probably end up doing double that next year.

“The more information you can gather the better. It will help you to make better and more accurate decisions on what cows can be dried off without having to use antibiotics.

The most important milk recording I believe is the one just before dry off and it’s very important that it’s done as close to dry off as possible.

“I think carrying out a milk recording a month before dry off is too long a gap. I’d be looking to get one done much closer to the time that I am drying off the cows.

“SDCT is the future and, from my experience, it works to good effect but it does involve a bit of work.”