As Irish dairy farmers adapt their systems ahead of new legislation restricting antibiotic use next year, a milk producer from Co. Cavan is ahead of the curve, having already halved the amount he administers to cows – and reduced his somatic cell counts (SCC) by 50% too.

Andrew Speares and his father, James, run a herd of 100 Holstein and British Friesian cows at Lisclone, Poles, County Cavan.

Samplings from their bulk tank collections threw up some startling SCC readings; they were well above the price penalty threshold of their milk buyer Glanbia, so it meant lost income for the farm.

Andrew had been treating udder health issues with antibiotics, but this was unsustainable with new regulations on the use antibiotics on farms set to come into force in January 2022.

“We were spending a lot of money on antibiotics but didn’t seem to be getting on top of the problem,’’ said Andrew.

“And there was always the worry of milk from a cow that had been treated with antibiotics accidentally getting into the bulk tank.’’

The antibiotic withdrawal period also restricted his milk sales.

Reducing antibiotic use

Andrew changed his approach last autumn when he was introduced to Maycillin by Gerry Hughes of Mayo Healthcare.

Andrew used the bolus in conjunction with other measures, including removing very high cell count cows from the herd. The bolus was given to all remaining problem cows.

He started milk recording in September 2020 so he could target the right cows.

In less than a year, the herd’s average SCC has halved.

“I give Maycillin to any high cell count cows that we pick up through milk recording, around three or four each month,’’ Andrew explained.

Maycillin has no withdrawal period so the milk from bolused cows can be sold.

Once udder health improved, Andrew’s milk yields crept up too – the herd averages 5,900L/cow/year.

He is pleased he has found a solution to these health issues before legislation forced him in that direction.

“Maycillin is working for us, it has really helped us to get on top of the problems that were pushing up cell counts,’’ he said.

For more information on Maycillin, visit the Mayo Healthcare website by clicking here.