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 spit 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.”
QCONZ consultant David Whittall has seen the benefit that Healthy Udder can bring on a number of farms.
“Over time, with the introduction of large scale farming, farmers seem to have lost the focus on attention to detail and are often taking shortcuts to get the job done. It’s those shortcuts that in the end cost.
“I’ve had phenomenal results where I have introduced Healthy Udder. Paying attention to detail and doing it right every time lets farmers save time and money in the long run.”
Jess Shelgren agrees. “Mastitis control is all about procedure and attention-to-detail. Every farm needs a clearly defined system that everyone on the farm understands on how to mark, separate, record and treat stock. Healthy Udder is a great place to start.”
Because of Healthy Udder, Don and his team have had a more relaxed spring.
“Everyone’s happy. It hasn’t meant many changes and we haven’t lost any time milking. Overall it’s a time saver and you have less to worry about, particularly in the busy spring period,” says Don.
“It just makes it easier to manage your stock. I’d recommend it to everyone.”
FIND THE GAP - Use the SmartSAMM Gap Calculator
The SmartSAMM Gap Calculator is a handy tool for identifying the value of making improvements.
Use it to benchmark your actual performance against goals and compare yourself with the performance achieved by the top 10 percent of industry. Performing the calculation will help dentify the hidden costs of mastitis management on your farm.
Paper-based and electronic versions are available, depending on your computer experience. Help guides are available on the DairyNZ webpage or ask your DairyNZ consulting officer, vet or milk quality advisor to help you work through the calculations
Find it at dairynz.co.nz/smartsamm
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy October 2011