Milk recording is important in order to identify superior cows who are producing high levels of solids, and to identify the most productive cows that can then be beneficial from an environmental and economic point of view.

In the latest episode of ‘Let’s Talk Dairy’, Stuart Childs outlined the uptake of milking recording so far in 2021, and how to read the reports generated from milk recording.

Stuart began by stating that: ”Generally, milk recording is an under utilized tool at the moment.

”There has been a big increase in milk recording figures in relation to the 2019 figures, with 2020 not being reviewed as much because of the impact of COVID-19.

”Both Progressive Genetics and Munster Bovine are reporting large increases in demand for milk recording in their catchment areas,” he said.

Objectives from first milk recording

Stuart outlined some of the main objectives of carrying out milk recording. These include:

  • Assessing dry cow therapy performance;
  • Assessing current performance (problem cows);
  • Using reports to plan a ‘containment strategy’ for SCC;
  • Identifying cows for culling based on SCC (repeat offenders) and lifetime performance data;
  • Identifying cows not to breed replacements from (Lifetime performance report).

Which reports are important

There are a lot of reports from a milking recording, but the important ones to look at after the first milk recording are the Cellcheck report and the Problem cow report.

Cellcheck report

Stuart explained how the Cellcheck report is important after the first and second milking recording, as it allows you to identify trends, and look at how the herd/individual cows have been performing over time.

The Cellcheck report looks at dry cow therapy performance statistics. Here you should ask how effective your dry cow therapy has been – whether you are using selective dry cow therapy or not.

Looking at mastitis incidences from the report, ask are they being recorded. The recording of mastitis incidents moving forward is going to be more important than ever, as we reduce the use of antibiotics on farms.

Cow with low cell counts at the time of recording may still develop a case of mastitis.

Problem cow report

The milk recording farm somatic cell counts (SCC)/Problem cow report allows you to assess current performance, and understand which cows are presently giving trouble with high SCC.

The majority of cows will calf-down with a low cell count, but not identifying/managing problem cows early means that bacteria can then be spread to other cows.

Managing cell count from the beginning of the lactation will allow you keep control of the cell count throughout the lactation, which will allow you to milk the cow for longer.

Actions for these cows to control SCC during lactation include carrying out a California mastitis test (CMT) on each cow, to identify problem quarter or quarters.

Questions to ask:

  • Does the cow have a past history of cell count/mastitis cases?
  • What was the drying off strategy used on on the cow?
  • Was the dry cow therapy method effective or were you ineffective at admistering the therapy?

Stuart highlight the important of ‘antibiotic worthiness’: ”If the cow has previously been treated for mastitis could she have developed a resistance to the antibiotic?

”Is it worth while keeping the cow on the farm for another lactation or should she be added to the cull list for this year,” he concluded.