15 Aug 2022

Teagasc Says

SCC levels are increasing by 5,000 per herd per year. The threshold before penalties for suppliers to Glanbia is currently 350,000 and will be decreasing by 25,000 per year to 300,000 in 2015.

SCC levels are increasing by 5,000 per herd per year. The threshold before penalties for suppliers to Glanbia is currently 350,000 and will be decreasing by 25,000 per year to 300,000 in 2015.

Glanbia has also stated that they will not process milk with an SCC greater than 200,000 in the new Belview plant when it commences operation.

The problem is increasing because:

Farmers are rushing the milking.

Farmers are handling too many units and are not doing the milking routine job correctly because of bad habits.

Very few cows are culled for mastitis because most have to be culled for infertility.

Farmers aren’t carefully teat dipping which reduces spread by 50% when done correctly.

Farmers aren’t drawing the fore-milk which is an essential requirement.

Farmers/milkers lack knowledge on how and why mastitis spreads.

In Australia, dairy farmers’ wives were asked to categorise their husbands into “careless and dirty” or “tidy and clean” operators. Not surprising the “careless and dirty” group had higher SCC and TBC bulk tank readings.

Getting it right

Teat-dip or spray each cow twice daily with 15ml per occasion with the correct concentrations. (Check these out). Overseas work shows that only 15% of farmers are meeting this requirement

Identify cows with mastitis by drawing the fore-milk. If you have more than one case per 100 cows every 18 days during summer then you have a problem.

Keep an eye on the bulk tank SCC. If it is moving up or is up and down you have a sub-clinical mastitis problem.

Every farmer should get individual cow SCC results for all his cows otherwise you don’t know where you are heading.

Breeding Season Starts Now:

The next breeding season starts now. During the next few months identify thin cows, because we want a drying off Condition Score (CS) of 3.0, with a CS of 2.75 or less. CS all cows visually in the field, giving the first calvers particular attention. If more than 20% of your herd are thin (CS<2.5), then your overall feeding/management must be suspect. If the whole herd is marginal you must increase the availability of energy in the diet. If some young cows and others are particularly thin and suffering, ask yourself do you need to go on once-a-day milking. Fat cows that are not in-calf could be used to clean up paddocks to the grazing height required so as not to force young cows to do that chore. If you have low CS cows, ask yourself are all health issues, such as fluke, worms and IBR, under control?

Replacement weight targets should drive your current management decisions. Calves should now be 30% of their mature weight (at 6months).That means 150, 165 or 180kgs for animals whose mature weights are 500,550 or 600kgs respectively. For the same mature weights, incalf heifers should be 365, 400 and 440kgs at 18months old or 73% of mature weight. If your calves or in-calf heifers are not these weights you have to feed them better. That is preferential grass or some meal (barley) in the diet. To establish the mature weight of your herd they should be weighed in June but do it now to get a rough idea.

Meals – Know the Economics:

Meals to cows will now pay if grass is scarce or if you have a very high stocking rate on the milking platform. As 1 kg meal (22-30cents) will give 1 Kg milk (worth 38-42c). Calves respond to meals. For every 4 Kgs of meal fed you will get 1 kg of weight gain. So feed small or late calves 1-2 kgs of meal. Some fattening cattle, near finishing, respond to meal feeding.

Building up autumn covers

August is the month to start building covers and the arrival of the rain should provide the growth conditions for this to happen. Currently target covers are 150-180 kgDM per cow, the target is to build to a maximum of 450kgDM per cow (at 2.5 cows/ha) in mid September. Build rotation length from 10th August to 35 days by mid-September. The highest farm average cover should be achieved in mid to late September at 1130kg DM/ha. Cover per cow in mid September will be determined by stocking rate. At 2.5 cows/ha it is 450kg DM/cow, whereas at 3.5 cows per hectare it is 330kg DM/cow. Assess farm grass supply in early September and if necessary blanket spread

How to build covers

Reducing stocking rate – take away calves, heifers, dry cows etc

Reduce milking cow numbers – dry high SCC, low solids etc. This will also help quota situation.

Apply more N in early August – you will get a better response to N in August rather than September.

Plan for ‘3rd cut - grazing’ – fertilise 10/15% of ground and hold until mid September for grazing.

Protect regrowths to encourage more growth.

August nitrogen

Farms that are lowly stocked may need very little N in August; higher stocked farms will need both an August and September application. Table 1 is the recommended application rates for different stocking rates.

Table 1: Nitrogen in August/September for different stocking rates

Stocking rate (LU/ha) Fertiliser N kg/ha (units/ac) August September

<2.00 17 (14)

2.0 - 2.5 25 (20)

2.5 – 3.0 34 (28)

3.0 – 3.5 26 (21) 25 (20)

>3.5 34 (28) 34 (28)


Thirteen times a week milking – It is possible to milk once a day on one day per week (take Sunday evening off) without effecting milk yield. Herd SCC should be under 200,000 for this practice.

Leptospirosis - Heifers should receive first vaccination at about six months followed by a booster a few weeks later.

Calves coughing – Dose for hoose, check for pneumonia. Keep calves on fresh grass; they should be gaining at least 0.7kg per day now to reach their target weight of 330kg next spring.

Farm roadways – grazing conditions have been good, but what about autumn and next spring. Do roadways need upgrading? Are there long paddocks that need tracks to facilitate strip grazing or on/off grazing. Work on these now.

Milk Quota – The country was 4.6% under quota at the end of May and 2.6%under at the end of June. So the gap is closing.

If you are exposed then take appropriate action. Discuss your options with your Teagasc Advisor

Important Event

Irish Grassland Association Summer Dairy Tour.

The Irish Grassland Association Summer Dairy Tour this year takes place in Rathgormack, Co. Waterford on Wednesday August 14th. Registration takes place in the Hiking Centre, Rathgormack at 8.30 am with transport to the farms from there.

In the morning the tour visits the farm of Kieran and Ann Hearne. The Hearnes have expanded from 40 to 160 cows and the herd is ranked 32 in terms of EBI nationally.

A new 18 unit milking parlour and wintering accommodation have also been put in place in recent years. In the afternoon the farm of David and Isobel Kirwan is the destination. This farm was a 120 cow suckler beef farm and a beef BETTER farm up to 2012 when David converted to dairying as a new entrant. He is now milking 70 cows with plans to go to 150 cows.

Transport is by bus only to both farms from Rathgormack Hiking Centre.

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