Vets advice keeps the cell count down
SOMATIC cell counts have been reduced from 600,000 to under 200,000 in two weeks by a Devon producer, with the help of his vet.
Since then counts have stayed below 200,000, says Andrew Biggs of the Vale Vet Group, Tiverton.
His client, who asked not to be named, was suffering a 4p/litre penalty, which would now have increased to 6p/litre. And he had to maintain bulk tank cell counts at less than 400,000 from July 1997 to continue selling milk next year.
He asked Mr Biggs to help control cell counts in his 28-cow herd.
Mr Biggs took a bulk milk sample and individual cow samples for analysis in the practice laboratory. The bulk sample revealed Strep agalactiae as the most prevalent mastitis bug and many of the cows had high individual cell counts.
The first step was to eradicate the Strep agalactiae, one of the most easily treatable mastitis bugs. After that, Mr Biggs planned that individual cell count figures would allow further identification of mastitis bugs that needed treatment, which might include culling seriously affected cows.
"In early January seven cows were dried off with antibiotic dry cow tubes. Then, to eradicate the Strep agalactiae in the milkers, they were all treated with antibiotic tubes, which meant milk had to be withheld for five days." It was tested for antibiotic residues before it was collected again, adds Mr Biggs.
Bulk samples revealed the success of the whole-herd treatment. Herd cell count fell to 393,000 after one week, to 142,000 after two weeks, and 73,000 after three weeks. No cows have had to be culled.
The producer has found that udders are now softer, and the cows milk out better and seem generally healthier. He now watches bulk cell counts closely each week to ensure they stay low. Milk constituent quality has also improved, and Bactoscans are remaining under 50, further lifting milk price.
Key to keeping counts low has been the use of paper towels in the parlour, teat-dipping post milking, and dry cow therapy. *