12 March 1999

Mastitis warning to keep milk clean

ACCIDENTALLY putting milk from cows with mastitis or high cell counts into the bulk tank is a danger on any farm. Even if the animal has been given a tag or been painted, a busy cowman can still fail to spot them in the heat of the moment. And if milk from a cow that has been given antibiotics against mastitis gets into the bulk tank, the resulting penalties can cost the farmer dear.

But a new alarm system from New Zealand could give a surer way of stopping this happening. Developed by Shoof International, the Cowelarm uses a proximity-sensing system to warn if a suspect cow is coming into the parlour.

A transmitter is attached to the cows leg and a small receiver worn round the herdsmans neck. When the cow gets within range (settable from 1-6m) the alarm sounds, a light flashes and the cowman knows to keep the milk separate.

The unit is fully sealed and wont break even if the cow stands on it. Although the battery is non-replaceable and the unit has to be thrown away, typical life should be 2-3 years. The receiver unit runs on a rechargeable battery.

The unit is still under test in NZ and is not expected to go on sale in the UK until next year. Likely cost is said to be £300 for one receiver and six transmitters and about £20 for each replacement transmitter.