• Examining the impact of mastitis on the profitability of the Irish dairy industry

      Geary, Una; Lopez-Villalobos, N.; O'Brien, Bernadette; Garrick, D.J.; Shalloo, Laurence (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      Mastitis was identified as a priority disease within the Irish dairy industry by both dairy farmers and industry animal health experts, which led to the development of the CellCheck programme. In order to support this programme it was necessary to understand the extent to which mastitis affects farm profit, processor returns and ultimately industry profitability. To this end, an analysis of the impact of mastitis on farm, processor and the overall industry profitability was carried out. The impact of mastitis on farm costs, farm receipts and farm profitability is presented across a range of bulk milk somatic cell count (SCC) categories from <100,000 to >400,000 cells/mL. A meta-analysis of the relationship between SCC and raw milk composition, cheese processing characteristics and cheese composition was carried out and utilised to establish the impact of mastitis on processor returns. As SCC increased, the impact of mastitis on the volume of product that could be produced, net processor returns, milk price and the values per kg of fat and protein were calculated. The farm and processor analysis were then combined to estimate the impact of mastitis on the Irish dairy industry returns, accounting for both farm and processor costs. The analysis suggests that as cell count reduced from >400,000 to <100,000 cells/mL, overall returns to the farm should increase by 4.8 c/L, including the farm and processor related effects. Nationally, if the cell count was reduced by 10%, it would be worth €37.6 million for the Irish dairy industry.
    • The association between herd- and cow-level factors and somatic cell count of Irish dairy cows

      McParland, Sinead; O'Brien, Bernadette; McCarthy, J. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      Somatic cell count (SCC) is an indicator of both udder health and milk quality and is measured at an animal level through national milk recording schemes. The objective of this study was to assess the animal and herd factors contributing to elevated SCC (i.e. poorer milk quality). Test day records (n = 2,658,928) from 519,456 cow lactations obtained between 2007 and 2011 were included in the analyses. Herd factors tested included the geographical region of the herd and production system operated (spring calving or mixed calving system). Animal factors tested included breed, parity and age nested within parity. Four definitions of normalised SCC (i.e. SCS) were considered: 1) average test-day SCS within a 24 hour period (TD_SCS), 2) maximum SCS (peak_SCS), 3) minimum SCS (min_SCS), and 4) average SCS (avg_SCS) recorded across cow lactation; in addition, the proportion of test day records with an SCC count >200,000 (prop_200) or >250,000 (prop_250) within cow lactation were included. Following adjustment for fixed effects, average TD_SCS was 179,308 cells per mL while avg_SCS, and average min_SCS and peak_SCS were 119,481, 50,992 and 298,813 cells per mL, respectively. All animal and herd factors had a significant effect on SCC. Older animals, animals which were younger at calving than contemporaries and Holstein animals had higher SCC than younger alternative breed animals who calved at the median age. In addition, mixed calving production systems and herds in Connaught had higher SCC than spring calving herds in the other regions of Ireland.
    • Farm management factors associated with the Bacillus cereus count in bulk tank milk

      O'Connell, Aine; Ruegg, P.L.; Gleeson, David E (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      The objective of this study was to determine the on-farm management factors that are associated with the Bacillus cereus count in raw bulk tank milk using a cross sectional study design. Bulk tank milk quality was monitored for B. cereus on 63 dairy farms between July and August 2012. Bulk tank milk samples corresponding with processor milk collection dates were taken over a two week period prior to the farm visit and tested for B. cereus. The four most recent samples taken prior to the on-farm visit were averaged and log transformed to give the outcome variable; mean log10 B. cereus cfu/mL. On-farm data collection included recording observations and providing a questionnaire on basic hygiene, management factors and cow hygiene scoring. All independent variables were analysed individually with the outcome variable using simple linear regression and one-way ANOVA; a multivariable regression model was subsequently developed. Only significant variables were retained in the final model (P < 0.05). The geometric mean B. cereus count for all milk samples was 40 cfu/mL. The start temperature of the cleaning solution wash, dry wiping teats prior to unit application, the feeding of silage and reusing the cleaning solution more than once were all unconditionally associated (P < 0.10) with the B. cereus count in bulk tank milk but did not enter the final multivariable model. B. cereus count was four times greater (201 cfu/mL) when cows had been housed compared to when they were on pasture (50 cfu/mL). The allocation of fresh grass every 12 h (62 cfu/mL) resulted in a decrease in B. cereus count (166cfu/mL every 24 h or greater). The testing of water for bacteriology was associated with an increase in B. cereus count. In conclusion, this study highlights specific management factors associated with the B. cereus count in bulk tank milk.
    • Understanding and using somatic cell counts to improve milk quality

      Ruegg, P.L.; Pantoja, J.C.F. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      The production of high quality milk is a requirement to sustain a profitable dairy industry and somatic cell count (SCC) values are routinely used to identify subclinical mastitis and define quality standards. The objective of this paper is to review the use of SCC as a diagnostic tool for subclinical mastitis in order to improve milk quality on dairy farms. Mastitis is detected based on inflammation subsequent to intramammary infection (IMI) by pathogenic organisms. Individual cow SCC values are used to detect the inflammation that results from IMI and are necessary to define the prevalence and incidence of subclinical IMI. A threshold of <200,000 cells/mL is considered to be of the most practical value used to define a mammary quarter as healthy. The development of IMI is the most significant factor that influences milk SCC and assessment of monthly values to determine newly and chronically increased SCC can be highly diagnostic for resolving problems with increased bulk tank SCC. Methods to reduce the development of new IMI are well known and adoption of best management practices for milking and herd management have consistently been shown to result in reductions in bulk tank SCC. Implementation of mastitis control programmes can be improved by focusing on three practical recommendations: 1) Farmers should work with their advisors to develop an annual udder health plan that includes clear goals for milk quality. 2) The annual udder health plan should emphasise prevention of new IMI. 3) Farmers must identify and manage chronically infected cows. Proactive management of IMI can be extremely effective in helping farmers produce milk that meets industry standards for milk quality.
    • Evaluation of hydrated lime as a cubicle bedding material on the microbial count on teat skin and new intramammary infection

      Gleeson, David E (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      In two experiments, the effect of applying hydrated lime as a cubicle bedding material on the microbial count on teat skin and new intramammary infection were evaluated. In experiment 1, dry dairy cows (n=60) were assigned to one of three cubicle bedding treatments for a 5 week period. The treatments applied were: Hydrated lime (HL), HL (50%) + Ground limestone (50%) (HL/GL) and GL. In experiment 2, two teat disinfectants products chlorhexidine (CH) and iodine (I) were applied to teats at milking in conjunction with two cubicle bedding materials with lactating cows (n=60) for a sixweek period. The treatments applied were: HLCH; HLI; and GLI. The HL treatment had significantly more teats (P<0.001) with no Staphylococcus spp. or Streptococcus spp. bacteria present compared to GL. There were no differences observed between treatments for California Mastitis Test (CMT) score at calving or somatic cell count (SCC) post-calving. In experiment two, the HLI treatment tended (P<0.08) to have lower bulk milk SCC than the GLI. The average bulk milk SCC over the trial period was 68,000, 54,000 and 83,000 cells/mL for HLI, HLCH and GLI, respectively. The incidences of medium-term teat changes were numerically higher with HLI and there were no differences in the mean hyperkeratosis score between treatments. The mean teat hyperkeratosis scores on day 42 were 2.2, 2.1 and 2.1 for HLI, HLCH and GLI, respectively. The HLI treatment had lower levels of Staphylococcal and Streptococcal bacteria on teats compared to GLI (P<0.001). Hydrated lime could be successfully used as cubicle bedding material for dairy cows if used at the recommended rates with either chlorhexidine or iodine based teat disinfectants.
    • Meta-analysis to investigate relationships between somatic cell count and raw milk composition, Cheddar cheese processing characteristics and cheese composition

      Geary, Una; Lopez-Villalobos, N.; O'Brien, Bernadette; Garrick, D.J.; Shalloo, Laurence (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      The relationship between elevated somatic cell count (SCC) and raw milk composition, cheese processing and cheese composition, was investigated by meta-analysis using available literature representing 45 scientific articles. With respect to raw milk composition there was a significant positive relationship between SCC and the protein and fat contents and a significant negative relationship between SCC and the lactose content. In relation to cheese processing, there was a significant negative relationship between SCC and recoveries of protein and fat. As SCC increased cheese protein content declined and cheese moisture content increased.
    • Protocols and strategies to study the migration of veterinary drug residues into milk and dairy products in licensed trials

      Power, C.; Sayers, Riona; O'Brien, Bernadette; Furey, A.; Danaher, Martin; Jordan, Kieran (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      In the interest of animal welfare, and in order that the results from animal trials are considered valid for inclusion in the development of regulations, it is necessary that such trials are undertaken in accordance with the appropriate licensing arrangements. In January 2013, new licensing arrangements were introduced in the European Union. The aim of this paper is to outline the legislative strategy required for obtaining licences for animal trials and based on live animal trials with flukicides, establishes a blueprint for obtaining the appropriate licences and undertaking the experiments.
    • Identification of existing and emerging chemical residue contamination concerns in milk

      Danaher, Martin; Jordan, Kieran (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      In order to maintain the quality of Irish milk and meet increasingly demanding specifications, it is necessary to focus on chemical residues in milk, in addition to other quality issues. The objective of the work was to assess the current status of chemical contaminant analysis and to identify technological and knowledge needs. This was achieved through a review of literature with respect to chemical contaminants. Quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) have been identified as an area of concern for the dairy industry because of the recent reports of QAC residues in dairy products internationally. Analytical support to analyse QAC residues in milk and dairy products on an ongoing basis is required. Furthermore, the source of QAC residues along the milk production chain needs to be identified. Similarly, analytical support and research is needed in the area of phthalates, to support the development of intervention strategies to reduce contamination, if present. Cephalosporin antibiotics have been a concern for the dairy industry because of the lack of suitable chemical tests to measure these substances.
    • Review of studies on flukicide residues in cows’ milk and their transfer to dairy products

      Power, C.; Sayers, Riona; O'Brien, Bernadette; Furey, A.; Danaher, Martin; Kieran, Jordan (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      Flukicides are widely used to treat infestations of liver fluke in dairy cattle. This could result in flukicide residues in milk if animals are improperly treated or if withdrawal periods are not properly observed. The purpose of this review is to summarise the results of studies on depletion of flukicides from milk and the transfer of flukicide residues to dairy products, if present in the milk. As the depletion of flukicide residues from milk of animals treated during lactation was relatively slow, the studies support the view that the dry period (when milk is not being used for human consumption) is the most suitable time for flukicide treatment. Migration of residues to product occurred at different rates, depending on the drug in question. Generally, concentration of flukicides occurred in cheese, butter and skim milk powder. Pasteurisation or heat treatment during spray drying had no impact in reducing residues.
    • Milk quality and cheese diversification

      Sheehan, Jeremiah J (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      Abolition of EU milk quotas in 2015 is projected to result in a 2.75 billion litre increase in Irish milk production by 2020. Although cheese offers vital market opportunities for this increased milk production, traditional cheese markets such as Cheddar, are predicted to grow more slowly than for other semi-soft and semi-hard cheese types. Innovation is now focused on achieving greater diversity in cheese types manufactured on Irish commercial plants and on development of new products with specific properties for target markets. This innovation is best illustrated by the current Teagasc – Irish Dairy Board collaboration. This review considers the relative influence of milk quality on diversification of the portfolio of cheeses manufactured from a seasonally-produced Irish milk supply with particular reference to milk microbial profile and to milk enzyme complement for the manufacture and ripening of non-Cheddar cheese varieties.
    • Review of potential sources and control of thermoduric bacteria in bulk-tank milk

      Gleeson, David E; O'Connell, Aine; Jordan, Kieran (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      Bacteria that contaminate milk include thermoduric bacteria that can survive pasteurisation and subsequently grow in the pasteurised milk or contaminate product. Elimination of thermodurics at milking is not feasible. Therefore, knowledge of their source and strategies for their reduction are important. The major sources of thermodurics in milk are contamination of the teat skin from soil and bedding, and subsequent contamination from deposits that can build up on milking equipment surfaces. Hygiene at milking can reduce the number of bacteria contaminating milk. Teat preparation at milking and a recommended plant cleaning procedure are critical to the prevention of the contamination of milk with thermoduric bacteria.
    • Iodine concentrations in milk

      O'Brien, Bernadette; Gleeson, David E; Jordan, Kieran (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      Iodine tends to be supplemented at farm level in the expectation of increasing cow health and fertility. There is concern that such practices may result in high milk iodine, which could affect ingredients for infant formula and, thus, dairy export markets. The objective of this study was to quantify the effect of iodine fortified feed and teat disinfection practices of dairy cows on milk iodine concentration. Thirty lactating cows were fed 7 kg, 3 kg (10 mg iodine/kg) and 0 kg of concentrate feed during 3 periods of 35 days each. During the first 14 days of each period, cows were on dietary iodine treatments only; during days 15–21, one of three teat disinfection treatments (n = 10) was applied (in addition to the dietary iodine treatments): non-iodine (chlorhexidine) post-milking spray; 0.5% iodine spray post-milking; 0.5% iodine spray pre- and post-milking. Cow milk yield was 21.3 kg/day. Individual cow milk samples were analysed for iodine concentration on 2 days at the end of each treatment period. Dietary supplementation of iodine at both 30 mg and 70 mg/day, when compared to the diet with no supplement, increased milk iodine concentrations significantly (P < 0.001) from 449 to 1034 and 915 μg/kg, respectively. Teat disinfection both pre- and post-milking increased milk iodine concentration at each of the dietary supplementation levels of 0, 30 and 70 mg/day compared with a non-iodine teat disinfectant (P < 0.001). In conclusion, both dietary iodine supplementation and teat disinfection iodine increased milk iodine concentrations in an additive manner, exceeding common target values of 250 μg/kg. As both iodine treatments can occur simultaneously on farm, supplementation strategies should be monitored.