A service like no udder

Over the past 12 months, Waikato dairy farmer Tony Prince has seen a dramatic decrease in his herd’s bulk milk somatic cell count (BMSCC), from over 250,000 to 160,000 cells/ml.

Tony’s team of four is led by 2IC Wade Budd, milking 660 cows on 210ha (effective) near Te Awamutu. In June 2012, they adopted the DairyNZ Healthy Udder Service to improve their farm’s mastitis management.

The service has helped create systems and processes for the team, improving the way they manage mastitis and ultimately decreasing the herd’s SCC.

“It’s a simple and easy to follow system,” says Wade. “Having set processes in place has really helped us manage mastitis. Everyone’s on the same page - we know what’s been done, how to do it and why.”

The Healthy Udder Service is delivered through participating veterinarians and is now available to dairy farmers. DairyNZ developed the service with selected veterinarians over the past year and over 80 are now trained to use the service.

Wade and the team are working with local veterinarian Jess Shelgren from Vet Focus, to implement the Healthy Udder Service on their farm.

Wade says they initially met with Jess to discuss what they wanted to achieve.
Together, they came up with processes around mastitis management, tailored to their farm and situation. The processes were put into charts which are now on the dairy office wall.

Jess says one of the key targets for improvement was early detection of mastitis. This meant making sure everyone knew what it looked like and the treatment process. Another focus area was the different methods for treating clinical versus subclinical mastitis.

The team set goals and Wade says they’re meeting their targets for the season. “I’m really happy we’ve achieved the main goal of a SCC below 200,000 cells/ml,” says Wade, who also set himself a personal goal of below 150,000 cells/ml - which he’s nearly achieved. “One of our focuses is on doing it right the first time - it’s a really manageable system.”

Jess says another benefit is that it creates a smooth transition for new staff. “The service allows them to have a platform to train and learn from, and continue with,” she says.

More than 100 farmers are using the service as part of the development process. For more information about the Healthy Udder Service click here or talk to your local vet for a referral.