|We hope this issue of the Dairy Focus e-Newsletter has some useful tips and information for you.
An issue on the horizon for many dairy farmers is an expected rise in the cost of iodine teat disinfectants due to a rise in the cost of raw materials.
Iodine Price Rise
Whilst the extent of the price rise may be variable, some manufacturers have indicated that the price of a "ready-to-use" iodine based teat disinfectant may rise by about $70 for a 200 litre container over the next few months.
This would increase the cost of teat disinfection by about 0.7 cents/dose - for a 300 cow herd, that is about $2 per milking.
What are the options or alternatives?
We should remember that teat disinfection is the single most important mastitis control measure undertaken in the dairy, potentially reducing new infections of contagious bugs like Staph aureus by up to 50%, so ceasing to use teat disinfection would be a poor option!
Until recently, it was necessary to mix chlorhexidine products on the farm, but there are now "ready-to-use" products available.
Some farms will choose to absorb the cost - the increase for a 300 cow herd over a whole year is about $1500
It may be possible to negotiate a fixed price contract that avoids or minimises any cost increase.
Another option might be to consider changing to a chlorhexidine based teat disinfectant during the period of higher iodine prices.
In practical "on farm" terms, the effectiveness of chlorhexidine and iodine teat disinfectants is basically very similar. One noticeable difference is the ability to see how well teat coverage is being achieved, as the brown iodine is easier to see on teats than a clear chlorhexidine solution.
At Dairy Focus, we strongly recommend the use of "ready-to-use" products wherever possible, as this removes the issues and risks associated with mixing on the farm.
As you consider your options, remember the importance of teat disinfection, and the risk of not doing it properly!
For more information, or to discuss your options, call us at Dairy Focus on (03) 58590706 or click here for more information from our website
How is your vacuum?
A change in your milking system vacuum level can result in changes to milking performance that you might readily notice - extra cup slip, clusters that do not drop off as easily at cup removal, unsettled cows, swollen or discoloured teats after cup removal, etc.
Sometimes it might require a significant change in the vacuum to cause some or all of these signs in your milking system, but damage is actually likely to be occurring before the change reaches the stage where you see these signs.
In fact, we regularly see farms where an unnoticed change of only 1 or 2 kPa in the system vacuum level has had a significant impact on teat condition, greatly increasing the risk of mastitis, but without causing any of the above more obvious signs!
At Dairy Focus, we use milking time testing of the machines, milking time observations of the cows, and teat scoring to determine the ideal vacuum level for a particular herd and system.
Recently, at a couple of our programmed farm visits we discovered that vacuum levels that had previously been set at the ideal level for the farm had unknowingly changed from this ideal level. On most of these farms, that effect was immediately evident in our teat scoring, and on a couple of the farms, mastitis levels had also started to increase.
These relatively small changes in vacuum are often difficult to notice from one milking to the next and can be very hard to define on the dial of a typical analogue gauge - and if you are in the shed every day, it is even more difficult to notice a small change!
How can we avoid this risk?
It is possible to install monitoring equipment that will alert the operator to changes in vacuum, but these systems are relatively expensive.
An alternative is to install a digital vacuum gauge in a highly visible position and to ensure that it becomes part of the milking routine to check the gauge at every milking, commonly immediately after start up.
This is an example of an installation clearly showing the current vacuum level, and also that the vacuum in this dairy has started to "creep" away from the ideal level which has been recorded on the wall below the gauge.
These installations are simple, relatively inexpensive and can help to prevent a change in your vacuum causing you costly increases in mastitis risk and clinical cases.
More information is available at the Dairy Focus website under "Rob's Tech Tips", or you can call the office and talk to Rob about any queries you may have