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Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a fifth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the company in 2015.
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‘The benefits of milk recording far outweigh the cost and labour needed to carry it out’

Shauna Convery hopes to find out why dairy farmers in the 13 counties in the border, midland and western (BMW) region are not milk recording.

The motivation for her thesis springs from the incoming veterinary antimicrobial legislation that will come into effect in January 2022.

Shauna is completing a masters in innovative dairy chain management in Van Hall Larenstein in Friesland in the Netherlands. The 26-year-old graduated from Ballyhaise Agricultural College/DkIT in 2014 with a BSc in ag science degree.

“The legislation will mean in-future that the use of blanket dry cow therapy will no longer be acceptable,” she told That’s Farming.

“Farmers will be required to have proof of illness for their vet to buy antibiotic dry cow tubes. This proof will be in the form of milk recording results.”

She highlighted that farmers will have to take a more selective approach to dry cow therapy.

21% of cows not being recorded

Pre-research shows that quite a large number of farmers are not currently practicing selective dry cow therapy.

This, she added, also includes milk recording farmers, which suggests that some farmers may not be prepared for the incoming legislation.

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“In 2020, less than 40% of dairy herds were milk recording. However, over 50% of cows in Ireland have been recorded, owing to the majority of herds that are recording being larger herds in the south of Ireland.”

“This indicates that more than 21% of Ireland’s 1.5 million cows are not being recorded. (ICBF, 2021).”

Along with discovering why farmers in the BMW region do not milk record, she also aims to find out the best approach to encourage farmers to engage in the practice.

“I will do this by collecting experiences and opinions from farmers, vets, and stakeholders in the dairy chain.”

Participating dairy farmers are asked to fill out a short survey answering questions about their farm and their opinions.

The 13 counties in the BMW region are:
  1. Cavan;
  2. Donegal;
  3. Galway;
  4. Laois;
  5. Leitrim;
  6. Longford;
  7. Louth;
  8. Mayo;
  9. Monaghan;
  10. Offaly;
  11. Roscommon;
  12. Sligo;
  13. Westmeath.

She will select one survey respondent (farmer) from each of the 13 counties in the BMW region for an interview to gain further insights into:

  • Farmer’s perceptions of milk recording;
  • Mastitis control;
  • Antibiotic use in the future.

She will also complete interviews will with five vets practicing in the BMW region.

Milk recording

“Milk recording is a key decision making and management tool that farmers can use to increase farm profitability and animal health,” Shauna outlined.

She said farmers can use data from milk recording to identify cows based on good or poor performance in terms of SCC and milk solids.

“Farmers receive a CellCheck report every time they record, which can be used to highlight the best and worst points in terms of mastitis control.”

“Milk recording, not one helps farmers make decisions about breeding and culling, but also allows farmers to get TB compensation. Simply put, the benefits of milk recording far outweigh the cost and labour needed to carry it out,” she added.

“I chose to do my thesis independent of any companies because I want to help farmers prepare for the future.”

“Last year, I decided to further my education and went to look for a masters in dairy in Ireland and could not find what I was looking for.”

“So, I looked to the Netherlands. I found the course I am doing now. I have been over here since August last year, and I should be graduating in August of this year.” she concluded.

More information

Here is a link to the survey.

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