A recent analysis by Animal Health Ireland (AHI) has revealed a decline in the national bulk tank somatic cell count (SCC) from 272,000 cells/ml in 2009, to 183,000 cells/ml in 2018.

This, the AHI says, is a phenomenal achievement and one that the industry should be extremely proud of.

However, it noted that a slight increase in bulk tank SCC was seen in 2018 – which the AHI attributed to the extreme weather events that took place that year.

Image source: AHI

These improvements in udder health, the AHI says, has allowed farmers to increasingly adopt the “prevention is better than cure” approach.

This has lead to a 34% reduction in the number of mastitis treatments (per 100 cows) used during lactation – over the past decade on farms.

Image source: AHI

This is positive, as the AHI highlighted that more prudent use of antibiotics is vital if we are going to work collectively to tackle the growing challenge of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Another thing made possible by this improvement in udder health in recent years, is the move away from blanket dry cow therapy (BDCT) – which it said there is evidence of.

Over the past three years, sales data shows a 20% reduction in dry cow antibiotic treatments (per 100 cows).

Finally, in economic terms, when the AHI compared the national milk pool in 2017 to that of 2013, the improvement has been worth an extra 0.6c/L milk to the farmer.