Practical Tips on Dairy Herd Management Discussed At TotalDairy Expo
Selective dry cow therapy, avoiding over trimming cows and carefully weighing up the benefits of pushing for milk constituents were just some of the areas tackled at the recent TotalDairy Expo in Carlisle.
Some of the UK's leading dairy experts took to the stage to offer farmers and advisors practical advice on issues related to nutrition, mastitis, lameness, fertility and breeding.
Now in its second year, the one day technical conference is held in association with the UK Dairy Expo, and took place on Friday 11 March at The Shepherds Conference Centre, Carlisle. The event is organised by EBVC Ltd and Model Nutrition Dairy Consultancy and lead sponsored by Zinpro and Elanco.
Nottingham University's James Breen drew on the latest research and farmer case studies to illustrate the benefits of adopting a selective approach to dry cow therapy.
With farmers facing increasing pressure to move away from blanket use of antibiotics at drying off, he said farmers could adopt a selective approach on low somatic cell count (SCC) cows with confidence and could experience cost benefits from less coliform mastitis and less antibiotic use.
Drawing on previous UK research published by Dr Andrew Bradley, Dr Breen said: "If a cow had a low somatic cell count (SCC) and got an antibiotic and sealant, versus a sealant alone, she was 12 times more likely to develop mastitis due to coliform infections in the next lactation."
In his talk on reproductive management, independent vet John Cook stressed the importance of focusing on the metabolic stability of the cow, rather than trying to fix broken fertility management with expensive technologies. He said consistency was crucial and that monitoring pregnancy rate (PR) was the best way to gauge reproductive success.
"As pregnancy rate increases, milk per day and margin per cow goes up…As we improve reproduction, we start to grab more of the lost profit. By 24% PR or above, for Holsteins, we've captured all of the benefits from extra milk income," he explained.
Vet nutrition consultant, Will Tulley from event organisers EBVC, stressed that farmers needed to do the maths based on their specific milk contract before pushing for extra milk fat and protein, as the highest price per litre would not necessarily yield the highest financial return.
He also emphasised the need to carefully select feed inputs as high polyunsaturated oils could dampen milk fats, as could seemingly "cheap" feeds such as confectionery products, which are sources of volatile carbohydrates.
Iwan Thomas from Holstein UK, highlighted the need to correctively mate females and select bulls based on a farm's individual breeding aims, rather than just choosing him because he was top of the bull rankings. He ran through practical online tools that farmers could use to meet their requirements.
The topic of over trimming was tackled by foot trimmers Steve Bradbury, Tim Carter and David Rowe as part of a discussion panel chaired by vet, Nick Bell from the Royal Veterinary College. They used the session to answer questions from farmers and trimmers and ran through the top "deadly sins" related to over trimming. They emphasised the importance of measuring toe length and not being afraid to put the foot down and not take anything off unless necessary.
If you missed TotalDairy Expo, why not catch up with the presentations on the TotalDairy website.
The TotalDairy team's next event will be TotalDairy Seminar, which takes place on 1-2 June 2016 at Tortworth Four Pillars Hotel, Gloucestershire. The conference includes expert speakers from across the globe, including world renowned behaviour and handling expert, Temple Grandin.