Mastitis management may be suffering as herds undergo expansion, according to this year’s National Mastitis Survey.

Results show that as the number of cows looked after by each milking operative increase, so do average bulk somatic cell counts (SCC).

If too many cows are looked after by too few staff, things start to go wrong in terms of SCC and cows start to suffer, said vet Andy Biggs of the Vale Vet Group.

Speaking to Farmers Weekly at Livestock 2012, Mr Biggs said: “Milkings are longer in bigger herds, so it’s difficult for milking operatives to keep concentration and attention to detail can slip.”

“Milkings are longer in bigger herds, so it’s difficult for milking operatives to keep concentration and attention to detail can slip.”
Andy Biggs

Mr Biggs said it was important for producers to critically look at whether they could do a better job in terms of milk quality and milking time and assess whether an extra person in the pit was justified.

“It will get to a point where the cost benefits in terms of cow health improvements and time to observe mastitis will justify the costs of another member of staff.”

Farmers also needed to be aware that as herd size increased, so would the frequency of which milking cluster liners would need to be changed.

“Liners should be changed every 2,500 milkings, so some bigger herds will need to change them monthly. Do the maths and assess when you need change your liners. Gone are the days of changing them yearly and it’s important to remember that.”

Livestock 2012

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