Maintaining high milk quality is a serious business for Waikato sharemilkers Maree and Irvine (Butch) Campbell. But even so they were surprised to come through their worst spring in years with the lowest bulk milk somatic cell counts (BMSCC) they had ever achieved.
Despite wet weather and mud, their daily SCC counts for spring 2016 averaged under 50,000 and even reached a new low of 29,000 in the middle of calving.
For the 2016/17 season as a whole, which included milking once a day (OAD) from 10 January, their average SCC was 70,000, well down on 105,000 from the previous season.
The only thing they did differently was change their milking liners, from traditional round liners to VacPlus Square liners from Skellerup.
Maree and Butch credit their Farm Source TSR Ryan Jackson with suggesting the change. He talked them through the technical differences between square and round liners and also gave them a chance to test two sets of VacPlus Squares against existing liners in their 15-aside herringbone before making a decision.
For the past five seasons, the couple have sharemilked 160 Jersey and Jersey cross cows on 55ha at Manawaru, near Te Aroha. Average total milksolids (MS) production for the past three years was 64,000kg from an all grass system. The Campbells incurred one milk grade during their time on the farm, because of a chiller fault.
This season they moved to a new, larger sharemilking job in the Waikato where they will milk 190-200 cows, and before they went, VacPlus Square milking liners were already on the shopping list for the new herringbone: “We wouldn’t go back to rounds now, not ever,” Butch says.
They didn’t have big ‘problems’ as such with either cow health or milk quality before changing liners at Manawaru. Mastitis was kept well under control with appropriate dry cow therapy (DCT) and TeatSeal. The milking plant was hot water washed after every milking to maintain good hygiene especially during hot summer nights. This meant extra power costs but “grades are expensive, too,” they point out.
Butch and Maree were also careful to teat spray every cow as soon as possible after the cups came off, rather than waiting for the whole row to finish milking. The only milk harvesting issue was cup slip, and a suspicion that some cows weren’t always milked out as well as they could be because of slight mis-alignment between the milk line and the clusters.
Once the trial sets of VacPlus Square liners went in, however, they could see enough difference to convince them to change completely after a few days’ milking. “The cows just seemed to milk out better on them,” Butch says, “and we didn’t get the cup slippage.” These improvements, combined with their surprisingly good BMSCC results through a very wet and muddy spring, convinced the Campbells they had made the right choice.
To find out more about Skellerup VacPlus Square Milking Liners ask your local rural retailer today or visit www.dairybestpractice.co.nz