My Grazing Week- Winter 4 - Reducing antibiotic use


This week Andrew discusses how he and the team gradually reduced antibiotic use on the farm.

My Grazing Week- Winter 4 - Reducing antibiotic use

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This week Andrew discusses how he and the team gradually reduced antibiotic use on the farm.

My Grazing Week: Winter 4

Robotic system: DeLaval VMS™ robotic grass-based milking

Recap last week:

MS/cow/day: 1.52kg

Start of dry-off

Reducing costs

(22nd- 28th November)

Milk KPI’s

Fat

5.14%

Protein

3.90%

Yield

16kg

MS/cow/day

1.45/cow

SCC (‘000)

70

TBC (‘000)

6

Concentrates


% Closed

4kg + 7 kg DM silage

100%


Life on the farm
Due to extremely wet conditions at the start of last week, we were forced to house the cows a little bit earlier than expected.
However, the grass that we did not graze will be very valuable come spring.

About 30% of the herd is now dry, with a significant number of cows to be dried off in December. So far, around 25% of the herd has received antibiotic dry cow therapy, with 75% receiving no antibiotics. If we continue with this pattern, it will be a huge reduction for our farm, from originally 100% of the herd receiving antibiotic DCT!

When does a cow need attention?
All of the information is available about each cows milking performance in terms of quality, yield, feed consumed, activity, and in some cases, daily BCS scores!
But it is not of much use if we do not use it in the correct manner, to effectively identify cows that need our attention.
‘Attention required’ can be anything from visually assessing a cow to getting veterinary assistance.
So how do we use the information presented to us on the software, or what parameters do we set in so that we can identify these ‘attention’ cows?

Detecting Mastitis
The DeLaval VMS indicates conductivity, blood levels, MDi, and somatic cell count as an optional extra, to detect mastitis.
A cow that shows a high level of conductivity, or blood in one or more quarters, flags up. The more of these high conductivity or high blood milkings the cow has in succession, the higher up the alert list she goes.
Auto diverts can be set up for conductivity or/and blood, so that the bad milk never enters the tank, before the cow is checked up on or treated.

Conductivity
Just because one cow has higher levels of conductivity in her quarters than other cows, does not mean that this cow has mastitis! She could just naturally have higher conductivity, or her milking intervals are longer than other cows, meaning there is more sodium in the milk, causing raised conductivity.
A cow that is an ‘attention’ cow is when one or more quarters suddenly shoots up above her normal levels. E.g. Cow 101 has conductivities of 4.5 4.5 4.2 4.2, the next day she has 4.5 4.5 4.2 6.0 . This would indicate that the quarter with 6.0 likely has a mastitis developing in that quarter. This cow should be investigated.

Blood
An acceptable level of blood is really anything below 1000ppm, where it is not visible to the naked eye. High blood levels can be an indication of E.Coli mastitis or if a quarter is suddenly showing up very high levles (>5000) she may have got a knock to the quarter and has large blood clots, requiring attention. We would generally investigate any cow that is above 1000-1500 ppm over two or more consecutive milkings.

SCC
A cow can have a spike in her SCC for any reason i.e. in heat, the weather etc. If a cow has an SCC above 400,000 in two or more consecutive milkings, then we would investigate this cow. Any SCC nearing 1,000,000 is generally treated with antibiotics in the quarter that is showing a high conductivity.

Other reasons for attention
The DeLaval VMS gives each cow an expected yield for each individual quarter based on time (milking interval), yield in previous milkings within the past 24hrs, and 7-day average.

Expected yield %
If a cow does not come to within 65% of her expected yield in a milking, that milking will go down as incomplete. The system will then tell us the reason i.e. kick-off or teat not found. If it was neither of these, then it is likely that there is a problem with this cow.

% Feed consumed
A cow not eating is a sign that something is wrong with the cow or the feed. If most of the other cows are reaching their feed consumption target for the day, then it is most likely the cow that has the problem.
One thing to watch out for is a cow that is high yielding and allocated high levels of feed, but she is a fast milking cow (<5 minutes per milking). This cow may not physically have enough time in the day, even milking three times a day, to consume all of her allocated feed! This is not really an attention cow and consideration may be needed as to how you get the feed into her!

The cow that does require attention is the cow that is consuming most of her feed one day and then suddenly she is consuming only 60-70% of her feed. This cow should be looked at and veterinary assistance used if required.

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