• More trouble - but is it new, or old trouble?

    Dirt and mud on feed pad

    I should have been expecting the phone to drop out, but it still came as a surprise when it did!

    It drops out every time we approach Cape Clear, a small community midway between Ballarat and Lismore in the Western District.

    Unfortunately, I was mid-sentence on the phone to Paul when it happened.

    You may remember Paul from a couple of months ago – his was the large farm where Staph aureus (Staph) had been causing cell count and mastitis issues.

  • Something has changed

    “Something has changed. I just can’t figure it out – it’s not wet, and there is no mud.”

    This was Jeff’s first comment when I returned his phone call couple of months ago.

    Jeff* and his wife Karen* milk 650 cows through a 60 stand rotary dairy in Northern Victoria.

    They had done a lot of work to get their mastitis to where they were now reasonably comfortable – Bulk Milk Cell Count (BMCC) sat between 100,000 and 110,000 cells/ml, and clinical case rates of mastitis were well below the Countdown trigger point of 2 cases per 100 milking cows per month.

  • Trouble, but what sort of trouble?

    Culture Results

    Paul milks about 600 cows through a large herringbone dairy in Northern Victoria.

    The farm’s Bulk Milk Cell Count (BMCC) and number of clinical cases of mastitis had been climbing steadily throughout the wet winter and spring, and it was failing to respond to everything the farm team had tried.

    In our initial discussion with Paul, one sentence described the level of frustration and exhaustion for everyone on the farm – “We have hit the wall!!!”

  • What went wrong?

    Materials needed for milk sampling

    “That’s really disappointing! What went wrong? How could there be “no growth”? They were all clinical cases! Do we need to re-train the milking staff?”

    These are not uncommon questions when discussing milk culture results, and they arise when results don’t seem to match expectations.

    I had called the farm to discuss the results from a batch of 16 milk samples that had been sent off to the laboratory for milk cultures.

    Common reasons for taking milk culture samples are to find out what is causing the problem, how to treat the clinical cases and how to prevent more cases.

    Of the 16 samples, three returned a culture result of Strep uberis, one returned a Staph aureus, and one was reported as “Mixed enteric flora”.

    The remaining 11 samples were reported as “No growth”.

  • When frustration sets in!

    Leon's cell count chart

    “I culled the 10 highest cell count cows and the cell count didn’t change – not at all!”

    Leon* was frustrated – very frustrated!

    He milks about 300 cows in Northern Victoria with a spring/autumn split calving system, and I could hear the frustration in his voice.

    Leon supplies a processor where the premium payment threshold for Bulk Milk Cell Count (BMCC) is 250,000 cells/ml. The farm has been constantly in and out of premium band for a couple of years now, and nothing he has done has solved the problem.

  • When old becomes new

    Platform on herringbone dairy

    Split calving and long lactations have become the norm in much of our industry now, so it was a bit of a surprise when we were contacted recently by a farm in Gippsland that is strictly seasonal, meaning the whole herd is dried-off and milking ceases completely over the dry period until calving starts.

    As part of our normal process, a history of Bulk Milk Cell Counts (BMCC) for the last two years was obtained for this herd and then charted with a trend line included.

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