Ounce of Prevention = Cwt. of Milk

April 6, 2011 12:59 AM

JeremyVisser 049Jeremy Visser

Sumas, Wash.
Visser milks 3,200 Jerseys and Holsteins near the Canadian border.



*Extended comments are highlighted in blue.


Why is it I can’t remember a low-value cow getting mastitis? Why is it that it always seems to be the good cows that get mastitis? I don’t think we are special. I fear everyone feels this way and can become discouraged when it comes to dealing with mastitis.
On our farm, we test every fresh animal for contagious pathogens (Staph. aureus, Strep. ag. and Mycoplasma). This screening gives us some confidence that we are stopping the spread of any dangerous mastitis. Additionally, we use chemical backflush in all of our parlors. We feel that prevention and mitigation of spreading these diseases is the smartest first step that we can take.
Good milking procedure and well maintained milk harvesting equipment is critical to preventing mastitis. The milking experience is a risk event, and we try to minimize the time that the cow is exposed. That means reducing unit on-time and proper pre- and postmilking disinfection.
We have been using J5 vaccination protocol since I started dairying. The dry treatment tubes that we currently use charge too much for me to endorse them here, but they are prescribed by our vet and are very effective at controlling dry and fresh cow mastitis. Also, we choose these tubes because of their "no withhold" label when used correctly. The risk of antibiotic-positive milk is something we are not comfortable with.
We pre-strip as part of our milking routine. This allows us to aid cow let down and detect abnormal milk. We all know what sick cows look like, but it is harder to ignore if the milkers have the added benefit of the visual stimuli of seeing junk in the milk. We have meters and they are useful at times, but nothing beats a well-trained observer for detecting cows that have clinical mastitis.
Treatment depends on the cow—anything from Pirsue or Spectramast for early first lactation to Excede and fluids for mild mid-lactation. The narrow spread between the Holstein salvage price and replacement price is now an attractive alternative treatment for those cows.
We must get better at prevention. The old saying "An ounce of prevention is worth a hundredweight of milk" is how we should strive to run our farms.
Visser's February Prices  
Milk (net mailbox) (3.5% bf, 3.0% prt) $17.26/cwt.
Cull cows $70/cwt.
Springing heifers $1,500/head
Alfalfa $240/ton
Corn $285/ton
Canola $275/ton
DDG $269/ton
Soymeal $400/ton
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