Simon Browne and his father Tom are today hosting the Large Herd Open Day on their farm at Killeagh, Co. Cork. And, despite, this morning’s inclement weather there has been a tremendous turnout of visitors for the event.

One of the key drives for the business, which is centred on a herd of 820 spring-calving cows, is to make use of labour and time throughout the year. Both of these principles are strongly reflected on the animal health and milk quality management practises followed on the farm.

“A proactive approach to disease prevention is of fundamental importance,” Simon said. “With such a large density of cows on the farm, the introduction of a specific disease courtesy of a single animal could lead to its almost immediate spread within the herd as a whole. For this reason we vaccinate all the cows against BVD, IBR, Lepto, Salmonella and Rotavirus. All the calves are vaccinated against IBR and Clostridial Diseases.”

During the winter months all the dry cows on the farm are foot bathed regularly. “Hoof condition is crucially important in the run up to calving as bad feet will predispose freshly calved cows to a host of problems production related problems. Another advantage of daily foot bathing at that time of the year is that, by allowing all cows out of lying area it gives a daily opportunity to check all cows for any health concerns.”

On the issue of keeping somatic cell counts at minimal levels, Simon pointed out that all cows are stripped prior to the attachment of the clusters in January, February and March. This is to check for any signs of mastitis.

“Cows are marked using insulating tape on the tail. The back of the udder is used as a map to put spot of spray in order to indicate which one of four quarters had infection. We also pre and post dip all cows using special pads fitted on our rotary parlour platform.”