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knowledge is only available if the milk producer is milk
recording on a regular basis. Likewise, in order to identify
the most effective antimicrobial therapies, where therapy
is necessary, regular milk recording is a necessity. To
provide the necessary information for the selective and
targeted use of lactating and dry cow antibiotic therapies
and ultimately move away from the practice of blanket
antimicrobial dry cow therapy, which will eventually be
required as part of a strategy to reduce anti-microbial
resistance (AMR) in both the human and bovine
populations, the Irish dairy sector, as a matter of urgency
should adopt a mandatory milk recording programme.
Improving production e ciencies
Higher milk solids/ litre in milk increase value/litre
and herd profitability. The higher the milk solids/litre,
the more efficient the cost of storage, collection and
processing of that milk. We do not get paid for producing
water, as acknowledged in the A+B-C milk payment
system. To maximise milk payments, milk recording is a
necessity. Of course the records are only useful if analysed
and used. Advice and direction is available to make the
best use of the information contained in milk recording
data to improve efficiency and profitability on dairy farms.
Improving processing e ciencies
Procuring milk with higher milk solids and lower somatic
cell counts delivers efficiencies and higher margins at
milk processing level. That is why it makes sense for Irish
processors to introduce a fully funded, mandatory system
of milk recording on their supplier farms. Universal milk
recording should be self financing over time with gains
from higher value raw material, higher quality milk and
increased processing efficiencies. Unless the system is
mandatory, there will still be limited participation, despite
the financial support. A comprehensive milk recording
programme has the potential to revolutionise the Irish
dairy sector by hugely improving the productivity profile
of the Irish dairy herd and milk processing sector over the
next decade.
Recording disease levels
As Animal Health Ireland initiates the second phase of its
Johnes Disease control programme, it is worth noting that
the ELISA Milk Test can be an integral aspect of Johnes
detection. While not one hundred percent accurate, (no
current Johnes test is fully reliable), the option of milk
testing all cows across all herds could be another step
forward in any Johnes disease control programme. A
universal milk recording and testing programme would
have benefits in terms of disease detection across a range
of diseases.
Customer assurance
There are added benefits, including the ability to show
customers that the milk from every cow in every Irish
dairy herd is being monitored, recorded and tested at
the point of extraction. In addition, the milk recording
programme should, quite quickly, allow the adoption on
an increasing number of Irish dairy farms, of a strategy to
reduce antibiotic usage based on the health status of each
cow's mammary system. Within a decade this will be a
regulatory necessity, not an option. To implement such a
regulation takes time and now is the time to start.
Some future CAP payments, particularly greening
payments, may be contingent on milk producers engaging
in milk recording. In that event it may be possible to
reduce the financial commitment of processors to the
support of a full programme across all of Ireland's dairy
Sustainability programme
The Irish dairy industry is placing much emphasis on its
long term sustainability. Minimising antibiotic usage,
improving milk quality and profitability are core tenets
of a sustainability programme. A comprehensive milk
recording system encompassing every lactating cow in the
country can do much to enhance sustainability. Without
such a programme, it is not possible to maximise the
potential of the Irish dairy sector. Neither is it possible
to develop practical solutions to the challenges facing
the sector in reducing GHGs and overall carbon related
The time has come to adopt a revolutionary approach to
the development of the Irish dairy sector. Universal milk
recording can provide vital information to drive genetic
improvements, increasing productivity, cow health status
and profitability on Irish dairy farms.
Universal milk recording should be self financing over
time with gains from higher value raw material, higher
quality milk and increased processing e ciencies.