Milk recording: When should I start?

Milk recording has become an important management tool used on many dairy farms nationally and internationally.

A recent report by George Ramsbottom, a Teagasc dairy specialist, and Don Crowley, a Teagasc business and technology advisor, outlined that 2021 is a very important one for dairy farmers in preparing for the new veterinary medicines legislation that will be in place from January 2022.

This legislation will mean that dairy farmers will need to change how they use antibiotics, and antibiotics can no longer be used as a preventative measure.

This means practice of widespread antibiotic tubing of cows during the drying off process will have to cease.

Ultimately, this new legislation is about protecting antibiotics and doing all that we can to make sure they remain effective in humans.

According to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation’s (ICBF’s) latest milk recording statistics, less than 40% of dairy farmers in Ireland milk record their herds, accounting for just 7,000 dairy farms.

Spring 2021 is your last opportunity to start collecting a full year’s milk recording data before the change in regulation on the use of dry cow antibiotics at drying off.

When to begin

The first milk recording should be completed within 60 days of the start of calving.

Cows with a high somatic cell count (SCC) this early in lactation are likely to have carried an udder infection through from the previous lactation or acquired a new infection before they calved.

Don stated: “It is the start of building up a picture of udder health for your herd, which will be essential in deciding on the treatments that you’re going to need at the end of the 2021 lactation.”

Some advantages of milk recording include:
  • Track your best and worst producers;
  • Detect high SCC cows and control your herd’s average SCC;
  • Useful as a culling tool;
  • Add value to your herd through improved herd records.