A total of 40% of herds have more than 15% chronic somatic cell count cows, increasing their chances of having their milk cheque penalised to 92%.

According to James Hanks from PAN Livestock Services at the University of Reading, 6.5million milk samples from NMR showed 14% of high cell count cows were repeat high cell count offenders.

“If you keep these chronic cows in the herd, they are continually infecting others,” he told delegates at the British Cattle Breeders Conference.

“However, if you keep the proportion of chronic cows to below 10%, the chances of being penalised are reduced to 9%.”

As part of a project between NMR and Reading University, 500 predominantly black and white herds were analysed to identify key performance indicators to derive a set of realistic targets for use in the InterHerd+ program.

In the case of somatic cell counts, the data showed huge variation between herds, with the best 25% of herds achieving below 158,000 cells a ml and the worst 25% at more than 249,000 cells a ml.

“The difference between the best and worst producers is 91,000 cells/ml, but one in four farmers is achieving the target level of less than 158,000 cells/ml.”

By incorporating this data into Interherd+ farmers will be able see how their performance compares to the top and bottom 25% and set realistic targets within this.