It is with a great sigh of relief that I can say we have completed our annual herd TB test and we are officially TB free.
The Ards Peninsula seems to be quite sheltered from it, with just a few small outbreaks here and there. But if you travel about 18 miles south west, this area is a real hotspot and is completely riddled with it. The reason behind this remains a mystery.
At the start of the month we had the privilege of hosting a mastitis workshop organised by our local practice Jubilee Veterinary Centre (JVC). The main guest speaker for the day was the legend that is Mr Roger Blowey, along with talks from some of the vets and sponsors. Various topics were covered such as achieving full milk let down, milking efficiency, how painful mastitis is, and good teat preparation.
The afternoon session coincided with milking, which allowed everyone to get hands on. It was good to have a fresh set of eyes on the farm and has lead to us making some minor adjustments to our milking routine. Normally, the time from preparation to attachment was a 45sec interval.
After some careful observation, it was found that about 10% of our cows failed to achieve rapid milk let down after attachment, thus causing some teat damage. By extending the interval time to 60sec, milk let down has improved with no effect on overall milking time or cow throughput. It’s very encouraging to see the vets taking a proactive approach instead of just firefighting problems as and when they arise.
Milk prices are still quite strong here in Northern Ireland. It was a real welcomed boost to receive a 3p/litre bonus for our November and December milk. With the herd being mostly autumn calving, this additional money helps to offset some of the extra costs associated with our system. The big question now is how long until the bubble bursts? Here’s hoping a very long time.
More articles from Thomas Steele
More from our other livestock farmer focus writers