Farm training days offer practical, ‘hands on’ assistance to local dairy farmers to achieve best practice
Monday 05 June 2017
Selective dry cow therapy (SDCT) has proven successful for one dairy farmer who, through strict protocols, has reduced the use of antibiotics and improved profitability.
Husband and wife team Paul and Nicola Millican of Low Moor Farm, Penrith, have been working closely with local vet Dr Benjamin Dustan, of Tarn Farm Vets, to achieve optimum milk quality and animal health across the farm’s 300-strong herd.
The couple recently shared their first-hand experiences with local dairy farmers in Cumbria who took part in a NoroSeal selective dry cow therapy demo day, aimed at helping vets and farmers meet new requirements from milk buyers.
“We’ve successfully managed selective dry cow therapy on the farm, with strict protocols and working closely with our vet for a number of years now,” Mrs Millican said.
“We have reduced the amount of antibiotics used, and that has reduced our costs on the farm, so it’s a win-win all round. It was great to be able to share some of these practices with other farmers and learn more about how we can improve further.”
The demo day involved a discussion on best practice approaches to the dry period, followed by an assessment of the records of cows that were due for dry off.
The farmers, in consultation with the vet, then decided on the best course of treatment – a teat sealant only or a combination of teat sealant and antibiotic dry cow therapy.
Mrs Millican said that although she was not a traditional farmer – her background in banking allows her to see farming from a unique perspective with regards to improving efficiency and profit margins – as well as being open to new ways of working.
She added that while many farmers had already adopted best practice for teat sealants and the responsible use of antimicrobials, many farmers were still anxious.
“Teats have to be surgically cleaned so, naturally, many farmers are nervous about doing it. Most are reluctant at first, and some fear change, but you don’t know if you don’t give it a go,” she said.
“The demo day provided the perfect platform to engage with local dairy farmers who were given hands-on training and support. It also gave them the confidence required to appropriately administer selective dry cow therapy for their herds. Protocol changes all the time so we have also learned new procedures. All knowledge is good knowledge, and should be passed on.”
Chris Geddes, Marketing Manager at Norbrook, said farmers were under pressure to ensure they met new standards from milk buyers concerned with sustainability and responsible sourcing.
“The dairy industry has seen some encouraging improvements in milk prices recently, however, it is important for farmers to work in close collaboration with their vets to optimise herd health and milk production,” he said.
Each farmer went away with a ‘dry off kit’ containing all apparatus used on the day, along with Norbrook’s best practice guide for on-farm mastitis control. Vets can contact their Norbrook Territory Manager for more information on NoroSeal demo days.