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JULY 2019
Animal Health Focus
in at 70,000 last year. Thermoduric count, which has
taken on a new emphasis in recent years as processors
strive for improved milk quality for manufacturing more
value-added products, has also dropped significantly
on the McKenna farm, registering a low of 125,000 for
2018. Consistent quality and regular monitoring are
both hallmarks of the McKenna milk production model.
It starts, not at the beginning of the year, but at the end
with a clear strategy of drying o cows in batches to
ensure that no mistakes are made and that cows are
fully protected for the dry cow period and have ample
opportunity to repair any damaged mammary tissue.
Tails are clipped in advance and the drying o operation
is separated from the milking operation. Gloves and
antiseptic wipes are all key aspects. While selective dry
cow therapy is being practiced and will increase in the
coming years, for the most part the cows are treated
with dry cow tubes as well as teat sealers. As information
continues to build around individual cow udder health
Darran intends to increase the numbers of cows only
receiving teat sealer. Attention to detail continues in the
post drying o period with cows inspected twice daily
until the udders stop producing milk.
Before calving, heifers are introduced to the milking
parlour and teat dipped several times to acclimatise
them to their new surroundings. As cows calve adjacent
to the milking parlour, there is the minimum of fuss in
bringing them in for first milking. Gloves are worn during
milking and post milking teat spraying is the norm with
a strict regime of quiet and calm practised by everyone
involved. All of these practices help ensure that udder
health is maintained. Last year there was only one
incidence of mastitis and only four gases in the first five
months of 2019.
Strict hygiene protocols
There are strict hygiene protocols for the milking
parlour. Apart from a full wash-out after each milking
of parlour and collecting yard, there are seven hot
washes carried out each week with a water temperature
reaching 80 degrees at the start. Detergent sterilisers are
included with a non-chlorine product used for washing
the milk tank. In addition, a weekly acid descale is carried
out on the machine and every two weeks on the milk
tank. There is another strict protocol for plant rinsing
with 12.5 litres of water used for each of the sixteen
milking units.
With dairy product specifications rising constantly, the
next challenge for Irish dairy farmers will be to adopt
chlorine-free cleaning protocols. This was discussed at
a stand during the McKenna farm Open Day with advice
provided on how to achieve excellent hygiene standards
without the use of chlorine agents. Increased usage of
hot water is required as are acid detergents and higher
working solutions of caustic. The removal of all potential
residues of Trichloromethane (TCM) and Chlorate is now
required, especially for the production of milk powders
and lactic butter products. It is an ongoing process of
weaning milk producers from the use of chlorine-based
products. Already some processors have instructed their
milk suppliers to cease using the products, at least in
bulk tank cleaning operations.
There is little doubt that, whatever the requirements, the
McKennas will be first and foremost in adopting best
practices on their immaculate dairy farm at Derrygasson,
near Emyvale in the north of Monaghan.
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