A non-antibiotic approach to managing udder health in conjunction with teat spraying and liming cubicle beds has halved the bulk somatic cell count (SCC) at a Co. Limerick dairy farm – and that significant reduction has been maintained.

John Moloney’s 173-cow dairy system at Gerah, Anglesborough, near Kilmallock, was challenged by mastitis and consequential high SCCs.

The bulk tank SCC was averaging 250,000 cells/ml, sometimes peaking at 300,000, and this meant he wasn’t getting the full value from his milk contract with Dairygold.

Three years ago, when the problem was at its peak, he had to cull 20 cows after failing to reduce their cell counts.

As a long-standing customer of Mayo Healthcare, John turned to his local sales representative, Pat Corbett, for help.

Pat recommended trialling Maycillin, an udder health bolus. The active ingredient, allicin, is shown to have broad spectrum anti-microbial properties, including antibiotic resistant strains.

It tackles udder health issues without antibiotic use and is extensively used across Europe.

No milk withdrawal period

Among the appeals of the bolus to John was that its use involves no milk withdrawal period as there are no residues after administering.

He gave each cow two boluses, the advised dose for animals over 500kg, and they quickly took effect.

John also put protocols in place for spraying cow teats at milking and spreading lime on cow cubicle beds during winter housing.

As a result of these measures, SCCs now run at between 100,000 and 150,000 cells/ml and have not increased.

“It is a nice position to be in,’’ says John, who farms 400ac with the help of a worker and his daughter, Susan, a receptionist at Moorepark.

As John’s milk is now in the top band for quality, he doesn’t incur any price penalties.

His Holstein/Friesian herd is producing an average annual milk yield of 6,700L/cow at 4% butterfat and 3.5% protein from 1.5t of concentrates/cow/year.

Maycillin also works well in tackling recurring cases of mastitis in the herd, says John. He also notices how the bolus works differently to antibiotics, with good results.

“When we were treating with antibiotics the swelling in the quarter was not going down fully, but with Maycillin the cow will shed a lot more clots and then clear, the swelling disappears,’’ he says.

If John notices any sign of mastitis he now gives the affected cow Maycillin.

“I stock a spare box of the boluses in the milking parlour,’’ he says.

Further information

For more information, go to: www.mayohealthcare.ie; or simply click here