Three bulk milk failures a day, figures show

There are three bulk milk test failures every day as a result of antibiotic residues, according to data from National Milk Laboratories from 2013-14.

DairyCo vet Elizabeth Berry said while the failure rate has remained static over the last 20 years, it still accounts for 1,000 bulk milk failures each year, which is the equivalent to one in 10 farms.

She added that 47% of farmers also didn’t fully understand the meaning of cascade or off-label, a survey of Arla milk producers showed.

Off-label is the deviation from drug recommendations. Cascade is a legislative provision that allows a vet to prescribe unauthorised medicines if there is no other suitable medicine to treat the condition.

“We have got a good grip on where we are – I don’t think it is a food safety risk,” Dr Berry explained.

However, she said it was important that dairy farmers read the poster they received earlier this year, particularly if they had a failure, to get a better understanding of where they could have gone wrong.

“The poster is a decision guide of steps that should be considered when treating lactating animals and dry cows.

“At the moment I don’t think a lot of vets would be aware if a farmer has a bulk milk failure.”

It is hoped the poster will promote a more joined-up approach between vets, farmers and milk buyers.

All farms should have received a poster through their milk buyer in the spring. Those who haven’t can receive a free poster through the British Cattle Veterinary Association.