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Stackyard News June 08

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Producers Advised to ‘Milk’ the Milk Sample

Producers can get much better value for money from their bulk and individual cow milk samples these days, according to NMR national field manager Jonathan Davies.

NMR national field manager Jonathan Davies

Jonathan Davies

Speaking to more than 300 producers at a farm open day on Wednesday 18 June, hosted by Clitheroe-based NMR/RABDF Gold Cup winners Sally and Ian Macalpine, Mr Davies told producers to milk the sample for all it’s worth. And in return they can expect to gain more key management information that they, their vets and advisers can use to improve performance.

“Gone are the days where monthly milk records provide only yield and milk quality results,” he said. “On many farms a bulk milk sample leaves the farm every day destined for the milk payment testing laboratory. In the case of those arriving at one of the NML laboratories, which accounts for 98% of samples from British dairy herds, one is used for payment purposes each week while the others are available for disease testing or bacteriology tests that run alongside the payment testing laboratories.”

Likewise, samples taken for milk recording can be used for similar testing. “In the case of producers using NMR, these are tested for milk quality and somatic cell counts at the Harrogate lab then can be sent directly to NML for carrying out disease tests.
In both cases there’s no further samples required by the producer.

“There’s far more emphasis on herd health plans now and many milk buyers want the assurance that this is in place on farm,” added Mr Davies. “Tests on bulk milk will identify a problem in the herd then samples from individual cows can be used to drill deeper. Producers can tap into these tests with no extra hassle – the whole system is in place and they can take full advantage to benefit of their own herd management.

“The ease, speed and cost-effectiveness makes these milk sample tests very attractive. Many dairy vets are already tapping into the services and accessing results through the Herd Companion system so that they can provide the necessary interpretation and actions on farm.

“Producers or, on request, their vets, can email or telephone to ask for specific tests to be carried out at which point a milk sample can be transferred to the lab. It’s a seamless process through to getting the results back on to the farm or to the vet.

“We can’t take our eye off monitoring fertility and udder health in our high performing herds and the milk sample is there and ready as a valuable starting point.”

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