Home' NZ Dairy Farmer : April 2011 Contents 42 The Dairyman APRIL 2011
WITH national bulk cell counts creeping higher every year,
three long-time dairy veterinarians have teamed up to offer
farmers reliable, affordable advice to control herd mastitis
Te Awamutu-based vets Adrian Joe and Steve Cranefield have
teamed up with Canterbury veterinarian Ian Hodge to create Pure
Milk Mastitis Consultancy. While more common overseas, a consul-
tancy focussing solely on one aspect of animal health is more unusu-
al in New Zealand. However it is one whose time has come as herd
size expands and milk quality is becoming more critical.
"After 30 years of veterinary consulting I was coming to see the
same sort of problems and issues around mastitis, this was despite the
advances made in milking plant design and technology," Adrian Joe
A growing demand from farmers across all herd sizes, and all parts
of the country, has provided the veterinarians with broad exposure to
the multiple causes of mastitis problems, of which milking plant is
often only one element.
In the past two years the veterinarian consultants have visited over
The consultants aim to take a holistic "whole farm" approach to
solving herd mastitis problems, breaking that down into three key
areas -- staff, cows and milking plant. Often all three areas will con-
tribute to part of the problem, but collectively create the major
headaches for herd owners.
With a focus on cow well-being, so central to dairy vet focus, the
three consultants spend a significant amount of their early consulta-
tion observing the cows during milking. Symptoms like teat end
damage, poor milk out and unsettled cows will all indicate any under-
lying problems contributing to mastitis.
While welcoming winter milking plant checks, Adrian believed
that plant performance while under milking load that was often not
analysed. The results can differ significantly from those winter
checks, revealing major variations in vacuum, pulsation and milk
flow that can affect cow health.
Cow observation and recording are more critical, but not always
practiced thoroughly with larger herd sizes and staff numbers.
"Cow throughput is emphasised more nowadays, but there is a
need for more complete staff training on milking procedure. Getting
staff buy in by understanding the importance of performing tasks like
teat spraying and how that links to reducing mastitis is vital," Adrian
Pure Milk consultants also use the latest information technology to
help identify and monitor herd mastitis problems, and track the suc-
cess of any recommendations they make.
"Using Infovet information technology provides a means of gath-
ering all the strands of data a dairy farm generates, and putting it into
one bundle of easily understood, and useful, information," Adrian
Data on farm milk quality and production at the factory can be
combined with LIC cow data, along with veterinary clinic purchases
and visit information.
For Ohaupo farmer Paul Bardoul a Pure Milk Mastitis consultation
was critical to reduce a high bulk milk somatic cell count (BMSCC)
that had plagued his herd for several years.
The problems started when Paul commissioned a new rotary shed,
and delays around completion put the herd under stress.
"Ever since then the BMSCC had been much higher than we had
in our old herringbone, sitting up around 300,000."
The cost of an elevated cell count can quickly add up for a larger
"For a herd with a BMSCC of 250,000 and clinical mastitis inci-
dence of around 25 per cent for the year, an average 350-cow herd
will be losing $18,000 a year, compared to a herd with a BMSCC of
150,000 and clinical mastitis incidence under 15 per cent", Adrian
Part of the problem in Paul's herd had already been traced to stray
voltage. However a consultation with Steve Cranefield revealed some
significant issues around cup shells, liners and teat spraying tech-
"After Steve's first visit, he gave us a very comprehensive list of
what needed to be done to fix things. The number one problem was
teat spraying, we simply were not getting the coverage required for
good teat protection," Paul said.
Within the shed, problems included the cup shells being too short.
The 147mm shells were replaced for 155mm, and liners also had to
be replaced to help further reduce cup slippage.
The cup changes were effective almost immediately, while Paul
maintains training his staff to teat spray more effectively is seeing
more gradual, longer term improvements in teat health.
The herds' BMSCC has dropped off significantly, down to around
"The drop came quickly and now the guys get concerned now once
it gets up to 220,000," Paul said.
Clinical cases through December--January were less than half the
27 cases Paul had last season.
Paul believes putting his manager Joe Burke with Adrian and Steve
was the "best hour he could spend" and the time provided excellent
buy-in from all his staff.
He intends to make the Pure Milk consults a regular part of the ani-
mal health programme for his split calving herd.
"Sometimes staff respond better to a third party and appreciate you
putting them alongside professionals like Steve and Adrian to receive
To learn more visit the Pure Milk website www.puremilk.co.nz
Consultancy aids in fight against mastitis
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