Running 270 cows (at peak) through a high input feed system on a 65 effective hectare farm with two full and two part-time staff brings its own challenges.
“Because of the size of our farm we need to run a second mob that includes the colostrums and dirty cows,” says Don.
“Our mistake came when part-time staff did not recognise markings on the stock. We got an inhibitory substance grade and because of that had an audit. The audit introduced us to Healthy Udder.”
Don says it was a split second decision by a part-time staff member that allowed dirty milk in the vat.
“It cost us dearly - and that’s something we don’t want to have happen again. Because we have part-time staff coming and going, putting a system in place to mark and identify the animals that was understood by everyone was the obvious solution. Healthy Udder gave us the system that we could then, with the help of our vet, customise for our own situation.”
Local Te Awamutu vet Jess Shelgren has been involved with Healthy Udder training with DairyNZ since its inception.
“When she came to do the audit she talked to us about giving this a go,” says Don. “We later met at her office and used Healthy Udder to come up with a system that would work in our situation. We took that system back to the farm and trained all our staff to use it.
“Since then we have had no problems! Everyone is aware now of how cows are marked and what to be looking for, that includes our part-time staff. Healthy Udder gives you good guidelines to follow, ones that the whole industry could use. Best of all they are clear and straightforward - easy enough for a 16 or 60-year-old to pick up.
“And having the laminated sheets available, posted right where the milking is done, keeps our system front of mind,” says Don.
“This whole process has shown me how lucky we are as an industry to have access to such high levels of expertise available through rural support such as DairyNZ, QCONZ and local vets.”