The Teagasc Once a Day (OAD) Milking Conference took place on Thursday, January 6, with the event once again being held virtually.

Speaking at the conference, Don Crowley from Teagasc spoke about cell counts in OAD herds and some measures that should be looked at when controlling them.

The majority of these measures are also relevant to twice-a-day milking (TAD) herds.

OAD conference

Don focused on cell counts and some of the factors that should be considered on farms as we move into an era with reduced antibiotic usage.

Don spoke about the environment which the cow lives in, body condition score (BCS) and the milking parlour – all of which are risk factors for increased cell counts.

Don suggested while many farmers are vaccinating cows they should also BCS them.

Farmers, it was suggested, should check that their cows are living in a dry environment and that lime is being applied daily. Don said farmers should also monitor their cubicle mats and ensure they are not allowing water to pool.

The last three weeks before calving are known to be a vulnerable period where a mastitis infection is likely to be picked up, so cows need to be closely monitored during this period.

Finally, discussing the milking parlour, Don recommended that farmers start with new liners and check the vacuum in operating at 46kPa.

He also suggested that farmers with automatic cluster removers (ACRs) should check them to ensure that there is a delay of three seconds between the vacuum stopping the cord tightening.

If the delay is too short or there is no delay, teat damage to cows is likely to happen. He also said that farmers who have installed a cluster flush to cleanse their system should ensure that the right amount of liquid is coming through.

There should be between 800ml and 1L/cluster/flush.

In the lead up to calving it was also suggested that farmers complete a hot wash on their milking machine once a week prior to calving to remove any bacteria that may be present.

Cell counts

Don also spoke about how important milk recording is and how it should be completed soon after calving has begun. This will allow you to determine how successful your cure rate has been.

But also, it can be used to identify problem cows and ensure that they are monitored.

Summing up at the end of the conference, Don stated: “Removing animals that are causing cell count issues is going to be crucial, but also identifying why that issue was caused in the first place.

“Why are they there? You won’t cull yourself out of a problem, it is part of the tool. You must find out the why.”