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DAIRY April 2014

Potter’s View


They’ll tell you when you’ve got it right

Join the debate on Arla milk pricing Pages 14-15 Volume 61 Issue 4

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**DF Apr p1 Leader _Layout 1 21/03/2014 10:40 Page 1


a word from the


e go into this new, but final, quota year faced with a bumper spring flush and yet another retail price war. In the past, these cast-a-gloom harbingers of downward prices would have been enough to wipe any spring smile off the weathered faces of wintered producers, but are the runes telling us otherwise this time round? For a start, with flag-waving Arla valiantly leading the field, we may have seen an end to that domino price collapse, or at least a reduction in its severity. Against all the trends of history, if prices do manage to hold up, then the spring flush may yet prove to be a book-balancing bonus. So what about Tesco’s four pints for a £1 and Morrisons’ announcement to take on the discounters? This has always been a big worry because whenever they’ve decided to slug it out on the high street there has only been one real victim as cuts are passed



back down the chain. That’s producers, easy peasy. But this time passing on this hot potato won’t be quite so simple. Yes, some processors will cop it as the next whipping boy and the middle ground corner shops will struggle, but retailers too will find themselves having to bear some of the brunt. Meanwhile UK processors, other than Arla, are still desperate for milk prices to fall. How long they will stay high is anyone’s guess as global markets are easing despite the long term prospects remaining strong. Indeed, Rabobank predicts global prices into 2015 will be significantly higher than they were at the start of 2013, and could we be seeing the dawning of a new era? We very much hope so!

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Origination by Farmers Guardian, Briefing Media Ltd, Unit 4, Fulwood Business Park, Caxton Road, Preston, Lancashire PR2 9NZ. Printed by Headley Brothers, Invicta Press, Queen’s Road, Ashford, Kent TN24 8HH. No responsibility can be accepted by Dairy Farmer for the opinions expressed by contributors.

APRIL 2014



**DF Apr p2 3 Contents_Layout 1 20/03/2014 15:26 Page 1


CONTENTS april Volume 61 Issue 4

Brand new dairy On Farm

10-12 Comment

4-6 8-9 14-15 62-63

Latest news Cowmen Comment Potter’s View Good Evans

A Northern Irish college invests £2.5m in stateof-the-art unit

Regulars 22-25 52-54 58 64

Youngstock Milk Prices Workshop tips Finance


Dairy marketplace New Products

This month we feature the Wessex AR series of towed mowers, a waterproof milking sleeve and the five-leg Opico Sward Lifter



APRIL 2014

**DF Apr p2 3 Contents_Layout 1 20/03/2014 15:25 Page 2



Animal health Special feature

Latest advice on managing the transition period, lungworm disease and reducing somatic cell counts

Holstein focus Breeding

Investigating whether Holsteins can produce the milk quality we need

Slurry storage

Workshop tips


This month, Mike Donovan tells you one way of reducing slurry storage capacity


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**DF Apr p4 5 6 News_Layout 1 21/03/2014 10:41 Page 1


Retailers set to slog it out in latest price war

esco has kicked off another milk price war by slashing its milk price from £1.39 for four pints to £1, with the price of six pints dropping from £1.99 to £1.48. The moves are not temporary either, it is believed, but part of a ‘down and staying down’ campaign which will see the supermarket ‘invest £200 million in price cuts’. Other stores quickly


Deadline extended

rThe review of the Voluntary Code deadline for submission of evidence has been extended to Thursday, April 17. Alex Fergusson, MSP, chairman of the review, said: “It is important the review process is as thorough as possible and we want to give interested parties every opportunity to submit their evidence in a considered time scale.” Evidence can be submitted in writing directly to the review chair at reviewchairman@ or via the NFU, NFUS or DairyUK.



followed suit, including Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, with struggling Morrisons cutting its two-litre pack from 97p to 84p (24p per pint) and allowing it to claim it sold the cheapest milk in the UK. Asda has sold four pints for £1 for more than a year.

However, the knock-on effect is dramatic – especially on the smaller milk retailers and middle-ground operators. One source in the sector told Dairy Farmer: “Most middle-ground dairies cannot buy a two-litre bottle at 84p, let alone cover costs and then make a margin. One customer has already asked for a price reduction because the Tesco near him has finished his milk sales with the £1 offer.”

The NFU is urging supermarkets ‘not to devalue food by entering into price wars which have the potential to undermine British farmers and growers’ businesses’. The Grocer estimated the policy could cost Tesco £25 million in lost profits, and its move comes at a time when it will be paying more money to its Sustainable Dairy Group farmers on account of the recent Arla price increase.

JAdams Foods has been given the go-ahead by the Office of Fair Trading (OTF) to act as the packer and seller of First Milk’s cheese. The partnership, according to Adams, will reinforce its position as ‘a leading supplier of both British and Irish cheese in the UK’ and ‘will secure a long-term

outlet for most of First Milk’s hard cheese’.

Lost contracts Prior to the deal, First Milk had lost the Asda cheese business to Arla, and in a few days prior to the OFT’s announcement, news broke it had lost another flagship contract at Morrisons to

Lactalis. However, it is believed the Adams Foods deal was not affected by this. Adams Foods gains from the deal by having more access to British cheese, and First Milk ‘will receive a competitive price for the cheese’, say the two companies.

JThe RABDF is launching a Foundation for Collaboration scheme – a new training programme designed to ‘help English dairy farmers increase their competitive-

ness, access new markets, strengthen their position in the dairy supply chain and secure their long-term future in the industry’. It has been launched

with £320,000 worth of support from the Government’s £5 million Dairy Fund package. The scheme is being launched with a conference on April 2.

Knock-on effect All the retailers insisted they would not pass the margin cuts down the supply chain to farmers.

Adams gets Office of Fair Trading’s go-ahead

RABDF launches new training programme

APRIL 2014

**DF Apr p4 5 6 News_Layout 1 21/03/2014 10:42 Page 2


Fall in number of TB herds

he latest bovine TB statistics are ‘mixed news for farmers’, according to the NFU. The figures show a reduction in new herds going down with TB and a fall in the number of cattle slaughtered in 2013, compared to 2012. But the statistics ‘also highlight the disease is still a massive problem for beef and dairy farmers and needs to be dealt with on all fronts’, it added.


All in all 4815 new outbreaks were recorded in Great Britain during 2013, compared to 5153 in 2012. The number of cattle slaughtered was 32,620, compared to 37,734. Parliamentary Meanwhile, there is evidence the Government will struggle to secure parliamentary support for further cull zones. On March 13 a backbench vote on the cull was ‘won’ by 219 votes to one, but this was said to be on

account of staging a ‘mass boycott’. The vote followed the leaking of parts of the Independent Expert Panel’s report on last autumn’s pilot culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire to the BBC, and which stated the culls had been ineffective and inhumane. The mass abstention was no surprise, though, and was a tactical plan by procull MPs to show the house they did not believe the vote was worthwhile.

Dairy production

JButter production in the UK was 11.6% up on 2012 at 163,000 tonnes, with the cheese make down 3% to 390,000t. Powder production saw the greatest percentage increase at 18.5%, up from 90,000t to 106,500t. Bulk butter imports in 2013 were 14% and 5400t up at 44,000t, while Cheddar imports increased 8.5% and 8700t to 111,400t. Imports from Ireland rose 11% to 88,600t. Cheddar exports were up 1.5% and 670t in 2013, to nearly 45,000t.

Signs that cheese prices are on the slide

JWhile cream and butter prices have stabilised there are some worrying signs cheese prices are dipping – probably due to companies selling stock prior to the flush when it is expected a lot of milk will be turned into cheese. Cream is about £1.35,

butter about £2900 and cheese, prior to the latest trades, was £3300. The spot price is varying between 28ppl and 32ppl. On the international markets, butter prices rose slightly in early March, but not to an extent to get excited about.

The key point is prices have stopped falling – largely due to the Global Dairy Trade prices on butter moving up to meet the EU prices as they came down. Latest figures for March show WMP figures at $4439, down $264 (-5.61%) from two weeks ago, which

is the lowest price for a year. SMP settled at $4584, down $74 (-1.59%), which is identical to its November price. The price of SMP is once again higher than WMP – the last time this happened was in April last year.

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APRIL 2014



**DF Apr p4 5 6 News_Layout 1 21/03/2014 10:43 Page 3

NEWS News in brief US milk exports

JThe US Dairy Export Council reports the United States set a dairy export record for 2013, achieved within the first 11 months of the year alone. The US shipped $6.1 billion worth of dairy products, 17% more than 2012, and this is expected to climb to $6.7bn for the full year. The report shows the record-setting year was helped by many factors, including favourable market conditions for US exports. For half of 2013, the US was the world’s only major exporter to increase milk production.

Record flush

JFebruary’s milk production was a record high at 1090 million litres. Cumulative deliveries for 2013/14 stand at 12,414m litres, 2.5% ahead of the three-year average for 2010 to 2013. As we move towards the April/May flush, daily production is generally running at between 3m and 3.5m litres per day over the five-year average, and more than 3.5m litres above last year’s level.

Milk at $8/litre

JAs another milk war breaks out in the UK, spare a thought for China where consumers are paying US$8/ litre for fresh milk from Australia in some supermarkets.



No case for rise in rent this year he Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has warned agricultural landlords and their agents there is ‘no scope for rent increases this year on farm tenancies regulated by the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986, following their last rent reviews three years ago’. TFA chief executive George Dunn said: “Over the past few years landlords


and their agents have been used to serving notices for rent review on farm tenants in the expectation increases would follow when the reviews took place in the year after the notices were served – but this year is different.”

Three-year cycle Rent reviews follow a threeyear cycle, which means rents due for review this year would have last been reviewed in 2011. In every rent review case there needs

Call for unified stance

JInformation about dairy products is ‘often misleading and ill-informed’, Dairy UK has told MPs. The industry needed them to support the cheese and dairy industry in a more consistent way, said the organisation’s new head Judith Bryans at its annual All Party Parliamentary Cheese Group reception. The call came after a new report was published which stated ‘eating lots of meat and cheese in middle age is as deadly as smoking,’ and at a similar time the industry seeks to, and is

APRIL 2014

being asked to, substantially increase production year on year. Dr Bryans said: “The mixed signals coming from Government departments lead to confusion and create uncertainty as to how the dairy sector should be developing new markets and promoting growth. “We urge politicians and civil servants to voice their support for dairy and help educate consumers about the unique contribution which cheese and other dairy products make to health, the economy and the environment.”

to be consideration of both farm budgets and comparable levels of rent being paid on similar holdings. “Farm budgets this year are showing lower levels of profitability due to steady or slightly lower prices in most sectors and a rise in costs across the piece. However, there is, as yet, little evidence of reductions in comparable rents leading to the conclusion standstills in rent should be the order of the day,” said Mr Dunn.

Badger research

JScientists from Ireland and Canada, who have studied badger movements for four years across a 750sq km area of County Kilkenny, have found badgers travel more than was first thought. Between 2008 and 2012 the team tagged and tattooed nearly 1000 badgers at their setts, and measured how far they had travelled when they were next trapped. Although on average the badgers only dispersed 2.6km, 5% of these movements were more than 7.5km, and the longest recorded distance travelled was 22.1km.

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**DF Apr p8 9 Cowmen_Layout 1 18/03/2014 18:21 Page 1


JOHN Cameron

John Cameron is farm manager of Wood Park Farm on the Wirral, part of the University of Liverpool Vet School, and is currently involved with animal husbandry trials in association with Tesco.

The problem with changing rations is you don’t know what the effect will be for a while



pring is my favourite season and today the sun is shining so it must be on its way. After months of relentless rain it’s a welcome relief and finally we are able to get some muck moved and fertiliser on, and we are even contemplating spring cultivation work. I mentioned last time I wrote that the cows were eating us out of house and home, so after assessing forage stocks in November it was decided feed changes would have to be made sooner rather than later or risk running out of silage early. For some time the cows have been milking well, with strong bulling activity and some pretty acceptable conception rates, and so once again we were riding the crest of a wave. When things are going well you don’t want to upset anything if you can possibly help it, so it’s a case of a few minor tweaks. A bit more haylage (we do have a good stock of that), a splash more blend, bit less grass and maize silage, but not so much that the cows would notice. The problem with changing rations is you don’t know what the effect will be for a while. Only when there’s a few more PD negatives and you are only serving one cow per day (or even none) instead of two, that you realise you have fallen off the surf board and it is going to take a while to get back on.


APRIL 2014

Luckily milk output hasn’t fallen, but for four months we’ve had 20-plus pregnancies per month, but suddenly this has dropped to 14 for next November (we calve all year round). At that rate it wouldn’t take too many months to have a dramatic effect. So we re-jigged the ration to provide a bit more energy and slightly higher protein (16.5% to 17%) about three weeks ago, and there were four cows bulling like crazy this morning, so fingers crossed. Visitors We have many visitors to the farm here and enjoy showing them round, and sometimes I feel we learn more from them than they do from us. We had a group of organic farmers here for a meeting that wasn’t associated with the farm but I offered to take them round at the end of their meeting. I set off with my usual spiel about what we do, about our high input/high output system, and how this relies on a very disciplined approach to everything we do. This keeps us busy, and may be a little bit too much inward looking. They were a canny bunch and far too polite to criticise, but the number of questions they asked suggested that they were far from convinced that we had got it right! With limited land and high fixed costs, I actually think we have the right system for our circumstances but it wouldn’t suit

**DF Apr p8 9 Cowmen_Layout 1 18/03/2014 19:32 Page 2


After 25 years of relatively faithful service, the old Ford 7610 finally goes up the ramp to find a new home elsewhere.

Farm facts rFarm size: 200 acres (80ha) plus 100 acres (40ha) rented rHerd size: Closed herd of 200 cows, all replacements bred and reared on-farm rYield: 10,250 litres per cow per year.

everybody and it made me stop and think. We were poles apart, but clearly they were operating much simpler systems by taking costs out of their businesses and still making good margins. Our old Ford 7610 has finally left the farm. With 19,000 hours and 25 years of relatively faithful service, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s gone from being the most powerful tractor on the farm doing the main ploughing and foraging jobs (before having

contractors) to the least powerful, relegated to pulling the Keenan round the yard. With two-wheel drive and no surplus of power, I will miss the challenge of dragging up 10-tonne of fully laden wagon from the bottom yard to the top on a frosty morning. You were never quite sure if it would get to the top and if it didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t the journey backwards down the hill could be a bit scary. It was guaranteed to wake you up!



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APRIL 2014



**DF Apr p10 11 12 Greenmount_Layout 1 18/03/2014 18:23 Page 1


A recent three-day Keenan conference included a visit to see the state-of-the-art dairy unit at Greenmount College, Northern Ireland. Bruce Jobson reports.

Greenmount College sinks £2.5m in brand new dairy reenmount Agricultural College’s new £2.5 million dairy unit is considered an investment in the future of dairy farming within the Province. That is because it will ultimately benefit thousands of youngsters eager to gain some dairy knowledge and, as such, was backed by government funding. “It is essential we offer the best available facilities so youngsters will be less inclined to travel to mainland UK for specialist dairy courses. We can now provide an alternative literally on their doorstep,” says Greenmount dairy technologist Alistair Boyle. “Dairy farming practice in Northern Ireland varies from other parts of the UK and we have tailored our requirements to suit and reflect these conditions. “For example, in keeping with our local farming systems, we do not operate with a full total mixed ration [TMR]. “Cows are fed a partial TMR diet through a Keenan mixer wagon and




The College at Greenmount now has a cutting edge dairy unit to attract potential students.

trates fed per cow at 2.2 tonnes or 0.28kg/litre. Lifetime yield is 32,842 litres per cow.

Alistair Boyle: tailor made course.

are supplemented to yield within the milking parlour,” he says. The 150-cow herd is currently averaging 7849 litres (8014 litres per cow in February 2014) at 4.22% fat and 3.28% protein. Milk from forage is calculated at 2905 litres with concen-

APRIL 2014

Yield average Greenmount is focused on achieving a herd average of more than 8000 litres per cow and increasing protein levels to 3.5%. It is also looking to produce 4000 litres of milk from forage, with two tonnes of concentrate per cow or 0.25kg/litre, and increasing lifetime yield to 40,000 litres per cow. This will require an increase of 1000 litres from grass or three litres per cow per day.

The herd is well set with more than 60% of animals under three lactations. AI sires currently being used, on the basis of increasing herd longevity, include McCormick, Crockett-Acres Eight and sexed semen from Jetstream Army. Emphasis is on fertility with a high submission rate (98%), and cows are bred after 42 days. Projected calving interval is currently 392 days. The milking cows are only in their first eight months within the new environment and will take time to settle into the modern surroundings. Mr Boyle adds: “We are

**DF Apr p10 11 12 Greenmount_Layout 1 18/03/2014 19:28 Page 2

ON FARM not solely focused on achieving maximum yield per cow or targeting 12,000 litres per cow. Milking heifers are managed as a start-up group throughout first lactation and are currently yielding 28 to 30 litres per day. The other group of second lactation and high yielding cows is averaging up to 38 litres per day.â&#x20AC;? More than ÂŁ2.5m has been invested in Greenmount Collegeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s state-of-the-art dairy facilities.

Daily records â&#x20AC;&#x153;We measure feed intakes with inputs recorded on a daily basis. Feed intakes and ration evaluation are carried out weekly, as is silage dry matter, and forages are independently

Ä&#x2020;  Ä&#x2020; Ä&#x2020;  Ä&#x2020; 

analysed every month. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Changes to the diet are made accordingly on the basis of intakes and forage analysis,â&#x20AC;? he explained. All herd sections are fed





through a Keenan wagon with the heifers and cows receiving separate fresh weight allocations. Heifers get 32kg and cows get 36.5kg of first cut silage;


7kg wholecrop (10kg); and 4.5kg dairy blend (5.5kg). The two groups receive similar quantities of soya (about 0.5kg), minerals (0.6kg), maxfat (0.2kg),









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**DF Apr p10 11 12 Greenmount_Layout 1 18/03/2014 18:24 Page 3

ON FARM ultrasorb (0.02kg) and 0.8kg of straw. Total feed (fresh) for both groups is 44.6kg and 53.7kg respectively. This year’s forage analysis reveals silage quality has been running at 39.5% DM and 38% DM for first and second cuts, with protein at 13.6% and 13.5% respectively. The D-value was 73% and 69%, while maize analysed out at 34.2% DM and 7.9% protein DM. Within the constraints of being an educational facility, Greenmount is run on commercial lines with the aim of producing a profit. Gross margin for year end March 2013 was £874 per cow (11.6ppl) with net profit at £338 (4.5ppl) from a 2013 average milk price of 26.3ppl. Average milk price received over winter 2013-14 is 35ppl. Animal welfare has been important in the design of the new facility with particular attention to

Greenmount students learn practical skills within the 32/32 Fullwood milking parlour.

ventilation. Cubicles are 2.85m for solid front (2.40m facing passage), with a width of 1.15m and bed slope of 2.5%. Heifers beds are just 2.40m long. Kerb height is 0.15m. Drawbridge The passageways have rubber-slatted floors, but one interesting aspect is a drawbridge which when up allows cows back to their quarters and when down allows clean access of the feeder wagon to the

feed passageway. The average mobility index for the milking cows is 88% and dry cows 95%. Recent research conducted on 57 dairy farms within Northern Ireland found one-third of the animals in these herds were lame, giving an average mobility score of just 67%. Cows which receive a score of two or greater receive foot-trimming, and the cows’ feet are washed after every milking through a footwash system.

A drawbridge allows feeder wagon access across the cattle walkway while still keeping its tyres clean.



APRIL 2014

The herd, both milking and dry cows, receive a footbath once each week through a 5% copper sulphate solution. Dry cows are kept as a separate group prior to moving into a maternity wing two weeks before calving, and remain on straw for two weeks post partum. A six-hour reduced lighting system helps prevent stress on the pregnant cows and encourages them to calve down in daylight hours. Heifers are fed up to a maximum of 8kg of concentrate in the 32/32 Fullwood parlour and receive 13kg in total. “The high yielding group receives a maximum of 10kg in the parlour with a maximum of 18kg in total. The TMR high yielding ration is targeted for maintenance plus 35 litres of milk,” said Mr Boyle.

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**DF Apr p14 15 Potter _Layout 1 20/03/2014 10:11 Page 1



This month, Ian Potter tells us of a new processing plant opening up in Lancashire, about Arla’s pivotal role in prices and finally about the latest supermarket fiasco. irstly I have to congratulate the Woodcock family, who trade as Yew Tree Dairy in Lancashire, for having the foresight and commitment to build a large butter-powder plant alongside their existing liquid dairy. The plant will be up and running by mid-2015. Carl Woodcock told me the dairy world is changing and the business simply has to change to survive. It would be brave, if not foolish, for Woodcocks to continue to have all its eggs in one basket by relying on liquid milk alone. With the new plant they will produce butter, WMP, SMP and concentrate. The plant can be run flat out to process just over half the milk Westbury processes, or it can be shut down for periods. Up until now, Woodcocks has remained under the radar, but slowly growing and recruiting farmers. Now it has firmly launched itself onto the UK and the European dairy map. Recruiting farmers is not necessarily the goal, so don’t go beating down Woodcock’s door because, post-quotas, there are likely to be lots of options with the plant in terms of contract/toll processing and buying spot milk in the post-quota world. I wish them every success. On January 31, 2014, Arla Foods increased the milk price it pays its 2800 British owners by 0.74ppl. Under normal

F It is only through Arla’s actions that the milk price hasn’t fallen by a similar degree



APRIL 2014

circumstances this would have instantly triggered price rises from competitors, typically within 48 hours. But not this time – only one milk buyer (Barbers) announced a substantial price increase. I am excluding Dairy Crest’s formulae price rebasing too. By the time you read this article it will be at least 56 days since Arla’s increase and there has not been a flinch from its competitors. Not only that, but on February 25, Arla directs were notified of a 1.23ppl March 1 increase. Again, not a murmur. Two years ago we had milk buyers dropping the price 2p, followed by another 2p, and farmers were not happy. And here we are, now, two years later, and one company is keeping the milk price high and stopping it falling and some farmers are still not happy. In 2012, it was the differential between the cream price and the milk price which triggered the successive price drops. And yet that same differential exists today. It is only through Arla’s actions that the milk price hasn’t fallen by a similar degree. Following my last article and items in my Friday news bulletin, I received a few emails questioning my objectivity as regards Arla. A few asked me if I was in bed with the firm. This really annoyed me. I would therefore like to know how widespread this view is across the industry. To help me, I am looking for dairy farmers to read the following three questions and

**DF Apr p14 15 Potter _Layout 1 20/03/2014 10:11 Page 2

‘One company is keeping the price high’

Ian Potter

rIan is a specialist milk quota and entitlement broker. Comments please to

reply by email with their answer to Pick 1 if you agree with the first question, 2 if you agree with the second, or 3 if you agree with the third: 1) Arla’s milk price increases have prevented the UK milk price from falling this spring. This is a good thing for dairy farmers, and worthy of a bouquet or two. 2) Arla’s price increase has prevented the UK milk price from falling, but that is a very bad thing indeed. (Please elaborate on your answer to explain why.) 3) Arla’s price rise has made no difference whatsoever to milk pricing. Believe it or not I have had two very long emails from two farmers wives who believe number two is the correct answer. The fact is, non-Arla farmers like their milk prices being kept high, but hate the fact it is Arla – a farmer-owned business – that is doing it. Why is that? It’s the same mentality some have of ‘I’m not bothered what my milk price is, so long as it’s higher than my neighbour’s’. I have never shied away from controversy in my articles and, as much as it won’t suit some readers, I wish to put on record that I can’t currently see a flaw in the Arla strategy. If you can, then please email me. Their only vulnerability is to volatile global markets. But Arla hasn’t got all its eggs in one basket, as most companies in the UK have. I am praising Arla at the moment, because it is doing a good job for all farmers, not just their owners. Anyone who doesn’t see that doesn’t understand what is happening. But there will be a time when the market turns, Arla drops the price,


others will follow, and the comments won’t be as positive. If the moaning farmers who had spent time emailing me because I have written about Arla had spent the time writing to their own milk buyer instead, asking for the same price, maybe the UK price would be moving forward a bit more. The recent price war battle between retailers with four pints for £1 or less is causing pain to many, particularly those operating in the middle ground where most can’t purchase milk from their supplier at that price. Corner shops are pressing wholesalers for milk at lower prices and for price support to retain business. It is a disaster – they all want to pay less for liquid milk. This time, though, with the Arla factor, it won’t be the farmers paying. Meanwhile, production continues to rocket north at more than 10% on last year. Surely it can’t continue? Some pundits believe it will continue at these levels throughout the flush. I doubt it. It could be that the cows have milked exceptionally well whilst indoors and the so-called spring flush will be smaller than predicted. (I can only pray this will happen). One bean counter has calculated that at peak there could be an extra 100 of our biggest tankers seeking an outlet for the milk. That is an eye watering additional 2.3m litres/day, which will see the current spot milk price of 31p/32p plummet and exert more pain and suffering. If that materialises it is likely several farmers and processors will be on the brink of a disaster. A price correction is coming our way, but let’s hope it is gradual and not an overnight big bang!

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**DF Apr p16 20 Breeding (OK PLEASE PDF) _Layout 1 21/03/2014 11:54 Page 1


Milk producers may need to increase their quality standards if the UK is to displace imports, compete globally and so close the dairy trade deficit. Ann Hardy asks whether the Holstein breed is up to the job.

Can the Holstein produce the milk quality we need?

ignals are beginning to emanate from the milk processing industry suggesting dairy farmers may need to raise their fat and protein standards as manufactured products will be crucial to reduce the UK’s dairy trade deficit. The question then is whether breeding cattle to produce higher components will be the answer for the dairy industry, and is it possible for the high volume Holstein to rise to the butterfat challenge? Marco Winters, head of genetics for DairyCo, has no


Is it possible for the high volume Holstein to rise to the butterfat challenge?

doubt the breed can respond, but says it is up to farmers to make their breeding choices. Traits “You can breed for absolutely any trait which can

Raising the UK standard

rThe UK ‘standard litre’ farmer produces one million litres of milk a year with a composition of 4% fat and 3.3% protein. Denmark’s standard, by comparison, is 4.2% fat and 3.4% protein, which has risen from similar levels to the UK over the past 20 years. “Even 0.1% is a huge change but I think the UK can do the same,” says Arla’s Ash Amirahmadi.



“However, when considering breeding, the medium to long term ideal to maximise price is to go for higher quality but without compromising yield too much, and that is not easy.” He says if a standard UK farmer raised his herd’s composition to the Danish level, he’d earn an extra 1p per litre, or £10,000 per year, on Arla’s new manufacturing contract.

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be measured and is passed down the generations, and we know milk components are among the most heritable of all traits,” he says. “This means that if there is a need for more butterfat and protein – and the market signals for these components are increasingly clear – then breeding can play a significant part.” He cites a heritability for percentage butterfat at 68% and the same for percentage protein. This is far more than the next most heritable traits, including milk, fat and protein kg, all at around 50%, and stature – the most heritable of the type traits – at 41%. “Anyone involved with breeding Holsteins will be aware how quickly the na-

tional herd has increased in stature, so they can rest assured it will be equally possible to increase the genetic capability of their cows to produce high quality milk if they select their bulls for fat and protein percent,” he says. Broadly speaking, he says a 68% heritability for percentage butterfat and protein means 68% of the difference seen between cows on the farm is due to genetics. “Of course, feeding plays an extremely important role in manipulating milk constituents, especially in the short term,” says Mr Winters. “But as with any trait, you are stacking the odds increasingly in your favour if you also select the trait amongst your breeding criteria and you’re making high components that much easier to achieve. Generations “Few farmers will need the milk component trends running through their cow families pointing out to them, and they’ll also be aware breeding choices are cumulative and can have a con-

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BREEDING siderable impact on a herd over several generations,” he adds. “So while breeding may not seem to be the immediate answer to the higher milk components requirement, it’s a very important part of the long-term strategy.” A glance back at the genetic progress made in the Holstein breed to date is also worthwhile as it shows the extent of the genetic changes which can be made and gives a clear idea of the evolution of the Holstein breed over the last 20 or so years. (See graph 1). “The steep decline in milk quality seen in the 1990s is a direct result of the Holsteinisation of the black and white breed,” says Mr Winters. “Milk volume was higher in the Holstein than

the British Friesian and quality was lower, and this decline in quality is shown clearly in this graph.” However, a sharp upturn was also apparent in the early 2000s, which coincides with the introduction of the national breeding goal, Profitable Lifetime Index, whose emphasis has always been on quality rather than volume of milk. The revision of PLI in 2007 had a further impact, when the emphasis on milk quality was slightly raised. And alongside all the changes shown in milk quality, there’s been a steady rise in the weight of fat and protein and in the volume of milk. (See graph 2). “The graphs are useful in that they show the progress we have made and give an idea of the progress we can

Graph 1: Changes in PTA for butterfat and protein % of bulls (B&W) used in 1990-2013

Graph 2: Changes in PTA for milk, butterfat and protein kg of bulls (B&W) used in 1990-2013

continue to make,” says Mr Winters. “And the emphasis on milk quality is expected

to continue as the PLI undergoes another revision in August 2014.”

What’s behind the drive for higher component milk and will the trend continue?

rArla Foods has been in the vanguard of the drive for milk with higher components and has recently raised quality expectations from all of its producers. This, in turn, reflects the co-operative’s operation in global milk markets where demand for fat and protein has been buoyant for at least the past year. European Commission projections suggest demand will continue to rise until at least 2023, and China, Africa and Russia have been identified as the key growth markets.



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Ash Amirahmadi, Arla’s head of milk procurement, says: “As people in developing countries adopt dairy into their diets, this will predominantly come through powder, and this effectively means protein.” Alongside the rising demand for protein, a growth in processing capacity in the UK can absorb extra fat, leaving ample scope to displace imports and increase exports of butter, cheese and other dairy products. The question this raises is

whether producers fulfilling white water contracts will still find a viable market in the future as projections indicate there is negligible scope for liquid sales growth. DairyCo’s Luke Crossman points out key processors are no longer ‘liquid specialists’ and now have more flexibility to move milk between products. “This could mean they might focus more attention on the component aspects of their contracts in the future to get the best value out of their milk,” he says.

Ash Amirahmadi says there may be a tendency for the industry to follow Arla’s lead and give greater reward for fat and protein. However, he pointed out one in four UK producers already receives a price based on global milk markets, and this was bringing them substantial reward (see panel). “My hunch is the UK will harmonise with the world market, so the price for milk in future will be for its solids rather than its liquid component.”

Holstein UK Ireland WP_Holstein UK Ireland WP 18/03/2014 13:17 Page 1




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**DF Apr p22 25 Youngstock _Layout 1 20/03/2014 14:44 Page 1


While colostrum can provide essential antibodies, it must be ‘clean’ or there is a risk of subjecting newborn calves to high levels of bacteria and compromising passive immunity. Total bacteria count is one way to assess this, as DairyCo explains.

Hygiene is priority for rearing healthy calves

here is an inherent danger in only focusing on testing immunoglobulin (IgG) content as a measure of colostrum quality as it can lead to another vital area being ignored. According to US calf specialist Dr Sam Leadley, the




cleanliness of this important first milk can often be overlooked leading to high bacterial content and compromising the efficacy of its antibodies. “Calves are born with a functioning immune system, but few immune resources – like a gun without ammunition. Feeding









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Colostrum can easily become contaminated thereby subjecting newborn calves to high bacteria levels.

plenty of clean, antibodyrich colostrum as soon as possible after birth gives a calf the chance to absorb antibodies directly into her blood. They then provide temporary immunity until the calf can develop her own antibodies,” he claims. This passive transfer can fail, however, if high levels of bacteria are present in colostrum as they have been shown to reduce the uptake of antibodies. And when the calf has too little immunity acquired from colostrum to protect her from pathogens, it can become ill. High levels “Current data suggests total bacteria levels up to about 250,000 cfu/ml (colony forming units) may not

have a major impact on absorption efficiency, but as many as 33% of farm samples may well be double that figure – something I call bacteria soup,” says Dr Leadley. He explains colostrum can easily become contaminated with bacteria, particularly coliforms, right from the start with poor hygiene at milking, followed by a dirty dump bucket. Yet it is the less than ideal storage conditions which really allow bacteria to take hold. “Stored at a typical dairy or parlour temperature, the shelf-life of colostrum is just 24 hours. At 21deg C, the number of coliforms doubles every hour and by 12 hours there can be over one million cfu/ml in the calf’s

**DF Apr p22 25 Youngstock _Layout 1 20/03/2014 11:52 Page 2

YOUNGSTOCK to respiratory infections at this point. This isn’t good – even if we treat her and she recovers – because we know the kind of permanent damage that pneumonia does to lungs.” This is why Dr Leadley is keen to promote culturing colostrum for bacteria. The aim is to identify high-risk situations like coliform counts over 10,000cfu/ml or total bacteria counts over 100,000cfu/ml. (See box). However, for on-farm decisions only approximate bacteria counts are needed to see what is happening. “It is reasonable to expect coliforms to be less than 5000cfu/ml and total bacte-

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rLess than 5,000 cfu/ml – low impact, minor scours problems in less than onethird of the calves. r5,000-20,000 cfu/ml – moderate scours problems in up to three-quarters of the calves, tend to last seven to 10 days rather than only two to four days. r21,000-50,000 cfu/ml – occasional deaths at three to five days, usually severe scours between seven and 21 days in nearly all calves. r51,000-250,000 cfu/ml – very severe scours problems, enterotoxaemia ria count to be under 50,000 cfu/ml. On many farms, I see the total plate counts

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starting to be a problem causing rapid onset of death, bloated calves in two to six day range, scours problems that won’t stop up to three weeks of age and affecting nearly all calves, respiratory illness frequently a secondary infection. rGreater than 250,000 cfu/ml– frequent mortality associated with enterotoxaemia, nearly all calves have severe scours, most calves require antibiotic treatment, many require IV or subcutaneous fluids.

well over 100,000cfu/ml, and that is all we need to know.”

first feed, hence the term bacteria soup,” he explains. The implications for gut health are serious (see box), and long-term chronic scours can lead to pneumonia. This is because the calf’s immune system is compromised by fighting off infection in the gut, leaving her with a weakened defence against respiratory infections. And because the calf is not growing and gaining weight, it is not making the antibodies needed to replace those originally from colostrum. “The antibody ‘fuel tank’ is starting to run dry at around three weeks of age. The heifer is very vulnerable


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For block calving herds, sampling as-fed colostrum as soon as calving begins allows any improvements to be made before the bulk of the herd calves. Resampling every fortnight will pick up any significant drift from acceptable figures. “For year-round calving herds, the sampling and culturing schedule depends on lab results. Where 80% of the samples are below the farm thresholds, then I recommend a quarterly culturing schedule. The sampling protocol involves collecting about 10ml of colostrum from the nipple on the nursing bottle (or the tip of the drenching tube), just



before feeding a newborn calf,” he says. Dr Leadley likes to see at least five samples (whatever the calving pattern) from each stage to get a reliable picture. For problem herds with high bacteria counts, the next step is to sample the colostrum but at different points like in the collection bucket, other storage containers, and with sampling after refrigeration if colostrum is stored. “Of course, the results from 10 samples will be more reliable than those from five, but we have to consider the cost of culturing,” he adds. Colostrum testing is now

APRIL 2014

If samples come back with high coliform levels, you’ll need to look at your cleanliness routines Dr Jenny Gibbons

available in Britain for as little as £20/sample, reveals DairyCo scientist Dr Jenny Gibbons. “Lab testing for the bacterial load in colostrum is a great way to identify high risk farms. While it is

easy to see gross contamination and dirty equipment, it isn’t always possible to see bacteria levels, so it is important to assess colostrum hygiene,” she explains. Testing DairyCo is keen to encourage farmers to discuss colostrum testing with their vet, adds Dr Gibbons. As part of a good calf rearing programme, your vet can help you work out when to test, how often – and help you interpret the results. “We know the common causes of a high bacteria count are dirty milking equipment, poor cooling and poor udder preparation. Col-

**DF Apr p22 25 Youngstock _Layout 1 20/03/2014 11:53 Page 4

YOUNGSTOCK iform counts above 10,000 cfu/ml indicate poor udder preparation. Put simply, muck left on teats ends up in the colostrum,” she says. “If your samples come back with high coliform levels, you’ll need to look at your hygiene and cleanliness routines. All equipment should be cleaned thoroughly after each feeding, with scratched or pitted equipment replaced as it provides a perfect home for bacteria. When washing feeding equipment, first rinse with lukewarm water to remove milk residue, manure and dirt. Don’t use hot water as this simply makes the milk proteins stick to surfaces and, again, become a breeding ground for bacteria,” says Dr Gibbons. “Researchers at the Royal Vet College have been working with us to create best practice guidance on calf

Dr Sam Leadley’s checklist for reducing colostrum coliform counts 1. Clean teats in the parlour 2. Clean milk dump buckets and containers for colostrum 3. Covers for all milk dump buckets (especially in parlour) 4. Prompt feeding of fresh colostrum (goal is to feed in less than 30 minutes after collecting colostrum – sooner is better) 5. Cool colostrum promptly before storage (goal is to get colostrum under 16degC in less than 30 minutes after collection – sooner is better) 6. Clean storage containers, bottles, teats, and oesophageal tube. 7. Feeding warmed-up colostrum promptly (goal is to feed in less than one hour after it comes out of the refrigerator).

colostrum management. We are currently creating training resources and videos which will be available this summer.” Producing and harvesting top quality colostrum with high levels of immunoglobulins, yet low bacterial contamination, will be repaid in healthier, more productive heifers. According to Dr Leadley, US studies have shown that, after proper colostrum feeding, calves have fewer cases of scours in their first 21 days, compared with


those that had insufficient colostrum. Furthermore, the death rate in well-fed calves is up to 12% lower, while vet and med costs average $4/head less. “Weight gains, as well as feed conversion rates are also better,” he says. Testing colostrum, therefore, is not a cost – it is an investment in your herd’s future.” ■ For more information about colostrum testing and calf rearing guides, contact Dr Jenny Gibbons on 02476 478 689, or email

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**DF Apr p26 28 30 Feeding Prof_Layout 1 18/03/2014 18:32 Page 1


Soyabean meal may be the best source of supplementary protein for higher yielding cows, but concerns over price and environmental impact are starting to weigh in the balance. Prof Mike Wilkinson of Nottingham University takes a look at the role of soya.

Is soya an essential part of the dairy cowâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s diet? oyabean meal is an excellent source of supplementary protein, not just because of its high protein concentration but to complement that, it is also a useful source of energy in the cowâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s diet. However, it is expensive. Using Feed into Milk values for the composition of soyabean meal and rapeseed meal, and current market prices, rape is twothirds the price of soya per unit of protein and just over half the price per unit of energy. Grazed grass is about half the price of soya per unit of protein and a quarter the price per unit of energy. (See table 1). So why do we use soyabean meal in diets for cows? Apart from its high protein concentration, the heat treatment it receives




The essential amino-acid profile of soyabean meal is superior to virtually all other protein sources, making it the preferred choice of nutritionists for dairy cow diets.

during processing reduces the degradability of soya protein in the rumen, increasing the supply of undegraded protein to the abomasum, which is required to meet the metabolisable protein

APRIL 2014

requirement of higher yielding cows. Also, the essential amino acid profile of soyabean meal is superior to virtually all other protein sources, making it a preferred choice of nutritionists.

Is it necessary to include soyabean meal in diets for all dairy cows? I think not. There is evidence feeds such as rapeseed meal and wheat distillers dried grains can replace soyabean meal in nutritionally balanced

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FEEDING Table 1: Comparison of soyabean meal, rapeseed meal and grazed pasture grass Hipro toasted soyabean Rapeseed meal, meal, solvent extracted solvent extracted Dry matter (DM, kg/tonne fresh weight) 885 885 Crude protein (CP, kg/tonne DM) 542 406 Metabolisable energy (ME, GJ/tonne DM) 14.0 11.9 £/tonne DM 450 210 £/tonne CP 830 517 £/GJ ME 32.1 17.6

mixed rations with no effect on milk yield – at least in cows yielding up to 40 litres a day. Inclusion of pure essential amino acids such as methionine and lysine to balance the diet may make soyabean meal unnecessary in diets for high yielders. But leaving out soya means greater quantities of alternative proteins, of lower energy density, have



to be used, so there may be little overall economic gain by doing so. Pure amino acids are not cheap and if they have to be included the diet may end up being more expensive than the original diet with soya. Hence, despite its relatively high price, soyabean meal is often included at relatively low levels in dairy cow concentrates. Apart from the nutrit-

APRIL 2014

ional aspects, there are some important environmental issues to be considered. Soyabean meal has a high carbon footprint if it is derived from crops grown on land recently converted from forest. The degradation of rainforest in regions like Amazonia to satisfy the world’s increasing demand for soyabean meal is the main environmental objection to its increasing production and use in diets for livestock. In addition, there is the GM issue to which many environmentalists object. On the other hand, soyabeans grown in the USA, virtually all GM and grown on land which has been in arable cropping for decades and has reached equilibrium in terms of carbon sequestration, have the lowest carbon footprint per unit of protein compared with the main UK arable crops, including oilseed rape, mainly because the soyabean plant is a legume and does not require fertiliser nitrogen. (See table 2). One question to ask may be whether it is possible to formulate a diet for a 40-

Grazed pasture grass 200 214 11.7 100 467 8.6

litre dairy cow that is both least cost and has least environmental impact, and if so would it contain soyabean meal? Using data for the carbon footprint of animal feeds from the Dutch ‘Feedprint’ project, diets were formulated for least cost and also for least environmental impact. The exercise produced some unexpected results. Carbon footprint The concentrate formulated to give the lowest carbon footprint for a 40-litre cow included 2.8kg of soyabean meal even though its carbon footprint, at 1.06kg CO2 equivalent (CO2e)/kg DM, was higher than that of alternatives such as wheat distillers dried grains with solubles (0.80kg CO2e/kg DM), rapeseed meal (0.71kg CO2e/kg DM) or wheatfeed (0.36kg CO2e/kg DM). Soyabean meal was included because of its higher protein concentration and also because it has a higher ratio of digestible undegraded protein to carbon footprint. Soyabean meal can be competitive with alternative protein sources

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FEEDING Table 2: Yield and greenhouse gas emissions from typical arable crops Typical yield (tonnes Greenhouse gas emissions fresh weight/ha) (kg CO2 equivalent) Per kg fresh weight Per MJ ME Winter feed wheat 8.1 0.46 0.039 Winter barley 6.5 0.42 0.037 Winter oilseed rape 3.2 1.05 0.049 Field beans 3.4 0.51 0.045 Forage maize 11.2* 0.30 0.027 Soyabeans (USA) 2.4 0.70 0.056 (*tonnes DM/ha)

despite its higher carbon footprint. According to FAO statistics, total world production of soyabeans was 253 million tonnes in 2012. The major producers were the USA, Brazil, Argentina, China and India. Europe accounted for only 2% of world output at 5.5m tonnes, of which 76% was produced in Ukraine

and the Russian Federation. Italy was the biggest producer in the EU with 8% of total European output. European produced (nonGM) soyabean meal would solve the environmental issues surrounding the crop, but European soyabean output would have to be increased threefold to satisfy demand from the European livestock industry.


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Why donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t we grow more soya in Europe? According to the FAO, yields of soyabean in Europe range from 1.3t/ha in Eastern Europe to 2.6t/ha in Italy, comparable to the yields achieved in the USA and Brazil. Europe Low yields and lack of genetic progress in soyabean breeding for northern European conditions account for the low level of production in Europe, and also explain why soya is not grown on any significant scale in the UK. With relatively little European production we may have to rely on soyabean meal imported from South America and the USA for some years to come. However, there is a final issue to be considered. Soyabeans are valuable as human food. Soy oil and soy protein are used in a wide range of food products. Using soyabean meal in diets for livestock competes with increasing worldwide demand for human food. If we assume the average

Per kg CP 4.61 3.97 5.33 1.99 2.97 1.96

Low yields and lack of genetic progress account for the low level of production in Europe Mike Wilkinson


UK dairy cow concentrate contains 10% soyabean meal and the average cow receives 8kg concentrate a day for 200 days, then the UK dairy industry uses about 360,000 tonnes of soyabean meal, or 18% of the two million tonnes of soyabean meal imported into the UK annually. The big users of soyabean meal, of course, are the poultry and pig sectors of the UK livestock industry. I think there is an opportunity for the UK dairy industry to take a lead in reducing the competition between animal feed and human food by not using soya. The question then is, can we rise to the challenge?

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**DF Apr p32 33 34 Animal Health LiFT_Layout 1 18/03/2014 18:34 Page 1


Managing high yielding cows can be a problem, especially when they start lactation facing a negative energy balance and all its associated problems. Here we look at how one Scottish producer has tackled the challenge.

Transition period can be critical for high yielders anaging the transition period and avoiding a loss of body condition, ketosis and other related metabolic problems is a challenge for many high performance dairy herds. But one Scottish dairy herd from the Rosneath peninsula on the River Clyde has set out to pre-empt these serious problems and move transition cow management up a gear by adjusting the ration to improve liver function. Scott and Matthew Calderwood farm the 364-hectare holding at Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire. Under Scott’s management the dairy herd at Rosneath Farms has expanded from 180 cows to a facility for 300 cows. Currently they are milking 280 cows, all home-bred to protect this all-year-round calving herd’s high health status. “We have increased yields from 9000kg in 2010 to an average 10,547kg for




cows and 9472kg for heifers in 2013,” says Mr Calderwood. “And we have worked hard to balance the increase in cow numbers and yields with cow health. Our cell count average has remained around 160,000 cells/ml, with a bactoscan of 20.” Monitoring Pleased with cow performance and successfully meeting their milk contract, Mr Calderwood relies on recording and monitoring systems to track cow performance, using devices like the TMR’s PACE and InTouch to measure inputs against outputs. “With a larger herd we cannot afford to divert from the economic path and we need systems in place which allow us to detect and respond to any problems,” he explains. It was this constant eye to improving herd performance which led Mr Calderwood to investigate transition cow manage-

APRIL 2014

Scott Calderwood farms a 364-hectare holding at Helensburgh.

ment and in particular to reduce ketosis in the herd. “While milk fever was a thing of the past and displacements never a problem, we were treating two or three cows a month for ketosis or related problems. And weight loss was noticeable in some cows,” he adds. “I knew the cows were not getting into positive energy quickly enough after calving, and I was aware this transition period becomes more critical with high yielding cows. I was keen to

manage intakes and reduce the dips which can lead to problems.” Against all this was the desire to maximise homegrown forage – red clover and three cuts of grass silage, plus grazing and zero grazing – plus wheat and barley crops and wholecrop barley. Dry cow ration Mr Calderwood keeps all the dry cows in one group on a ration with a high straw content, grass silage, plus as many of the ingredients in the milking

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ANIMAL HEALTH ration as possible. “This is important for rumen fill and the rumen bugs and once she calves she can quickly move on to the milking ration and produce high yields without milking off her back.” The milking herd is kept in three groups and fed a TMR. Low yielders will graze in summer, while the high yielding group and fresh calvers are zerograzed. Out-of-parlour feeders provide a concentrate feed up to 5kg a day. Transition “A dairy group visit and seeing newly-calved cows looking superb across the board spurred me on to improve our transition management. I felt we could up our game here,” says Mr Calderwood. “Our feed company Smellies suggested adding the liver function product LiFT to dry cow, freshlycalved and high lactation cow rations at a rate of 50g/day, which we started in August 2013. “It certainly seems to have helped cow metabolism,” he says. “It costs us about 11p/cow/day, but we are seeing some encouraging improvements. Our milk records look at the fat to protein ratios and give us an indication of cows at risk of ketosis.

Stopping cows sinking into severe negative energy balance early in lactation has been a major goal.

“For cows in the first 60 days of lactation, this figure was 35% in August 2013. In the past few months it has dropped to about 10% suggesting energy levels are much better. And in the whole of this winter we have only treated one cow for ketosis.” Alongside fewer cases of ketosis, Mr Calderwood has also recorded a reduction in mastitis cases from eight a month in August 2013 to the current two or three cases a month. “We expect a lot of our cows and milk the high yielders three times a day,” he says. “Adding a liver conditioning package seems to have done what it set out to do – to help the

APRIL 2014



**DF Apr p32 33 34 Animal Health LiFT_Layout 1 18/03/2014 18:35 Page 3

ANIMAL HEALTH liver work more efficiently and to avoid fatty liver, which is known to put cows at increased risk of transition diseases like ketosis. Our cows are now keeping their condition and we are seeing improved performance in early lactation.” Fertility is another area which Mr Calderwood keeps an eye on. He sees it as the key driver of dairy productivity. To this end he looks to pre-empt rather than treat problems. Mr Calderwood, does all the AI work, checks cows regularly for bulling and is guided by the pedometer readings. Their vet visits Rosneath monthly to scan cows not seen in heat or served by

60 days. He aims to maintain vet and medicine costs at 0.52ppl and AI and breeding costs at 0.20ppl, using just under two straws per conception. A mix of genomic, conventional and sexed semen is used. Conception rates Mr Calderwood feels better transition cow management has helped conception rates to first service improve from 49% to 58% in six months. The calving interval is currently averaging 394 days. “We have spent money to save money,” adds Mr Calderwood. “The milk sample pregnancy check is one example and we also

Rosneath Farm’s rations Milking cow diet r34kg grass silage, 50/50% mix of 2nd and 3rd cut (11MJ/kg DM ME, 15-16% crude protein) r10kg fodder beat r2kg pot ale syrup r2.5kg ground maize r2.5kg bruised barley r7kg supergrains r250g Megalac rMinerals, LiFT, Yea-Sacc rOPF – concentrate fed up to 5kg/cow/day deinvested in an ADF cluster flush system 18 months ago. I am sure this has contributed to udder health and helped us maintain our average somatic cell counts within the milk buyer’s premium band. “We are always keen to

High yielders are milked three times a day with cows doing 10,500 litres and heifers 9500 litres.



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pending on yield and stage of lactation rFCE of 1.44

Dry cow diet r5-6kg chopped straw r6kg 3rd cut grass silage r5kg supergrains r0.25kg Hipro Soya r0.25kg pot ale syrup r1kg barley rMinerals, LiFT rMgCl improve herd health, welfare and overall performance, and to make sure we avoid unnecessary problems which result in unnecessary bills. The way forward in my mind is to have every aspect of the business under constant review.”

Zoetis WP_Zoetis WP 17/03/2014 11:45 Page 1



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these animals differs. The two Rispoval IBR Marker vaccines help ensure we protect the right animal in the right way, and allow a flexible approach within the 2-step vaccination programme, the only programme licensed to give up to 12 months protection from a single booster. Each farm is different and IBR is a complex disease, therefore your vet can best advise on the most appropriate IBR vaccination programme for you.

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Detailed analysis of data from National Milk Records has thrown up two important findings which could set the pattern for further reducing somatic cell counts. Peter Hollinshead talks to NMR vet Karen Bond about the latest findings.

Are we winning the battle with somatic cell counts? believe somatic cell counts (SCC) are on the way down according to the latest NMR figures – why do you think this is because only recently they seemed difficult to shift and I seem to recollect not long ago it was suggested they were actually increasing? We did see them reach a peak in 2008, and what we have analysed are the 6.6 million samples which we have had from our individually milk-recorded cows over the last year (2013) and compared those to the 10-year figures. In 2008 it got up to about 221,000 cells/ml, but in 2013 it went down to 199,000 cells/ml, so it has actually come down below 200,000 cells/ml for the first time in eight years.


And that 20,000 drop, is it considered a big drop? It is considered a significant drop – we use the 200,000 cells/ml as a threshold, so seeing farms getting below that is really great. It is encouraging that after the peak they are



coming down steadily every year. NMR recording only covers a portion of the national herd – do you think the trend you are seeing is typical of herds in general? We cannot really say that as our samples are from our recorded data which represents some 5000 herds – about 60% of dairy cows in the UK. We do think it is fairly representative of the national herd, but obviously we are looking at a sub set. Presumably milk buyers are the driving force here, with their swingeing penalties above certain figures – from your work with producers how do they tend to react to high cell counts – do they try to cure offending cows or cull them without further ado? It is an individual decision but we know some bad, offending cows, with cell counts in the millions, can be contributing quite heavily to your bulk tank cell

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count. So if you are looking at facing penalties, often the best way is to remove that cow from the bulk tank and that can bring your bulk count down considerably. It not only reduces your cell count, but removes those cows as a reservoir of infection for the rest of your herd. But if the SCC is taken from the bulk tank sample, one high cell count cow won’t make that much difference, will it? You would be surprised – from the cow’s yield and SCC you can work out how much a particular cow is contributing

and it can be quite high. So if you are close to your penalty threshold one cow can a make quite a difference. Give me some figures to help me if you would… Cows which are high yielders and with cell counts in the millions can

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ANIMAL HEALTH contribute more than 10% on cells in the tank just from that one cow. Right, let’s get back to basics. In essence somatic cell counts are defensive white blood cells appearing on the scene to fight off infection, and as such are used to measure the health of the udder – is that the principle? Yes, that is absolutely right. SCCs are mostly made up of white blood cells and when an infection gets into the udder, the immune system responds and draws white blood cells into the area and that raises the cell count. Your sample would be a composite of all four-quarters and you talk of the million SCC reading, is this mostly just from



one-quarter then? Often it is just onequarter, so you could have three-quarters which have a very low cell count and one with a very high cell count. The thing to do then is use something like a Californian Mastitis Test to identify which quarter it is and then look at making treatment decisions for that cow.

damage to the quarter and are not getting rid of the infection entirely, then that quarter is more susceptible. We are exposing cow teatends to bacteria pretty much constantly, and it is probably a miracle more cows don’t get mastitis. That is why we need good recording, monitoring and hygiene protocols.

If that cow crops up on your radar later on, is it likely to be the same quarter next time? Not necessarily, if you get a bacterial cure within that quarter it can pop up in any quarter next time.

What I suppose I am trying to get to is if it is a different quarter which has a high cell count next time, does it indicate that cow, for some reason, is more prone to mastitis than other cows? You do get individual cow variation – we know response is down to several things, like how competent her immune system is in coping with infection.

It may crop up in a different quarter, but is that cow particularly prone to have a high cell over the others? If you have constant

APRIL 2014

Okay, I just want to turn to your recent findings from all your NMR data. The first is that any one single high cell count with a cow should not cause too much worry as she is likely to return to a lower reading next time…is that correct? What we know is when we look at individual cow recordings, then cows which have one high cell count, then a good 50%, probably more, will go back to having a low cell count at the next reading. So they will actually self cure. But what we would like farmers to do is use this cell count information as a flag and

any cow with a first high cell count should go on your radar so when you get the next cell count reading you can see what has happened... have they gone back to being low or are they still high? We have to remember what we are talking about as high is anything over 200,000 cells/ml, and around about 60% of the chronic cows we see have a cell count between 200,000 cells/ml and 500,000 cells/ml. So we are not talking about your millionaires. It is about looking at those cows which have just gone over that 200,000 threshold. It is a matter of using that second high cell count as a real indicator and to figure out what is happening with her. Which brings us on to the second point, which is about alarm bells starting to ring when you get that second high cell count. Your data suggests cows which have two consecutive high cell counts are unlikely to come back down to a more normal level? Yes, what we say with these persistent ones is that they are unlikely to self cure, and we are not going to see them getting better by themselves. So they are the ones we don’t want to ignore. If you are not looking at those just over the 200,000 threshold, those are the ones which get

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ANIMAL HEALTH missed and the next time you look they have had three high readings, then four, and each time they are less likely to respond to your treatment. Once you have that second high reading, identify the quarter and work with your vet to get a treatment plan in place, and use culture or PCR of sterile milk samples to identify what pathogens are present on your farm. And if the vet advises using some antibiotic to clear up what may be some persistent infection in the udder, are the cows likely to respond to that antibiotic? You will always get some cases which won’t respond, but you are finding these cases early so hopefully the infection has not got too great a hold and so you are going to give your antibiotic the best chance of working. You may still get cases which don’t respond and that goes back to taking a sterile milk sample before you start treatment because you have that sample to go back to and see what bacteria is involved, which may explain why your antibiotic has not worked. You see some of these treatments don’t work, I believe, because the pathogen is lurking in part of the udder where it is not easily accessible to



antibiotic, so if the cow has two high cells counts they will go on to have subsequent high readings despite antibiotic treatment? You will still get some cows which will go on to be chronics despite treatment, and the longer the udder is left it reduces the chance of the antibiotic working. Would the best chance with these high cell count cows be achieved by fairly aggressive antibiotic treatment with intramammary and injection to remove whatever pathogens which may be there? That is really a discussion you need to have with your farm vet who knows the farm situation. Vets are fully aware of your data and may be treating cows after two consecutive high readings. It would be a fascinating to know, would it not, whether your cow with two high readings is recovering after treatment or whether it goes on to be a chronic case despite vet treatment? Certainly, individual SCC readings are used by vets and farmers. I imagine we will see a bit of both, but certainly cows have a better chance of recovery if we catch them early rather

APRIL 2014

than leaving them, but that is not data we have. With two consecutive high cell count readings, particularly if they are pretty high, would you recommend culling that cow to prevent it influencing the bulk milk sample? The decision to cull a cow is really to be made on an individual cow basis. Does that cow have other health problems, is she on the barren list, and what are the chances of getting her better? There are so many factors it is not just about two high cell counts. Okay, onto slightly wider matters. Are high cell counts a natural consequence of continued selection for some other

desirable trait like speed of milking for example... you could conclude fast milkers with large teat orifices could be subject to easier bacteria entry than others? Certainly teat-end condition and how well the teat-end closes after milking are very well linked to mastitis. There are things we need to think about, but as farmers we have a lot of control over what happens to those cows in terms of how we milk them, how we make sure the teat-end is in good condition, and how we make sure we are looking after them when we postmilk teat

dip them and

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ANIMAL HEALTH dip and put them out again into that cow environment.

there is other research out there.

in quickly to fight infection.

Would you recommend a cow is not allowed to lie down for say 20 minutes post-milking? Yes, ideally that cow should stand for 20 minutes after milking so you are allowing teat closure before that teat comes into contact with bacteria again.

Can continued selection and breeding for low cell counts be detrimental to the long-term health of the cow, in so far as their defensive mechanism may be compromised by this approach? I suppose you are asking whether herds with low cell counts are at greater risk of getting infections. The answer is no. It is not about the cow’s base line cell count, but about her ability when faced with an infection in a quarter to recruit white blood cells and to bring large numbers

Just finally, what you have been telling me is somewhat counter intuitive because with a lot a people expanding herds you would expect to see some of the older cows being retained to meet numbers, and yet it tends to be the older cows which have higher cell counts, so is there a bit of a contradiction there? Yes, you are right, the older cow will tend to have higher cell counts because she has had more cases of mastitis or more opportunities to be infected. And

Talking of cow beds, do you have any information on the effect year-round housing or teat sealant may have on SCC levels? It is not something we can get from our data, but

with expanding herds there is that temptation to keep those higher cell count cows instead of culling them out. If more older cows are being kept and if they contribute a disproportionate amount, what is driving cell counts down now? What we are seeing is farmers not only using the individual cell count data to treat cows earlier to bring the number of chronics down year-onyear, but hopefully in addition we are seeing them culling out the worst offenders.


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**DF Apr p42 44 45 Animal Health Lungworm_Layout 1 18/03/2014 18:39 Page 1


Lungworm can be a problem which is often ignored until suddenly cattle start coughing and losing condition. Gloucestershire vet Chris Watson tells us about treatment options.

Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be caught out by sudden lungworm surge ungworm can be a serious life threatening disease for cattle at grazing, and the trouble is it is easy to become complacent about it if you have not had a case for a few years. The causal parasite is widely distributed on pastures and varies in level depending on weather conditions and how many cattle are grazing. But once a pasture is infected with the lungworm parasite it remains infected, and there is no such thing as a safe pasture as the parasite can survive in wildlife. The cycle starts with the larvae being ingested at grazing into the gut, where they rapidly migrate and find their way into the lungs. Here they produce damage as they move through lung tissue, heading for the airways where they finally mature into adults and lay eggs. The eggs are then passed up the airways by coughing and swallowed, before passing back onto the pasture through the dung.




Outstretched neck when coughing and weight loss are symptoms associated with lungworm.

Clinical signs depend on the amount of parasites the animal carries, the period over which they have been acquired and the animalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s age.

No symptoms For young cattle if the dose is low and they are not grazing heavily at their first experience with grass then there may be no symptoms. Typically, though, they usually show a mild pneumonia characterised by coughing caused by the parasites building up in the airways. There is usually no temperature, but feeding is reduced and the cattle lose

APRIL 2014

weight. Any coughing is usually with an outstretched neck and can be provoked by moving the cattle. For older grazing cattle the dose of parasites ingested can be so high and the disease builds up so quickly that commonly a dead animal is the first sign of infestation. The rest of the group will be affected, but may only be in the mild stage of the disease. Again they will show coughing and weight loss. Adult cattle, if they have not experienced the parasite before, can easily become infected. The usual sign in dairy cows is rapid weight loss. Coughing will occur,

but the parasite markedly reduces feed intake so the effects are usually loss of milk and condition before clinical pneumonia. Lungworm has no predictable life cycle. The levels of infective larvae on the pasture can vary enormously with weather conditions throughout the year. Moist, warm weather allows the larvae to survive and get onto the grazing to infect cattle. In some areas, like Northern Ireland, this is seen in the spring, but in many areas, like ours in Gloucestershire, this is more characteristic of autumn grazing. Dry conditions

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**DF Apr p42 44 45 Animal Health Lungworm_Layout 1 18/03/2014 18:40 Page 2

ANIMAL HEALTH reduce larval survival and they cannot migrate up onto the grass and infect cattle. As a result, parasite numbers can vary considerably. Immunity, however, is strong and develops quite rapidly, although it needs natural boosting from exposure to low levels of parasites over time. The graph below highlights the conflict between parasite numbers producing immunity and actual disease. Time and dose Basically there are two opposing interests – time and dose. On one hand, a low level of parasites over a period of time will produce the immunity we want. On the other hand, disease is produced if the levels of parasite increase rapidly without time for immunity to form. Immunity forms by slow drip feed exposure to the parasite at levels which over time will not cause disease, but are sufficient

Parasite control

rFluke – No immunity, but predictable life cycle. Targeted treatment every year. rRoundworms – Slow immunity, but predictable life cycle. Targeted treatment during first grazing season. rLungworm – Good rapid immunity, but unpredictable parasite life cycle. Vaccination or sustained treatment all season. to get the immune system going. This is the time period shown on the graph where there are enough parasites between the two red lines – the immune level and disease level. So how do we go about controlling the disease? In essence there are three basic ways you can control it. Do not graze or only graze ‘clean’ pastures if that is possible. Treat and kill the parasites by: ■ Target dose – A predictable

1 2

Conflict between parasite numbers producing immunity and disease A

Parasite level on grass

Time for Immunity to Develop

B Disease level

Immune level

Time grazing


A – Top line – Animals do not have time to develop immunity as parasite levels are increasing too rapidly and they get disease. B – Bottom line – Gradual increase in parasite numbers allows immunity to develop and the cattle safely resist infection.


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**DF Apr p42 44 45 Animal Health Lungworm_Layout 1 18/03/2014 19:30 Page 3

ANIMAL HEALTH life cycle means treatment can target specific risks during grazing. ■ Long-acting system – A variable life cycle needs a long-acting system or regular doses to cover whole grazing. Let the animal do the killing and controlling with its own immunity. The question then is: ■ How long does it take to develop? ■ And how strong is it? The options with lungworm are to exploit the immunity through vaccination or try and produce a sustained treatment protocol which will cover the whole grazing season or


certainly high risk periods if your weather and grazing is predictable enough. One area where confusion can occur, though, is with other worming regimes and how lungworm fits in with these. (See ‘Parasite control’ panel.) Vaccination Lungworm vaccination does have a cost and needs to be done properly to get the best results. (See ‘Good vaccination protocol’ panel.) Questions you need to consider are does the animal warrant an investment for the future? If you want a single season for fattening cattle then a ‘long-

Good vaccination protocol rTwo doses of vaccine are required four (three–six) weeks apart rFinish the course two weeks before grazing rThe vaccine is given orally rIt is a live vaccine with parasite larvae so store it carefully in a fridge before use and mix gently as

term’ worming strategy which covers most of the grazing period may be sufficient. However, there are risks and you must ask yourself: ■ Do you want peace of mind without risking the weather? ■ Are you going to need

shaking will damage the larvae rDo not vaccinate animals until they are going to graze for the first time rTry and boost the vaccine by deliberately trying to expose the cattle to infected pastures rDo not worm until two weeks after last dose.

protection for the next grazing season? Unlike the beef animal, vaccination becomes essential with the dairy animal, with potentially several seasons grazing exposure, and this will be a sound investment for the future.

APRIL 2014



**DF Apr p46 48 AH Calcium_Layout 1 20/03/2014 14:42 Page 1


The amount of calcium a cow should get around calving is a much debated issue. Dr Andrew Pine, of Premier Nutrition, tells us why it is crucial to get it right for the transition cow.

Have we got transition calcium levels wrong? ssues such as impaired fertility or poor milk yield in mature dairy cows are rarely associated with calcium deficiency these days because we know calcium is formulated as part of the cow’s ration. But in the transition period (three weeks before, until three weeks postcalving) when there is increased stress and significant change, we regularly see clinical cases of calcium deficiency which most commonly results in milk fever. Clinical calcium deficiencies always result in visible signs of illness or distress. Data collected as part of Premier Nutrition’s unique Transition Management System, TMS, suggests on average 6% of transition cows, and in some exceptional cases as many as 14%, suffer clinical milk fever. With milk fever having a direct average cost of £200 per case (University of Edinburgh DHHPS), a 100-cow herd can quickly lose £1200 per year. With treatment using a bottle or bolus, a clinical




Dr Andrew Pine: Check your transition cows are getting sufficient calcium.

milk fever case is often back on her feet within minutes, but what is not recognised is the long-term effect and cost this metabolic disease has. Cows which suffer from milk fever regularly, go on to endure retained placentas, uterine infections, increased somatic cell counts, increased cases of ketosis and decreased milk production. Sub-clinical calcium deficiency – where there is no obvious outward sign of a problem – occurs significantly more frequently than farmers expect too, especially during the critical transition period, and as a result it is a much bigger challenge to the industry. For every cow showing clinical symptoms of calcium deficiency, we estimate as many 10 times

APRIL 2014

that number in the herd could have suffered subclinical calcium problems. Deficiency Of great importance is that, while sub-clinical problems are not immediately obvious, calcium deficiency is strongly implicated with a range of metabolic and production problems such as high somatic cell counts, retained foetal membranes, ‘dirty cows’, displaced abomasum, ketosis, impaired fertility and reduced milk production. So how can you check your cows are being given sufficient calcium within their transition diet? This is a challenge – for many years, nutritionists around the world have been taught the basic theory that excess calcium intake pre-

calving is the major contributor to milk fever. As a result, traditional precalving regimes strip calcium sources back to the bare bones for the last three to four weeks to supposedly reduce milk fever risks. Despite this, milk fever cases continue to occur. Although traditional pre-calving regimes are still popular, more recent evidence recognises the causative role other minerals, known as cations (potassium and sodium) and anions (chloride and sulphur) play in the development of milk fever and more importantly subclinical calcium deficiency. If you search the internet for ‘milk fever’ today, you’ll find scientific paper after scientific paper recognising the role the balance between cations and anions (better known as the DCAD balance) play in the cause of milk fever, switching the finger of blame from calcium and instead actually recognising the increased calcium needs of the cow at this delicate time. The risk of hypocalcaemia

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ANIMAL HEALTH increases with a high DCAD balance (> +200 meq/kg DM), caused either by high levels of potassium/sodium, low levels of chloride/sulphur, or a combination of both. Unfortunately, the wrong balance is often generated by the standard forage (grass or grass silage) available in the UK and Ireland, due to their generally high potassium content. A piece of research was published in 2006 in the Journal of Dairy Science by I J Lean et al (Vol. 89, 669-684) and titled Hypocalcaemia in Dairy Cows: Meta Analysis and DCAD Difference. The


paper looks at the research done on the subject over the years and concludes reducing the DCAD score of a dry cow diet favours the reduction in milk fever. Research This is just one of many examples of published research which reaches this conclusion. Obviously adjusting the DCAD balance in the correct direction, that is bringing it closer to 0 meq/kg DM, is the approach which should be taken and can be easily achieved by balancing the forages in the dry cow diet with the use of feed ingredients which have

Reducing the DCAD score of the dry cow diet helps reduce milk fever.

higher levels of anionic minerals. Once this has been done, and the idea calcium does not cause milk fever has been accepted, it is important to increase the calcium content of the dry cow diet to ensure the calcium status of the dry cow is improved during the critical transition period. So the reality is, if your herd suffers from any of the problems highlighted, these could be caused by a clinical or sub-clinical calcium deficiency. If this is the case, it is important you challenge your nutritionist to see whether they are not only concentrating on balancing cations and anions but also providing the extra calcium required for the cow in the pre-calving diet. The right balance will ensure calcium-dependent )25$)8//%52&+85( muscles of the rumen and &$// uterine wall will work efficiently and will result in ZZZWHHPRUHHQJLQHHULQJFRP fewer problems.


APRIL 2014

On UK farms, which have challenged the traditional thinking and worked with us and nutritionists to get the DCAD balance/calcium supply correct, the existence of â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;dirty cowsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; has been virtually eliminated, while also allowing cows to reach their peak yields more easily with improved fertility. And, of course, as a consequence, farmers have had significantly reduced vet bills. Challenge In summary, calcium is not only essential for correct muscle function, but it is also a key component of the immune system which, during the transition period, is understood to be at a low ebb and less able to fight off any infection that may challenge it. Get calcium levels right and farming remains profitable â&#x20AC;&#x201C; get it wrong and the consequences can last for a whole lactation, if the cow survives that long!

**DF_04_P49_DF_12_P43 08/04/2014 14:57 Page 2

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**DF Apr p50 51 Animal Health Hoglund_Layout 1 18/03/2014 18:43 Page 1


Do cows remember more tha

A recent conference at Bucknell University, Pennsylvania, looked at how upsetting or startling cows can adversely affect yields. Steve Chapman of SC Nutrition sent us this report.

hatever the type of dairying enterprise, the interaction between people and cattle can have a profound effect on cow performance. That is the opinion of Dr Don Höglund, of North Carolina State University, and an industry specialist in cattle behaviour.



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He contends the cause and effect of low-stress stockmanship on animal health, worker safety, milk quality and quantity, as well as return on farm investment, are certainly measurable. At the conference, Dr Höglund gave an example of such a case study conducted by a dairy veterinarian from Minnesota, where whole herd vaccinations were carried out on two different farms resulting in a total of five herd treatments covering several thousand cows.

Vaccinations The vaccinations were conducted at the end of milking using the farms’ rotary parlours as a convenient holding point. Each time after injection, the cows, on average, lost about 10lbs of milk (4.5 litres) and, rather surprisingly, this was not just an immediate effect but lasted over the subsequent two to four days immediately after the animals where treated. Neither did it matter whether the

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APRIL 2014


Dr Höglund: cattle have memory of pain.

**DF Apr p50 51 Animal Health Hoglund_Layout 1 18/03/2014 19:34 Page 2


an we ever thought they did? injection contained some irritating material or not. He told the audience no matter what the cows were injected with (even sterile water), they consistently saw a transient milk drop each time. Dr Höglund said this was the result of stress, and the memory of pain or startle near the milking parlour can cause the release of hormones, such as adrenaline. Adrenaline can affect the release of the all-important oxytocin hormone which is crucial to milk let down,

and the lack of milk is caused by systemic vasoconstriction of the blood supply within the body.

Remembering pain He said: “The reduction in milk let down caused by adrenalin has the result of the cows learning and remembering pain occurred at the end of, or around, milking and can cause the cows to avoid the parlour. “These avoidance behaviours and the learning that aversive stimulus [pain] happens at the end of

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milking can be remembered by cows. This is an area of great interest in the field of dairy science and consumer perception.” As stress and emotion have no universally accepted definitions, they are hard to analyse. Further research is currently being done on this subject and it is hoped one day the dairy industry will have answers to exactly why we should avoid pain and startle in and around the milking parlour. In the meantime, from this US work, it would seem

The learning that aversive stimulus [pain] happens at the end of milking can be remembered by cows Dr Höglund

it would be best to avoid pain and startle everywhere we can in the herd.


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APRIL 2014


MILK prices

AMCo makes its table debut

JThis month, our milk table heralds the arrival of the new Arla AMCo milk prices, and gives a good opportunity to run through the latest changes. Firstly, our standard litre (*) remains unchanged but the table footnotes will take on a more important role in providing the detail. The table is still ranked on rolling 12-month seasonal prices, with the monthly price before seasonality highlighted in the second column. Our AMCo prices for liquid and manufacturing contracts this month are 34.27ppl, which, as the notes explain, includes the 2014 forecast 13th payment of 0.76ppl but before the January b/f reconciliation of 0.5ppl. This represents an increase of 1.14ppl compared with the previous December AFMP price of 33.13ppl. For the Arla Tesco producer switching to AMCo, the additional Tesco premium of 0.7ppl takes our

price up to 34.97ppl. These AMCo prices are before the 0.74ppl increase already confirmed from February 3. Likewise, the Arla Milk Link liquid and manufacturing prices now include the forecast 13th payment to report 34.27ppl, which shows in the table as an increase of just 0.14ppl from December. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the 0.3ppl Premier Bonus was disbanded at the end of December, and, secondly, a further 0.32ppl based on our standard litre is not shown as Arla Foods now wish to quote one headline price for the UK before the platter of AML price schedules become better harmonised. This month also sees the introduction of the Arla Foods Direct supply contracts that commenced from Feb’13. Both contracts for our standard pay 32.27ppl for January before seasonality, with an increase of 1.23ppl now confirmed from March 1, taking both prices up to 33.5ppl.

***DF Apr p52 53 54 Milk Prices _Layout 1 20/03/2014 15:11 Page 2

'DYLG5%HHFK   %$51(48,30(17/7'  

Milk price analyst Stephen Bradley on the latest milk industry developments.

News in brief... Waitrose cut

JThe Waitrose cut of 0.2ppl reflects the removal of the retailerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bonus from Sept to Dec last year rewarding increased production. Producers also receive the full Waitrose price in those months with no modulated litres, whereas for the first quarter of this year 90% of supplies receive the full price with the remaining 10% modulated to the standard Dairy Crest liquid milk price. The Cadbury Selkley Vale price rose 1.25ppl to 35.13ppl, just under Waitroseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 35.36ppl. Sainsburyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cut of 0.43ppl from Jan 1 will be followed by a further reduction of 0.56ppl on April 1.

Crediton Dairy joins ranks

JThis month sees the inclusion of the Crediton Dairy milk price at 34.36ppl for January. Currently residing at the foot of the table the price wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t qualify for ranking until the Aprâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;14 table.

Fresh Milk Company announces change

JThe Fresh Milk Company supplying Lactalis increased its price 0.07ppl this month. However, under the profile option, the increase shows as 0.05ppl after our rolling 12month average profile to Janâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;14 drops 0.02ppl to 0.55ppl. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an increase of 0.2ppl for March with a further 0.02ppl from April, taking our price up to 33.56ppl and 34.11ppl on profile. The Meadow Foods increase of 0.3ppl takes our price up to 32.55ppl. Cumbrian Meadow price goes up to 32.76ppl. Glanbia Cheese increased 0.5ppl taking our price up on their Constituent and Base contracts to 32.78ppl and 32.9ppl respectively. The DC/DCD Liquid formula price decreased by 0.19ppl to 31.66ppl. The MĂźller Wiseman AMPEMQVE formula added a further 0.07ppl to 34.62ppl.

* Our standard litre is 4%bf and 3.3% protein, Bactoscans of 30,000/ml and SCCs of 200,000/ml, 1mltrs/yr on EODC but before seasonality, monthly profile payments, balancing, capital deductions or annual/part annual growth incentive schemes not directly linked to dairy market price movement.







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APRIL 2014



***DF Apr p52 53 54 Milk Prices _Layout 1 20/03/2014 13:59 Page 3

MILK PRICES Latest milk prices from D.C – Waitrose ∞^ D.C – M&S ∞ Cadbury – Selkley Vale Milk MüllerWiseman – Tesco D.C – Sainsbury's MüllerWiseman – Sainsbury's Arla Foods – AMCo Tesco United Dairy Farmers ≠ Arla Foods – Tesco MWD – AMPE/MCVE Formula Arla Foods – Sainsbury's MüllerWiseman – The Co-op Dairy Group Parkham Farms Caledonian Cheese Co – Profile ‡ Arla Milk Link Rodda's ¢• D.C – Davidstow ∞ Arla Foods – AMCo Manufacturing Arla Foods – AMCo Liquid Arla Milk Link – Liquid Yew Tree Dairy MüllerWiseman – Standard Arla Milk Link – Manufacturing ¢• Wyke Farms Caledonian Cheese Co D.C – Liquid Regional Premium ∞ ¶ Paynes Farms Dairies Meadow Foods Lakes ± Blackmore Vale Farm Cream Wensleydale Dairy Products DC/DCD – Liquid Formula ∞ ¶ Barber A.J & R.G Grahams Dairies Meadow Foods – Level Arla Foods – Direct Liquid Arla Foods – Direct Manufacturing South Caernarfon Meadow Foods – Seasonal Glanbia – Llangefni (flat) Belton Cheese Glanbia – Llangefni (Constituent) Joseph Heler First Milk – Liquid § First Milk – Highlands & Islands § First Milk – Cheese § New entry Crediton Dairy

Dec'13 4.0/3.3 Before Seas'lty (i)

Jan'14 4.0/3.3 Before Seas'lty *(ii)

Jan'14 4.0/3.3 1mltr SAPP **(iii)

12mth Ave Feb'13 Jan'14 (iv)

Diff Jan'14 v Dec'13 (i) v (ii)

35.56 34.84 33.88 33.79 34.21 34.15 33.54 34.17 33.54 34.55 34.03 33.15 33.76 33.84 34.53 33.31 33.13 33.13 34.13 32.75 32.50 34.13 32.55 33.27 32.56 32.45 32.46 32.25 32.60 31.85 32.38 32.50 32.25 32.27 32.27 32.50 32.25 32.40 33.00 32.28 30.99 32.50 32.50 32.50

35.36 34.84 35.13 33.79 33.78 33.72 34.97 34.17 33.67 34.62 33.60 33.15 33.76 33.89 34.67 33.31 34.27 34.27 34.27 32.75 32.50 34.27 32.55 33.34 32.56 32.45 32.76 32.25 32.60 31.66 32.38 32.50 32.55 32.27 32.27 32.50 32.55 32.90 33.00 32.78 30.99 32.50 32.50 32.50

35.14 34.84 35.13 33.79 34.01 33.72 34.97 34.19 33.67 34.62 33.60 33.15 34.27 33.89 33.71 33.54 34.27 34.27 34.28 32.75 32.50 33.32 32.55 33.34 32.79 32.45 33.05 32.25 32.60 31.89 32.38 32.50 32.55 32.28 32.28 34.51 32.55 32.90 33.00 32.78 32.99 32.16 32.13 32.16

34.53 34.10 33.42 32.84 32.75 32.69 32.53 32.53 32.43 32.39 32.39 32.28 32.04 31.92 31.81 31.79 31.72 31.72 31.68 31.61 31.45 31.43 31.41 31.35 31.35 31.33 31.33 31.32 31.32 31.23 31.19 31.13 31.11 31.06 31.06 31.02 30.94 30.88 30.83 30.76 30.49 30.10 29.98 29.73

-0.20 N/C 1.25 N/C -0.43 -0.43 1.43 N/C 0.13 0.07 -0.43 N/C N/C 0.05 0.14 N/C 1.14 1.14 0.14 N/C N/C 0.14 N/C 0.07 N/C N/C 0.30 N/C N/C -0.19 N/C N/C 0.30 N/C N/C N/C 0.30 0.50 N/C 0.50 N/C N/C N/C N/C






Notes to table Prices paid for 1mltr producer supplying milk of average constituents 4% butterfat and 3.3% protein. SCCs of 200,000/ml and Bactoscans of 30,000/ml on EODC excluding capital retentions or AHDB levies, or annual/part annual growth incentive schemes not directly linked to dairy market price movement. SAPP = Seasonally Adjusted Profile Price. (i) Dec’13 prices before seasonality. (ii) Jan’14 prices before seasonality. (iii) Seasonally adjusted profile price for Jan’13 taking into account monthly seasonality payments and profiles of supply. ** Seasonal adjusted profile supply for 1mltr/yr supplier (using monthly RPA figures) for Jan’14 = 2,966ltrs/day, flat supply = 2,740ltrs/day. (iv) Table ranked on the seasonally adjusted price for the 12mths to Jan’14. Arla AMCo (incl AMCo Tesco with its additional +0.7ppl) prices of 34.27ppl includes 2014 Arla amba forecast 13th payment of +0.76ppl and before Jan'14 b/f reconciliation of -0.5ppl. Arla Milk Link prices include 2014 Arla amba forecast 13th payment of +0.76ppl but excludes the 0.32ppl additional money before milk price schedules become aligned within AML. Arla Milk Link Rodda's price reflects the additional b/f premium of 0.1p per 0.1%. Crediton Dairy 12mth average price based on the supply for the 4mths from Oct'13. League ranking will start from Apr'14 table. ¢ SAPP reflects 2,580ltrs (Aug to Dec’12 daily average) paid as ‘A’ ltrs with the remaining ‘B’ ltrs paid @ 95% of the ‘A’ price (ie constituents plus Market Related Adjustment) for Jan'14. • 386 'B' litres/day applicable for Jan'14 with daily volume of 2,966ltrs/day being 386 litres above the 'A' volume of 2,580ltrs/day. Production bonus of 0.5ppl paid on all litres supplied for Milk Link and First Milk applicable for Jan'14 SAPP with daily production above the same month last year. § SAPP reflects 12mth profile adjustment of -0.42ppl. Müller Wiseman Standard price of 32.5ppl excludes 2013/14 annual volume incentive of 1ppl payable after 12mths for supplying yearly production 2% or greater than 2012/13. ∞ Price before seasonality includes 12mth rolling profile payment of 1.27ppl to Jan'14 (unchanged from previous month). ∞^ Price before seasonality includes 12mth rolling profile payment of 0.62ppl to Jan'14 (unchanged from previous month). ‡ Non-seasonal price includes 12mth average rolling profile of 0.55ppl to Jan'14 (0.02ppl down on previous month). ± Price before seasonality includes 12mth rolling profile payment of 0.71ppl to Jan'14 (unchanged from previous month). ≠ Seasonality built into monthly base price. ¶ Price includes Regional & Support Premiums. DC & MWD Formula prices assume 100% of producer supply. Tesco milk price include the 0.5ppl bonus for co-operation with Promar costings. cannot take any responsibility for losses arising. Copyright:



APRIL 2014

**DF_04_P55_DF_12_P43 20/03/2014 09:58 Page 2

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**DF p56 57 New Prods (clift -- ready to pdf now)_Layout 1 20/03/2014 15:28 Page 1


NEW products

Waterproof milking sleeve

JDairy Spares has launched a new water proof milking sleeve with adjustable rubber cuffs, making it easy to put on whatever the size of the wearer’s hands. A velcro strap on the cuff enables them to be tightened around the wrist to ensure arms are kept dry. The sleeves come in pairs, joined by a piece of elastic which go across the back. They are also much longer than standard milking sleeves, at 650mm (25.5in). The sleeves are made by Line 7, a New Zealand company specialising in wet-weather clothing. Cost is £16.95 + VAT per pair. ■ Details on 01948 667 676.



This month we feature a long acting footbath formulation, a mineral laden glass bolus and the five-leg Opico Sward Lifter.

Towed mowers with electric start option

he Wessex AR series of towed mowers offers a choice of versatile machines, several with electric start, for use with ATVs and UTVs. With 1.2m, 1.5m and 1.8m working widths, there is also the option of standard side-mounted wheels or inline rear wheels for work close to fences, borders or under overhanging hedges. There is a choice of Briggs & Stratton or Honda engine power, and all models feature three overlapping ro-

tors to eliminate uncut strips of grass and which carry rigid blades for durability. Drive is transmitted to the rotors via two vee-belts and a centrifugal clutch, with both belts tensioned simul-

taneously by one simple sliding action of the engine mounting bracket. The cutting height range is 25mm to 140mm (0.9-5.5in). ■ Details 01264 345 870, or

JA ready-to-use footbath formulation from Forum Animal Health which adheres to the hoof for up to three days can save farmers valuable time. It effectively binds organic material, which will be visi-

bly captured in a top layer on the footbath as the cattle walk through, maintaining effectiveness. It contains a combination of copper sulphate, organic acid and zinc sulphate bound to a colloid former

which is designed to cling to the hoof. It will stay on the hoof for up to three days following one walk through of the footbath. ■ Details 01737 781 416, or


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APRIL 2014

**DF p56 57 New Prods (clift -- ready to pdf now)_Layout 1 20/03/2014 15:27 Page 2


Five-leg sward lifter launched

JA 4.5m hydraulic folding five-leg model, available with shear bolt or hydraulic reset leg protection, has been added to Opico’s Sward Lifter range. Designed to break up hard pans and surface compaction while lifting and opening the subsoil, it is ideal for large-scale farmers and contractors. Suitable for tractors of 150hp upwards, it folds down to 3m for transport. With a Cat III linkage, heavy-duty headstock and folding frame, it incorporates the standard features of the existing three-leg machines with a Prisma roller, leg spacing of 900mm (35.4in), and replaceable

Glass bolus range

JBimeda has launched the Cosecure glass bolus range to the UK. While the boluses are effective at addressing copper, selenium and cobalt deficiencies, the firm says they are also unique in their ability to address a condition called Thiomolybdate Toxicity, or TMT. TMT is often misdiagnosed as copper deficiency, as animals with TMT display symptoms associated with copper deficiency, such as gingering coat, spectacle eyes and poor fertility. ■ Details on 01248 725 400, or

reversible shins on the front of legs. The 4.5m Sward Lifter costs £15,539+VAT for the shear-bolt model, and £21,649+VAT for the hydraulic reset model. ■ Details on 01778 421 111, or

GOT W New products are featured in each issue of Dairy Farmer. A NE T? Please send details and pictures to Jennifer MacKenzie at C U D PRO, or call 01768 896 150.

DeLaval Rotary Systems Performance built your way High throughput | Optimised work routines | Labour saving Calm, confident and comfortable for cows

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**DF Apr p58 Donovan_Layout 1 18/03/2014 18:48 Page 1


WORKSHOP tips with Mike Donovan

This month, Mike Donovan tells us one way for reducing slurry storage capacity.

Save on slurry storage Strawy FYM is still totally he NVZ 'stackable' even when raw regulations slurry is added, and the restricting spreading apply inspector who covers a to slurry but not particular Midlands farm was happy to pass the farmyard manure (FYM) or mixture as FYM even dirty water, and these rules though there is a have created two possible considerable volume grey areas. of slurry added. DairyCo states: The system “All effluent takes some of from weeping is al test l is ic it r c the pressure walls, silage rTheer the materdiaoes h t d e n h off the slurry clamps and a w le', tackab ave liquid 's pit, and also loafing yards not h -off. n u r enhances the counts as slurry, value of the FYM. as do yard and The 120 Jerseys in this parlour washings where the herd are loose housed on area has not been scraped. straw and the yards cleaned “Run-off and washings out regularly and the muck from cleaner, scraped yards stacked outside. The muck qualify as dirty water, is moved onto a concreted which can be stored and area that drains into the spread separately. Rain water from roofs and clean slurry store, and slurry from the scraped area of the concrete areas is clean water, and can be disposed building is pumped up to of through normal drainage the top of this smaller stack. systems.” Mixing is done with the loader and fork. FYM comes from bedded yards and also from a slurry Before the auger was fitted the slurry was moved separator. The critical test is whether the material is with a pump, and the inspector checked the 'stackable', and does not have liquid run-off. system out to allow him to





APRIL 2014

The loose housed Jersey herd creates a mountain of strawy FYM.

Slurry is augered to the top of the FYM heap before being mixed in.

gauge the 'stackability' of the mixture, before giving it his approval. This was confirmed by a letter so the approval should move from one inspector to another. Once approval had been made the farmer installed an electric powered auger that pushes slurry up a wide diameter pipe so it is added to the top of the pile. The mixing is done by flipping the slurry and FYM on the top of the heap, and

this eliminates seepage. Slurry mixing reduces, rather than eliminates, the need for slurry storage and considerably improves FYM by accelerating rotting and adding nutrients.

About Mike

r Mike is a machinery columnist offering tips on building or modifying farm equipment. Sign up for his free newsletter at

**DF_04_P59_DF_12_P43 08/04/2014 14:20 Page 2

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**DF Apr p62 63 Good Evans_Layout 1 18/03/2014 18:50 Page 1


GOOD Evans

I’ll have to ensure the dry cows are kept out of sight

This month, Roger Evans gives us his thoughts on the thorny issue of large scale dairy units, and relates the dominating activities of his testosterone fuelled turkey stags.



he erection of large-scale dairy units on greenfield sites is a real issue for our industry. It is a real issue because it is so easy for negative groups and the negative media to demonise the whole process. It doesn’t matter that the cows on such a unit will be cared for and thrive in the very best of conditions, it is all too easy to present every facet of the cows’ lives in a negative light. I can’t really see much advantage in trying to educate these critics. They belong to a minority which has a blinkered view, and they won’t change whatever you tell them. If you dig deep enough you will usually find they are driven by a vegan agenda that doesn’t want farm animals of any sort anyway. That is their end game and large dairy units are just a part of their battle. We get the same sort of people at every turn, be it wild life or the environment. It’s the sort of people that seem prepared, by their actions, to allow the spread of TB or the decimation of songbird populations by raptors. However, there’s probably a silent majority out there who aren’t that bothered. If they were bothered, why would they eat so many millions and


APRIL 2014

millions of broiler chickens every year? Trouble is, the people who give our industry a hard time may very well be in a minority but they manage to make a lot of noise, and that’s noise we can’t ignore. On the quiet Experience and hindsight would tell us that if we wanted to create a large dairy unit it’s best chance of success would be to do it on the quiet. Put a new rotary parlour in this year, another cubicle shed next year, and so on. Do it by stealth. No one is going to come around and count your cows. Sneak under the publicity radar. But this approach, though it will probably be successful, misses one important point. If you erect a new greenfield site unit for a lot of cows, that unit is, by its very nature, purpose-built for that number of cows, and those cows will probably be better off in lots of aspects than a unit that has grown organically to that number. At the other end of the cow keeping spectrum there is another issue. An issue the media in general has not yet really picked up on. The issue of very large numbers of cows kept on specialist type grazing systems. It’s not the summer

**DF Apr p62 63 Good Evans_Layout 1 18/03/2014 18:50 Page 2


Testosterone is at record levels and you daren’t go near them without a stick

management of these cows that could be a future problem, it’s the late spring, outwintering aspect that worries me. Large numbers of cows without shelter in bad weather conditions do not make a pretty sight. I’m not pointing fingers here at anyone in particular, only myself. I had more than 40 dry cows out on kale and turnips all through the wet weather of January and February. If I went to see them when it was raining they were a picture of misery. It could be argued this past winter has been exceptionally wet, but then again the rain could have come down white! The fact those dry cows came through the experience in better condition than they went in, is not the point. The point I am trying to make is that I don’t think I could have kept cows out like that in view of a road. My dry cows will be out on the same field again next winter, and I’ll probably have them grazing fodder beet. As far as I know, the field will still be out of sight of the road. We mustn’t let the buggers beat us, we

have to beat them, but until we do, best be careful. It’s six o’clockish, and I’m having my tea. David and his wife have gone to buy their little girl a new bike for her birthday. So when my mobile rings and I see it’s his number I’m quite surprised. If he’s away somewhere and he phones me it will be because he’s forgotten something fairly important. Or there is a cow calving and he wants me to go see if she is ok. Then again, his car could have broken down. But it’s none of those things. There’s a lady who does two afternoon milkings for us and she’s phoned David to ask him to phone me because she can’t get out of the milking parlour because the turkey stags won’t allow her out. Very aggressive our turkey stags at any time of the year, but it’s spring, well springish, and testosterone is at record levels and you daren’t go near them without a stick. Of course not everyone knows that, which makes for some interesting confrontations. So I go to her rescue and I can tell you, to put it mildly, she’s not best pleased!

APRIL 2014



**DF Apr p64 FInance _Layout 1 18/03/2014 18:53 Page 1


Where the focus is on herd expansion, it may be better to place other activities like heifer rearing off farm. Adrian Matthews, partner at Bidwells, takes us through the figures.

Identifying options for replacement heifers Buying in replacements or contract heifer rearing might be a better option

ost farms rely on rearing their own heifers but this commits resources like land, labour and buildings which may be better employed elsewhere. So rather than commit further capital to heifers, alternatives such as buying in replacements or contract rearing might be a better option. The typical system for contract rearing is that ownership remains with the farmer who pays an agreed daily fee to the rearer. Charges range from £1.10 to £1.50 per head per day, with potentially a bonus if agreed targets are met. At a target two-


Expert opinion rOne of the key advantages of contract rearing is the rearer can dedicate their time to the heifers. This will help to ensure diet, target weights and calving dates are met and thus the heifers join the herd in optimum condition.



APRIL 2014

year calving the average time with the rearer is about 700 days, which at £1.30 per day equates to £910 per heifer reared. Direct costs such as feed, veterinary costs, AI and forage will be in the region of £600 per heifer, therefore there is a return to the rearer of about £300 per heifer reared. This has to cover expenses such as labour, machinery, buildings and electricity. Assuming for every 100 cows there is a requirement for 25 heifers each year, then the additional cost of contract rearing over home rearing is £7500 per 100 cows (25 head at £300 each), assuming there is no corresponding reduction in overhead costs. Current dairy herd gross margin is in the region of £1000 per cow, therefore a modest increase in the herd by 10 cows, or 10%, will more than cover the cost of contract rearing. One of the key advantages of contract rearing is that the rearer can dedicate their time to the heifers. This will help to ensure diet, target weights and calving dates are met and thus the heifers join the herd in optimum condition. Disease risk and TB restrictions are the major neg-

ative factors. Often the owner will require exclusive access to the rearer, and on larger units this will work, but for smaller farms there may need to be heifers reared from more than one unit to make it viable for the rearer. However, through careful planning, grouping heifers within one building and establishing holdings for each group, the risks can be reduced. This obviously adds complications but once established can operate effectively for all parties involved. Buying in replacements also works well for many farms. They are able to buy the type of animal required at a known cost often from a known seller. The advantage of buying in is that no investment in the heifer is required until she is in milk and thus able to repay the outlay, improving cashflow. There is not a single route to source heifer replacements. However there are successful alternatives to home rearing which, for dairy farms looking to grow the herd, allow expansion without investing in additional heifer facilities. ■ Adrian Matthews is based at Bidwells’ Oxfordshire office and can be contacted on 01865 797 050.


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**DF Apr p1 4 Healthier Herds 4 (signed off by MSD)_Layout 1 20/03/2014 09:53 Page 1

Part Four:

y Protecting dairIBR cattle against

Regular surveillance testing and designing a farm specific herd health plan is crucial to protect any dairy herd against IBR. Aly Balsom reports.

Farm specific herd health plan helps fight against IBR stablishing herd Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR) status and farm specific risk factors should be a priority for any dairy farm looking to protect health and performance in all ages of stock. The highly contagious nature of IBR, along with the widespread and varying signs of the disease, means exposure at any level can have severe implication to both adult and young cattle. Caused by bovine herpes virus, BHV-1, the signs of IBR include problems in the upper respiratory tract. This can show as fever, coughing and discharge from the nose and eyes in both adult and young cattle, with the virus often adding to the weight of youngstock


The contagious nature of IBR means exposure can have severe implications for both adult and young cattle.

pneumonia problems in dairy herds. BHV-1 can also cause milk drop, embryonic losses and general fertility problems. All these signs are collated together and talked about under the umbrella of IBR. The virus is spread by nose-to-nose contact and potentially through bull

semen, with the disease shown to be present in nearly three-quarters of dairy herds, according to MSD Animal Healthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ExpertisTM DairyCheck.

Carrier cows Clinically sick animals pose the greatest risk. Once infected, an animal has the potential to become a latent


carrier and spread the virus in times of stress even without showing signs of illness, explains vet Andrew Biggs, of the Vale Vet Group, Devon. He says: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Like many herpes viruses, IBR is very persistent and can become latent and has the potential to flare up at a later date in carrier cows. Reactivation


**DF Apr p1 4 Healthier Herds 4 (signed off by MSD)_Layout 1 20/03/2014 09:54 Page 3

SPONSORED SERIES Case study: Danny Olive, Lower Collipriest Farm, Tiverton, Devon HAVING run a closed herd for more than 40 years, an IBR breakdown four years ago may have been a surprise to dairy farmer Danny Olive, but routine surveillance testing meant he was able to act quickly. The 140-cow Friesian herd had always traditionally tested negative for IBR as part of quarterly bulk milk testing. However a few years ago, Mr Olive suddenly experienced higher return rates and abortions. “In one month I found five to six abortions of calves which were maybe four months old. Our (live) calves also weren’t great – they just weren’t getting up and sucking,” he explains. Bulk milk testing around this time showed a sudden spike in IBR despite having tested negative about

three months earlier. As a result, and after discussions with vet Andrew Biggs, the farm introduced a herd vaccination programme. All calves, heifers and milking cows were vaccinated with Bovilis IBR Marker Live vaccine. Ever since, the whole herd has been vaccinated twice a year and Mr Olive has noticed a marked improvement in calf health. Contagious Mr Olive is unsure of how IBR got introduced onto the farm, however the highly contagious nature of the disease means there are a number of possible routes of transmission. On any farm, vehicles or people coming on farm or neighbouring stock could pose a risk.

Danny Olive will continue to carry out surveillance testing with his herd.

Because it is difficult to guarantee a herd is 100 per cent closed, Mr Olive will continue to carry out routine surveillance testing for IBR, BVD and leptospirosis to ensure any

All calves, heifers and milking cows are now routinely vaccinated to minimise any further problems with IBR.


issues are picked up quickly. He views this as crucial to safeguarding the performance of the herd. Autumn block calving “Now we have started autumn block calving, good fertility is essential. If cows don’t get in-calf, they don’t milk, and empty cows are expensive,” he says. “The plan is to continue vaccinating for IBR in discussion with our vet. It is important to monitor disease and fertility carefully. My message to other farmers would be, if you don’t look, you don’t know your status and if you need to vaccinate, get on and do it by working with your vet.”


**DF Apr p1 4 Healthier Herds 4 (signed off by MSD)_Layout 1 20/03/2014 09:54 Page 2


“This shows that although we may see obvious clinical signs such as pneumonia, high temperatures and damage to the respiratory tract, the sub-clinical effects are long lasting and costly.”

Regular surveillance for IBR in all dairy herds is crucial.


and shedding can be brought on by any stressful event such as calving, mastitis or bad weather.” This could cause a resurgence of problems in an infected herd or could introduce the problem to a naive herd if exposed for the first time, for example by a bought-in, latently infected animal. “You may not see anything wrong with carrier cows, but if there is a high proportion of them in the herd, you could get a breakdown of the disease,” explains Mr Biggs. Yorkshire vet Jonathan Statham, from Bishopton Vet Group, says on-farm research undertaken by RAFT Solutions has shown that although obvious clinical signs of the disease in adults may be rare, the underlying effects on milk production can be significant. The trial, supported by an MSD Animal Health Ruminant Research Bur-

sary, looked at a 130-cow closed herd which had previously tested negative for IBR on bulk milk surveillance testing and was not vaccinated against IBR. “Suddenly we witnessed three abortions, with blood tests on the animals which had aborted coming back positive for IBR,” says Mr Statham.

Production losses Further blood tests on the whole herd found 70% of cows had been exposed to IBR, despite only seeing a handful of abortions and one obviously sick adult animal with pneumonia. Over 12 months, Mr Statham then retrospectively compared milk production from the IBR positive and IBR negative groups of cattle. “We found the IBR positive animals gave on average just over two litres a day less than IBR negative cows.

Surveillance This example also highlights the need for regular surveillance in all dairy herds, regardless of whether they are closed. Mr Biggs stresses the need to create a farm specific health plan in discussion with a vet and recommends undertaking quarterly bulk milk and youngstock surveillance testing for IBR, BVD and leptospirosis to monitor status in closed herds. “You need to know if your herd has got IBR or not and whatever the answer, look at farm specific risks with your vet. They can then advise whether you need to vaccinate,” he says. “If you haven’t got IBR you still need to talk about the risks. If your herd gets it, the effects could be catastrophic, with costs potentially running into tens of thousands of pounds.” The contagious nature of the disease also means there are a number of ways it can be introduced on-farm, be it from vehicles, people, break-ins or break-outs with


neighbouring stock, boughtin animals or bull semen. For a farm buying in animals, the risks of disease being introduced is a lot higher, so vaccination may come higher up the list of actions. However, care should be taken when buying-in any type of stock. Where possible, buy animals of known disease status and ask the right questions at purchase regarding farm disease history, including vaccination status. Vaccines Where a vet advises undertaking a vaccination policy, using a live marker vaccine can provide rapid protection against the disease. A marker vaccine means surveillance testing can continue to be carried out after vaccination, as vaccinated animals can be distinguished apart from animals exposed to wild type IBR. This type of vaccine can be used as part of a farm, regional or national eradication programme. Mr Biggs says vaccination will limit disease transmission between animals. “The uninfected ones are the ones you want to protect most. The number of truly IBR infected ones will then eventually leave the herd. “If you vaccinate correctly

**DF Apr p1 4 Healthier Herds 4 (signed off by MSD)_Layout 1 20/03/2014 09:55 Page 4


and by the book, you would expect to see a dramatic reduction in IBR positive animals within a few years,” he says. However, he emphasises the need for correct vaccination policy to get the most from any vaccine. “Vaccines are biological products and are sensitive to damage in the wrong conditions. Vets and wholesalers spend a lot of money to ensure vaccines are stored at the right temperature, but there is no point if they’re then left in the Land Rover on a hot day on-farm to heat up. You may as well not bother vaccinating.” It is also important to deliver vaccines at the

right intervals and via the correct route. Bulls The fact a bull can introduce IBR to a herd and the disease can possibly be spread via semen also means it is important to include stock bulls in any herd health policy. Exposure to the disease could lead to reduced bull fertility and as a result knowing the IBR status of the herd is crucial to protect cows and bulls, says Mr Statham. “You don’t want to introduce a naive bull to a positive herd as he could catch IBR and become sick and even die. If a bull gets a temperature because of infection it could also lead to

IBR explained ■ Caused by bovine herpes virus and spread mainly by nose-to-nose contact and potentially through bull semen. ■ Once infected, cows become latent carriers for life and can shed the disease when stressed. ■ Clinical signs include runny noses, pneumonia,

loss of appetite, high temperature and milk drop. ■ Good biosecurity is key to protecting your herd and preventing spread. Vaccination can help protect naive animals. ■ A marker vaccine is available to distinguish vaccinated and naturally infected herds.

It is important to include stock bulls in any herd health policy.

reduced semen quality, which could impact on herd fertility.” Equally, a positive bull could spread disease to a negative herd. Knowing herd disease status is also important when artificially inseminating, as using IBR positive semen could inadvertently introduce the disease to the herd. “It is important to ask the right questions. AI straws should be labelled to say whether they are IBR positive or negative,” Mr Statham explains. “When looking at bull catalogues, if it says a bull is ‘export health status’ the semen will be IBR negative. When semen is domestic or on-farm collected, they may not by IBR negative.” It is also essential to establish the status of heifers

reared away on a different farm. They could be IBR positive, while the herd is naive, potentially introducing the disease to the unit. Alternatively if the heifers are naive and the herd positive, these young animals could be at risk. Mr Statham says that, ultimately, IBR eradication across the UK would be ideal to fit in with other EU countries already doing it, such as Germany and Scandinavia. “National eradication would be great because of the huge health and welfare challenges and economic losses caused by the disease. But the first step should be a farm-by-farm eradication programme or a proper control programme to limit disease impact in discussion with your vet.”

This information was provided by MSD Animal Health, makers of Bovilis® BVD, Bovilis® IBR Marker Live, Bovilis® IBR Marker Inac and Leptavoid™-H. Always use medicines responsibly. Further information is available from MSD Animal Health, Walton Manor, Walton, Milton Keynes MK7 7AJ. T: 01908 685 685 F: 01865 685 555 E: W:



April 2014 Dairy Farmer digital edition  
April 2014 Dairy Farmer digital edition