Teagasc Moorepark dairy specialist, Stuart Childs, has said that the uptake in milk recording in Ireland is quite disappointing, given it isa relatively cheap exercise compared to lots of other things we could be doing on dairy farms.
In 2018, only 35% of herds were milk recorded, recording approximately 51% of the cow population.
How does that compare?
Childs joined Emma-Louise Coffey on The Dairy Edge and compared this information with other countries.
“Unfortunately, relative to other countries and our competitors across the world, our milk recording numbers are quite low. Compared to the Netherlands where there’s 86% of herd recorded and 90% of cows. In New Zealand, our recognised grass competitor, 71% of herds and 72% of cows.”
The dairy specialist has said the reason for the lack of uptake is due to the work involved. “It’s perceived that it’s a big job and it would be unfair to claim that there isn’t a bit of work involved in milk recording. The investment in the time is small relative to the return you can get from the information that milk recording provides.”
Will milk recording become mandatory?
From January 2022, we will no longer be able to buy dry cow tubs without justification for it and that justification will be prescriptions from the vet, written on the basis of milk recording data, according to Childs.
Benefits to early milk recording
The suggested date for the first milk recording if the season is within 60 days of the first cow calving. On this 60-day policy, Stuart explained: “For people that are familiar with milk recordings, if they do a milk recording within 60 days of the first cow calving, they’ll get cure rates for all the cows that are milk recorded and were milk recorded prior to calving, at the end of the previous lactation.”
“Cows that are recorded after that date won’t get picked up in terms of cure rates, which is very important going into the future in relation to the selective dry cow tubes to use.”
The three things that you want to find out from the first recording are:
- Is the dry-off routine effective;
- Is the technique working correctly;
- Is the tube used the correct tube for the herd?
What should we focus on from the results?
Cure rate – how many cows were dried off with a cell count in excess of 200,000 and are now under 200,000?
Cows that were over 200,000 in 2019 and remain that way or higher should be removed from the herd completely, according to Childs.
Cows with a cell count of over 200,000 can be cured if treated early and milk recording will help this. Research suggest that staphylococcus aureus mastitis can be treated if caught early, but it’s important to catch it early, according to the dairy-specialist.
Target cure rate
Over 85% of the cows that had a high cell count should be cured from the drying off to the first recording, according to Stuart.
Expectation of new infection rates in heifers
Less than 10% says Childs.“If heifers are milk recorded shortly after calving, that stress could drive up the cell count. If 4 quarters are high, it’s probably stress. If 1 or 2 are high, it’s probably an infection.”
Optimum number of recordings and cost
Herds should be recorded at least 6 times per year he says. The guide dates of which the recording should be carried out are:
- Late March;
- 1st May;
- Late June/early July;
- Early September;
These dates will vary depending on calving dates.
The cost of milk recording is approximately €12 per cow and Child’s responded to that price by saying: “Milk recording will probably make you money, even though it costs money to do the process”
“Milk recorded herds have shown to produce 400L per cow more than those that aren’t, giving an increased profit of €120 per cow.” he concluded.