Having a Somatic Cell Count (SCC) of between 200,000 and 400,000 is not good enough, according to Joe O’Flaherty, CEO of Animal Health Ireland (AHI).

Speaking at the Teagasc Dairy Expansion Seminar recently, he said that while great progress has been made on SCCs, it’s still a huge challenge to reach famers not in Discussion Groups.

He also said the Somatic Cell Count issue, is not an issue of a small number of farmers with problems over 400,000, but the the 200,000-400,0000 level is the issue.

“Farmers with Somatic Cell Count at this level – too many think they don’t have a problem. The regulation has put 400,000 in the mindset of us all that if you’re under 400,000 you’re ok. But, times are changing and the industry is moving towards upper limits of around 250,000 and price mechanisms around this.”

He also warned that there are indications coming from Department of Agriculture that, under the new Rural Development Plan (RDP) cell check farm workshops may become a factor where farmers have to engage.

“Work shops may form part of the new RDP and that will extend beyond the current cohort of farmers engaged.”

He said that quotas were not a good thing for Irish dairy farmers and now Irish dairying is looking at volume as king.

However, he warned that, particularly in a price challenged environment, it may be a good thing that all cows will be milked.